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Russia overview


Background: Russia, a vast Eurasian expanse of field, forest, desert, and tundra, has endured many "times of trouble"—the Mongol rule of the 13th to 15th century; tsarist reigns of terror; massive invasions by Swedes, French, and Germans; and the deadly communist period (1917-91) in which Russia dominated an immense Soviet Union. General Secretary Mikhail GORBACHEV, in charge during 1985-91, introduced glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in an attempt to modernise communism, but also inadvertently released forces that shattered the USSR into 15 independent republics in December 1991. 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 communist period. These reform efforts have resulted in contradictory and confusing economic and political regulations and practices. Industry, agriculture, the military, the central government, and the rouble have suffered, but Russia has successfully held one presidential, two legislative, and numerous regional elections since 1991. The severe illnesses of President Boris YEL'TSIN have contributed to a lack of policy focus at the centre.


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

Geographic coordinates: 60 00 N, 100 00 E

Map references: Asia

total: 17,075,200 sq km
land: 16,995,800 sq km
water: 79,400 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly less than 1.8 times the size of the US

Land boundaries:
total: 19,917 km
border countries: Azerbaijan 284 km, Belarus 959 km, China (south-east) 3,605 km, China (south) 40 km, Estonia 294 km, Finland 1,313 km, Georgia 723 km, Kazakhstan 6,846 km, North Korea 19 km, Latvia 217 km, Lithuania (Kaliningrad region) 227 km, Mongolia 3,441 km, Norway 167 km, Poland (Kaliningrad region) 206 km, Ukraine 1,576 km

Coastline: 37,653 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: ranges from steppes in the south through humid continental in much of European Russia; sub-arctic 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

Terrain: broad plain with low hills west of Urals; vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia; uplands and mountains along southern border regions

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m
highest point: Mount El'brus 5,633 m

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: 8%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 4%
forests and woodland: 46%
other: 42% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 40,000 sq km (1993 est.)

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

Environment—current 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 sea coasts; deforestation; soil erosion; soil contamination from improper application of agricultural chemicals; scattered areas of sometimes intense radioactive contamination

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol

Geography—note: largest country in the world in terms of area but unfavourably located in relation to major sea lanes of the world; despite its size, much of the country lacks proper soils and climates (either too cold or too dry) for agriculture


Population: 146,393,569 (July 1999 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 19% (male 14,224,033; female 13,666,440)
15-64 years: 68% (male 48,407,409; female 51,768,664)
65 years and over: 13% (male 5,698,356; female 12,628,667) (1999 est.)

Population growth rate: -0.33% (1999 est.)

Birth rate: 9.64 births/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Death rate: 14.96 deaths/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Net migration rate: 2.05 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Sex ratio:
a birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.45 male(s)/female
total population: 0.88 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 23 deaths/1,000 live births (1999 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 65.12 years
male: 58.83 years
female: 71.72 years (1999 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.34 children born/woman (1999 est.)

noun: Russian(s)
adjective: Russian

Ethnic groups: Russian 81.5%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 3%, Chuvash 1.2%, Bashkir 0.9%, Byelorussian 0.8%, Moldavian 0.7%, other 8.1%

Religions: Russian Orthodox, Muslim, other

Languages: Russian, other

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 100%
female: 97% (1989 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form: Russian Federation
conventional short form: Russia
local long form: Rossiyskaya Federatsiya
local short form: Rossiya
former: Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic

