|English version » Institute|
Russia (in Russian: Россия), officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation (in Russian: Российская Федерация), is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (both via Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It also has maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk, and the US state of Alaska by the Bering Strait. Having the square of 17,075,400 square kilometers (6,592,800 sq miles), Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than one eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area. Russia is also the eighth most populous nation with 143 million people.
Despite its wide dispersal, the Russian language is homogeneous throughout Russia. Russian is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and the most widely spoken Slavic language (about 300 million speakers all over the world). It belongs to the Indo-European language family and is one of the living members of the East Slavic languages; the others being Belarusian and Ukrainian.
According to the Constitution of Russia, the country is a federation and semi-presidential republic, wherein the President is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of government. The Russian Federation is fundamentally structured as a multi-party representative democracy, with the federal government composed of three branches:
The Russian Federation comprises 85 federal subjects. These subjects have equal representation — two delegates each — in the Federation Council. However, they differ in the degree of autonomy they enjoy.
Federal subjects are grouped into ten federal districts, each administered by an envoy appointed by the President of Russia. Unlike the federal subjects, the federal districts are not a subnational level of government, but are a level of administration of the federal government. Federal districts' envoys serve as liaisons between the federal subjects and the federal government and are primarily responsible for overseeing the compliance of the federal subjects with the federal laws.
Russia is the largest country in the world; its total area is 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 square miles). There are 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia, 40 UNESCO biosphere reserves, 40 national parks and 101 nature reserves. It lies between latitudes 41° and 82° N, and longitudes 19° E and 169° W.
Russia has a wide natural resource base, including major deposits of timber, petroleum, natural gas, coal, ores and other mineral resources.
The enormous size of Russia and the remoteness of many areas from the sea result in the dominance of the humid continental climate, which is prevalent in all parts of the country except for the tundra and the extreme southeast. Mountains in the south obstruct the flow of warm air masses from the Indian Ocean, while the plain of the west and north makes the country open to Arctic and Atlantic influences.
Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism are Russia’s traditional religions, legally a part of Russia's "historical heritage". The Russian Orthodox Church was the country's state religion prior to the Revolution and remains the largest religious body in the country. Estimates of believers widely fluctuate among sources, and some reports put the number of non-believers in Russia at 16–48% of the population.
Easter is the most popular religious festival in Russia, celebrated by more than 90% of all Russian citizens, including large number of non-religious. More than three-fourth of the Russians celebrate Easter by making traditional Easter cakes, coloured eggs and paskha.
Traced back to the Christianization of Kievan Rus' in the 10th century, Russian Orthodoxy is the dominant religion in the country; approximately 100 million citizens consider themselves Russian Orthodox Christians. 95% of the registered Orthodox parishes belong to the Russian Orthodox Church while there are a number of smaller Orthodox Churches. However, the vast majority of Orthodox believers do not attend church on a regular basis. Smaller Christian denominations such as Catholics, Armenian Gregorians, and various Protestant churches also exist.
Estimates of the number of Muslims in Russia range from 7–9 million by the local sources to 15–20 million by Western and Islamic sources. Also there are 3 to 4 million temporary Muslim migrants from the post-Soviet states. Most Muslims live in the Volga-Ural region, as well as in the Caucasus, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Western Siberia.
Buddhism is traditional for three regions of the Russian Federation: Buryatia, Tuva and Kalmykia. Some residents of the Siberian and Far Eastern regions, such as Yakutia and Chukotka, practice shamanist, pantheistic and pagan rites, along with the major religions. Induction into religion takes place primarily along ethnic lines. Slavs are overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian, Turkic speakers are predominantly Muslim, and Mongolic peoples are Buddhists.