Russia (officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation) is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects. Russia shares land borders with the following countries (from northwest to southeast): Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (via Kaliningrad Oblast), Poland (via Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It also has maritime borders with Japan (by the Sea of Okhotsk), the Republic of Korea (by the Sea of Japan), Sweden (by the Baltic Sea), Turkey (by the Black Sea), and the United States (by the Bering Strait). At 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sq mi), 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 wide range of environments and landforms. Russia has the world’s largest reserves of 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.
The nation’s history began with that of the East Slavs, which emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a noble Viking warrior class 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’ ultimately disintegrated and the lands were divided into many small feudal 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 Russian Empire, which was the third largest empire in history, stretching from Poland eastward to the Pacific Ocean and Alaska.
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. It has the world’s eighth largest GDP by nominal GDP or sixth largest by purchasing power parity with the eighth largest military budget. It is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the world’s largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a member of the G8, APEC and the SCO, and is a leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States.