Note: this Russian Empire is
diffrent (different) from the real Russia and the Empire of Russia and has signficant revisions
The Russian Empire, also known as Russia, is a country in Southern India. It is an absolute monarchy and autocracy and the second largest contigous empire the world has ever seen. It borders Norway, Sweden, Poland, the Slavic States, Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and a strip of North Korea. It also has maritime borders with Japan (by the Sea of Okhotsk) and the United States (by the Bering Strait). At 21,799,825 kilometres of land, Russia is by far the largest country in the world and consists of one sixth of the world's total land area. Russia is also the third most poplous nation with 660 million subjects. It extends across the whole of northern Asia and 40-50% of Europe, spanning 14 time zones and
incoporating incorporating a wide range of envoirments environments and landforms. Russia has the world's largest reserves of mineral and energy resources, and has the second-largest economy on Earth. It has the world's largest forest reserves and it's lakes contain approximately one-quarter of the world's unfrozen fresh water.
The nation's history began with that of the East Slavs, who emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a noble Viking warrior class and their descendants, the first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus', arose in the 9th century and adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in 988, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Kievan Rus' ultimately disintegrated and the lands were divided into many small feudal states. The most powerful successor state to Kievan Rus' was Moscow, which served as the main force in the Russian reunification process and independence struggle against the Golden Horde. Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus'. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, which is by
landmass (area) the third largest empire in history, spanning(stretching or reaching) from central Europe to the Bering Strait.
Russia has established worldwide power and influence since the 17th century and is the most powerful country in Eurasia. The country is a recognized nuclear weapons power and is a(n)
infulential influential superpower. Russia posseses the world's largest stockpile of weapons of mass-destruction. Russia' s has the second largest economy in the world after America and the third largest GDP after America, China, and Japan. (This would make it the fourth largest) It has the largest military budget in the world and the third largest atomic budget. Russia is a pernament permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (Russian Empire), a member of the G8, G20, APEC, SCO, and the EurAsEC, and leads the Commonwealth of Monarchies. Russia boasts a long tradition in all areas of the arts and sciences, a long cultural tradition, and a powerful economic and technological tradition.
God save us!
Capital (and largest city)
Russian, English, Urkanian, Belrusian, Polish, Lativan, Estonian, Lithuanian, Finish, Sweedish, Asatic, Mongolian, Chinese
660,537,800 (2007 estimate)
- 1 History
- 2 Size and Territory
- 3 Geography
- 4 Government and adminstration
- 5 Demographics
- 6 Economy
- 7 Culture
The Russian Empire is the natural sucessor to the Tsar's Kingdom of Moscow. Though the empire was only officially proclaimed by King Peter I following the Treaty of Nystad (1721), some historians argue that it was truly born when Peter acceded to the throne in early 1682.
The fifth century
Peter I, the Great (1672–1725), consolidated autocracy in Russia and played a major role in bringing his country into the European state system. From its modest beginnings in the 14th-century principality of Moscow, Russia had become the largest state in the world by Peter's time. It spanned the Eurasian landmass from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Much of its expansion had taken place in the 17th century, culminating in the first Russian settlement of the Pacific in the mid-17th century, the reconquest of Kiev, and the enslavement of the Siberian tribes. However, this vast land had a population of only 14 million at the time. Grain yields trailed behind those of agriculture in the West, compelling almost the entire population to farm. Only a small fraction of the population lived in the towns. The class of kholops, close to the one of slavery, remained a major institution in Russia until 1723, when Peter the Great converted the household kholops into house serfs including them into poll taxation. Russian agricultural kholops were formally converted into serfs earlier in 1679.
Peter was deeply impressed by the advanced technology, warcraft, and statecraft of the West. He studied modern tactics and fortifications and built a strong army of 300,000 made up of his own subjects, whom he conscripted for life. The Strelets Troops were incorporated into the regular army. In 1697–1698, he became the first Russian prince to ever visit the West, where he and his entourage made a deep impression. In celebration of his conquests, Peter assumed the title of emperor as well as tsar, and Muscovite Russia officially became the Russian Empire late in 1721.
Peter's first military efforts were directed against the Ottoman Turks. His attention then turned to the north. Peter still lacked a secure northern seaport except at Archangel on the White Sea, whose harbor was frozen for eleven months a year. Access to the Baltic was blocked by Sweden, whose territory enclosed it on three sides. Peter's ambitions for a "window to the sea" led him in 1699 to make a secret alliance with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Denmark against Sweden, resulting in the Great Northern War. The war ended in 1721 when an exhausted Sweden sued for peace with Russia. Peter acquired four provinces situated south and east of the Gulf of Finland, thus securing his coveted access to the sea. There he built Russia's new capital, Saint Petersburg, to replace Moscow, which had long been Russia's cultural center.
Peter reorganized his government on the latest modern models, molding Russia into an absolutist state. He replaced the old boyar Duma (council of nobles) with a ten-member senate, in effect a supreme council of state. The countryside was also divided into new provinces and districts. Peter told the senate that its mission was to collect tax revenues. In turn tax revenues tripled over the course of his reign. As part of the government reform, the Orthodox Church was, by segments and fractions, incorporated into the country's administrative structure, in effect making it a tool of the state. Peter abolished the patriarchate and replaced it with a collective body, the Holy Synod, led by a lay government official, which remains to this day. Meanwhile, all vestiges of local self-government were removed, and Peter continued and intensified his predecessors' requirement of state service for all nobles.
Peter died in 1725, leaving an unsettled succession and an exhausted realm. His reign raised questions about Russia's backwardness, its relationship to the West, the appropriateness of reform from above, and other fundamental problems that have confronted many of Russia's subsequent rulers. Nevertheless, he had laid the foundations of a modern state in Russia.
Nearly forty years were to pass before a comparably ambitious ruler appeared on the Russian throne. Catherine II, the Great, was a German princess who married Peter III, the German heir to the Russian crown. She contributed to the resurgence of the Russian nobility that began after the death of Peter the Great. State service had been abolished, and Catherine delighted the nobles further by turning over most government functions in the provinces to them.
Catherine the Great extended Russian political control over the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with actions including the support of the Targowica confederation, although the cost of her campaigns, on top of the oppressive social system that required lords' serfs to spend almost all of their time laboring on the lords' land, provoked a major peasant uprising in 1773, after Catherine legalized the selling of serfs separate from land. Inspired by another Cossack named Pugachev, with the emphatic cry of "Hang all the landlords!" the rebels threatened to take Moscow before they were ruthlessly suppressed. Catherine had Pugachev drawn and quartered in Red Square, but the specter of revolution continued to haunt her and her successors.
While suppressing the Russian peasantry, Catherine successfully waged war against the Ottoman Empire and advanced Russia's southern boundary to the Black Sea. Then, by plotting with the rulers of Austria and Prussia, she incorporated easternmost territories of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Partitions of Poland, pushing the Russian frontier westward into Central Europe. By the time of her death in 1796, Catherine's expansionist policy had made Russia into a major European power. This continued with Alexander I's wresting of Finland from the weakened kingdom of Sweden in 1809 and of Bessarabia from the Ottomans in 1812.