Data code: RS

Government type: federation

Capital: Moscow

Administrative divisions: oblasts (region), (oblastey, singular—oblast'), 21 autonomous republics* (avtonomnyk respublik, singular—avtonomnaya respublika), 10 autonomous okrugs**(avtonomnykh okrugov, singular—avtonomnyy okrug), 6 krays*** (krayev, singular—kray), 2 federal cities (singular—gorod)****, and 1 autonomous oblast*****(avtonomnaya oblast'); Adygeya (Maykop)*, Aginskiy Buryatskiy (Aginskoye)**, Altay (Gorno-Altaysk)*, Altayskiy (Barnaul)***, Amurskaya (Blagoveshchensk), Arkhangel'skaya, Astrakhanskaya, Bashkortostan (Ufa)*, Belgorodskaya, Bryanskaya, Buryatiya (Ulan-Ude)*, Chechnya (Groznyy)*, Chelyabinskaya, Chitinskaya, Chukotskiy (Anadyr')**, Chuvashiya (Cheboksary)*, Dagestan (Makhachkala)*, Evenkiyskiy (Tura)**, Ingushetiya (Nazran')*, Irkutskaya, Ivanovskaya, Kabardino-Balkariya (Nal'chik)*, Kaliningradskaya, Kalmykiya (Elista)*, Kaluzkskaya, Kamchatskaya (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy), Karachayevo-Cherkesiya (Cherkessk)*, Kareliya (Petrozavodsk)*, Kemerovskaya, Khabarovskiy***, Khakasiya (Abakan)*, Khanty-Mansiyskiy (Khanty-Mansiysk)**, Kirovskaya, Komi (Syktyvkar)*, Koryakskiy (Palana)**, Kostromskaya, Krasnodarskiy***, Krasnoyarskiy***, Kurganskaya, Kurskaya, Leningradskaya, Lipetskaya, Magadanskaya, Mariy-El (Yoshkar-Ola)*, Mordoviya (Saransk)*, Moskovskaya, Moskva (Moscow)****, Murmanskaya, Nenetskiy (Nar'yan-Mar)**, Nizhegorodskaya, Novgorodskaya, Novosibirskaya, Omskaya, Orenburgskaya, Orlovskaya (Orel), Penzenskaya, Permskaya, Komi-Permyatskiy (Kudymkar)**, Primorskiy (Vladivostok)***, Pskovskaya, Rostovskaya, Ryazanskaya, Sakha (Yakutsk)*, Sakhalinskaya (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk), Samarskaya, Sankt-Peterburg (Saint Petersburg)****, Saratovskaya, Severnaya Osetiya-Alaniya (Vladikavkaz)*, Smolenskaya, Stavropol'skiy***, Sverdlovskaya (Yekaterinburg), Tambovskaya, Tatarstan (Kazan')*, Taymyrskiy (Dudinka)**, Tomskaya, Tul'skaya, Tverskaya, Tyumenskaya, Tyva (Kyzyl)*, Udmurtiya (Izhevsk)*, Ul'yanovskaya, Ust'-Ordynskiy Buryatskiy (Ust'-Ordynskiy)**, Vladimirskaya, Volgogradskaya, Vologodskaya, Voronezhskaya, Yamalo-Nenetskiy (Salekhard)**, Yaroslavskaya, Yevreyskaya*****; note—when using a place name with an adjectival ending 'skaya' or 'skiy,' the word Oblast' or Avonomnyy Okrug or Kray should be added to the place name
note: the autonomous republics of Chechnya and Ingushetiya were formerly the autonomous republic of Checheno-Ingushetia (the boundary between Chechnya and Ingushetia has yet to be determined); administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative centre name following in parentheses)

Independence: 24 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)

National holiday: Independence Day, June 12 (1990)

Constitution: adopted 12 December 1993

Legal system: based on civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President

head of government: Premier, First Deputy Premiers

cabinet: Ministries of the Government or "Government" composed of the premier and his deputies, ministers, and other agency heads; all are appointed by the president

note: there is also a Presidential Administration (PA) that provides staff and policy support to the president, drafts presidential decrees, and co-ordinates policy among government agencies; a Security Council also reports directly to the president

elections: president elected by popular vote for a four-year term; note—no vice president; if the president dies in office, cannot exercise his powers because of ill health, is impeached, or resigns, the premier succeeds him; the premier serves as acting president until a new presidential election is held, which must be within three months; premier and deputy premiers appointed by the president with the approval of the Duma

