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Basic information about Russia

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Russia is the largest country in the world with the total area 17 075 400 square kilometers (over 6.5 million square miles), that is about 1,8 times the size of the USA. It's situated in the Eastern part of Europe and Northern part of Asia. The main part of the European territory of Russia is situated within the Eastern European Plain (Vostochno-Evropeyskaya Ravnina). The southern border is on the North Caucasus. The main part of the Asian area of Russia is on Zapadno-Sibirskaya Ravnina and Sredne-Sibirskoye Ploskogor'ye. The territory of Russia spans through 11 times zones.  

Russia borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China and North Korea by land, and with Sweden, Turkey, Japan and the USA by sea.

The climate of Russia varies from the steppes in the south and coastal on the north-west through humid continental in much of European Russia; sub arctic in Siberia to tundra climate in the polar north and monsoon on the Far East. The average temperatures of January vary from 0 to -50°C, July - from 1 to 25°C. Many regions of Siberia and Far East are situated in the permafrost zone. Thus, Russia is one of the coldest countries in the world. The town of Oimyakon in north-east Siberia is the coldest inhabited place on earth, with temperatures recorded at more than 70°C below zero. The inhabited areas are mostly in the continental climate zones with long freezing winters (5-6 months long) and short warm summers. 

The largest rivers: Volga, Lena, Irtysh, Yenisey, Ob, Amur. 

The largest lakes: Caspean Sea, Aral'skoye More, Baykal, Ladozhskoye, Onezhskoye.

Russia has an extremely wide natural resource base including major deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, strategic minerals, timber, diamonds and gold. There are  85 nature reserves and 25 national parks.


Total population is about 144.7 mln people, with about 72.9% urban population. Most of the population are Russians (81,5%), with more than 100 other nationalities (Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 3%, Chuvash 1.2%, Bashkir 0.9%).


The official language is Russian. Every autonomous republic uses its own language as the second official language. Religions: Russian Orthodox, Muslim, Judaic and others. 1066 cities and towns, 2070 urban settlements (1994).

The state

The official name of the state: Russian Federation. It is a democratic federative republic. The country was formed as independent 24 August 1991 from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic of Soviet Union. The current Constitution was adopted 12 December 1993 by national referendum.

Russia is divided into 21 autonomous republics, 10 autonomous okrugs, 6 krays, 2 federal cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg), 1 autonomous oblast and 49 oblasts. The national capital is Moscow.

The chief of the state - President, elected by popular vote for a four-year term. Current president is Vladimir Putin (since March 2000).

The legislative branch is bicameral Federal Assembly (Federal'noye Sobranie), which consists of State Duma (Gosudarstvennaya Duma) and the Federation Council (Sovet Federatzii).

The executive branch is run by the government. The head of the government is appointed by the president with approval of the State Duma.


Russia is potentially one of the wealthiest countries with its natural resources, a well-educated population (99.6% adult literacy; 64% tertiary education enrollment rate), and a diverse industrial base. Nevertheless, its economic situation has deteriorated since the beginning of Perestroika in 1985, which announced moving from centrally planned economy to a market economy. The absence of a clear economical doctrine and means led to destruction of internal economical structure and declining of industries. In its turn, it led to significant raise of unemployment, with official unemployment figures of 10.2% (which might be in reality twice as high, since many people do not file for unemployment benefits). 

Russian health and education systems, which used to be of the highest standard during the Soviet times, were slowly deteriorating. Inflation, started in 1992, reached its peak in 1994, and increased 10 000% by the end of 1997. In 1998 the government implemented a 1000% denomination of national currency (Rouble), turning back prices from thousands rubles to rubles.

August 1998 brought a new serious crisis. The exchange rate of US Dollar flew up from 6 to 24 rubles in less than 6 weeks. Small businesses were almost devastated. Prices for consumer goods increased in 4-5 times with the salaries increased only on 20-30%.

However, the crisis gave a boost to the development of national industries, which could not compete with foreign goods with the low dollar rate. Now, 5 years after the crisis, the results become visible with reviving the industrial enterprises, particularly in production of consumer goods and food processing.

