Background last update:6 Aug 2012


After over 200 years of Mongol domination the Principality of Muscovy was founded in the 12th century. It began absorbing territory across Siberia to the Pacific and to the Baltic Sea. Under the rule of Peter I (1682-1725) the country was renamed the Russian Empire.

During the 19th century, territory in Europe and Asia was acquired. In 1917 the imperial household was overthrown and the Communists under Vladimir Lenin seized power, soon after and formed the USSR.

In 1985-91 General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev introduced glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in an attempt to modernise Communism, but his initiatives inadvertently released forces that by December 1991 splintered the USSR into Russia and 14 other independent republics.

Since then, Russia has struggled in its efforts to build a democratic political system and market economy to replace the social, political, and economic controls of the Communist period.

: Northern Asia (the area west of the Urals is considered part of Europe), bordering the Arctic Ocean, between Europe and the North Pacific Ocean
Capital: Moscow

Population: 141,377,752 (July 2007 est.)


GDP - real growth rate:

6.7% (2006 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$12,200 (2006 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 4.9%


industry: 39.3%


services: 55.8% (2006 est.)

* GDP = gross domestic production


Surface area

Land use

Total: 17,075,200 sq km

arable land: 7.17%

Land: 16,995,800 sq km

permanent crops: 0.11%

Water: 79,400 sq km

other: 92.72% (2005)


Information source: CIA World Factbook

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