WWF Russia The World Wide Fund For Nature in Russia.
Russian National Parks
Virgin Komi Forests
Golden Mountains of Altai
|Background: The defeat of the Russian Empire in World War I led
to the seizure of power by the communists and the formation of the USSR.
The brutal rule of Josef STALIN (1924-53) strengthened Russian dominance
of the Soviet Union at a cost of tens of millions of lives. The Soviet
economy and society stagnated in the following decades until General
Secretary Mikhail GORBACHEV (1985-91) introduced glasnost (openness) and
perestroika (restructuring) in an attempt to modernize communism, but his
initiatives inadvertently released forces that by December 1991 splintered
the USSR into 15 independent republics. Since then, Russia has struggled
in its efforts to build a democratic political system and market economy
to replace the strict social, political, and economic controls of the
Government type: federation
Currency: 1 Russian ruble (RUR) = 100 kopeks
Geography of Russia
Location: Northern Asia (that part west of the Urals is sometimes included with
Europe), bordering the Arctic Ocean, between Europe and the North Pacific Ocean
People of Russia
Russia's area is about 17 million sq. km. (6.5 million sq. mi.). It remains the largest country in the world by more than 2.5 million sq. mi. Its population density is about 23 persons per square mile (9 per sq. km.), making it one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Its population is predominantly urban.
Most of the roughly 150 million Russians derive from the Eastern Slavic family of peoples, whose original homeland was probably present-day Poland. Russian is the official language of Russia, and an official language in the United Nations. As the language of writers such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekov, Pushkin, and Solzhenitsyn, it has great importance in world literature.
Russia's educational system has produced nearly 100% literacy. About 3 million students attend Russia's 519 institutions of higher education and 48 universities. As a result of great emphasis on science and technology in education, Russian medical, mathematical, scientific, and space and aviation research is generally of a high order. The number of doctors in relation to the population is high by American standards, although medical care in Russia, even in major cities, is far below Western standards.
The Russian labor force is undergoing tremendous changes. Although well-educated and skilled, it is largely mismatched to the rapidly changing needs of the Russian economy. Millions of Russian workers are underemployed. Unemployment is highest among women and young people. Many Russian workers compensate by working other part-time jobs. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic dislocation it engendered, the standard of living fell dramatically, and one third of the population lives on just over $1 a day.
Moscow is the largest city (population 9 million) and is the capital of the Federation. Moscow continues to be the center of Russian Government and is increasingly important as an economic and business center. Its cultural tradition is rich, and there are many museums devoted to art, literature, music, dance, history, and science. It has hundreds of churches and dozens of notable cathedrals; it has become Russia's principal magnet for foreign investment and business presence.
St. Petersburg, established in 1703 by Peter the Great as the capital of the Russian Empire, was called Petrograd during World War I, and Leningrad after 1924. In 1991, as the result of a city referendum, it was renamed St. Petersburg. Under the Tsars, the city was Russia's cultural, intellectual, commercial, financial and industrial center. After the capital was moved back to Moscow in 1918, the city's political significance declined, but it remained a cultural, scientific and military-industrial center. The Hermitage is one of the world's great fine arts museums. Finally, Vladivostok, located in the Russian Far East, is becoming an important center for trade with the Pacific Rim countries.
Population: 143,420,309 (July 2005 est.)
SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State