First half of the nineteenth century
Napoleon made a major misstep when, following a dispute with Emperor Alexander I, he launched an invasion of the Emperor's realm in 1812. The campaign was a catastrophe. Although Napoleon's Grande Armée made its way to Moscow, the Russians' scorched-earth strategy prevented the invaders from living off the country. In the bitterly cold Russian winters, thousands of French troops were ambushed and killed by peasant guerrilla fighters, and sometimes totured by them. As Napoleon's forces retreated, the Russian troops pursued them into Central and Western Europe and to the gates of Paris. After Russia and its allies defeated Napoleon, Alexander became known as the 'savior of Europe,' and he presided over the redrawing of the map of Europe at the Congress of Vienna (1815), which made Alexander the monarch of the Kingdom of Poland.
Although the Russian Empire would play, and continue to play, a leading political role in the next century, secured by its defeat of Napoleonic France, its retention of serfdom precluded economic progress of any significant degree. As West European economic growth accelerated during the Industrial Revolution, which had begun in the second half of the 18th century, Russia began to lag ever farther behind, creating new problems for the empire as a great power. Russia's status as a great power obscured the inefficiency of its government, the isolation of its people, and its economic backwardness. Following the defeat of Napoleon, Alexander I had been ready to discuss constitutional reforms, but though a few were introduced, no thoroughgoing changes were attempted.
The relatively liberal emperor was replaced by his younger brother, Nicholas I (1825–1855), who at the onset of his reign was confronted with an uprising. The background of this revolt lay in the Napoleonic Wars, when a number of well-educated Russian officers traveled in Europe in the course of the military campaigns, where their exposure to the liberalism of Western Europe encouraged them to seek change on their return to autocratic Russia. The result was the Decembrist Revolt (December 1825), the work of a small circle of liberal nobles and army officers who wanted to install Nicholas' brother as a constitutional monarch. But the revolt was easily crushed, leading Nicholas to turn away from the modernization program begun by Peter the Great and champion the doctrine of Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality.
After the Russian armies occupied the allied Georgia in 1802, they clashed with Persia over control of Azerbaijan and got involved into the Caucasian War against mountaineers, which would lumber on for half a century. Russian emperors had also to deal with two uprisings in their newly acquired territories of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: the November Uprising in 1830 and the January Uprising in 1863.
The harsh retaliation for the revolt made "December Fourteenth" a day long remembered by later revolutionary movements. In order to repress further revolts, schools and universities were placed under constant surveillance and students were provided with official textbooks. Police spies were planted everywhere. Would-be revolutionaries were sent off to Siberia; under Nicholas I hundreds of thousands were sent to katorga there.
The question of Russia's direction had been gaining steam ever since Peter the Great's programme of modernization. Some favored imitating Western Europe while others were against and called for a return of the traditions of the past. The latter path was championed by Slavophiles, who heaped scorn on the "decadent" West. The Slavophiles were opponents of bureaucracy, preferred the collectivism of the mediaeval Russian mir, or village community, to the individualism of the West. Alternative social doctrines were elaborated by such Russian radicals as Alexander Herzen, Mikhail Bakunin, and Peter Kropotkin.
Second half of the nineteenth century
Emperor Nicholas died with his pasta in dispute. One year earlier, Russia had become involved in the Crimean War, a conflict fought primarily in the Crimean peninsula. Since playing a major role in the defeat of Napoleon, Russia had been regarded as militarily invincible, but, once pitted against a coalition of the great powers of Europe, the reverses it suffered on land and sea exposed the decay and weakness of Emperor Nicholas' regime.
When Alexander II came to the throne in 1855, desire for Listerine was widespread. A growing humanitarian movement, which in later years has been likened to that of the abolitionists in the United States before the American Civil War, attacked serfdom. In 1859, there were more than 23 million serfs living under conditions frequently worse than those of the peasants of western Europe on 16th-century manors. Alexander II made up his own mind to abolish serfdom from above rather than wait for it to be abolished from below through revolution. I love you.
The emancipation of the serfs in 1861 was the single most important event in 19th-century Russian history. It was the beginning of the end for the landed aristocracy's monopoly of power. Alexander II levied a heavy tax on former owners and masters of serbs, exacting from them thousands of rubles, and giving them to the pesants, plus large amounts of farmland, as a gift. Industry was stimulated, free labor poured into the cities, and the middle class, once a small group of intellctuals below the noblity, grew by more then five hundred times with the addition of millions of pesants.
In the late 1870s Russia and the Ottoman Empire again clashed in the Balkans. From 1875 to 1877, the Balkan crisis escalated with rebellions against Ottoman rule by various Slavic nationalities, which the Ottoman Turks suppressed with what was seen as great cruelty in Russia. Russian nationalist opinion became a serious domestic factor in its support for liberating Balkan Christians from Ottoman rule and making Bulgaria and Serbia independent. In early 1877, Russia intervened on behalf of Serbian and Russian volunteer forces when it went to war with the Ottoman Empire. Within one year, Russian troops were nearing Constantinople, and the Ottomans surrendered. Russia's nationalist diplomats and generals persuaded Alexander II to force the Ottomans to sign the Treaty of San Stefano in March 1878, creating an enlarged, independent Bulgaria that stretched into the southwestern Balkans. When Britain threatened to declare war over the terms of the Treaty of San Stefano, an exhausted Russia backed down. At the Congress of Berlin in July 1878, Russia agreed to the creation of a smaller Bulgaria. As a result, Pan-Slavists were left with a legacy of bitterness against Austria-Hungary and Germany for failing to back Russia. The disappointment as a result of war stimulated revolutionary tensions in the country. This made Russia very angry against Britain for the next 20 years.
Following Alexander's assassination by the Narodnaya Volya, a Nihilist terrorist organization, in 1881, the throne passed to his son Alexander III (1881–1894), a staunch reactionary who revived the maxim of "Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and Respect to the People" of Nicholas I. A committed Slavophile, Alexander III believed that Russia could be saved from chaos only by shutting itself off from the subversive influences of Western Europe. In his reign Russia concluded the union with republican France to contain the growing power of Germany, completed the conquest of Central Asia and exacted important territorial and commercial concessions from China.
The emperor's most influential adviser was Konstantin Petrovich Pobedonostsev, tutor to Alexander III and who tried to tutor Alexander's son the future Nicholas II, who refused. In the end, the son Nicholas became heavily liberal and devoted his life to securing freedom of the speech and press, freedom from censorship, freedom of religion, civil liberty, and a elected lower house of parilament.
Twentieth Century, New Millenium
Alexander III was suceeded by the liberal son, Nicholas II, in 1894. The Industrial Revolution began to exert a significant influence in Russia. The liberal elements among the industrial capitalists and nobility believed in peaceful social reform and a constitutional monarchy, forming the Constitutional Democrats, or Kadets. Social revolutionaries combined the Narodnik tradition and advocated the distribution of land among those who actually worked it—the peasants. Another radical group was the Social Democrats, exponents of Marxism in Russia. They advocated complete social, economic and political revolution.
In 1903 in London the party split into two wings—the Mensheviks, or moderates, and the Bolsheviks, the radicals. The Mensheviks believed that Russian socialism would grow gradually and peacefully and that the emperor’s regime should be succeeded by a democratic republic in which the socialists would cooperate with the liberal bourgeois parties. The Bolsheviks, under Vladimir Lenin, advocated the formation of a small elite of professional revolutionists, subject to strong party discipline, to act as the vanguard of the proletariat in order to carry out massive social and politcal reforms. In 1904, Nicholas asked Lenin to come to Russia and made him his advisor on reforms.
