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Russia! what a marvelous phenomenon on the world scene! Russia - a distance of ten thousand versts *note  in length on a straight line from the virtually central European river, across all of Asia and the Eastern Ocean, down to the remote American lands! A distance of five thousand versts in width from Persia, one of the southern Asiatic states, to the end of the inhabited world - to the North Pole. What state can equal it? Its half? How many states can match its twentieth, its fiftieth part?… Russia - a state which contains all types of soil, from the warmest to the coldest, from the burning environs of Erivannote  to icy Laplandnote ; which abounds in all the products required for the needs, comforts, and pleasures of life, in accordance with its present state of development - a whole world, self-sufficient, independent, absolute.
Mikhail Pogodin

Russia (Russian: Россия, Rossiya), also known as the Russian Federation (Russian: Российская Федерация, Rossiyskaya Federatsiya), is an Eastern European and North Asian country spreading all the way from Norway and Poland to Japan and the US state of Alaska. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects and two territories disputed with Ukraine. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland (both with Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia (Europe), Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. At 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sq mi), Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area. Russia is also the world's ninth most populous nation with 143 million people as of 2012. Extending across the entirety of North Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms.


The nation's history began with that of the East Slavs, who emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a Varangian warrior elite and their descendants, the medieval state of Rus arose in the 9th century. In 988 it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Rus' ultimately disintegrated into a number of smaller states; most of the Rus' lands were overrun by the Mongol invasion and became tributaries of the nomadic Golden Horde. The Grand Duchy of Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities, achieved independence from the Golden Horde, and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus'. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, which was the third largest empire in history, stretching from Poland in Europe to Alaska in North America.


Following the Russian Revolution and Red victory in the 1917-23 Civil War, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic became the largest and leading constituent of the Soviet Union, the world's first constitutionally socialist state and a recognized superpower, which played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II. The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world's first spacecraft, and the first astronaut. The Russian Federation became the successor state of the Russian SFSR following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, and is recognized as the continuing legal personality of the Union state.

The Russian economy ranks as the eighth largest by nominal GDP and sixth largest by purchasing power parity. Russia's extensive mineral and energy resources, the largest reserves in the world, have made it one of the largest producers of oil and natural gas globally. The country is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Russia is a great power and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a member of the G8 (currently suspended), G20, BRICS, the Council of Europe, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Rossiyane and Russkie

There are two words in Russian that mean "Russians:"

  • Rossiyane — Citizens of the Russian Federation and the RSFSR before that. An unpopular label in Russia, mostly used in government propaganda and thought by most as an example of Political Correctness Gone Mad. Most Russians draw a sharp distinction between ethnic Russian and minority, and it goes even sharper with time as ethnonationalistic sentiments rise.
  • Russkie — Ethnic Russians. Were called "Great Russians" (Velikorossy) before 1917 (not used today, except for historical purposes).
    • Old generalized distinctive terms are: Great Russia (now just "Russia,") Small Russia ("Malorossia," now "Ukraine,") White Russia (verbatim: "Belorussia,") and New Russia ("Novorossia," now Southern Russia and some parts of eastern and south Ukraine, including an unrecognized rebel confederacy of this very name, also known as the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk or LDNR).note  Derivative terms refers to inhabitants of those territories. E.g. even if semi-nomadic Don Cossacks ethnically were not exactly the same as their neighbours, they still lived in "Small Russia" (Nikolai Gogol who lived there used this common term when it was relevant). This is why the tsar was referred to as "Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias."

These two designations obviously don't overlap 100%. When it becomes necessary to distinguish between the two, the Russian words will be used.

While we are discussing the ethnic question, the racial one has to be mentioned as well. Are Russians Caucasian or Asian? A large part of Rossiyane are Asian, especially the so called "Minor Nations" (malye narody) of Siberia. Russkie are Caucasian. Western Russia is settled by ethnic Russians and various Finnic and Caucasoid minorities who are also Caucasian, and most Asian-descended minorities of European Russia such as the Tatars and the Bashkirs also look pretty white. In Siberia, the white ethnic Russians are a majority, and the Minor Nations an overall minority (though there are many regions in Siberia where the native Siberians such as the Yakut people are a majority). Afro-Russians exist but they are a tiny minority, mostly descendants of naturalized Africans from former Soviet client states.