Currently the average salary is Russia is about US$100 (salary of a teacher, government employee etc).

The government experiences permanent difficulties with collection of taxes and fulfilling the national budget. A lot of economic activity is officially unaccounted for and organized crime plays a significant role.

National income (GDP): US$310 billion, from which:

  • industries - 39.4%
  • agriculture - 7.2%
  • services - 53.4%

The average annual growth in real GDP in 1991-2001: -3.3%
GDP per head: $2.140

The main industries: complete range of mining and extractive industries producing coal, oil, gas, chemicals, and metals; all forms of machine building from rolling mills to high-performance aircraft and space vehicles; shipbuilding; road and rail transportation equipment; communications equipment; agricultural machinery, tractors, and construction equipment; electric power generating and transmitting equipment; medical and scientific instruments; consumer durables, textiles, foodstuffs, handicrafts.

12 economic regions: Northern, Northern-Eastern, Central, Volgo-Vyatskiy, Central-Chernozemniy, Povolzhskiy, Northern-Caucasus, Ural, Western-Siberian, Eastern-Siberian, Far-Eastern and Kaliningrad region.


All statistical figures are quoted as according to:
The Economist: Pocket World in Figures, 2004 Edition


Population: 144.7 m
Population per square km: 8
Average annual growth in population, 2000-05: - 0.57%
Population under 15: 18.0%
Population over 60: 18.5%
Number of men per 100 women: 88
Life expectancy (men): 60.8 yrs
Life expectancy (women): 73.1 yrs
Adult literacy: 99.6%
Fertility rate (per woman): 1.1
Urban population (per 1,000 population): 72.9% 

The Economy

GDP: Rb9,041bn
GDP: $310bn
Average annual growth in real GDP 1991-2001: -3.3%
GDP per head: $2,140
GDP per head in purchasing power parity (USA=100): 20.1

Inflation and finance

Consumer price inflation 2002: 15.8%

Trade (Principal exports), $bn fob

Mineral products: 53.6
Metals: 14.6
Machinery & equipment: 10.4
Chemicals: 7.4
Total including others: 103.1

Trade (Principal imports), $bn fob

Machinery & equipment: 14.1
Food products: 9.1
Chemicals: 7.5
Metals: 3.0
Total including others: 59.0

Health and education

Health spending, % of GDP: 6.1
Doctors per 1,000 population: 4.4
Hospital beds per 1,000 population: 13.1
Education spending, % of GDP: 4.4


Number of households: 51.8m
Average number of household: 2.8
Cost of living (Dec.2002, New York = 100): 84 

Russia In World Rankings

The largest countries, '000 sq km: 

1. Russia: 17,075
2. Canada: 9,971
3. China: 9,561

The largest deserts, '000 sq km:

1. Sahara (Nothern Africa): 8,600
2. Arabia (South West Asia): 2,300
10. Kyzylkum (Central Asia/Russia): 300

The largest lakes, '000 sq km:

1. Caspian Sea (Central Asia/Russia): 371
2. Superior (Candada/US): 82
6. Aral Sea (Central Asia/Russia): 34
9. Baikal (Russia): 30

Largest populations (2001), millions:

1. China: 1,285.0
2. India: 1,025.1
6. Russia: 144.7

Slowest growing populations (2000-05), average annual growth %:

1. Estonia: -1.10
2. Latvia: -0.93
7. Russia: -0.57

Lowest fertility rates, average number of children per woman (2000-05):

1. Hong Kong: 1.00
2. Bulgaria: 1.10
5. Russia: 1.14

Biggest cities, population m (2000):

1. Tokyo (Japan): 26.4
2. Mexico City (Mexico): 18.1
24. Moscow (Russia): 8.4

Most female populations, number of males per 100 females:

1. Estonia: 85
2. Latvia: 85
7. Russia: 88

Nationality of asylum applications in industrialized countries, '000 2001:

1. Afghanistan: 52.8
2. Iraq: 50.4
6. Russia: 18.3

Biggest economies, GDP $bn:

