Russia is a vast country that spans over two continents. Its western core, located around the capital city of Moscow, extends across the Ural Mountains, and its eastern edge, along the Pacific Ocean, borders Siberia and the Russian Far East. The Russian Far East is also considered the “other Asia”, and its inhabitants have more ties to China than they do to Europe. Russia has approximately 142 million people, though most live in cities. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country has lost over 5 million people, resulting in a very slow growth rate. The population of this landlocked nation has been dwindling since the fall of the Soviet Union, with the current population growth rate hovering close to zero.
The vast northwestern region of the country is sparsely populated, but contains enormous amounts of natural resources. These include gold, silver, and petroleum. Mining in this region is particularly lucrative, and this area will continue to grow in importance over the next several decades. The region is also home to a philharmonic orchestra and a division of the Russian Academy of Sciences. And the city is also home to three major universities. The vast eastern region of Russia has been a major contributor to Russia’s economy since the early 20th century.
Throughout the history of the country, Christianity has played a significant role in shaping the country. It influenced much of Russian culture and politics. Christianity was introduced to Russia in the ninth century by Vikings, and the country eventually developed into a Russian Empire. Through exploration and conquest, the empire grew into the third largest empire in history. Although the Soviet Union abolished the Russian Empire in 1917, the SFSR was the primary force behind the Russian unification and the war against the Golden Horde in Asia.
Today, the Russian economy is the eleventh largest in terms of nominal GDP and sixth by PPP. Russia is a recognized nuclear-weapons state, and its military expenditure is the fourth highest in the world. Russia has extensive natural resources, and is the world’s largest producer of oil. Other notable features of Russian life include its membership in the United Nations Security Council and in the G20, as well as in the OSCE and the EAEU.
Other aspects of Russian culture are rich in history. In addition to modern art, Russia has long produced world-famous composers including Alexander Scriabin, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Vladimir Prokofiev. Russia is also home to some of the world’s greatest pianists, including Vladimir Ashkenazy and Anton Rubinstein. Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace is one of its many highlights.
In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. While Soviet leaders like Mikhail Gorbachev attempted to reform the country, the reforms were not enough to stop the fall of the Soviet Union. In the early post-Soviet years, rapid privatization and an increasingly unsustainable economic system led to a harsh economic environment for the masses. The social safety net was dissolved. Since then, Russia’s presidents have increased the country’s economy and strengthened the central state.