Russia is the largest country in the entire world. It is on the continents of Europe and Asia. It contains nine different time zones and shares a border with fourteen countries.
The official name of Russia is the Russian Federation.
Population: 144 million
Key Cities: Moscow (Capital), St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Novosibirsk
Official Language: Russian (official), Azerbaijani, Ukrainian, Tatar
Major Religions: Orthodox Christianity, Lutheranism, Catholicism
Bordering Countries: Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, North Korea, and China.
Size: 6,613,100 sq. miles
Lowest point: Caspian Sea -91 ft
Highest point: Mount Elbrus 18,510 ft
Russia’ land varies from desert to frozen tundra. Much of Russia is made up of a treeless type of plains called steppes. These are large areas of flat grassland.
Siberia occupies a large amount of land in the Northeastern portion of Russia. This huge region extends from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.
The Volga River is the longest river in Russia (and all of Europe). It is about 2,300 miles in length. Many cities are located along this river, including Moscow.
The deepest lake in all of Russia is Lake Baikal. It contains about 20% of all the world’s freshwater.
The Ural Mountains are a large mountain range that extends for 1500 miles from the Arctic Ocean to the Caspian Sea.
The Russian Federation consists of eighty-five federal subjects that make up the members of the Federation.
It is no surprise when considering how large Russia is that it is home to many different varieties of animals. This includes Siberian Tigers, Russian Boar, Brown Bear, and Roe Deer.
The earliest human settlements in Russia began around 500 AD. The first people to populate what is now modern-day Russia came from Scandinavia.
These settlers intermingled with Slavs from the west. They built a fortress that would later become Kiev.
Kiev evolved into an empire that ruled most of the European section of Russia for 200 years. It then broke up into Ukraine, Muscovy, and Belarus.
In the 1550s, Ivan the IV became Russia’s first tsar (Russian for Caesar). He became tsar because he drove out the Mongols out of Kiev and unifying the region.
In 1682, Peter the Great became tsar and ruled for 42 years. In his time as tsar, he worked tirelessly to make Russia more modern and European.
The rule of the tsars was ended in 1917 during the Russian Revolution. The government was overthrown by the Bolsheviks, which were a communist group.
Vladimir Lenin created the U.S.S.R. (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) from Russia and 11 other countries.
The U.S.S.R fought on the side of the United States during World War II and was led by Joseph Stalin.
After the war, the relations between the US and U.S.S.R. became strained. These tensions led to the Cold War, which ended in 1991 when the Soviet Union broke up.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia became a federal semi-presidential republic. Boris Yeltsin was elected the first ever President in 1991.
This led to a period of social unrest. President Yeltsin resigned in 1999, and the country was then led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
While Putin’s leadership has been criticized as undemocratic, it has led to stability and progress.
The Russian economy is one of the largest and most profitable in the entire world. In 2006 it was worth $1,283,000,000,000.
It is largely based on the country’s vast supply of natural resources that are found throughout its landscape.
This includes large supplies of oil, coal, iron ore, gold, aluminum, and perhaps the most profitable – natural gas.
Russian main dishes will usually contain pork, beef, lamb, chicken, fish, potatoes and root vegetables. They especially love vegetable stews and soups.
Family is very important for Russians. Most families include grandparents, parents, and children living in the same household.
There are about 120 ethnic groups in Russia. They speak more than a hundred different languages, though Russian is the official language.
Most of the people in Russia can trace their ancestry back to the Slavs. Others are descended from Tatars, Mongols, and Ukrainians.
Russian is known for its thinkers, artists, and athletes.
Leo Tolstoy – Writer
Fyodor Dostoevsky – Writer
Rudolf Nureyev – Ballet Dancer
Alexander Ovechkin – Hockey Player
Maria Sharapova – Tennis Player
Russian contains more than 100,000 rivers. This includes the Volga, mentioned earlier, which is the longest river in Europe. It is 2,190 miles long.
Russia isn’t very far away from the United States. It is only about 51 miles from Alaska and is only separated by the Bering Strait.