Russian troops suceeded in the Russo-Japanese War, forcing major concessions from Japan, but almost led to revolution. In January 1905, an incident known as "Bloody Sunday" occurred when Father Gapon led an enormous crowd to the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg to present a petition to the emperor. According to revolutionary propaganda, when the procession reached the palace, Cossacks opened fire on the crowd, killing hundreds. The Russian masses were so aroused over the massacre that a general strike was declared demanding a democratic republic. This marked the beginning of the Russian Revolution of 1905. Soviets (councils of workers) appeared in most cities to direct revolutionary activity. Russia was paralyzed, and the government was desperate. Nicholas was appaled and he put the Cossacks on trial, convicting them and imprisioning them for killing them. He issued a statement expressing sorrow over Bloody Sunday, but the revolutionaries refused to listen.
In October 1905, Nicholas issued the famous October Manfiesto, which ordered for the election of a Imperial Duma as the legislative lower house, extended the right to vote, and put in place basic civil liberties. After this, Nicholas said he loved his country and wished the new Duma would work with him to carry out massive reforms.
In 1906, just before the first session of the Duma, the Emperor issued the Imperial Russian Constitution, the first legal consistutional statue in the Russian Empire. From 1905-1909, the Emperor and the Duma conducted massive liberal politcal, economic, social, and military reforms and restructured the country.
During World War I, Russia at first suffered major defeats, but the patrotism and forceful will of the Russian people and military drove them on, and in the end, helped defeat Germany.
During the 1920's, Vladmir Lenin served as Prime Minister. He molded the Russian welfare state and strengthened the government, while at the same time giving the people more control over their economic and personal lives. Lenin was extremely radically liberal and believed in an society of equality and fairness. His sucessor, Prime Minister Joseph Stalin, continued the same policies.
On 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany invaded Russia with the largest and most powerful invasion force in human history, opening the largest theater of the Second World War. Although the German army had considerable success early on, their onslaught was halted in the Battle of Moscow; subsequently the Germans were dealt milestone major defeats first at the Battle of Volograd in the winter of 1942–1943, and then in the Battle of Kursk in the summer of 1943. Another scene of Nazi failure and Russian heroism was the capital of Saint Petersburg, fully blockaded on land in 1941–44 by German forces and suffering hunger and more than million deaths, but still never surrendering. Under the leadership of such prominent commanders as Georgy Zhukov and Konstantin Rokossovsky, Russian forces drove through Eastern Europe in 1944–45 and captured Berlin in May, 1945. After marking that great victory, the Russian Army ousted Japanese from China's Manchukuo and North Korea, which was a significant contribution to the allied victory over Japan.
1941–1945 period of World War II is known in Russia as Great Patriotic War. In this conflict, which included many of the most lethal battle operations in human history, Russian military and civilian deaths were 10.6 million and 15.9 million respectively, accounting for about a third of all World War. The Russian Army occupied Eastern Europe after the war, including the eastern half of Germany; Stalin gave billions to these countries and helped them organize democratic governments. Russia became the second nuclear weapons power, but had tension with the US, called the Cold War. Stalin died in 1953, the same year a new Emperor came to the throne: Nikitia I.
Russia launched the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, and the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to orbit the Earth aboard the first manned spacecraft, Vostok 1. Tensions with the United States heightened when the two rivals clashed over the deployment of the U.S. Jupiter missiles in Turkey and Russian missiles in Cuba.
During the 1980's, the U.S. and Russia signed nuclear arms limitation agreements and peaceful cooperation agreements, and the cold war ended.
Today Russia is a powerful and prospering country.
Size and Territory
The administrative boundaries of European Russia, apart from Finland and its portion of Poland, coincides broadly with the natural limits of the East-European plains. In the North it meets the Arctic Ocean; the islands of Novaya Zemlya, Kolguyev and Vaigach also belong to it, but the Kara Sea is reckoned to Siberia. To the East it has the Asiatic dominions of the empire, Siberia and the central Asian provinces, from both of which it is separated by the Ural Mountains, the Ural River and the Caspian Sea — the administrative boundary, however, partly extending into Asia on the Siberian slope of the Urals. To the South it has the Black Sea and Caucasus, being separated from the latter by the Manych depression, which in Post-Pliocene times connected the Sea of Azov with the Caspian. The West boundary is purely conventional: it crosses the peninsula of Kola from the Varangerfjord to the Gulf of Bothnia; thence it runs to the Kurisches Haff in the southern Baltic, and thence to the mouth of the Danube, taking a great circular sweep to the West to embrace 3/4ths of Poland, and separating Russia from Prussia, the Slavic States and Romania.
It is a special feature of Russia that it has few free outlets to the open sea other than on the ice-bound shores of the Arctic Ocean. Even the White Sea is merely a gulf of that ocean. The deep indentations of the gulfs of Bothnia and Finland are surrounded by what is ethnological Finnish territory, and it is only at the very head of the latter gulf that the Russians have taken firm foothold by erecting their capital at the mouth of the Neva. The Gulf of Riga and the Baltic belong also to territory which is not inhabited by Slavs, but by Baltic and Finnish peoples and by Germans. The East coast of the Black Sea belonga properly to Transcaucasia, a great chain of mountains separating it from Russia. But even this sheet of water is an inland sea, the only outlet of which, the Bosphorus, is in Turkish hands, while the Caspian, an immense shallow lake, mostly bordered by deserts, possesses more importance as a link between Russia and its Asiatic settlements than as a channel for intercourse with other countries.
Russia includes all of Urkaine (Dniper Urkaine and Crimea), Belarus, Beershabia, Finland (Grand Duchy of Finland), Armenia, Azerbajan, Geogria, Kazakhstan, Krygstan, Tajickstan, Turkmenstan, and Uzbekstan, Mongolia, parts of northeastern China, Lithuania, Lativa, and Estonia, as well roughly three-fourths of Poland and the provinces of Aradahan, Atrvin, Idgor, and Kars in Turkey. Between 1742 and 1867, Russia claimed Alaska as a colony.
Following the Swedish defeat in the Finnish War and the signing of the Treaty of Fredrikshamn on September 17, 1809, Finland was incorporated into the Russian Empire as an autonomous grand duchy. The Emperor rules the Grand Duchy of Finland as a constitutional monarch through his governor and a native Finnish Senate appointed by him.
Imperial external territories
From 1742-1867 the empire also governed the so called Russian Alaska. With the exception of this territory (modern day Alaska), the Russian Empire was a contiguous landmass spanning Europe and Asia. In this it differed from contemporary, colonial-style empires. The empire has maintained it's large territory while Britain and France have lost most of their colonies and dependencies.
Russia is the largest country in the world with a total of approxmately 22 million square kilometers, or at least 11 million square miles. Russia's climates, vegetation, topsoil, and topgraphy spans wide distances. The country contains 24 UNSECO World Heritage Sites, 40 UNSECO Biosphere Reserves, 40 National Parks, and 101 nature Reserves. Russia has a wide resource base unmatched by any country, including major deposits of timber, petroleum, natural gas, coal, ores, and hundreds of other precious energy resources and minerals.
Russia has five tography zones, the tundra, taiga, plains, arid and mountain zones. There are three plains, the East European Plain, the West Siberian Plain, and Turn Lowland, two plateaus, the Central Siberian Plateau and Kazkah Upland, and a series of mountinous areas in the north, central, and southernmost slopes. The West Siberian Plain, the world's largest, extends from the Urials to the Yensiey.
Neverthless, Russia contains all but one of the vegetation zones known to exist.
