Russia is the world’s largest country, spanning both western and eastern parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Located partly in North Asia, it borders China and Mongolia, as well as Ukraine and Estonia. It also shares maritime borders with Japan, Sweden and Turkey. In addition to being a major producer of oil and natural gas, it is one of the world’s top exporters of military weapons.
The country consists of two main regions, Western Russia and Eastern Russia. Western Russia is made up of low hills and lowland plains. This region contains the highest mountain in the country, Mount Elbrus, which rises to over 4,000 feet (1,200 metres). There are several other high mountains in the country, including the Ural Mountains. However, the majority of Russia is covered with a vast forest zone.
The country is surrounded by many other nations, including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Ukraine. To the east, it is bordered by the Arctic Ocean and the Bering Sea. Those who live in Russian-controlled areas of the former Soviet Union have to apply for a visa before traveling to other countries.
Most of the country’s economy is based on manufacturing, forestry, and agriculture. Natural gas is a key driver, representing large portions of the country’s economy. Agricultural land is rich in resources, making Russia a major agricultural producer.
The majority of the population are ethnic Russians, but there are also over 100 different ethnic groups. While most of these minorities have no formal political rights, some have taken steps to protest the government.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the ruling Communist Party has held a firm grip on power. President Vladimir Putin reorients Russia away from democracy and towards an authoritarian regime. Many analysts believe that the country’s ruling elites are exploiting public wealth in order to maintain their power. Some government officials are protected from prosecution and are allowed to amass massive property holdings.
While the internet has become less tightly controlled, the Kremlin has tightened its control over the media. Authorities have censored social media, expanded the list of “foreign agents” and restricted freedom of movement.
Another area of concern is the suppression of the Russian opposition. Many critics argue that the president has undermined the state’s institutions and entrenched his personal power. Government authorities have repressed opposition protests, fired educators, and banned student participation. They have also stifled the development of the embryonic opposition movement.
Although the government imposes restrictions on travel, most foreigners are free to travel in and out of the country. However, foreigners may be fined or deported if they enter restricted areas. For example, there are restrictions on migrants from Central Asian countries, as well as the Caucasus.
One of the most prominent human rights organizations in the world, Memorial International, was forced to close in December 2021. The Ministry of Justice listed 86 nongovernmental organizations as foreign agents in the same year.
During his first term, President Putin reoriented the country toward an authoritarian regime and halted democratic development. He has since served two terms.