There is little to no tension between white Russians and Asian native Siberians. The touchy racial issues in Russia involve people from the North Caucasus and immigrants from Central Asia.

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     Administrative divisions 
Russia is a federation consisting of 83 federal subjects plus two more currently disputed with Ukraine, though recent years have seen the country becoming increasingly centralized that it acts more like provinces than federal subjects nowadays. Even without the change, the subjects are highly centralized by federation standards, since the nomination of the governor of each subject requires the approval of the President.

Nevertheless, each subject is still given devolved powers, which differ depending on what classification the subject get. There are six kinds of classification:

  • Oblast (Область, Province): The most numerous of the divisions. Each elects a governor and a local legislature, but uses the constitution of the Russian Federation.
  • Republic (Республика): Autonomous division that not only elects a governor and a local legislature, but also a different constitution. Each republic is created with an ethnic minority (i.e. non-Slavs) in mind, so the republic is allowed to adopt the minority's language as a secondary official language.
  • Krai (Край, Territory): Actually, the name is an Artifact Title, since it by all means has identical responsibilities as an oblast. It is only given a different name because they are located in frontier regions.
  • Autonomous okrug (Автономный округ, Autonomous district): This subject has a substantial ethnic minority, but not enough to be defined as a republic, so it gets the same responsibilities as an oblast. Some of the autonomous okrugs are sub-subjects to other subjects (in Soviet times all of them were), and some full subjects.
  • City of federal significance (Город федерального значения): Self-explanatory. This designates cities that are important enough not to be placed in other divisions.
  • Autonomous oblast (автономная область, Autonomous province): There is only one of this in Russia. Again it functions more like an oblast.

To ease the listing, the subjects will be divided based on the federal districts (федера́льные округа́) dividing Russia into 9 regions. This division is not the same as an economic region, which divides Russia based on a particular industry that each region specializes. For republics and autonomous okrugs, the ethnic group that the subject is named after will also be listed. They are:

  • Central Federal District (Capital: Moscow), includes:
    • Belgorod Oblast (Capital: Belgorod)
    • Bryansk Oblast (Capital: Bryansk)
    • Ivanovo Oblast (Capital: Ivanovo)
    • Kaluga Oblast (Capital: Kaluga)
    • Kostroma Oblast (Capital: Kostroma)
    • Kursk Oblast (Capital: Kursk)
    • Lipetsk Oblast (Capital: Lipetsk)
    • Moscow Oblast (Capital: Krasnogorsk, but it is de facto a Moscow suburb, so nobody cares. The government palace is closer to Moscow border than to any residental non-Moscow district anyway)
    • Oryol Oblast (Capital: Oryol)
    • Ryazan Oblast (Capital: Ryazan)
    • Smolensk Oblast (Capital: Smolensk)
    • Tambov Oblast (Capital: Tambov)
    • Tver Oblast (Capital: Tver)
    • Tula Oblast (Capital: Tula)
    • Vladimir Oblast (Capital: Vladimir)
    • Voronezh Oblast (Capital: Voronezh)
    • Yaroslavl Oblast (Capital: Yaroslavl)
    • Moscow (CFS)

  • Northwestern Federal District (Capital: Saint Petersburg), includes:
    • Arkhangelsk Oblast (Capital: Arkhangelsk)
    • Kaliningrad Oblast (Capital: Kaliningrad)
    • Leningrad Oblast (Capital: None, de facto Saint Petersburg)
    • Murmansk Oblast (Capital: Murmansk)
    • Novgorod Oblast (Capital: Veliky Novgorod)
    • Pskov Oblast (Capital: Pskov)
    • Vologda Oblast (Capital: Vologda)
    • Republic of Karelia (Capital: Petrozavodsk) ‒ Named after the Karelians (7.4% of total population), an Uralic ethnic group.
    • Komi Republic (Capital: Syktyvkar) ‒ Named after the Komi (23.7% of total population), an Uralic ethnic group.
    • Nenets Automonous Okrug (Capital: Naryan-Mar) ‒ Named after the Nenets (18% of total population), an Uralic ethnic group. Sub-subject to Arkhangelsk Oblast.
    • Saint Petersburg (CFS)

