Russia Country Facts

оссия – Rossiya
Capital city Moscow
Surface 17,075,400 km²
Population 146,171,000
Road network length 933,000 km
Length of highway network 3,596 km
First highway 1960
Motorway name Avtomagistral
Traffic drives Right
License plate code RUS

Russia (Россия, Rossiya), in full the Russian Federation (Российская Федерация), is the largest country in the world. The country extends across the continents of Europe and Asia. The country has 146 million inhabitants and the capital is Moscow (Москва), the largest city in Europe. The European part of Russia is the most populated and has large metropolitan cities. European Russia has more inhabitants than any other European country. The Ural forms the border between Europe and Asia. The country measures 17,075,400 square kilometers and is therefore 416 times the size of the Netherlands and is almost twice the size of the whole of Europe. Russia famously spans 11 time zones and borders 16 other countries, the most of any country in the world, from Norway in the west to North Korea in the east.


Russia measures more than 8,000 kilometers from east to west and spans 11 time zones. The country measures more than 3,000 kilometers from north to south. The largest part of the country is in Asia, but most inhabitants live in Europe. From the border with Belarus, the country continues for 1,800 kilometers in Europe to the Ural Mountains. Then the immeasurable Siberia begins. Russia borders Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus and Ukraine to the west. The westernmost point of Russia is the enclave of Kaliningrad. Here Russia borders Poland and Lithuania. In the south, the country bordersGeorgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China and North Korea. Russia shares a maritime border with Japan and the United States through the state of Alaska.

Russia is popularly divided into two regions, with the Ural Mountains forming the dividing line. In reality, there are three geographic areas; European Russia (Европейская часть России), Siberia (Сибирь) and Russian Far East (Дальний Восток России). “Siberia” often refers to the whole of Russia east of the Ural. In Russia it is more common to refer to the easternmost part as the ‘Far East’ as this area is culturally different from Siberia. Russia is also divided into 9 federal districts, of which the ‘Far East’ is even the largest in area (larger than Europe minus European Russia).

Several major rivers flow through the country, including the largest river in Europe; the Volga (Волга). Other major rivers are the Yenisey, Ob, Lena and Amur. The landscape varies greatly from region to region, from the vast steppes and forests of European Russia, the taiga forests in the north, the mountain ranges of the Altai, Caucasus and Siberia. In terms of climatic zones, Russia is equally diverse: from the polar region with arctic uninhabited landscapes to the subtropical Mediterranean regions along the Black Sea.

The highest mountain in Russia is the 5,642 meter high Elbrus, located in the Caucasus in southern Russia. This is also the highest mountain in Europe. Russia has 8 mountains over 5,000 meters high, all located in the Caucasus. Russia’s highest mountain outside the Caucasus is the 4,754 m high Klyuchevskaya Sopka on Kamchatka. The Ural / Urals, although known, is a lot less high, its highest point is 1,895 meters.

Russia includes large islands such as Sakhalin in the east and Novaya Zemlya (Nova Zemlya) in the north, which is the easternmost part of Europe. Other major archipelagos include Severnaya Zemlya, the Franz Josef Land, and the New Siberian Islands. Russia also includes the Kuril / Kuril Islands in the Pacific Ocean.


City Population
Moscow 12.229.000
St. Petersburg 5,282,000
Novosibirsk 1,603,000
Yekaterinburg 1,456,000
Nizhny Novgorod 1,262,000
Kazan 1,232,000
Chelyabinsky 1,199,000
Omsk 1,178,000
samara 1,169,000
Rostov-na-Donu 1,126,000
Ufa 1,116,000
Krasnoyarsk 1,082,000
Perm 1,048,000
Voronezh 1,040,000
Volgograd 1,015,000

The capital Moscow is centrally located in the European part of the country. Other major cities are Sankt Petersburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Volgograd, Perm, Ufa, Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg, Omsk and Novosibirsk. Russia is an urbanized country, 74% of the inhabitants live in urban areas. Although Moscow is dominant, it comprises less than 10% of all residents of Russia. The Russian population is relatively decentralized, large cities are found in both European Russia and Siberia. There are also a few larger cities in the Russian Far East. Only Moscow and St. Petersburg are really big cities, but the country also has 13 cities around 1 million inhabitants.


In 1991 Russia made the abrupt transition from a communist planned economy to a free market economy. In the 1990s, Russia was relatively poor, large parts of the economy were in the hands of so-called ‘oligarchs’. After 2000, the Russian economy and federal spending grew strongly, mainly due to the increase in oil and gas exports. The federal government has been able to carry out mega projects since 2000 because of the revenues from oil and gas. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of oil and gas. Russia also has large reserves of coal.

Russia is an industrialized country, with a lot of manufacturing industry. The Russian car industry is one of the largest in the world. Russia is the largest sales market for cars in Europe. Russia has a strong arms industry, approximately 20% of all manufacturing jobs are defence-related. It is also one of the most important countries for forestry and fishing.


In the 9th century, many Slavic tribes created the Kievan Rus’, a confederacy that encompassed parts of western Russia, as well as adjacent areas between the Baltic and Black Seas. It fell apart during the invasion of the Mongols in the 13th century. Then the Grand Duchy of Moscow was formed, encompassing an ever-expanding territory in northwestern Russia. This eventually grew into the Russian Empire from the 18th century, which eventually became the third largest empire ever, from Prussia in the west to Alaska in the east, and Finland in the north to the Caucasus and Central Asia in the south.. It eventually covered a maximum of 22.8 million km². The Russian Revolution followed in 1917, after which the Russian Civil War broke out from 1917 to 1922.

In 1922 the Soviet Union was founded, the largest country in the world. In 1939 the Soviet Union occupied eastern Poland and in 1940 annexed the Baltic States. It attempted to occupy Finland just before and during World War II but failed. Karelia did become part of the Soviet Union. In 1941 Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union and advanced as far as the Caucasus in the south, just ahead of Moscow in the center and Leningrad (St. Petersburg) in the northwest. The Soviet losses during World War II were enormous. The Eastern Front was the greatest conflict in world history. About 30 million people died on the Eastern Front. The losses on the Eastern Front eventually led to the end of World War II in Europe.

After World War II, the Soviet Union became a world power with many technological developments, including the first nuclear power plant in Obninsk in 1954, the first satellite ‘Sputnik’ in 1957 and the first man in space in 1961. The Cold War dominated the Soviet Union between 1945 and 1991, although relations slowly improved in the 1980s. The Soviet Union was a closed country with closed cities where outsiders were not allowed to enter. Finally, communism in Europe fell to the Eastern Bloc states from 1989, followed by the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Russia was always the dominant republic in the Soviet Union. With the collapse of that country in 1991, it forms the Russian Federation. Russia subsequently lost its status as a world power, but the rise in oil prices allowed new investment in Russia’s post-2000 world power status. There are numerousmega projects.

Sub-national division

The Russian Federation is subdivided into ‘federal subdivisions’, divided into 46 oblasts. Oblasts have their own parliament and governor. There are also 21 autonomous republics that are de facto independent with their own parliament and president, but which still fall under Russia in foreign affairs. There are 9 so-called “krais”, large territories similar to oblasts, four autonomous Okrugs, created for ethnic minorities, one autonomous oblast (the Jewish Autonomous Oblast) and three federal cities, namely Moscow, Sankt Petersburg and Sevastopol.


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