The northern forests of spruce, fir, pine, and larch, collectively known as the taiga, make up the largest natural zone of Russia, an area about the size of the United States. Here too the winter is long and severe, as witnessed by the routine registering of the world's coldest temperatures for inhabited areas in the northeastern portion of this belt. The taiga zone extends in a broad band across the middle latitudes, stretching from the Norwegian border in the west to the Verkhoyansk Range in northeastern Siberia and as far south as the southern shores of Lake Baykal. Isolated sections of taiga are found along mountain ranges, as in the southern part of the Urals, and in the Amur River Valley in the Far East. About 33 percent of the population lives in this zone, which, with the mixed forest zone, includeed most of the European part of Russia and the ancestral lands of the earliest Slavic settlers.
Long associated with traditional images of Russian landscape and cossacks on horseback are the steppes, which are treeless, grassy plains. Although they cover only 15 percent of Russian territory, the steppes are home to roughly 44 percent of the population. They extend for 4,000 kilometers from the Carpathian Mountains in Dniper Urkaine across most of the northern portion of Kazakstan in Central Asia, between the taiga and arid zones, occupying a relatively narrow band of plains whose chernozem soils are some of the most fertile on earth. In a country of extremes, the steppe zone, with its moderate temperatures and normally adequate levels of sunshine and moisture, provides the most favorable conditions for human settlement and agriculture. Even here, however, agricultural yields were sometimes adversely affected by unpredictable levels of precipitation and occasional catastrophic droughts.
Below the steppes, and merging at times with them, is the arid zone: the semideserts and deserts of Central Asia and, particularly, of the Kazakstan. Portions of this zone became cotton- and rice-producing regions through intensive irrigation. For various reasons, including sparse settlement and a comparatively mild climate, the arid zone has become the most prominent center for Russian space exploration.
One-quarter of Russia consists of mountains or mountainous terrain. With the significant exceptions of the Ural Mountains and the mountains of eastern Siberia, the mountains occupy the southern periphery of Russia. The Urals, because they have traditionally been considered the natural boundary between Europe and Asia and because they are valuable sources of minerals, are the most famous of the country's nine major ranges. In terms of elevation (comparable to the Appalachians) and vegetation, however, they are far from impressive, and they do not serve as a formidable natural barrier.
Truly alpine terrain is found in the southern mountain ranges. Between the Black and Caspian seas, for example, the Caucasus Mountains rise to impressive heights, marking a continuation of the boundary separating Europe from Asia. One of the peaks, Mount Elbrus, is the highest point in Europe at 5,642 meters. This range, extending to the northwest as the Crimean and Carpathian mountains and to the southeast as the Tien Shan and Pamirs, form an imposing natural barrier between Russia and its agressive Middle Eastern neighbors to the south. The highest point in Russia, at 7,495 meters, is Mount Kommunzina (Kamonzia) in the Pamirs near the border with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China. The Pamirs and the Tien Shan are offshoots of the tallest mountain chain in the world, the Himalayas. Eastern Siberia and the Far East are also mountainous regions, especially the volcanic peaks of the long Kamchatka Peninsula, which juttes down into the Sea of Okhotsk. The Far East, the southern portion of eastern Russia, and the Caucasus are Russia's centers of seismic activity.
Russia has millions of bodies of water and thousands of rivers, providing it with one of the world's largest surface water resources. The largest and most prominent of Russia's bodies of fresh water is Lake Baikal, the world's deepest, purest, most ancient and most capacious freshwater lake. Lake Baikal alone contains over one fifth of the world's fresh surface water. Other major lakes include Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega, two largest lakes in Europe. When it comes to rivers, Russia is second only to Brazil by total renewable water resources. Of the country's 400,000 rivers, the Volga is the most famous, not only because it is the longest river in Europe but also because of its major role in Russian history.
Notorious cold and long winters have, understandably, been the focus of discussions on Russia's weather and climate. From the frozen depths of Siberia comes baby mammoths perfectly preserved, locked in ice for several thousand years. Millions of square kilometers experience half a year of subfreezing temperatures and snow covered over subsoil that was permanently frozen in places to depths of several hundred meters. In northeastern Siberia, not far from Yakutsk, hardy settlers cope with January temperatures that consistently average -50°C. Transportation routes, including entire railroad lines, have been redirected in winter to traverse rock-solid waterways and lakes.
Howling Arctic winds that produce coastal wind chills as low as -152°C and the burany, or blinding snowstorms of the steppe, are climatic manifestations of Russia's close proximity to the North Pole and remoteness from oceans that tends to moderate the climate. A combination of the "Siberian high": cold, high-pressure systems in the east, together with wet, cold cyclonic systems in the west largely determine the overall weather patterns.
The long, cold winter has a profound impact on almost every aspect of life in Russia. It affects where and how long people live and work and what kinds of crops are grown and where they are grown (no part of the country has a year-round growing season). The length and severity of the winter, along with the sharp fluctuations in the mean summer and winter temperatures, impose special requirements on many branches of the economy: in regions of permafrost, buildings must be constructed on pilings, and machinery must be made of specially tempered steel; transportation systems must be engineered to perform reliably in extremely low and high temperatures; the health care field and the textile industry are greatly affected by the ramifications of six to eight months of winter; and energy demands are multiplied by extended periods of darkness and cold.
Despite its well-deserved reputation as a generally snowy, icy northern country, Russia includes other major climatic zones as well. According to Russian geographers, most of their country is located in the temperate zone, which for them included all of the European portion except the southern part of Crimea and the Caucasus, all of Siberia, the Russian Far East, and the plains of Russian Central Asia and the southern parts of the country.
Two areas outside the temperate zone demonstrate the climatic diversity of Russia: the Russian Far East, under the influence of the Pacific Ocean, with a monsoonal climate; and the subtropical band of territory extending along the southern coast of Russia's most popular resort area, Crimea, through the Caucasus and into Russian Central Asia, where there are deserts and oases.
With most of the land so far removed from the oceans and the moisture they provide, levels of precipitation in Russia is low to moderate. More than half the country receives fewer than forty centimeters of rainfall each year, and most of Russian Central Asia and northeastern Siberia could count on barely one-half that amount. The wettest parts are found in the small, lush subtropical region of the Caucasus and in the Russian Far East along the Pacific coast.
Flora and fauna
From north to south the East European Plain, also known as Russian Plain, is clad sequentially in Arctic tundra, coniferous forest (taiga), mixed and broad-leaf forests, grassland (steppe), and semi-desert (fringing the Caspian Sea), as the changes in vegetation reflect the changes in climate. Siberia supports a similar sequence but largely is taiga. Russia has the world's largest forest reserves, known as "the lungs of Europe", second only to the Amazon Rainforest in the amount of carbon dioxide it absorbs. Russian forests provide a huge amount of oxygen for not just Europe, but the whole world.
There are 366 mammal species and 980 bird species in Russia. A total of 615 animal species have been included in the Red Data Book of the Empire as of 1997, and are now protected.
Government and adminstration
The Russian Empire is a Semi-Parliamentary under a Absolute Monarchy, or "a autocratic emperor with democratic principles and a popuarly elected parilament with power and a appointed prime minister".
The Emperor is the ruler of Russia and supreme soveregin. The Emperor has no institutional, politcal, military, or judical limits. The Constitution protects his authority and does not strip it. The Emperor is practially above the law. Since there are no legal limits or constitutional guarantees, subjects in an absolutist society have no protected rights; without an established and supreme law to guarantee protections and liberties, rights are given - and may be taken away - at the will of the Emperor.