  • Southern Federal District (Capital: Rostov-on-Don), includes:
    • Astrakhan Oblast (Capital: Astrakhan)
    • Rostov Oblast (Capital: Rostov-on-Don)
    • Volgograd Oblast (Capital: Volgograd)
    • Republic of Adygea (Capital: Maykop) ‒ Named after the Adyghs (25.8% of total population), a Northwest Caucasian ethnic group.
    • Republic of Crimea (Capital: Simferopol) ‒ Named after the Crimean Tatars (12.6% of total population), a Turkic ethnic group. Currently contested with Ukraine; most of the international world recognize this Republic as part of Ukraine.
    • Republic of Kalmykia (Capital: Elista) ‒ Named after the Kalmyks (57.4% of total population), a Mongolic ethnic group.
    • Krasnodar Krai (Capital: Krasnodar)
    • Sevastopol (CFS) ‒ Currently contested with Ukraine; most of the international world recognize this city as part of Ukraine.

  • North Caucasian Federal District (Capital: Pyatigorsk), includes:
    • Chechen Republic (Capital: Grozny) ‒ Named after the Chechens (95.3% of total population), a Northeast Caucasian ethnic group.
    • Republic of Dagestan (Capital: Makhachkala) ‒ None in particular; the region is inhabited by a multitude of minority ethnic groups, some of whom are related, some of whom are unrelated to each other. "Dagestan" simply means "Abode of Mountains". Most of the minorities are primarily Northeast Caucasians.
    • Republic of Ingushetia (Capital: Magas) ‒ Named after the Ingushes (94.1% of total population), a Northeast Caucasian ethnic group.
    • Kabardino-Balkar Republic (Capital: Nalchik) ‒ Named after the Kabarday (57.2% of total population), a Northwest Caucasian ethnic group, and the Balkars (12.7% of total population), a Turkic ethnic group.
    • Karachay-Cherkess Republic (Capital: Cherkessk) ‒ Named after the Karachays (41% of total population), a Turkic ethnic group, and the Cherkess (11.9% of total population), a Northwest Caucasian ethnic group.
    • Republic of North Ossetia-Alania (Capital: Vladikavkaz) ‒ Named after the Ossetians (65.1% of total population), a Iranian ethnic group.
    • Stavropol Krai (Capital: Stavropol)

  • Volga Federal District (Capital: Nizhny Novgorod), includes:
    • Kirov Oblast (Capital: Kirov)
    • Nizhny Novgorod Oblast (Capital: Nizhny Novgorod)
    • Orenburg Oblast (Capital: Orenburg)
    • Penza Oblast (Capital: Penza)
    • Samara Oblast (Capital: Samara)
    • Saratov Oblast (Capital: Saratov)
    • Ulyanovsk Oblast (Capital: Ulyanovsk)
    • Republic of Bashkortostan (Capital: Ufa) ‒ Named after the Bashkirs (29.5% of total population), a Turkic ethnic group.
    • Chuvash Republic (Capital: Cheboksary) ‒ Named after the Chuvash (67.7% of total population), a Turkic ethnic group.
    • Mari El Republic (Capital: Yoshkar-Ola) ‒ Named after the Mari (43.9% of total population), an Uralic ethnic group.
    • Republic of Mordovia (Capital: Saransk) ‒ Named after the Mordvins (40% of total population), an Uralic ethnic group.
    • Republic of Tatarstan (Capital: Kazan) ‒ Named after the Volga Tatars (53.2% of total population), an Turkic ethnic group.
    • Udmurt Republic (Capital: Izhevsk) ‒ Named after the Udmurts (28% of total population), an Uralic ethnic group.
    • Perm Krai (Capital: Perm)

  • Ural Federal District (Capital: Yekaterinburg), includes:
    • Chelyabinsk Oblast (Capital: Chelyabinsk)
    • Kurgan Oblast (Capital: Kurgan)
    • Sverdlovsk Oblast (Capital: Yekaterinburg)
    • Tyumen Oblast (Capital: Tyumen)
    • Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug—Yugra (Capital: Khanty-Mansiysk) ‒ Named after the Khanty (1.3% of total population) and Mansi (0.8% of total population), both Uralic ethnic groups. Sub-subject to Tyumen Oblast.
    • Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (Capital: Salekhard) ‒ Named after the Nenets (5.9% of total population), an Uralic ethnic group. Sub-subject to Tyumen Oblast.

