Europe: Russia

About Russia

The defeat of the Russian Empire in World War I led to the seizure of power by the communists and the formation of the USSR. The brutal rule of Josef STALIN (1924-53) strengthened Russian dominance of the Soviet Union at a cost of tens of millions of lives. The Soviet economy and society stagnated in the following decades until General Secretary Mikhail GORBACHEV (1985-91) introduced glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in an attempt to modernize communism, but his initiatives inadvertently released forces that by December 1991 splintered the USSR into 15 independent republics. Since then, Russia has struggled in its efforts to build a democratic political system and market economy to replace the strict social, political, and economic controls of the communist period.

Vital Statistics
Capitol City: Moscow
Population: 145,470,197 (July 2001 est.)
Percent below poverty: 40% (1999 est.)
Language: Russian, other
Date of independence: 24 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)
Form of government: federation
Title of Leader: president
Natural Resources: wide natural resource base including major deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, and many strategic minerals, timber
Environmental Issues: air pollution from heavy industry, emissions of coal-fired electric plants, and transportation in major cities; industrial, municipal, and agricultural pollution of inland waterways and sea coasts; deforestation; soil erosion; soil contamination from impr
Agricultural Products: grain, sugar beets, sunflower seed, vegetables, fruits; beef, milk
Imports: machinery and equipment, consumer goods, medicines, meat, grain, sugar, semifinished metal products
Exports: petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas, wood and wood products, metals, chemicals, and a wide variety of civilian and military manufactures
Trading Partners: IMPORTSGermany 13.8%, Belarus 10.7%, Ukraine 8.3%, US 7.9%, Kazakhstan 4.6%, Italy 3.8% (1999)
EXPORTS:US 8.8%, Germany 8.5%, Ukraine 6.5%, Belarus 5.1%, Italy 5%, Netherlands 4.8% (1999)


Russia Headlines


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