BERLIN: The scale of Russia is difficult to imagine. It is the world’s largest country by land mass – nearly twice as big as Canada, the world’s second-largest nation – and covers all of northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe. It shares land borders with more than a dozen countries, and shares sea borders with Japan and the United States.
Russia as a nation dates back more than a millennium and authoritarian rule has marked much of its history. It was the largest and leading republic of the Soviet Union, which formed in 1922. Following the Soviet collapse in 1991, Russia became an independent nation. Russians directly elect their president, and the federal government includes legislative and judicial branches, as well as a presidency possessing extensive authority.
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Russia has one of the world’s largest economies that is powered by its extensive natural resources. Top industries include oil and natural gas production, with agriculture, forestry, fishing and manufacturing serving as other economic drivers. Oil and natural gas, in particular, represent large portions of the country’s economy. Russia also is one of the world’s largest exporters of military weapons, trailing only the United States.
The majority of people are ethnic Russian, but more than 100 ethnicities and languages exist in the country. Russia’s vast size and deep history has nurtured major cultural contributions in science and the arts. Russians were the first to launch an artificial satellite into outer space and to perform a spacewalk. Writers such as Aleksandr Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Leo Tolstoy are synonymous with classical literature, while Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Boris Pasternak have represented independence from central authority.
Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and is a member of major international organizations, including the Group of 20, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Council of Europe and the World Trade Organization.