Location: Eastern Europe and Northern Asia, bordering the Arctic Ocean, between Europe and the North Pacific Ocean. Largest country in the world in terms of area; Mount Elbrus is Europe's tallest peak in Europe. 
Area: total: 17,075,200 sq km
water: 79,400 sq km
land: 16,995,800 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 19,990 km
border countries: Azerbaijan 284 km, Belarus 959 km, China (southeast) 3,605 km, China (south) 40 km, Estonia 294 km, Finland 1,313 km, Georgia 723 km, Kazakhstan 6,846 km, North Korea 19 km, Latvia 217 km, Lithuania (Kaliningrad Oblast) 227 km, Mongolia 3,485 km, Norway 196 km, Poland (Kaliningrad Oblast) 206 km, Ukraine 1,576 km 
Coastline: 37,653 km
Climate: ranges from humid continental in much of European Russia through steppes in the south; subarctic in Siberia to tundra climate in the polar north; winters vary from cool along Black Sea coast to frigid in Siberia; summers vary from warm in the steppes to cool along Arctic coast
Terrain: broad plain with low hills west of Urals; vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia; uplands and mountains along southern border regions
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m
highest point: Elbrus mountain 5,633 m
Natural resources: wide natural resource base including major deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, and many strategic minerals, timber
People in Russia: Population: 142,857,000 (October 2010)
Ethnic groups: Russian 81.5%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 3%, Chuvash 1.2%, Bashkir 0.9%, Belarusian 0.8%, Moldavian 0.7%, other 8.1%
Religions: Russian Orthodox, Muslim, other
Languages: Russian, other
Russian Government type: federation
Capital: Moscow
Administrative divisions: 49 oblasts, 21 republics, 10 autonomous okrugs, 6 krays, 2 federal cities , and 1 autonomous oblast)
National holiday: Russia Day, 12 June (1990)
Constitution: adopted 12 December 1993


Russia on the globe

Russia is the largest country in the world, covering 17.1 million square kilometers. Extending nearly halfway around the northern hemisphere and covering much of eastern and north-eastern Europe as well as the whole of northern Asia, Russia has a maximum east-west extent, along the Arctic Circle, of some 7,700 kilometers and a north-south width of 2,011 to 2,976 kilometers. Russia has an enormous variety of landforms and landscapes. Arctic deserts lie in the extreme north, giving way southward to the tundra and then to the forest zones, which cover about half of the country and give it much of its character. South of the forest zone lies the wooded steppe and steppe, beyond which are small sections of semidesert along the northern shore of the Caspian Sea. Much of the federation lies in latitudes where the winter cold is intense and there are many rivers, lakes, and swamps, which are freeze in winter.


Owing to its vast size and the fact that most of Russian's territory is far removed from any ocean, the climate throughout the country is extremely continental, with distinct periods of warm and cold weather. The continentality of Russia's climate increases as one travels east, with average temperature differences between the warmest (July) and coldest (January) periods in Eastern Siberia, for example, varying as much as 65 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit). There is, however, much variation in climate based on latitude and physical geography. Temperatures for Moscow and St. Petersburg range from highs of 32°C in the summer to low - 25°C in winter

Red Square, Moscow

Major cities, administrative division

The Russian Federation includes 21 republics, 6 territories, 49 regions, 1 autonomous region, 10 autonomous districts, and 2 cities of federal subordination: Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The capital of Russia is Moscow (about 10 million residents). The largest cities (above 1 million) are: St. Petersburg (4.6 million), Novosibirsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Ekaterinburg, Samara, Omsk, Chel'abinsk, Kazan', Perm', Ufa, Rostov-on-Don, and Volgograd.

Political system

Russia is a federal republic. The head of state is President, but the executive power is also exercised by the Government under a Prime Minister. The legislative power belongs to the Federal Assembly which consists of two houses: the Federation Council and the State Duma.

Russian people


Of a population of about 142.9 million, nearly 80% are concentrated in Western Russia. Moscow, the largest city in Europe, has a population of 11 million people, and St. Petersburg (former Leningrad) has 5 million inhabitants. Around two-thirds of the population now live in cities. The population size is currently on the decline. Pensioners constitute 23% of the population and the average family size is three people.


Russian is the country's official language. It uses the Cyrillic alphabet (rather than the Latin one used by most Western countries), and contains 33 letters. However, the 120 or so nationalities of the Commonwealth of Independent States speak about 48 other languages. Those of Slavic origin (i.e. Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians) account for approximately 75% of the total population.

In Moscow or St Petersburg it is not uncommon to find Russians who speak European languages, especially English.

Culture & Social Life

Theatre, cinema, music and arts are important parts of Russian life. Features of Russian culture, which are at the highest of international standards, include the Bolshoi Theatre, Pushkin Art Gallery in Moscow and Mariinsky (Kirov) Theatre and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Russians also spend a considerable amount of their leisure time at the homes of friends and relatives - they place much importance on friendship and family.

Holy Trinity Icon by Andrei Rublev


Russian Orthodoxy is the main religion in Russia, followed to a lesser extent by Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism and Judaism. Religion has become more popular in Russia over the last few years as the Russian Orthodox Church has received official encouragement through the return of property confiscated during the Soviet period. The rebuilding of Christ the Saviour Cathedral (in Moscow) is symbolic of the restoration of the right to practice a religion in Russia, and this development has evoked much emotion amongst Russian (and foreign) people alike.

Ethnic diversity

The territory of Russia is home to more than 100 different ethnic groups representing a multiplicity of national histories and cultures and many distinct language groups, including Indo-European Slavic, Turkic, Finno-Ugric and others. The vast majority of the population - over four fifths - consists of ethnic Russians with another four percent consisting of Ukrainians and Belarussians.

International time

Moscow and St. Petersburg are three hours ahead of London time and eight hours ahead of New York time. Vladivostok is seven hours ahead of Moscow. Travel time to Moscow is about 3 hours and 35 minutes by air from London or Paris, 9 hours from New York, and 10 hours and 25 minutes from Tokyo.

Main holidays

1-5 January — New Year holidays
7 January — Nativity (Orthodox Christmas)
23 February — Day of Motherland's Defender
8 March — International Women's Day
1 May — Day of spring and labour
9 May — Victory Day
12 June — Day of Russia
4 November — Day of national unity