Russian Federation

Russia, also the Russian Federation is a transcontinental country extending over much of northern Eurasia. It is a semi-presidential republic comprising 83 federal subjects. Russia shares land borders with the following countries (counter-clockwise from northwest to southeast): Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (Kaliningrad Oblast), Poland (Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It is also close to the U.S. state of Alaska, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey and Japan across relatively small stretches of water (the Bering Strait, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and La Perouse Strait, respectively).

At 17,075,400 square kilometres, Russia is by far the largest country in the world, covering more than an eighth of the Earth's land area; with 142 million people, it is the ninth largest by population. It extends across the whole of northern Asia and 40% of Europe, spanning 11 time zones and incorporating a great range of environments and landforms.Russia has the world's largest mineral and energy resources and is considered an energy superpower. It has the world's largest forest reserves and its lakes contain approximately one-quarter of the world's unfrozen fresh water.

Russia established worldwide power and influence from the times of the Russian Empire to being the largest and leading constituent of the Soviet Union, the world's first and largest constitutionally socialist state and a recognized superpower. The nation can boast a long tradition of excellence in every aspect of the arts and sciences. The Russian Federation was founded following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, but is recognized as the continuing legal personality of the Soviet Union. Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the G8. It is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the world's largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.

Ancient Russia

Ancient map Flow of terotory

An approximate map of the cultures in European Russia at the arrival of the Varangians. Prior to the first century, the vast lands of southern Russia were home to scattered tribes, such as Proto-Indo-Europeans and Scythians. Between the third and sixth centuries, the steppes were overwhelmed by successive waves of nomadic invasions, led by warlike tribes which would often move on to Europe, as was the case with Huns and Turkish Avars. During the period from fifth century BC to seventh century human settlements are represented by Dyakovo culture of Iron Age which occupies the significant part of the Upper Volga, Valday and Oka River area.

The nation's history began with that of the East Slavs. The Slavs emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by Vikings and their descendants, the first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus', arose in the 9th century and adopted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in 988, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium.
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus ultimately disintegrated and the lands were divided into many small feudal Russian states. The most powerful successor state to Kievan Rus was Moscow, which served as the main force in the Russian reunification process and independence struggle against the Golden Horde. Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities 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 huge Russian Empire, stretching from Poland eastward to the Pacific Ocean.

Dyakovo culture was formed by Finno-Ugric peoples, ancestors of Merya, Muromian, Meshchera, Veps tribes. All regional Funno-Ugric toponymy and hydronym names go back to those languages, for example Yauza River which is a confluent of the Moskva River, and probably the Moskva River itself too. A Turkic people, the Khazars, ruled southern Russia through the 8th century. They were important allies of the Byzantine Empire and waged a series of successful wars against the Arab caliphates. A statue of a Vedic god recently excavated in the Volga region points to a link to India around the ninth century.

Russian Church

Unlike its spiritual leader, the Byzantine Empire, Russia under the leadership of Moscow was able to revive and organise its own war of reconquest, finally subjugating its enemies and annexing their territories. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Muscovite Russia remained the only more or less functional Christian state on the Eastern European frontier, allowing it to claim succession to the legacy of the Eastern Roman Empire.

While still under the domain of the Mongol-Tatars and with their connivance, the duchy of Moscow began to assert its influence in Western Russia in the early fourteenth century. Assisted by the Russian Orthodox Church and Saint Sergius of Radonezh's spiritual revival, Muscovy inflicted a defeat on the Mongol-Tatars in the Battle of Kulikovo (1380).

Ivan the Great eventually tossed off the control of the invaders, consolidated surrounding areas under Moscow's dominion and first took the title "grand duke of all the Russias". In the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Russian state set the national goal to return all Russian territories lost as a result of the Tatar invasion and to protect the southern borderland against attacks of Crimean Tatars and other Turkic peoples.

The noblemen, receiving a manor from the sovereign, were obliged to serve in the military. The manor system became a basis for the nobiliary horse army. In 1547, Ivan the Terrible was officially crowned the first Tsar of Russia. During his long reign, Ivan annexed the Tatar khanates (Kazan, Astarkhan) along the Volga River and transformed Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state. By the end of the century, Russian Cossacks established the first Russian settlements in Western Siberia. But his rule was also marked by the atrocities against both the nobility and the common people on vast scale which eventually, after his death, led to the civil war of the Time of Troubles in early 1600s.

In the middle of the seventeenth century there were Russian settlements in Eastern Siberia, on Chukchi Peninsula, along the Amur River, on the Pacific coast, and the strait between North America and Asia was first sighted by a Russian explorer in 1648. The colonization of the Asian territories was largely peaceful, in sharp contrast to the build-up of other colonial empires of the time.

 Russian Federation Emblem of Army of Russian Federation National Flag of Russian Federation

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