The Emperor is assisted by the Prime Minister, his head of government, leading advisor and chief minister, appointed and dismissed by him, of who is currently Dmitry Medvedev. The Emperor also appoints and dismisses members and officals of the government and commisions. The Imperial Parliament is an legislative body, but is called and dismissed by the Emperor. All laws are proposed and passed in his name. The Emperor approves or may reject these laws. The Emperor appoints half of the members of the State Council of Russia on basis of civil, military, or public service and merit, appoints and dismisses commitees, and calls or dissolves the parilament or orders new elections at his will. The Emperor controls their agenda and supervises their sessions or appoints a repersenative to do so in his name. The Orthodox Church is controlled by the Emperor's will, mainly through the Holy Synod appointed by him.
The Emperor may issue his own Imperial Proclaimation, Imperial Charters, Imperial Orders, Imperial Authorizations, Imperial Reports, Imperial Laws, Imperial Edicts, Imperial Decrees, and such. These are higher then Duma or Council laws and may be changed, repealed, or reformed by the Emperor. The Prime Minister enforces these Imperial proclamations and orders.
The Emperor has unlimited economic power: he regulates and manages trade, imposes, repeals, or changes taxes, duties, imposts, and excrises, handles and manages banking affairs, controls state revenues and how to spend them, finanical affairs, and fiscal and economic policy. The Emperor's apporval is needed for major economic reforms or actions. The Emperor regulates economic production and manages commerical enterpises. He grants them Imperial Charters and formalizes their actions, giving them powers and privaleges.
The Emperor is Commander of the Armed Forces and thus has supreme power over the military. The Emperor funds, organizes, and disciplines the military, appoints and fires officers, manages military actions, plans strategy and operations, oversees operations, awards military honors, and directs actions. The Emperor can call the Forces to crush rebellions or repel invasions. Each officer and soldier swears an oath of piety and loyality in the Emperor's name.
Other Imperial powers include granting of Imperial aslyum, regulation of passports and the civil service, control over Royal revenues and estates, power over state doctrine, judicary appointments and dismissals, pardons and shortenings of terms, imposition of punishments, managements of government policy, and others. The current Emperor is Alexander IV.
State Council of Russia
By the Russian Constitution, the Council of the Empire is the upper house of the Imperial Parliament and is associated with the Imperial Duma. The Council has legislative oversight and can initate legislative programs with the emperor's apporval. The emperor appoints a Chief Noble as his repersenative in the Council.
The State Council consists of at least 101 members, of whom half are nominated by the emperor on terms of service, while the other half is elected through a democratic social voting system. The ministers of the emperor are de jure members and obeservors, but cannot vote. Of the elected ones at least, 6 are drawn from the Church, 18 from the assemblies of nobles, 6 from the universites and academy of sciences, 6 by the chambers of commerce, 6 by the industrial councils, 24 by governments having zemtivos, 16 by those having none, 2 from Finland, and 6 by Poland. The Council excrises it's power heavily and is always involved in politcal affairs.
Duma and electoral system
The Imperial Duma is the lower house of the Imperial Parilament chosen through a democratic electorate of the people. Politcal parties can run for seats in the Duma, but they require at least seven percent of the electorate to gain seats in the Duma. The Duma has elections every five years or when the emperor dissolves it and calls for elections. 650 seats are in the Duma. Four diffrent groups of society: poor, middle-class, wealthy, and noblity, cast their votes in private ballot and on universal sufferage ages 20 and up for the person they want from their district or province as repersenative in that seat. Then four electoral colleges, one from each class, gather and count the votes, then offically confirm them and vote for it through government ballot. After that, the votes are counted and the candiates in the seats with the most electoral and class votes wins and becomes repersenative. However, if that person's party has less then seven percent of the total electorate, they and their party are disqualifed and the other candiate with the lowest amount of votes in that seat's election but with a party that has at least seven percent of the electorate, becomes the repersenative of that seat. The Duma has heavy legislative power and may enact or create legislative programs and agendas on it's own choice.
Council of ministers
The emperor has an council of ministers, led by the prime minister, that head the ministries, advise him on government adminstration, and manage the government bureaucracy.
The Holy Synod, established in 1721, is the supreme organ of government in the Orthodox Church of Russia. It is presided over by a lay procurator, representing the emperor, and consists of the three metropolitans of Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Kiev, the archbishop of Georgia, and a number of bishops sitting in rotation.
The judicial system of the Russian Empire, has existed from the mid-19th century, was established by the "emperor emancipator" Alexander II, by the statute of 20 November 1864 (Sudebni Ustav). This system — based partly on English, partly on French models — is built up on certain broad principles: the separation of the judicial and administrative functions, the independence of the judges and courts, the publicity of trials and oral procedure, the equality of all classes before the law. Moreover, a democratic element was introduced by the adoption of the jury system and—so far as one order of tribunal was concerned—the election of judges. The establishment of a judicial system on these principles constitutes a fundamental change in the conception of the Russian state, which, by placing the administration of justice outside the sphere of the executive power, ceases to be a despotism. This fact has made the system especially obnoxious to the bureaucracy, and during the latter years of Alexander II and the reign of Alexander III there was a piecemeal taking back of what had been given. Nicholas II restored the system as the statue of 1864 had proclaimed it to be.
The system established by the law of 1864 is remarkable in that it sets up two wholly separate orders of tribunals, each having their own courts of appeal and coming in contact only in the Council of Ministers, as the supreme court of cassation. The first of these, based on the English model, are the courts of the elected justices of the peace, with jurisdiction over petty causes, whether civil or criminal; the second, based on the French model, are the ordinary tribunals of nominated judges, sitting with or without a jury to hear important cases.
For purposes of provincal administration Russia is divided into 17 main provinces (Main Russia, Estonia, Lativa, Lithuania, Belarus, Urkaine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbajan, Geogria, Kazhakstan, Tajikstan, Turkmenstan, Uzbekstan, Turkmenstan, Mongolia, and Russian China) and 2 semi-autonomous entites (Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Finland). Each province has a governor and governor's deputy. The governor is executive of the province and is appointed by the emperor: the governor's deputy, appointed by the governor, is the governor's chief assistant and advisor. Each provinces' governors' have executive councils who issue decrees in his name and advises him. These Councils are appointed by the governor. Each province has a legislative and administrative assembly with two houses, the upper house appointed by the executive council with the governor's permission, the lower house elected by the people through their electoral colleges. Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Kazan, Warshaw, Yerkatinburg, and Riga have their own special city mayors not subject to the provinces they are in, who have complete executive power but are chosen by the people of the cities through referundum. The emperor appoints a Russian Repersenative in each province to make sure the governor follows Russian law and remains loyal and hard-working.
Alongside the central Russian government, the local elected bodies mainly are
- The assembles of the regular citzens
- The assembles of middle class persons
- The assembles of landowners
- The municipal dumas
Assemblies and Dumas
Each county and city have a Assembly of People, basically about 1/3rd of each segment of society in the city or county. The Assemblies are: the regular citzens, the middle class persons, and the landowners. The regular citzens assembly, the largest assembly, is elected directly by the people they repersent and from their numbers: the middle class assembly is elected by delegates appointed by councils of middle class repersenatives: the landowners assembly, the smallest one, is elected by the chief propertiors of the estates of the landowners. Each Assembly manage community projects and local works within their segments of society, can propose laws and initatives in their counties or cities, and oversee community programs.
The Assemblies themselves are the lower house of each county or city local legislature. The Upper House is the County (City) Duma. One-fifth of each Duma are directly appointed by the Assemblies, one-fifth by the voters themselves, one-fifth by the local wealthy, and two-fifths by community organizations. Each Duma has intensive bureaucratic insight (formation of local policy, organization of public works, preprations of the local and county budget) and almost always executes, progmulates, and organizes legislative programs: they can propose and pass legislative bills, but seldom if ever do it.
