Russia is a country located in northern Eurasia bordering the Arctic Ocean between Europe and North Pacific Ocean. Neighboring countries include Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Norway, Poland, and Ukraine. The geography is diverse and includes vast forests and tundra in Siberia and mountains along the southern borders.
Major Geographic Features
The Russian Federation is the largest of the 21 republics that make up the Commonwealth of Independent States. It occupies most of Eastern Europe and north Asia, stretching from the Baltic Sea in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east, and from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea and the Caucasus in the south. It is bordered by Norway and Finland in the northwest; Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania in the west; Georgia and Azerbaijan in the southwest; and Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, and North Korea along the southern border.
Population and Ethnic Groups
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia experienced a decline in population. The decline was due in part to the difficult economic conditions the nation endured, especially in the 1990s, which led to a low birth rate, a reduced male life expectancy, and emigration. The population drop was slowed somewhat by immigration consisting mainly of ethnic Russians from other areas of the former Soviet Union, but it has continued during the early 21st cent.
There are at least 60 different recognized ethnic groups in Russia, but the vast majority of the population are Russians (80%). There are also Ukrainians (2%) and such non-Slavic linguistic and ethnic groups as Tatars (4%), Bashkirs, Chuvash, Komi, Komi-Permyaks, Udmurts, Mari, Mordovians, Jews, Germans, Armenians, and numerous groups in the Far North and in the Caucasus. Russian is the official language.
The largest Russian cities with the population greater than 1 million are Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Kazan, Omsk, Chelyabinsk, Rostov-on-Don, Ufa and Volgograd.
Religion and Education
The majority of Russia's population has no religious affiliation due to the antireligious ideology of the Soviet Union. The Russian Orthodox Church, headquartered in Moscow, has about 60 million adherents; the numbers have grown rapidly since the end of Soviet rule. There are also communities of Old Believers, a group that broke with the Orthodox Church in the 17th century, as well as a large Muslim minority. Other religions include various Christian churches, Lamaist Buddhism, Judaism, and tribal religions.
Russia’s economic freedom score is 52.1, making its economy the 143rd freest in the 2015 Index. Its score has improved by 0.2 point since last year, with gains in business freedom, freedom from corruption, and labor freedom largely offset by declines in monetary freedom, property rights, and the management of government spending. Russia is ranked 41st out of 43 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is below the world average.
The foundations of economic freedom in Russia remain weak. Apart from connections with Europe, Russia remains relatively closed to trade and investment. The government screens foreign investment, and subsidized state-owned businesses limit competition and market opportunities. Corruption and respect for property rights have improved little since the fall of Communism. The business environment is constrained by suffocating bureaucracy and a rigid labor market
Physioeconomically, the Russian Federation may be conveniently divided into 9 major regions: the Central European Region, the North and Northwest European Region, the Volga Region, the North Caucasus, the Ural Region, Western Siberia, Eastern Siberia, Northern and Northwestern Siberia, and the Russian Far East.
The Russian Federation is governed under the constitution of 1993, as amended.