1. United States: 10,065.3
2. Japan: 4,141.4
16. Russia: 310.0

Biggest economics by purchasing power, GDP PPP $bn:

1. United States: 9,792
2. China: 5,111
10. Russia: 1,028

Lowest economic growth (1991-2001),
average annual % change in real GDP:

1. Moldova: -8.5
2. Georgia: -8.2
8. Russia: -3.3

Biggest traders, % of total world exports:

1. Euro area: 16.80
2. United States: 14.70
18. Russia: 1.37

Largest surpluses, $m:

1. Japan: 87,800
2. Russia: 34,621
3. Norway: 25,960

Largest surpluses as % of GDP, %:

1. Qatar: 26.3
2. Kuwait: 26.1
11. Russia: 11.2

Highest inflation (2001-2002), % consumer price inflation:

1. Zimbabwe: 134.5
2. Angola: 110.0
14. Russia: 15.8

Highest foreign debt, $m:

1. Brazil: 226,362
2. China: 170,110
4. Russia: 152,649

Largest industrial output, $bn:

1. United States: 2,227
2. Japan: 1,433
14. Russia: 102

Lowest growth in industrial output,
average annual real % growth (1991-2001):

1. Tajikistan: -10.7
2. Moldova: -9.8
11. Russia: -5.2

Largest manufacturing output, $bn:

1. United States: 1,422
2. Japan: 854
8. Russia: 153

Largest services output, $bn:

1. United States: 6,975
2. Japan: 2,828
19. Russia: 153

Lowest growth (Agriculture), average annual real % growth (1991-2001):

1. Moldova: -10.3
2. Hong Kong: -6.9
7. Russia: -3.3

Biggest producers (Cereals), '000 tonnes:

1. China: 398,394
2. United States: 325,288
4. Russia: 83,202

Biggest producers (Meat), '000 tonnes:

1. China: 64,482
2. United States: 37,807
9. Russia: 4,474

Wheat, Top 10 producers, '000 tonnes:

1. China: 94,000
2. EU15: 90,500
5. Russia: 46,900

Wheat, Top 10 consumers, '000 tonnes:

1. China: 109,600
2. EU15: 90,500
4. Russia: 38,300

Coarse grains, Top 5 producers, '000 tonnes:

1. United States: 262,000
2. China: 123,600
5. Russia: 36,800

Tea, Top 10 consumers, '000 tonnes:

1. India: 673
2. China: 452
4. Russia: 144

Cocoa, Top 10 consumers, '000 tonnes:

1. United States: 691
2. Germany: 296
5. Russia: 173

Copper, Top producers, '000 tonnes:

1. Chile: 4,739
2. United States: 1,360
. Russia: 587

Nickel, Top 10 producers, '000 tonnes:

1. Russia: 267.3
2. Australia: 206.0
3. Canada: 194.1

Aluminium, Top 10 producers, '000 tonnes:

1. China: 3,371
2. Russia: 3,302
3. United States: 2,637

Aluminium, Top 10 consumers, '000 tonnes:

1. United States: 5,122
2. China: 3,492
6. Russia: 786

Gold, Top 10 producers, tonnes:

1. South Africa: 393.5
2. United States: 335.0
7. Russia: 155.0

Platinum, Top 3 producers, tonnes:

1. South Africa: 127.5
2. Russia: 40.5
3. North America: 10.9

Palldium, Top 3 consumers, tonnes:

1. Russia: 135.0
2. South Africa: 62.5
3. North America: 26.4

Rubber (natural and synthetic), Top 10 producers, '000 tonnes:

1. Thailand: 2,430
2. United States: 2,064
6. Russia: 919

Rubber (natural and syntetic), Top 10 consumers, '000 tonnes:

1. United States: 2,814
2. China: 2,790
8. Russia: 611

Raw wool, Top 10 producers, '000 tonnes:

1. Australia: 607
2. China: 294
4. Russia: 129

Raw wool, Top 10 consumers, '000 tonnes:

