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Country Russia



Russia

Country, once an empire, and formerly the majority of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The name is also applied to the Russian Federation. The world’s largest nation, the empire occupied Europe from the eastern European nations on the west to the Pacific Ocean on the east, taking in northern Asia, or Siberia. Many peoples have inhabited parts of Russia at different times; Scythians in southern Russia in the seventh century b.c., who were replaced in the third century by Sarmatians. The Russian steppes were invaded by Goths in the third century a.d., by Huns in the next century, by Avars in the sixth, by Khazars in the seventh, by Bulgars in the Volga River region in the eighth, and by Slavs in the ninth. The foundations of a Russian state were not laid, however, until the ninth century when the Varangians, Scand inavian Viking warriors and traders, established themselves at Novgorod c. 860 under their leader Rurik. Oleg, Rurik’s successor, transferred his headquarters to Kiev in 882. The Kievan state flourished until a Tatar, or Mongol, invasion in 1237 ended its power. In eastern and southern Russia the Tatars established the Empire of the Golden Horde, which lasted until 1480; while Belorussia and most of the Ukraine became part of Lithuania. Meanwhile, the Moscow area grew in strength, especially after Dmitri Donskoi defeated the Golden Horde at the battle of Kulikovo in 1380. The grand duchy of Moscow, or Muscovy, gained supremacy over other principalities. An era of expansion followed, and in 1547 Ivan IV, the Terrible, was crowned the first czar of all Russia. By the late 16th century Russia was able to conquer Siberia, the first expedition for this purpose being led by a Cossack, Yermak, in 1581. The first Romanov became czar in 1613, founding the dynasty that lasted until the fall of the empire; but Russia lagged far behind western Europe in all respects and was hardly considered a European nation. Serfdom, here especially a system of peasant slavery, became legal in 1649. Russia changed greatly in the late 17th and early 18th centuries under the rule of Peter I, the Great, who forced on his people military, economic, governmental, and cultural modernization. He founded St. Petersburg (during the Soviet years Leningrad) and made it his capital; won Livonia, Ingermanland (Ingria), Estonia, and other areas as a result of the Great Northern War of 1700 to 1721, and founded a navy with an outlet on the Baltic Sea. Russia now took an active part in European affairs, fought Prussia successfully in the Seven Years’ War of 1756 to 1763, and under Catherine II, the Great (reigned 1762–96), became the strongest power of continental Europe. Russia’s territory increased with her participation in the three partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793, and 1795; the annexation of the Crimea in 1783 and of Kurland in 1795; and the acquisition of large regions in the south and west as a result of wars with the Ottoman Empire. As an “enlightened despot,” Catherine encouraged the arts and stimulated a cultural development that continued through the 19th century, despite despotic rulers.

Under Alexand er I, Russia annexed Finland in 1809, took Bessarabia in wars with Turkey and Persia in 1812, and parts of the Caucasus in 1813. Meanwhile, Russia had opposed and then been allied with Napoleon I, changing sides again when the French emperor invaded Russia in 1812, only to be repulsed. As a result of Napoleon’s downfall, Russia and Austria emerged as the chief powers of the continent. In 1815, with Prussia, they formed the Holy Alliance, a reactionary attempt to maintain a conservative and oppressive order in Europe. However, the accession of Nicholas I in 1825 triggered the Decembrist Conspiracy, an unsuccessful attempt to secure some measure of democracy. The Crimean War of 1854 to 1856, in which Turkey, Great Britain, and France fought Russia, revealed the basic weaknesses of the Russian system.

Some reforms were achieved under Alexand er II (reigned 1855–81), especially his edict of 1861 freeing the serfs. Russia also continued to expand , taking the rest of the Caucusus and , during 1864–65, what is now Soviet Central Asia, including Turkistan, as well as some far eastern territory from China. The Pacific had been reached; and the construction of the Trans- Siberian Railroad from 1891 to 1905 began to open Siberia to exploitation and settlement. Shifting alliances marked European diplomacy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Russia, Germany, and Austria- Hungary formed the Three Emperors’ League in 1872. This was replaced in 1887 by a Russian-German alliance. In the meantime, the Congress of Berlin of 1878 awarded southern Bessarabia to Russia. Russia shifted sides again in 1894, forming an alliance with France and concluding an arrangement with Great Britain that resulted in the Triple Entente of these nations in 1907.