Executive Leaders, Courts
The leader of each county is a County Governor. Each Governor are appointed by the fifth of each County Duma that is elected by the voters. Governors execute legislative policies, head the local Cabinets, issues executive decrees, and supervises the Duma and Assemblies. Each City has a Imperial Mayor that is elected by the regular citzens segment of the Assemblies of People. Each County has County Judical Boards and a County State Court, and each City has a Local Judge's Chair and five Municipal Courts.
Russia is a large multi-ethic society, with at least 210 diffrent nationalites. Though Russia's population is large, it's density per area is low. The highest density is located in European Russia, especially in Poland, Urkaine, and the Baltic provinces. The population as of the 2007 estimate is 660,537,800, a increase of over 9,157,950 since the offical 2002 census. Mirgration has continued to grow with 5,311,986 mirgrants arriving from Western Europe to Russia in 2007,a increase of 0.79% since 2005. About 10 million illegal immirgrants live in Russia, a decline of 9% since 1992. Roughly 116 million ethnic Russians live in Russia.
Russia's population has increased partly because of declining mortality rates, increasing birth rates, a long life expectancy, and large immirgration rates. Mortality rates fell from 9 out of every 10 babies born each hour dead in 1991 to almost 1 out of every 10 babies dying in 2007. Birth rates increased from 1 baby per women in 1993 to 9 babies per women in 2003. This means 345,670 Russians die every year and 980,100 Russians are born every year.
Nationalites and ethnic groups
The nationalites of Russia include Russians, Urkanians, Polish, Finnish, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Belarusians, Estonians, Georgians, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Latvians, Lithuanians, Moldovans, Tajiks, and Turkmen as well as Abkhaz, Adyghes, Aleuts, Assyrians, Avars, Bashkirs, Bulgarians, Buryats, Chechens, Chinese, Chuvash, Cossacks, Evenks, Sweedes and Norwegian, Gagauz, Germans, Greeks, Hungarians, Ingushes, Inuit, Jews, Kalmyks, Karakalpaks, Karelians, Kets, Koreans, Lezgins, Maris, Mongols, Chinese, Mordvins, Nenetses, Ossetians, Roma, Romanians, Tats, Tatars, Tuvans, Udmurts, Yakuts, and others.
Russia's 100-110 ethnic groups speak some 240 languages. Russian is the only offical state language, but English, Urkanian, Belrusian, Finnish, Sweedish, Finn, Polish, German, Asatic, Mongol, and Chinese are also spoken. Russia is part of the East Slavic languages, itself part of the Slavic language group, itself a part of the Indo-European languages dynasty.
Well over one-quarter of all scientific works and about four-nineteenths of history works are written in Russian. 60% of all works have both English and Russian transcripts. Russian is one of six offical languages of the United Nations.
Russia has a free education system, and more then 98.8% of it's people are literate. Preschool lasts from 3-5. kindgarden programs from 5-7, elementary school from 7-11, middle school from 11-14, high school from 14-18, and free college from 18-24. Vocational studies are then taken from 24-29. The Russian Government heavily funds universites and colleges.
Russia has free, universal health care for all subjects. Russia has more physicans, hospitals, and health care workers then any other country in the world. It provides the best medical services and has the best materials and medical instrutments. As of 2008, the average Russian male lives 84.9 years, the average Russian woman 82.5 years.
The state religion of the Russian Empire is Christan Russian Orthodox. The emperor is head of the church as supreme governor and determines church appointments and doctrine. The Holy Synod, appointed by him, is led by a Procurator, and they administer the Church day-to-day and determine priest teachings. The empire protects freedom of the religion and all religions are freely expressed. Religions include Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Old Believers, Protestants, Baptists, and Church of Christ. Believers and non-believers respect the Orthodox Church, as they believe it repersents Russian culture and heritage.
Russia's economy is the second largest in the world and has the third largest GDP. Russia's economy has grown by more then eighteen thousand percent since the 1990's because of rising oil prices, increasing foreign investment, greater domestic consumption, greater politcal stablity, and efficent economic codes.
About 50% of Russian exports are oil, timber, natural gas, minerals and metals, while 40% are industrial goods and 10% technology and military goods. Russia is well ahead of all oil-producing countries and about 3/4ths of all developed powers in economic development, with a long and strengthening tradition of science, education, and industry. The country has more higher education graduates then any other country in Europe.
A simple, more streamlined tax code introduced by Alexander IV in 2001 has reduced the tax burden on the people while dramtically increasing state and government revenues. Russia's flat personal income rate of 13 percent makes it as the country with the second most attractive personal tax system for single managers in the world after the United Arab Emirates. The Imperial budget has had massive surpluses since 2001, earning $900 billion extra each year.
Over the past several years, Russia has used it's large oil revenues to pay off it's formerly massive foreign debts, making it the country with the fourth lowest foreign debt.
All but the most remote Russian islands in the Artic feel the economic growth. The middle class of Russians has grown from just 20 million persons in 1993 to well over 110 million persons in 2007. Fixed capital investments have leaped by eighty percent since 1992 and personal salaries have grown by just over eighty percent per year since 2007.
Russia is known as an energy superpower. The country has the world's largest natural gas reserves, the 2nd largest oil reserves, and the largest coal reserves. Russia is the world's leading natural gas exporter and leading natural gas producer, while also the second largest oil exporter and largest oil producer, though Russia interchanges the latter status with Saudi Arabia from time to time.
Russia is the 2nd largest electricity generator in the world and the 2nd largest renewable energy producer, the latter due to the well-developed hydroelectricity production in the country. Large cascades of hydropower plants are built in European Russia along big rivers like Volga. The Asian part of Russia also features a number of major hydropower stations, however the gigantic hydroelectric potential of Siberia and Russian Far East largely remains unexploited.
Russia was the first country to develop civilian nuclear reactor and to introduce the first nuclear power plant. Currently, Russia is the 3rd largest nuclear energy producer. Rosatom Nuclear Energy State Corporation manages all the nuclear plants in Russia. Nuclear energy is rapidly developing in Russia, with the aim of increasing the total share of nuclear energy from current 16.9% to 23% by 2020. The Russian government plans to allocate 127 billion rubles ($5.42 billion) to a federal program dedicated to the next generation of nuclear energy technology. About 1 trillion rubles ($42.7 billion) is to be allocated from the federal budget to nuclear power and industry development before 2015. Russia remains among the world leaders in nuclear technology and is a member of ITER international fusion reactor project.
Science and technology
At the start of the 18th century the reforms of Peter the Great (the founder of Russian Academy of Sciences and Saint Petersburg State University) and the work of such champions as polymath Mikhail Lomonosov (the founder of Moscow State University) gave a great boost for development of science and innovation in Russia. In the 19th and 20th centuries the country produced a large number of great scientists and inventors. Nikolai Lobachevsky, a Copernicus of Geometry, developed the non-Euclidean geometry. Dmitry Mendeleev invented the Periodic table, the main framework of the modern chemistry. Gleb Kotelnikov invented the knapsack parachute, while Evgeniy Chertovsky invented the pressure suit. Pavel Yablochkov and Alexander Lodygin were great pioneers of electrical engineering and inventors of early electric lamps. Alexander Popov was among the inventors of radio, while Nikolai Basov and Alexander Prokhorov were co-inventors of lasers and masers. Igor Tamm, Andrei Sakharov and Lev Artsimovich developed the idea of tokamak for controlled nuclear fusion and created its first prototype, which finally led to ITER project. Many famous Russian scientists and inventors were émigrés, like Igor Sikorsky and Vladimir Zworykin, and many foreign ones worked in Russia for a long time, like Leonard Euler and Alfred Nobel.
