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Russia


 

    *Country Profile [CIA, 2008]
Founded in the 12th century, the Principality of Muscovy, was able to emerge from over 200 years of Mongol domination (13th-15th centuries) and to gradually conquer and absorb surrounding principalities. In the early 17th century, a new Romanov Dynasty continued this policy of expansion across Siberia to the Pacific. Under PETER I (ruled 1682-1725), hegemony was extended to the Baltic Sea and the country was renamed the Russian Empire. During the 19th century, more territorial acquisitions were made in Europe and Asia. Defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 contributed to the Revolution of 1905, which resulted in the formation of a parliament and other reforms. Repeated devastating defeats of the Russian army in World War I led to widespread rioting in the major cities of the Russian Empire and to the overthrow in 1917 of the imperial household. The Communists under Vladimir LENIN seized power soon after and formed the USSR. The brutal rule of Iosif STALIN (1928-53) strengthened Communist rule and 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 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. In tandem with its prudent management of Russia?s windfall energy wealth, which has helped the country rebound from the economic collapse of the 1990?s, the Kremlin in recent years has overseen a recentralization of power that has undermined democratic institutions. Russia has severely disabled the Chechen rebel movement, although violence still occurs throughout the North Caucasus.

Disputes
China and Russia have demarcated the once disputed islands at the Amur and Ussuri confluence and in the Argun River in accordance with the 2004 Agreement, ending their centuries-long border disputes; the sovereignty dispute over the islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan, and the Habomai group, known in Japan as the "Northern Territories" and in Russia as the "Southern Kurils," occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945, now administered by Russia, and claimed by Japan, remains the primary sticking point to signing a peace treaty formally ending World War II hostilities; Russia and Georgia agree on delimiting all but small, strategic segments of the land boundary and the maritime boundary; OSCE observers monitor volatile areas such as the Pankisi Gorge in the Akhmeti region and the Kodori Gorge in Abkhazia; Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia signed equidistance boundaries in the Caspian seabed but the littoral states have no consensus on dividing the water column; Russia and Norway dispute their maritime limits in the Barents Sea and Russia's fishing rights beyond Svalbard's territorial limits within the Svalbard Treaty zone; various groups in Finland advocate restoration of Karelia (Kareliya) and other areas ceded to the Soviet Union following the Second World War but the Finnish Government asserts no territorial demands; in May 2005, Russia recalled its signatures to the 1996 border agreements with Estonia (1996) and Latvia (1997), when the two Baltic states announced issuance of unilateral declarations referencing Soviet occupation and ensuing territorial losses; Russia demands better treatment of ethnic Russians in Estonia and Latvia; Estonian citizen groups continue to press for realignment of the boundary based on the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty that would bring the now divided ethnic Setu people and parts of the Narva region within Estonia; Lithuania and Russia committed to demarcating their boundary in 2006 in accordance with the land and maritime treaty ratified by Russia in May 2003 and by Lithuania in 1999; Lithuania operates a simplified transit regime for Russian nationals traveling from the Kaliningrad coastal exclave into Russia, while still conforming, as an EU member state with an EU external border, where strict Schengen border rules apply; preparations for the demarcation delimitation of land boundary with Ukraine have commenced; the dispute over the boundary between Russia and Ukraine through the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov remains unresolved despite a December 2003 framework agreement and on-going expert-level discussions; Kazakhstan and Russia boundary delimitation was ratified on November 2005 and field demarcation should commence in 2007; Russian Duma has not yet ratified 1990 Bering Sea Maritime Boundary Agreement with the US.

Location

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

Coordinates

60 0' N 100 0' E

Capital

Moscow

Main Cities

Chelyabinsk, St Petersburg, Volgograd

Area

17075200 km2

Boundaries (km)

20,017 - Azerbaijan 284, Belarus 959, China (southeast) 3,605, China (south) 40, Estonia 294, Finland 1,340, Georgia 723, Kazakhstan 6,846, North Korea 19, Latvia 217, Lithuania (Kaliningrad Oblast) 227, Mongolia 3,485, Norway 196, Poland (Kaliningrad Oblast) 206, Ukraine 1,576

Coastline (km)

37,653

Timezone (GMT)

3 to 12

Population

140,702,094 (July 2008 est.) (Demographics)

Public Holidays

Russia Day, 12 June (1990)