1. China: 436
2. Italy: 146
3. Russia: 73

Cotton, Top 10 consumers, '000 tonnes:

1. China: 5,500
2. India: 2,900
10. Russia: 340

Oil, Top 15 producers, '000 barrels per day:

1. Saudi Arabia: 8,768
2. United States: 7,177
3. Russia: 7,056

Oil, Top 15 consumers, '000 barrels per day:

1. United States: 19,633
2. Japan: 5,427
5. Russia: 2,456

Natural gas, Top 10 producers, billion cubic metres:

1. United States: 555.4
2. Russia: 542.4
3. Canada: 172.0

Natural gas, Top 10 consumers, billion cubic metres:

1. United States: 616.2
2. Russia: 372.7
3. United Kingdom: 95.4

Coal, Top 10 producers, million tonnes oil equivalent:

1. United States: 590.7
2. China: 548.5
6. Russia: 120.8

Coal, Top 10 consumers, million tonnes oil equivalent:

1. United States: 555.7
2. China: 520.6
4. Russia: 114.6

Highest % of population in labour force, 2001 or latest:

1. China: 56.5
2. Switzerland: 56.1
33. Russia: 47.7

Highest % women in force, 2001 or latest:

1. Belarus: 52.9
2. Cambodia: 51.6
15. Russia: 47.7

Highest rate of unemployment, % of labour force:

1. Macedonia: 55.5
2. Réunion: 39.7
37. Russia: 10.2

Global competitiveness, Government:

1. Finland
2. Singapore
43. Russia

The business environment, 2003-07 score:

1. Netherlands: 8.76
2. Canada: 8.73
46. Russia: 5.97

Patents, number of patents granted to residents Total (2000):

1. Japan: 123.978
2. United States: 83.090
6. Russia: 16,340

Highest business operating costs, 100=highest (2001):

1. Japan: 100.0
2. United States: 66.3
19. Russia: 21.0

Highest business software piracy, % of software that is pirated (2001):

1. Vietnam: 94
2. China: 92
4. Russia: 87

Largest market capitalisation, $m (end 2001):

1. United States: 13,810,428
2. Japan: 2,251,814
28. Russia: 76,198

Highest growth in market capitalisation, $ term % increase (1996-2001):

1. Bulgaria: 7,114
2. Romania: 3,626
26. Russia: 105

Highest growth in value traded, $ terms % increase (1996-2001):

1. Kazakhstan: 15,900
2. Romania: 4,167
7. Russia: 674

Highest growth in number of listed companies, % increase (1996-2001):

1. Romania: 30,135
2. Bulgaria: 2,560
6. Russia: 223

Longest road networks, km (2001 or latest):

1. United States: 6,304,193
2. India: 3,319,644
10. Russia: 537,289

Most crowed road networks, number of vehicles per km of road network (2001 or latest):

1. Hong Kong: 286.7
2. United Arab Emirates: 231.6
27. Russia: 47.3

Most air travel, million passenger-km per year:

1. United States: 1,106,347
2. Japan: 198,794
15. Russia: 48,027

Longest railway networks, '000 km:

1. United States: 230.2
2. Russia: 85.8
3. India: 63.0

Most rail passengers, Km per person per year:

1. Switzerland: 1,923
2. China: 1,896
12. Russia: 865

Most rail freight, million tonnes-km per year:

1. United States: 2,151,866
2. China: 1,424,980
3. Russia: 1,249,166

Largest merchant fleets, number of vessels not less than 100 GRT and built before end of 2002:

1. Japan: 7,458 (registration), 2,912 (ownership)
2. Panama: 6,247 (registration), 6 (ownership)
4. Russia: 4,943 (registration), 2,548 (ownership)

Most tourist arrivals, number of arrivals '000:

1. France: 76,503
2. Spain: 49,532
7. Russia: 20,207

Biggest tourist spenders, $m:

1. United States: 58,008
2. Germany: 47,494
13. Russia: 7,645

Largest tourist receipts, $m:

1. United States: 68,448
2. France: 29,283
16. Russia: 6,297

Highest death rates, number of deaths per 1,000 populations (2000-05):