In the Far East, Russian and Japanese competition over Manchuria and Korea led to the Russo- Japanese War of 1904–05 in which Japan captured Port Arthur (Lu-shun) and Mukden (Shen-yang) and destroyed the Russian fleet. This disaster brought about the Revolution of 1905, which forced Nicholas II to grant a constitution and establish a parliament; but little came of this gesture toward democracy. World War I, into which Russia was immediately drawn in 1914, partly as the professed defender of Slavs everywhere, was another disaster. Many military defeats were suffered at the hand s of Germany and Austria-Hungary, the economy could not support a modern war, and food shortages developed.

Revolution broke out in February 1917, and Nicholas abdicated on March 15. A provisional government was organized, which in May admitted socialists and which in July made Aleksand r F. Kerensky its head. This government wanted to continue fighting the unpopular war and was unable to manage the economy. As a result, on November 7 it was overthrown by the Bolsheviks, the dominant faction of Russian socialism, led by Vladimir E. Lenin. The Russian Empire was thus succeeded by the USSR, the first government based on Marxist socialism. In 1991, the breakup of the USSR resulted in the creation of the Russian Federation out of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic that retained the international rights and powers of the Russian nation.

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Russia: Top Cities

Moscow 10,381,222 Moscow 37.62 x 55.75 Europe/Moscow
Saint Petersburg 4,039,745 Sankt-Peterburg 30.26 x 59.89 Europe/Moscow
Novosibirsk 1,419,007 Novosibirskaya Oblast' 82.93 x 55.04 Asia/Novosibirsk
Yekaterinburg 1,287,573 Sverdlovskaya Oblast' 60.61 x 56.86 Asia/Yekaterinburg
Nizhniy Novgorod 1,284,164 Nizhegorodskaya Oblast' 44.00 x 56.33 Europe/Moscow
Samara 1,134,730 Samarskaya Oblast' 50.15 x 53.20 Europe/Samara
Omsk 1,129,281 Omskaya Oblast' 73.40 x 55.00 Asia/Omsk
Kazan 1,104,738 Respublika Tatarstan 49.12 x 55.79 Europe/Moscow
Rostov-na-Donu 1,074,482 Rostovskaya Oblast' 39.71 x 47.24 Europe/Moscow
Chelyabinsk 1,062,919 Chelyabinskaya Oblast' 61.43 x 55.15 Asia/Yekaterinburg
Ufa 1,033,338 Respublika Bashkortostan 56.05 x 54.79 Asia/Yekaterinburg
Volgograd 1,011,417 Volgogradskaya Oblast' 44.50 x 48.72 Europe/Volgograd
Perm' 982,419 Perm Krai 56.29 x 58.02 Asia/Yekaterinburg
Krasnoyarsk 927,200 Krasnoyarskiy Kray 92.79 x 56.01 Asia/Krasnoyarsk
Saratov 863,725 Saratovskaya Oblast' 46.03 x 51.57 Europe/Volgograd
Voronezh 848,752 Voronezhskaya Oblast' 39.19 x 51.67 Europe/Moscow
Tol'yatti 702,879 Samarskaya Oblast' 49.35 x 53.53 Europe/Samara
Krasnodar 649,851 Krasnodarskiy Kray 38.97 x 45.05 Europe/Moscow
Ul'yanovsk 640,680 Ul'yanovskaya Oblast' 48.40 x 54.33 Europe/Volgograd
Izhevsk 631,038 Udmurtskaya Respublika 53.23 x 56.85 Europe/Samara
Yaroslavl' 606,730 Yaroslavskaya Oblast' 39.87 x 57.63 Europe/Moscow
Barnaul 599,579 Altayskiy Kray 83.76 x 53.36 Asia/Omsk
Vladivostok 587,022 Primorskiy Kray 131.87 x 43.11 Asia/Vladivostok
Irkutsk 586,695 Irkutskaya Oblast' 104.30 x 52.30 Asia/Irkutsk
Khabarovsk 579,000 Khabarovsk Krai 135.09 x 48.48 Asia/Vladivostok
Khabarovsk Vtoroy 578,303 Khabarovsk Krai 135.14 x 48.44 Asia/Vladivostok
Orenburg 550,204 Orenburgskaya Oblast' 55.10 x 51.77 Asia/Yekaterinburg
Novokuznetsk 539,616 Kemerovskaya Oblast' 87.11 x 53.76 Asia/Novokuznetsk
Ryazan' 520,173 Ryazanskaya Oblast' 39.69 x 54.63 Europe/Moscow
Tyumen 519,119 Tyumenskaya Oblast' 65.53 x 57.15 Asia/Yekaterinburg