The scale of Russia is difficult to imagine. It is the world’s largest country by land mass – nearly twice as big as Canada, the world’s second-largest nation – and covers all of northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe. It shares land borders with more than a dozen countries, and shares sea borders with Japan and the United States.
Russia as a nation dates back more than a millennium and authoritarian rule has marked much of its history. It was the largest and leading republic of the Soviet Union, which formed in 1922. Following the Soviet collapse in 1991, Russia became an independent nation. Russians directly elect their president, and the federal government includes legislative and judicial branches, as well as a presidency possessing extensive authority.
Western governments and organizations have criticized the Russian government for being authoritarian and guilty of human-rights abuses. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the role it has played in the conflict in Ukraine has increased tension between Moscow and the West, including sanctions imposed by Western countries. International anxieties also have focused on concern over alleged Russian-government interference in Western politics, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
[Explore the top universities in Russia.]
Russia has one of the world’s largest economies that is powered by its extensive natural resources. Top industries include oil and natural gas production, with agriculture, forestry, fishing and manufacturing serving as other economic drivers. Oil and natural gas, in particular, represent large portions of the country’s economy. Russia also is one of the world’s largest exporters of military weapons, trailing only the United States.
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