Legislative branch: bicameral Federal Assembly or Federal'noye Sobraniye consists of the Federation Council or Sovet Federatsii (178 seats, filled ex-officio by the top executive and legislative officials in each of the 89 federal administrative units—oblasts, krays, republics, autonomous okrugs and oblasts, and the federal cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg; members serve four-year terms) and the State Duma or Gosudarstvennaya Duma (450 seats, half elected in single-member districts and half elected from national party lists; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms)

Judicial branch: Constitutional Court, judges are appointed for life by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the president; Supreme Court, judges are appointed for life by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the president; Superior Court of Arbitration, judges are appointed for life by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the president

Political parties and leaders:
pro-market democrats: Yabloko Bloc [Grigoriy Alekseyevich YAVLINSKIY]; Pravoye Delo (Just Cause), a coalition of reformist, western-oriented movements [Yegor Timurovich GAYDAR, Anatoliy Borisovich CHUBAYS, Boris Yefimovich NEMTSOV, Sergey Vladlenovich KIRIYENKO]
centrists/special interest parties: Fatherland [Yuriy Mikhailovich LUZHKOV]; Russian People's Republican Party [Aleksandr Ivanovich LEBED]; Our Home Is Russia [Viktor Stepanovich CHERNOMYRDIN]
anti-market and/or ultranationalist: Communist Party of the Russian Federation [Gennadiy Andreyevich ZYUGANOV]; Liberal Democratic Party of Russia [Vladimir Vol'fovich ZHIRINOVSKIY]; Agrarian Party [Mikhail Ivanovich LAPSHIN]; Working Russia [Viktor Ivanovich ANPILOV and Stanislav TEREKHOV]; Russian National Unity [Aleksandr BARKASHOV]
note: some 150 political parties, blocs, and movements registered with the Justice Ministry

International organization participation: APEC, BIS, BSEC, CBSS, CCC, CE, CERN (observer), CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, ESCAP, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, LAIA (observer), MINURSO, MONUA, MTCR, NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN, UN Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNITAR, UNMIBH, UNMOP, UNOMIG, UNOMSIL, UNPREDEP, UNTSO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (applicant), ZC

Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of white (top), blue, and red


total: 150,000 km; note—87,000 km in common carrier service; 63,000 km serve specific industries and are not available for common carrier use
broad gauge: 150,000 km 1.520-m gauge (January 1997 est.)

total: 948,000 km (including 416,000 km which serve specific industries or farms and are not maintained by governmental highway maintenance departments)
paved: 336,000 km
unpaved: 612,000 km (including 411,000 km of gravelled or some other form of surfacing and 201,000 km of unstabilised earth) (1995 est.)

Waterways: total navigable routes in general use 101,000 km; routes with navigation guides serving the Russian River Fleet 95,900 km; routes with night navigational aids 60,400 km; man-made navigable routes 16,900 km (January 1994 est.)

Pipelines: crude oil 48,000 km; petroleum products 15,000 km; natural gas 140,000 km (June 1993 est.)

Ports and harbors: Arkhangel'sk, Astrakhan', Kaliningrad, Kazan', Khabarovsk, Kholmsk, Krasnoyarsk, Moscow, Murmansk, Nakhodka, Nevel'sk, Novorossiysk, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, St. Petersburg, Rostov, Sochi, Tuapse, Vladivostok, Volgograd, Vostochnyy, Vyborg

Merchant marine:
total: 617 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totalling 4,146,329 GRT/5,278,909 DWT
ships by type: barge carrier 1, bulk 19, cargo 309, combination bulk 21, combination ore/oil 6, container 25, multifunction large-load carrier 1, oil tanker 149, passenger 35, passenger-cargo 3, refrigerated cargo 16, roll-on/roll-off cargo 25, short-sea passenger 7 (1998 est.)

Airports: 2,517 (1994 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 630
over 3,047 m: 54
2,438 to 3,047 m: 202
1,524 to 2,437 m: 108
914 to 1,523 m: 115
under 914 m: 151 (1994 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 1,887
over 3,047 m: 25
2,438 to 3,047 m: 45
1,524 to 2,437 m: 134
914 to 1,523 m: 291
under 914 m: 1,392 (1994 est.)



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