1. Sierra Leone: 29.3
2. Zambia: 28.0
35. Russia: 14.6

Largest death by infection/parasitic disease,
deaths per 100,000 population:

1. South Africa: 92.4
2. Turkmenistan: 47.2
13. Russia: 25.1

Largest death by Intentional injury, deaths per 100,000 population:

1. Colombia: 65.1
2. El Salvador: 61.9
3. Russia: 53.7

Most hospital beds, beds per 1,000 population:

1. Japan: 17.0
2. Norway: 14.0
3. Russia: 13.1

Lowest population per doctor, latest population per doctor:

1. Argentina: 52
2. Italy: 169
8. Russia: 226

Highest cost living, December 2002 (USA = 100):

1. Japan: 139
2. Norway: 123
23. Russia: 84

Smallest households, population per dwelling:

1. Sweden: 2.0
2. Denmark: 2.1
33. Russia: 2.8

Peace Nobel prize winners, 1901-2002:

1. United States: 17
2. United Kingdom: 11
12. Russia: 2

Economics Nobel prize winners, 1901-2002:

1. United States: 26
2. United Kingdom: 8
8. Russia: 1

Literature Nobel prize winners, 1901-2002:

1. France: 14
2. United States: 12
10. Russia: 3

Physics Nobel prize winners, 1901-2002:

1. United States: 44
2. United Kingdom: 19
6. Russia: 5

Chemistry Nobel prize winners, 1901-2002:

1. United States: 38
2. United Kingdom: 22
18. Russia: 1

Winter games (Olympic medal winners), 1924-2002:

1. Germany: 872 (gold), 659 (silver), 581 (bronze)
2. Norway: 517 (gold), 423 (silver), 382 (bronze)
11. Russia: 27 (gold), 20 (silver), 13 (bronze)

Alcoholic drinks, retail sales ($ per head):

1. Ireland: 1,355.5
2. United Kingdom: 901.8
21. Russia: 154.8

Smokers, average annual consumption of cigarettes per head per day (2002):

1. Greece: 8.6
2. Bulgaria: 7.7
9. Russia: 5.8

Total prison population, latest available year:

1. United States: 2,021,223
2. China: 1,428,126
3. Russia: 919,330

Prisoners per 100,00 population, latest available year:

1. United States: 707
2. Russia: 638
3. Belarus: 554

Astronauts, longest time in space (hours):

1. Musa Manarov, Russia: 12,984
2. Sergi Krikalev, Russia: 11,064
3. Yuri Ramanenko, Russia: 10,344
4. Alexandr Volkov, Russia: 9,384
5. Leonid Kizim, Russia: 9,024
6. John Blaha, United States: 3,864

Defence spending, as % of GDP:

1. Eirtrea: 20.9
2. Angola: 17.0
37. Russia: 4.3

Arm forces, '000:

1. China: 2,310 (Regular), 550 (Reserves)
2. United States: 1,368 (Regular), 1,201 (Reserves)
5. Russia: 977 (Regular), 2,400 (Reserves)

Environment quality of life, Lowest cities (New York = 100):

1. Mexico city, Mexico: 29.5
2. Baku, Azerbaijan: 31.5
. Novosibirsk, Russia: 52.5


The history of Russia is a history of wars, migrations of nations, occupations, takeovers and revolutions, just like any other. Here is a guide to the milestone events of Russian history. To receive detailed information on the history of  Russia, please follow the links below the table.

