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Founded in the 1100s, the people of a region called Muscovy were able to fight Mongol warriors. The Mongols, who came from the country of Mongolia, controlled the people of Muscovy for over 200 years. Little by little, the people of Muscovy took over the land. In the early 1600s, a dynasty formed. The word dynasty means that the rulers were all related to each other, which is often the case of monarchies. The first ruler of Russia was named Peter I.

From 1904 to 1905 there was a war between Russia and Japan and Russia lost. This caused reforms to the government, including the creation of a parliament. Then, in World War 1, many Russians died, which caused rioting. In 1917 a revolution happened where the royal family was killed. From that point, Vladimir Lenin external image VladimirLenin1.jpg assumed power. Lenin was the first leader of the communists. Who were the communists? They believed that people who wanted to make money were bad and that all people should be equal. They believed that all money should go to the government and that the government would take care of everything. It was, essentially, a great experiment.

After Lenin came a dictator named Josef Stalin. external image stalin.jpg Most historians today see Stalin along the same lines as Hitler, that is, a person who caused the destruction of many peoples' lives. Some ten million Russians are said to have died under Stalin's rule.

Little by little the communist government of the Russians (at this point called the Soviet Union or USSR) distintegrated. Changes really happened in the 1980s under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev external image uGorbachev-a.jpg. Gorbachev began changing the way the government worked. For example, he believed that newspapers should be able to print the truth instead of only what the government wanted the people to believe.

Today, Russia is no longer a communist state, but some of the practices of the government are questionable. There seems to be a lot of corruption.

Northern Asia (the area west of the Urals is considered part of Europe), bordering the Arctic Ocean, between Europe and the North Pacific Ocean

140,041,247 (July 2009 est.)

Ethnic groups
Russian 79.8%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 2%, Bashkir 1.2%, Chuvash 1.1%, other or unspecified 12.1% (2002 census)

ReligionsRussian Orthodox 15-20%, Muslim 10-15%, other Christian 2% (2006 est.)note: estimates are of practicing worshipers; Russia has large populations of non-practicing believers and non-believers, a legacy of over seven decades of Soviet rule

Russian, many minority languages

total population: 99.4%

Official Government Name

Russian Federation

Capital city




Administrative Divisions
46 oblasts, 21 republics, 4 okrugs, 9 krays, 2 federal cities

August 24, 1991

December 12, 1993

Universal, 18 years old

Executive Branch
chief of state: President Dmitriy Anatolyevich Medvedlev (since 7 May 2008) external image dmitriy_medvedev_458.jpghead of government: Premier Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin external image putin_0.jpg
Legislative Branch
The Federal Assembly is divided in two parts.

Judicial Branch

Constitutional Court; Supreme Court; Supreme Arbitration Court;


Russia has problems with human trafficking, which means buying and selling people like slaves. There are also drug problems. In addition, within the past five years, many famous journalists have been mysteriously killed. Many people assume that the government is involved.

Additional resource: Social Studies -- Western Hemisphere and Europe -- Houghton / Mifflin