General information: The defeat of the Russian Empire in the First World War led to the seizure of power by the communists and the formation of the USSR. The brutal rule of Joseph STALIN (1924-1953) consolidated Russian dominance in the Soviet Union at the cost of tens of millions of human lives. In the decades that followed, the Soviet economy and society stagnated until General Secretary Mikhail GORBACHEV introduced glasnost and began perestroika in an attempt to modernize communism, but his initiatives unexpectedly unleashed the forces that caused the USSR to collapse into 15 independent states in December 1991. Since then, Russia has been trying to build a democratic political system and market economy to replace the system of rigid social, political and economic control of the communist period.
Location: Northern Asia (part of which west of the Urals is often included in Europe), bordering the Arctic Ocean, between Europe and the North Pacific. See franciscogardening.com to know more about Russia Geography.
Geographic coordinates: 60° 00′ N. latitude, 100° 00′ E
Reference map: Asia.
Area: total: 17,075,200 km2; land surface area: 16,995,800 km2; water surface area: 79,400 km2
Comparative area: slightly less than 1.8 US area.
Land borders: total: 19,961 km; with neighboring states: with Azerbaijan 284 km, with Belarus 959 km, with China (south-eastern border) 3,605 km, with China (southern border) 40 km, with Estonia 294 km, with Finland 1,313 km, with Georgia 723 km, with Kazakhstan 6,846 km, with North Korea 19 km, with Latvia 217 km, with Lithuania (borders on the Kaliningrad region) 227 km, with Mongolia 3,485 km, with Norway 167 km, with Poland (borders with the Kaliningrad region) 206 km, with Ukraine 1,576 km.
Coastline: 37,653 km.
Maritime claims: continental shelf: to a depth of 200 m or to the depth of exploitation; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: varies from steppe in the south to humid continental in most of European Russia; subarctic in Siberia and the polar North; winters – from cool on the Black Sea coast to very cold in Siberia; summer weather varies from hot in the steppes to cool in the Arctic.
Relief: wide plain with low hills to the west of the Urals; vast coniferous forests and tundra in Siberia; mountains along the southern borders.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m; highest point: Mount Elbrus 5,633 m.
Natural resources: vast deposits of minerals, including large reserves of oil, gas, coal; strategic mineral raw materials, timber; note: climate, topography and long distances make the exploitation of natural resources very difficult.
Land use: arable land: 8%; cultivated land: 0%; pastures: 4%; forests and plantations: 46%; others: 42% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 40,000 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural hazards: permafrost in a large part of the territory of Siberia, which seriously impedes construction; volcanic activity on the Kuril Islands; volcanoes and earthquakes on the Kamchatka Peninsula.
Current environmental issues: air pollution from heavy industry, coal-fired power plants and motor vehicles in large cities; pollution of inland waterways and the sea coast by industrial, sewage and agricultural effluents; deforestation; soil erosion; soil pollution from misuse of chemicals in agriculture; radioactive contamination of certain parts of the territory; pollution of groundwater with toxic waste.
International agreements on environmental protection: member: Air Pollution, Air Pollution – Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution – Sulfur 1985, Antarctica – Environmental Protection Protocol, Conservation of Marine Life in Antarctica, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Change, Hazardous waste, Law of the sea, Marine pollution, Nuclear test ban, Ozone layer protection, Marine pollution from ships, Tropical timber 1983, Wetlands, Whaling; signed but not ratified: Air Pollution – Sulfur 1994, Kyoto Protocol.
Note to the section “Geography”: the largest country in the world in terms of territory, however, it has an unfortunate location relative to the main shipping routes; despite its size, most of the country lacks soils and climates (either too cold or too dry) suitable for agriculture.
Population: 145,470,197 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 17.41% (male 12,915,026; female 12,405,341); 15 to 64 years old: 69.78% (male 49,183,000; female 52,320,962); over 65: 12.81% (male 5,941,944; female 12,703,924) (2001 est.);
Population growth: -0.35% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 9.35 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 13.85 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 0.98 people / 1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male/female; under 15: 1.04 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 0.94 male/female; over 65: 0.47 male/female; for the general population: 0.88 male/female. (2001 est.).
Child mortality: 20.05 deaths/1000 births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 67.34 years; men: 62.12 years; women: 72.83 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 1.27 children/wives. (2001 OTs.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: 0.18% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: 130,000 (1999 est.).
AIDS deaths: 850 (1999 est.).
Nationality: noun: Russian; adjective: Russian.
Ethnic groups: Russians 81.5%, Tatars 3.8%, Ukrainians 3%, Chuvashs 1.2%, Bashkirs 0.9%, Belarusians 0.8%, Moldovans 0.7%, others 8.1%.
Believers: Orthodox, Muslims, others.
Languages): Russian, others.
Literacy: definition: persons from 15 pets who can read and write; for the general population: 98%; men: 100%; women: 97% (1989 est.).
Common long form: Russian Federation;
Common short form: Russia; former: Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
State structure: federation.
Administrative division: Yamalo-Nenets (Salekhard)**, Yaroslavl; note: the autonomous republics of Chechnya and Ingushetia used to be the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic (the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia is still to be determined); administrative units have names derived from their administrative centers (with the exception of those administrative centers whose names are given in brackets).
Independence: August 24, 1991 (until 1991 – part of the Soviet Union).
National holiday: Day of Russia, June 12 (1990).
Constitution: adopted December 12, 1993
Legal system: based on the civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts.
Suffrage: from 18 years old; universal.
head of state: President Vladimir Vladimirovich PUTIN (acting president since December 31, 1999, president since May 7, 2000);
head of the government: Prime Minister Mikhail Mikhailovich KASYANOV (since May 7, 2000); First Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Leonidovich KUDRIN (since May 18, 2000), Deputy Prime Ministers Alexei Vasilievich GORDEEV (since May 20, 2000), Viktor Borisovich Khristenko (since May 31, 1999), Ilya Iosifovich KLEBANOV (since May 31 1999), Valentina Ivanovna MATVIENKO (since September 22, 1998);
government: the government consists of the prime minister and his deputies, ministers and heads of committees; they are all appointed by the president; note: there is also a presidential administration, which provides personnel and political support for the activities of the president, prepares draft presidential decrees and coordinates the policies of state committees; The Security Council also reports directly to the president; elections: president elected by popular vote for a four-year term; elections last held 26 March 2000 (next to be held in 2004); note – there is no post of vice-president; if the president dies, is unable to perform his duties for health reasons, is removed from office or resigns, then the prime minister takes his place; the prime minister acts as acting president until new presidential elections, which must be completed within three months; the prime minister is appointed by the president with the approval of the State Duma; election results: Vladimir Vladimirovich PUTIN elected president; percentage of votes – PUTIN 52.9%, Gennady Andreevich ZYUGANOV 29.2%, Grigory Alekseevich YAVLINSKY 5.8%.
Legislature: the bicameral Federal Assembly consists of the Federation Council (178 seats, members are appointed by the executive and legislative branches of each of the 89 federal administrative units – regions, territories, republics, autonomous districts and autonomous regions, the federal cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg; members serve a four-year term) and State Duma (450 seats, half of which are formed by a proportional system from representatives of parties with more than 5% of the vote, and half are elected in single-member districts; members are elected by direct universal suffrage for a four-year term); elections: State Duma – last held 19 December 1999 (next to be held in 2003); election results: State Duma – percentage of votes received by parties that passed the 5% threshold, giving the right to proportional distribution of 225 seats on the party list – the Communist Party of the Russian Federation 24.29%, Unity 23.32%, OVR 13.33%, Union of Right Forces 8.52%, LDPR 5.98%, Yabloko 5.93%; distribution of seats among parties – Communist Party of the Russian Federation 113, Unity 72, OVR 67, SPS 29, LDPR 17, Yabloko 21, others 16, independent 106, repeat elections required 8, vacant 1.
Judiciary: Constitutional Court; Supreme Court; Superior Court of Arbitration; the judges of all these courts are appointed for life by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the President.
Political parties and leaders: Agrarian Party (Mikhail Ivanovich LAPSHIN); Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) (Gennady Andreevich ZYUGANOV); Fatherland – All Russia (OVR) (Yuri Mikhailovich LUZHKOV); Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) (Vladimir Zhirinovsky); Union of Right Forces (Boris Efimovich NEMTSOV); Unity (Sergei Kuzhugetovich SHOIGU); Apple (Grigory Alekseevich YAVLINSKY); note: almost 150 political parties, blocs and movements registered by the Ministry of Justice by December 19, 1998, could take part in the Duma elections on December 19, 1999; Of these, 36 political organizations actually formed party lists to participate in the Duma elections, 6 parties overcame the 5% barrier and divided among themselves 225 seats in the Duma on a proportional basis, 9 other organizations have their representatives in the Duma:
Political pressure groups and their leaders: no data available.
Participation in international organizations: ARES, ASEAN (dialogue partner), BIS, BSEC, CBSS, CCC, CE, CERN (observer), CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, ESCAP, G-8, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, LAIA (observer), MINURSO, MONUC, NAM (guest), NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN, UN Security Council, UNAMSIL, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNITAR, UNMEE, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOP, UNOMIG, UNTAET, UNTSO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer), ZC.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: head of mission: Ambassador Yury Viktorovich USHAKOV; office: 2650 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007; phone:  (202) 298-5700, 298-5701, 298-5704, 298-5708; fax:  (202) 298-5735; consulates general: New York, San Francisco and Seattle.
US Mission: Chief of Mission: Ambassador James F. COLLINS; embassy: Novinsky Boulevard, 19/23, Moscow; mailing address: ARO AE 09721; phone:  (095) 728-5000; fax:  (095) 728-5203; consulates general: St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, Yekaterinburg.
Description of the flag: three equal horizontal stripes of white (top), blue and red. Economy