Currency

Russian ruble (RUB)

GDP

$2.088 trillion (2007 est.) (Economic data)

Main Exports

petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas, wood and wood products, metals, chemicals, and a wide variety of civilian and military manufactures

Climate

ranges from steppes in the south through humid continental in much of European Russia; subarctic in Siberia to tundra climate in the polar north; winters vary from cool along Black Sea coast to frigid in Siberia; summers vary from warm in the steppes to cool along Arctic coast

Natural Hazards

permafrost over much of Siberia is a major impediment to development; volcanic activity in the Kuril Islands; volcanoes and earthquakes on the Kamchatka Peninsula; spring floods and summer/autumn forest fires throughout Siberia and parts of European Russia

Physical Features

Caspian Sea (371,000 km2), Lake Baikal (31,330 km2), Yenisey-Angara-Selenga-Ider river (5,870 km), Amur-Argun-Kerulen river (5,780 km), Ob-Irtysh river (5,410 km), Lena (4,400 km), Klyuchevskoy volcano (4,850 m), Bezymianny volcano (2,800 m), Ural Mountains, Central Siberian Plateau, Caucasus Mountains, Tien Shan Mountains, Pamir Mountains, vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia

Environmental Agreements

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Sulfur 94

 

    *Population

Russia has a population of 140,702,094 (July 2008 est.) .

Capital

Moscow

Main urban areas

Chelyabinsk, St Petersburg, Volgograd

Ethnic groups

Russian 81.5%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 3%, Chuvash 1.2%, Bashkir 0.9%, Belarusian 0.8%, Moldavian 0.7%, other 8.1% (1989)

Languages spoken

Russian, other

 

    *Geographic Data
Russia is located in Northern Asia (the area west of the Urals is considered part of Europe), bordering the Arctic Ocean, between Europe and the North Pacific Ocean, in the timezone GMT 3 to 12. The country has boundaries of 20,017 - Azerbaijan 284, Belarus 959, China (southeast) 3,605, China (south) 40, Estonia 294, Finland 1,340, Georgia 723, Kazakhstan 6,846, North Korea 19, Latvia 217, Lithuania (Kaliningrad Oblast) 227, Mongolia 3,485, Norway 196, Poland (Kaliningrad Oblast) 206, Ukraine 1,576 (km), and a coastline of 37,653 (km). Major urban areas: Moscow, Chelyabinsk, St Petersburg, Volgograd .

Elevations
Lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m
Highest point: Gora El'brus 5,633 m

Physical Features
Caspian Sea (371,000 km2), Lake Baikal (31,330 km2), Yenisey-Angara-Selenga-Ider river (5,870 km), Amur-Argun-Kerulen river (5,780 km), Ob-Irtysh river (5,410 km), Lena (4,400 km), Klyuchevskoy volcano (4,850 m), Bezymianny volcano (2,800 m), Ural Mountains, Central Siberian Plateau, Caucasus Mountains, Tien Shan Mountains, Pamir Mountains, vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia

Hazards
Permafrost over much of Siberia is a major impediment to development; volcanic activity in the Kuril Islands; volcanoes and earthquakes on the Kamchatka Peninsula; spring floods and summer/autumn forest fires throughout Siberia and parts of European Russia

Climate
Ranges from steppes in the south through humid continental in much of European Russia; subarctic in Siberia to tundra climate in the polar north; winters vary from cool along Black Sea coast to frigid in Siberia; summers vary from warm in the steppes to cool along Arctic coast

Natural Resources
Wide natural resource base including major deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, and many strategic minerals, timber note: formidable obstacles of climate, terrain, and distance hinder exploitation of natural resources

Land Use
Arable land: 7.17% permanent crops: 0.11% other: 92.72% (2005)

Renewable Water Resources
4,498 cu km (1997)

Fresh Water Withdrawal
total: 76.68 cu km/yr (19%/63%/18%) per capita: 535 cu m/yr (2000)

Environmental Issues
Air pollution from heavy industry, emissions of coal-fired electric plants, and transportation in major cities; industrial, municipal, and agricultural pollution of inland waterways and seacoasts; deforestation; soil erosion; soil contamination from improper application of agricultural chemicals; scattered areas of sometimes intense radioactive contamination; groundwater contamination from toxic waste; urban solid waste management; abandoned stocks of obsolete pesticides