9th century Formation of the Ancient Russian State
988 Russia accepts Christianity
12-14th centuries Russia is divided to several small states (knyazhestva): Novgorod Republic, Vladimiro-Suzdalckoye, Galitzko-Volynskoye, Ryazanskoye and others.
13th century Mongols invade: almost all the Russian states are occupied
1240 Sweden aggression: Nevskaya Bitva (Battle)
1242 German aggression: Ledovoe Poboische
1380 Kulikovskaya Bitva (Battle) - resulted in temporary banishment of Mongols, with their almost immediate return
1480 Stoyanie no Ugre: Russian knyaz Ivan III refused to pay contribution to Mongols. Mongols and Russians troops were facing each other for 2 month. Mongols turned back without a battle. The end of Mongol invasion.
14-16th centuries Formation of Russian Centralized State around Moscow, which include all the territories of Northern-Eastern and Northern-Western Russia.
End of 16th -middle of 17th century Formation of Russian serfdom system
Beginning of 17th century Russia successfully repulsed Polish-Lithuanian and Sweden intervention.
1650 Nicon's reform of Russian Orthodox church that caused so called "Raskol" - separation so called "Old Believers" from the official church, many of whom were persecuted and sent to Siberia. According to some authors including Solzhenittzyn, it was one of the greatest causes of the problems that Russia faced in later stages.
1654 Pereyaslavskaya Rada: Ukraine joined Russia on a voluntary basis
1670-71 1707-09 1773-75 Peasant revolts: Stenka Razin, Bashkirs revolt, Emel'yan Pugachev 
1689-1725 Peter The Great (Peter I) was a tsar of Russia: Peter's reforms, foundation of St. Petersburg and reallocation of Russian capital, establishing Russian presence on Baltic sea through the war with Sweden (1700-1721).
1721 Peter the Great proclaimed Muscovy the Russian Empire and became the first Russian Imperator.
1812 Russia won a war with Napoleon: Napoleon's army occupied Moscow but was then driven out of Russia.
1861 Abolition of serfdom.
1898 Establishing the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party - the leading force of Russian history of the 20th century.
1904-1905 Russian-Japanese war resulted in crushing defeat for Russia.
1905-1907 The First Russian Revolution; election of the first Russian Parliament (Duma).
1914-1918 The First World War: ended for Russia in a shameful Brest Peaceful Agreement with Germany concluded by Bolsheviks (March 1918), who were subsidized by the German government. Russia lost Poland, Finland, Baltic lands, Ukraine, and other areas.
March 1917 The Russian Democratic Revolution: crash of the tsarist autocracy; Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies and Provisional Government formed.
November 1917 The October Takeover (The Great October Socialistic Revolution, according to the Bolsheviks): Bolsheviks came to power; Lenin became a head of the state.
March 1918 Russian Social Democratic Labor Party becomes Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik). Beginning of liquidation of the other politic parties and movements and establishing monopoly of the Communist Party.
1917-1922 Civil War: resulted in establishing communistic principles of production and distribution.
30.12.1922 Foundation of the Union of the Soviet Socialistic Republics (USSR) organized by Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia and Zakaucazie.
21.01.1924 Lenin died.
1925-1931 Stalin consequently removed all "old Bolsheviks" from Politburo, received unlimited power.
1929 Beginning of "collectivization": forcible unit of individual peasant farms to collective farms, which led to harsh decrease of agriculture production.
1932-33 Mass starvation (Ukraine, Northern Caucasus, Povolzh'e): million people died.
1934 Mass terror started causing intense fear among general populace, and peaks in 1937 and 1938 before subsiding in latter year.
August 1939 Nazi-Soviet No Aggression Pact signed included secret protocol, according to which Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia were incorporated in Soviet Union.
30 November 1939 - 12 March 1940 Soviet troops invade Finland; Soviet Union expelled from League of Nations.
June 1940 Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia seized from Romania and subsequently incorporated into Ukrainian Republic and newly created Moldavian Republic.
August 1940 Soviet Union annexes Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
22 June 1941 Nazi Germany broke agreement with Soviet Union and attacked it (Operation Barbarossa); Soviet Union entered to World War II. German troops occupied significant territory of the Soviet Union up to Moscow and Rostov, took Leningrad (St. Petersburg) in blockade ring.
Winter 1942 Soviet Union began to fight back