  • Siberian Federal District (Capital: Novosibirsk), includes:
    • Irkutsk Oblast (Capital: Irkutsk)
    • Kemerovo Oblast (Capital: Kemerovo)
    • Novosibirsk Oblast (Capital: Novosibirsk)
    • Omsk Oblast (Capital: Omsk)
    • Tomsk Oblast (Capital: Tomsk)
    • Altai Republic (Capital: Gorno-Altaysk) ‒ Named after the Altay (34.5% of total population), a Turkic ethnic group.
    • Republic of Khakassia (Capital: Abakan) ‒ Named after the Khakas (12.1% of total population), a Turkic ethnic group.
    • Tuva Republic (Capital: Kyzyl) ‒ Named after the Tyvans (82% of total population), a Turkic ethnic group.
    • Altai Krai (Capital: Barnaul)
    • Krasnoyarsk Krai (Capital: Krasnoyarsk)

  • Far Eastern Federal District (Capital: Vladivostok), includes:
    • Amur Oblast (Capital: Blagoveshchensk)
    • Magadan Oblast (Capital: Magadan)
    • Sakhalin Oblast (Capital: Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk)
    • Republic of Buryatia (Capital: Ulan-Ude) ‒ Named after the Buryats (30% of total population), a Mongolic ethnic group.
    • Sakha Republic (Capital: Yakutsk) ‒ Named after the Yakuts (49.9% of total population), a Turkic ethnic group.
    • Kamchatka Krai (Capital: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky)
    • Khabarovsk Krai (Capital: Khabarovsk)
    • Primorsky Krai (Capital: Vladivostok)
    • Zabaykalsky Krai (Capital: Chita)
    • Chukotka Autonomous Okrug (Capital: Anadyr) ‒ Named after the Chukchis (26.7% of total population), a Chukotko-Kamchatkan ethnic group. Formerly sub-subject to Magadan Oblast, now a full subject.
    • Jewish Autonomous Oblast (Capital: Birobidzhan) ‒ Named after the Jews, who constitute 0.2% of the total population.

Aside from that, Russia administers two more territories which aren't federal subjects: the town of Barentsburg on Svalbard, Norway and the town and space launch facility of Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

What is Siberia?

The precise territory defined as Siberia varies depending on who you ask. Western sources usually call the entirety of Asian Russia Siberia. In geography, Siberia is the part of Asian Russia east of the Ural Mountains and west of the watershed between Arctic and Pacific basins, and the Pacific basin is called the Russian Far East (Dalniy Vostok). The Urals and the Russian Far East aren't Siberia. The geographical Siberia is subdivided into Western Siberia (the lowland swampy region in the Ob-Irtysh basin and the highlands around the sources of the Ob, including the Altai Mountains), Eastern Siberia (the highland area between the rivers Yenisei and Lena, including Lake Baikal and the Transbaikal) and Northeast Siberia (the mountainous, bitterly cold region between the Lena and the Pacific watershed).

In administrative terms, only the Siberian Federal District is called Siberia. However, the inhabitants of Surgut or Khanty-Mansiysk are emphatic in that their region is not the Urals, and most Transbaikalians and Yakuts agree that they live in Siberia. The question of whether Northeast Siberia is Siberia is more complicated, because the economic capital of the region, Magadan, is located on the Pacific coast and therefore unarguably in the Russian Far East, and there are no cities or large towns in Northeast Siberia proper.







     Mythology and Religion 

     Traditions and Customs 

The Russian flag
After the fall of the USSR, Russia reused the colors of Tsarist Russia, which had no specific meanings.


Example of: