- Area: 6,601,670 sq miles
- Population: 144,526,636
- Infant mortality: 6.6 per 1000
- Life expectancy: 65.29 (male), 76.49 (female)
- Urbanisation: 74%
- Literacy: 99.7%
The area that is today the country of Russia has been inhabited by people for thousands of years. The first modern state in Russia was founded in 862 by King Rurik of the Rus, who was made the ruler of Novgorod. Some years later, the Rus conquered the city of Kiev and started the kingdom of the Kievan Rus. Over the 10th and 11th century the Kievan Rus became a powerful empire in Europe reaching its peak under Vladimir the Great and Yaroslav I the Wise. During the 13th century the Mongols led by Batu Khan overran the area and wiped out the Kievan Rus. In the 14th century, the Grand Duchy of Moscow rose to power. It became the head of the Eastern Roman Empire and Ivan IV the Terrible crowned himself the first Tsar of Russia in 1547. Tsar was another name for Caesar as the Russians called their empire the "Third Rome". In 1613, Mikhail Romanov established the Romanov dynasty that would rule Russia for many years. Under the rule of Tsar Peter the Great (1689-1725), the Russian empire continued to expand. It became a major power throughout Europe. Peter the Great moved the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg. During the 19th century, Russian culture was at its peak. Famous artists and writers such as Dostoyevsky, Tchaikovsky, and Tolstoy became famous throughout the world. After World War I, in 1917, the people of Russia fought against the leadership of the Tsars. Vladimir Lenin led the Bolshevik Party in revolution overthrowing the Tsar. Civil war broke out in 1918. Linen's side won and the communist state the Soviet Union was born in 1922. After Lenin died in 1924, Joseph Stalin seized power. Under Stalin, millions of people died in famines and executions. During World War II, Russia initially allied with the Germans. However, the Germans invaded Russia in 1941. Over 20 million Russians died in World War II including over 2 million Jewish people who were killed as part of the Holocaust. In 1949, the Soviet Union developed nuclear weapons. An arms race developed between Russia and the United States in what was called the Cold War. The Soviet economy suffered under communism and isolationism. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and many of its member nations declared independence. The remaining area became the country of Russia.
Many of the issues have been attributed to policies during the Soviet Union, a time when officials felt that pollution control was an unnecessary hindrance to economic development and industrialization. As a result, 40% of Russia's territory began demonstrating symptoms of significant ecological stress by the 1990s, largely due to a diverse number of environmental issues, including deforestation, energy irresponsibility, pollution, and nuclear waste. According to Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Russia is currently warming 2.5 times faster than the rest of the globe. Russia has many protected areas, such as zapovedniks and natural parks, which are made to preserve the natural state of environments. There are currently 101 zapovedniks that cover a total of over 33.5 million hectares. However, some animals, such as the Amur tiger, polar bear, and Caucasian leopard, are facing extinction. The Russian government is attempting to revive those populations. A tiger summit was held in St. Petersburg in 2010 to discuss how to save the dwindling tiger population, which is threatened by deforestation and poaching in Russia. Excessive logging is causing the widespread deforestation of certain areas of Russia. Despite efforts of Russian authorities to preserve forests using nature reserves and parks, funding for park rangers is lacking, limiting the protection of forests. Illegal logging is also widespread, especially in the north-west and in the Far East parts of Russia. It is estimated that Russia loses $1 billion every year due to illegal logging. According to the Center for Russian Environmental Policy, 16 million hectares of forest are lost each year to a variety of causes, including logging, pollution ,and fires. Inefficient logging and clearcutting strategies result in 40% of harvested trees never being used, and the implementation of forest protection policies has been slow. Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Volgograd, as well as other major industrial and population centers, are the highest concentrations of air pollution. Overall, over 200 cities in Russia exceed pollution limits, and this is increasing as more vehicles appear on the roads. Before the 1990s, most air pollution came from industries. When industrial production declined, emissions of air pollutants from those sources also declined, although the amount of motor vehicles on the roads skyrocketed. Currently, vehicle emissions exceed industry emissions in most Russian cities. Air pollution is attributed to 17% of childhood and 10% of adult diseases, as well as 41% of respiratory and 16% of endocrine diseases.
Russia has an upper-middle income mixed economy with state ownership in strategic areas of the economy. Market reforms in the 1990s privatized much of Russian industry and agriculture, with notable exceptions to this privatization occurring in the energy and defense-related sectors. Russia's vast geography is an important determinant of its economic activity, with some sources estimating that Russia contains over 30 percent of the world's natural resources. The World Bank estimates the total value of Russia's natural resources at $75 trillion US dollars. Russia relies on energy revenues to drive most of its growth. Russia has an abundance of oil, natural gas and precious metals, which make up a major share of Russia's exports. As of 2012, the oil-and-gas sector accounted for 16% of GDP, 52% of federal budget revenues and over 70% of total exports. Russia is considered an "energy superpower". It has the world's largest proven natural gas reserves and is the largest exporter of natural gas. It is also the second-largest exporter of petroleum. Russia has a large and sophisticated arms industry, capable of designing and manufacturing high-tech military equipment, including a fifth-generation fighter jet, nuclear powered submarines, firearms, short range/long range ballistic missiles. The value of Russian arms exports totalled $15.7 billion in 2013—second only to the US. Top military exports from Russia include combat aircraft, air defence systems, ships and submarines. The economic development of the country has been uneven geographically with the Moscow region contributing a very large share of the country's GDP. There has been a substantial rise in wealth inequality in Russia since 1990 (far more than China and other Eastern European countries). Credit Suisse has described Russian wealth inequality as so extreme compared to other countries that it "deserves to be placed in a separate category." One study estimates that "the wealth held offshore by rich Russians is about three times larger than official net foreign reserves, and is comparable in magnitude to total household financial assets held in Russia."
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