11 June 1942 Soviet-American anti-Hitler coalition signed.
July 1942- February 1943 Battle of Stalingrad: German army units surrender at Stalingrad; 91,000 prisoners taken.
Summer 1943 Germans defeated in tank battle at Kursk.
28 November- 1 December 1943 Teheran Conference: USA, Soviet Union and Great Britain signed an agreement of joint activities against Germany and after-war cooperation.
Winter 1943-44 Red Army released Ukraine and reached boundaries with Romania and Chehoslovakia. Siege of Leningrad ends after 870 days.
Summer-fall 1944 Red Army summer offensive operations. Romania and Hungary capitulated and entered to war against Germany.
4-11 February 1945 Crimea Conferencing: Stalin meets with Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt at Yalta. Decisions about after war reconciliation.
8 May 1945 Germany capitulated.
17 July- 2 August 1945 Potsdam Conference: decisions about reparations, demilitarization and denazification of Germany, Western borders of Poland.
9 August 1945 Soviet Union declared war on Japan; Soviet forces enter Manchuria and Korea.
2 September 1945 Japan capitulated. The end of World War II. Soviet Union lost about 27 million people in the war, received vast territories of Kuril islands, Southern Sakhalin, Kenigsberg, Zakarpatie and others.
August 1949 Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb. Beginning of "Cold War" between Soviet Union and the West.
March 1953 Stalin died.
September 1953 Nikita Khrushchev chosen first secretary of the Communist Party; rehabilitation of Stalin's victims began.
1954 First nuclear power station developed in Soviet Union.
February 1956 20th Congress of the Communist Party: Khrushchev's "secret speech" exposed Stalin's crimes.
November 1956 Soviet forces crush Hungarian Revolution.
1957 World's first artificial satellite, Sputnik I, launched by USSR.
22 April 1961 Cosmonaut Yuriy Gagarin launched in world's first manned orbital space flight.
October 1964 Khrushchev removed from power; Leonid I. Brezhnev becomes the first secretary of the Communist Party.
August 1968 Soviet-led Warsaw Pact armies invade Czechoslovakia.
December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
November 1982 Brezhnev died; Yuriy Andropov named general secretary.
February 1984 Andropov died; Konstantin Chernenko became general secretary.
March 1985 Chernenko died; Mikhail S. Gorbachev became general secretary.
Spring 1986 Gorbachev announced Glasnost.
26 April 1986 Nuclear power plant disaster at Chernobyl':large amounts of radiation spread over Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
January 1987 Perestroyka launched.
February 1989 Soviet combat forces complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.
12 June 1990 Declaration of Independence adopted by S'ezd of Peoples Deputies of Russia.
August 1991 Hard-line officials attempt to unseat Gorbachev government; coup fails after three days, elevating Yeltsin's prestige. Ukraine, Belarus, Moldavia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyz Republic declare independence. Armenia and Tajikistan follow in September, Turkmenistan in October, and Kazakhstan in December.
17.12.1991 President is appointed as an official head of Russian Federation.
December 1991 Boris Yeltsin becomes the first Russian president. Presidents of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia meet in Minsk and proclaim initial Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Michail Gorbachev announced that at year's end all central government structures would cease to exist (end of the USSR).

December 1993 The Constitution of the Russian Federation is adopted; election of the Federal Sobranie (Federal Council).
August 1994 Russian troops leave Germany, Estonia, and Latvia.
December 1994 Beginning of the war with Chechnya: Russian armored columns enter Grozniy.
June-July 1996 Presidential elections: Yeltsin won in the second tour against a communist leader G. Zuganov (54% to 40%).
February 1997 Russian troops left Chechnya.
May 1997 An official end of the Chechnya war: Peace treaty signed by Russia and Chechnya (Chechnya-Ichkeria); Chechen independence issue remains unresolved.
March 1998 Prime-minister Chernomyrdin fired by president Yeltsin. The continuously changes in government started.
17 August 1998 "Black Monday": Prime-minister Sergey Kirienko announced default; Russia stopped all the payments on State Obligations; the Central Bank refused to keep "exchange corridor", and in 6 weeks ruble lost 3/4 of its value. Bank system frozen, people could not receive money from bank accounts. Kirienko was fired, a new prime minister Eugenie Primakov was appointed.

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