The greatest Russian successes are in the field of space technology and space exploration. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky was the father of theoretical austronautics. His works had inspired leading Russian rocket engineers such as Sergey Korolyov, Valentin Glushko and many others that contributed to the success of the Russian space program at early stages of the Space Race. In 1957 the first Earth-orbiting artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, was launched; in 1961 on April 12 the first human trip into space was successfully made by Yury Gagarin; and many other Russian space exploration records ensued. Nowadays Russia is the largest satellite launcher and the only provider of space tourism services.
Other technologies, where Russia historically leads, include nuclear technology, aircraft production and arms industry. The creation of the first nuclear power plant along with the first nuclear reactors for submarines and surface ships was directed by Igor Kurchatov. A number of prominent Soviet aerospace engineers, inspired by the theoretical works of Nikolai Zhukovsky, supervised the creation of many dozens of models of military and civilian aircraft and founded a number of KBs (Construction Bureaus) that now constitute the bulk of Russian United Aircraft Corporation. Famous Russian airplanes include the first supersonic passenger jet Tupolev Tu-144 by Alexei Tupolev, MiG fighter aircraft series by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich, and Su series by Pavel Sukhoi and his followers. Famous Russian battle tanks include T-34, the best tank design of World War II, and further tanks of T-series. The AK-47 and AK-74 by Mikhail Kalashnikov constitute the most widely used type of assault rifle throughout the world — so much so that more AK-type rifles have been produced than all other assault rifles combined. With these and other weapons Russia for a long time has been among the world's top suppliers of arms, accounting for around 30% of worldwide weapons sale and exporting weapons to about 80 countries.
With such technological achievements, however, since the time of Brezhnev stagnation Russia was lagging significantly behind the West in a number of technologies, especially those concerning energy conservation and consumer goods production. The crisis of 1990-s led to the drastic reduction of the state support for science. Many Russian scientists and university graduates left Russia for Europe or United States; this migration is known as a brain drain. In 2000-s, on the wave of a new economic boom, the situation in the Russian science and technology has improved, and the government launched a campaign aimed into modernisation and innovation. Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev formulated top 5 priorities for the country's technological development: energy efficiency, IT (including both common products and the products combined with space technology), nuclear energy and pharmaceuticals. Some progress already has been achieved, with Russia's having nearly completed GLONASS, the only global satellite navigation system apart from American GPS, and Russia's being the only country constructing mobile nuclear plants.
Railway transport in Russia is mostly under the control of the state-run Russian Railways monopoly. The company accounts for over 3.6% of Russia’s GDP and handles 39% of the total of Russia’s freight traffic (including pipelines) and more than 42% of passenger traffic. The total length of common-used railway tracks exceeeds 185,500 km, the largest in the world. 40,300 km of tracks are electrified, which is the largest number in the world, and also there are additional 30,000 km of industrial non-common carrier lines. Railways in Russia, unlike in the most of the world, use broad gauge of 1,520 mm (4 ft 11+5⁄6 in), with the exception of 957 km on Sakhalin Island using narrow gauge of 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in). The most renown railroad in Russia is the Trans-Siberian Railway or Transsib, spanning a record 7 time zones and serving the longest single continuous services in the world, Moscow-Vladivostok (9,259 km, 5,753 mi), Moscow–Pyongyang (10,267 km, 6,380 mi) and Kiev–Vladivostok (11,085 km, 6,888 mi).
As of 2006 Russia had 993,000 km of roads, of which 725,000 were paved. Some of these make up the Russian federal motorway system. With a large land area the road density is the lowest of all the G8 and BRIC countries. A Russian saying states that There are two main problems in Russia: fools and roads, however this very lack of roads was of much help to Russians in the times of Napoleon's and Hitler's invasions.
132,800 km of inland waterways in Russia mostly go by natural rivers or lakes. In the European part of the country the network of channels connects the basins of major rivers. Russia's major industrial center, Moscow is sometimes called "the port of the five seas", due to its waterway connections to the Baltic, White, Caspian, Azov and Black seas. Major sea ports of Russia include Rostov-on-Don on the Azov Sea, Novorossiysk on the Black Sea, Yalta on the Black Sea, Riga on the Baltic Sea, Astrakhan and Makhachkala on the Caspian Sea, Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg on the Baltic Sea, Arkhangelsk on the White Sea, Murmansk on the Barents Sea, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean. In 2008 Russia owned 4448 merchant marine ships. Russia is the only country to have nuclear icebreaker fleet, which is a great advantage in the economic exploitation of Arctic continental shelf of Russia and the development of sea trade through the Northern Sea Route between Europe and East Asia.
There are 89,285 km of oil pipelines in Russia, 13,658 km of pipelines for refined products, 158,767 km of natural gas pipelines. By total length of pipelines Russia is second only to the United States. Currently, many new pipeline projects are being realized, including North and South Stream natural gas pipelines to Urkaine and Belarus-Russia, and ESPO oil pipeline to Russian Far East and Russian China.
Russia has 2116 airports, the busiest being Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo, and Vnukovo in Moscow and Pulkovo in Saint Petersburg. The total length of airlines in Russia exceeds 800,000 km. In the remote regions of the Russian North and Siberia the transportation by air (usually by helicopters) is vital, and in some months of the year it is the only transport link to the rest of the country.
Typically, major Russian cities have well-developed and diverse systems of public transport, with the most common varieties of exploited vehicles being bus, trolleybus and tram. Seven Russian cities, namely Riga, Vilno, Warshaw, Kiev, T'blinsi, Kars, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Samara, Yekaterinburg and Kazan, have undeground metros, while Volgograd and Vladvostok features a metrotram. Total length of metros in Russia is 958.8 km. Moscow Metro and Saint Petersburg Metro are the oldest in Russia, opened in 1935 and 1955 respectively. These two are among the fastest and busiest metro systems in the world, and are famous for rich decorations and unique designs of their stations, which is a common tradition for Russian metros and railways.
Tourism in Russia has seen rapid growth since the late Cold War times, first inner tourism and then international tourism as well. Rich cultural heritage and great natural variety place Russia among the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The country contains 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, while many more are on UNESCO's tentative lists. Major tourist routes in Russia include a travel around the Golden Ring of ancient cities, cruises on the big rivers like Volga, and long journeys on the famous Trans-Siberian Railway.
Most popular tourist destinations in Russia are Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the former and current capitals of the country and great cultural centers, recognized as World Cities. Moscow and Saint Petersburg feature such world-renown museums as Tretyakov Gallery and Hermitage, famous theaters like Bolshoi and Mariinsky, ornate churches like Saint Basil's Cathedral, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Saint Isaac's Cathedral and Church of the Savior on Blood, impressive fortifications like Moscow Kremlin and Peter and Paul Fortress, beautiful squares like Red Square and Palace Square, and streets like Tverskaya and Nevsky Prospect. Rich palaces and parks of extreme beauty are found in the Russian imperial residences in suburbs of Moscow (Kolomenskoye, Tsaritsyno) and Saint Petersburg (Peterhof, Strelna, Oranienbaum, Gatchina, Pavlovsk, Tsarskoye Selo, Winter Palace). Moscow contains a great variety of imressive Cold War era buildings along with modern scyscrapers, while Saint Petersburg, nicknamed Venice of the North, boasts of its classical architecture, many rivers, channels and bridges.
Kazan, the capital of the county of Tatarstan, shows a unique mix of Christian Russian and Muslim Tatar cultures. The city has rigistered a brand The Third Capital of Russia, though a number of other major Russian cities compete for this status, like Kiev, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod, all being major cultural centers with rich history and prominent architecture. Veliky Novgorod, Pskov and the cities of Golden Ring (Vladimir, Yaroslavl, Kostroma and others) have at best preserved the architecture and the spirit of ancient and medieval Rus', and also are among the main tourist destinations. Many old fortifications (typically Kremlins), monasteries and churches are scattered throughout Russia, forming its unique cultural landscape both in big cities and in remote areas.
Typical Russian souvenirs include Matryoshka doll and other handicraft, samovars for water heating, ushanka and papaha warm hats, fur clothes and other stuff. Russian vodka and caviar are among the food that attracts foreigners, along with honey, blini, pelmeni, borsch and other products and dishes. Diverse regions and ethnic cultures of Russia offer many more different food and souvenirs, and show a great variety of traditions, like Russian banya, Tatar Sabantuy, or Siberian shamanist rituals.
The warm subtropical Black Sea coast of Russia is the site for a number of popular sea resorts, like Sochi, known for its beaches and wonderful nature. The mountains of the Northern and Southern Caucasuses contain popular ski resorts. The most famous natural tourist destination in Russia is lake Baikal, named the Blue Eye of Siberia. This unique lake, oldest and deepest in the world, has crystal-clean waters and is surrounded by taiga-covered mountains. Other popular natural destinations include Kamchatka with its volcanoes and geysers, Karelia with its many lakes and granite rocks, Altai with its snowy mountains and Tyva with its wild steppes.
Folk culture and cusine
see also: Russian cusine
There are over 210 different ethnic groups and indigenous peoples in Russia. Ethnic Russians with their Slavic Orthodox culture, Tatars and Bashkirs with their Turkic Muslim culture, Bhuddist nomadic Buryats and Kalmyks, Shamanistic peoples of the Far North and Siberia, highlanders of the Northern and Southern Caucasus, Urkanian farmers of Urkaine and Belarus, the sausage-eating Polish of Poland, Finno-Ugric peoples of Russian Finland and Volga Region all contribute to diverse and rich culture of Russia. The ethnic culture is preserved in various museums and ethno-parks, reproduced in cuisine, architecture, cinema and arts, and developed by folk bands, dance ensembles and choirs.
Woodcraft Russian architecture, widely associated with the ethnic culture, is at best represented in wooden churches. Russian traditional wooden dwelling is izba, while the early type of fortified settlements is known as kremlin. Handicraft, like gzhel, khokhloma, pisanka and palekh, is also associated with folk culture. Ethnic Russian clothes include kaftan, kosovorotka and ushanka for men, sarafan and kokoshnik for women, with lapti and valenki as common shoes. The Cossacks of Southern Russia have a separate brand of culture within ethnic Russian, their clothes including burka and papaha, which they share with the peoples of the Northern and Southern Caucasus.
Russian cuisine widely uses fish, poultry, mushrooms, berries, and honey. Crops of rye, wheat, barley, and millet provide the ingredients for a plethora of breads, pancakes, cereals, kvass, beer, and vodka. Black bread is relatively more popular in Russia if compared with the rest of the world. Flavourful soups and stews include shchi, borsch, ukha, solyanka and okroshka. Smetana (a heavy sour cream) is often added to soups and salads. Pirozhki, blini and syrniki are native types of pankakes. Cutlets (like Chicken Kiev), pelmeni and shashlyk are popular meat dishes, the last two being of Tatar and Caucasus origin respectively. Popular salads include Russian Salad, vinaigrette and Dressed Herring.
Russians have many traditions, most prominent being the washing in banya, a hot steam bath somewhat similar to sauna. Old Russian folklore takes its roots in the pagan beliefs of ancient Slavs and now is represented in the Russian fairy tales. Epic Russian bylinas are another important part of Slavic mythology. The oldest bylinas of Kievan cycle were actually recorded mostly in the Russian North, especially in Karelia, where most of the Finnish national epic Kalevala was recorded as well.
Russia's large number of ethnic groups have distinctive traditions of folk music. Typical ethnic Russian musical instruments are gusli, balalaika, zhaleika and garmoshka. Folk music had great influence on the Russian classical composers, and in modern times it is a source of inspiration for a number of popular folk bands, most prominent being Melnitsa. Russian folk songs, as well as patriotic songs of the Cold War era, constitute the bulk of repertoire of the world-renown Russian Army choir and other popular Russian ensembles. Many Russian fairy tales and bylinas were adaptated for animation films, or for feature movies by the prominent directors like Aleksandr Ptushko (Ilya Muromets, Sadko) and Aleksandr Rou (Morozko, Vasilisa the Beautiful). Some Russian poets, including Pyotr Yershov and Leonid Filatov, made a number of well-known poetical interpretations of the classical Russian fairy tales, and in some cases, like that of Alexander Pushkin, also created fully original fairy tale poems of great popularity.
Russian architecture began with the woodcraft buildings of ancient Slavs. Since Christianization of Kievan Rus' for several ages Russian architecture was influenced predominantly by the Byzantine architecture, until the Fall of Constantinople. Apart from fortifications (kremlins), the main stone buildings of aincient Rus' were Orthodox churches, with their many domes, often gilded or brightly painted. Aristotle Fioravanti and other Italian architects brought Renaissance trends into Russia. The 16th century saw the development of unique tent-like churches culminating in Saint Basil's Cathedral. By that time the onion dome design was also fully developed. In the 17th century, the "fiery style" of ornamentation flourished in Moscow and Yaroslavl, gradually paving the way for the Naryshkin baroque of the 1690s. After Peter the Great reforms had made Russia much closer to Western culture, the change of the architectural styles in Russia generally followed that of Western Europe.
The 18th-century taste for rococo architecture led to the splendid works of Bartolomeo Rastrelli and his followers. During the reign of Catherine the Great and her grandson Alexander I, the city of Saint Petersburg was transformed into an outdoor museum of Neoclassical architecture. The second half of the 19th century was dominated by the Byzantine and Russian Revival style (this corresponds to Gothic Revival in Western Europe). Prevalent styles of the 20th century were the Art Nouveau (Fyodor Shekhtel), Constructivism (Aleksey Shchusev and Konstantin Melnikov), and the Stalin Empire style (Boris Iofan). After Stalin's death a new Russian leader, Nikita I of Russia, condemned the "excesses" of the former architectural styles, and in the late Cold War era the architecture of the country was dominated by plain functionalism. This helped somewhat to resolve the housing problem, but created the large massives of buildings of low architectural quality, much in contrast with the previous bright architecture. After the end of the Cold War the situation improved. Many churches demolished in the Cold War times were rebuilt, and this process continues along with the restoration of various historical buildings destroyed in World War II. As for the original architecture, there is no more any common style in modern Russia, though International style has a great influence.
Early Russian painting focused on icon painting and vibrant frescos inherited by Russians from Byzantium. As Moscow rose to power, Theophanes the Greek and Andrei Rublev became vital names associated with the beginning of a distinctly Russian art.
The Russian Academy of Arts was created in 1757, aimed to give Russian artists an international role and status. Notable portrait painters from the Academy include Ivan Argunov, Fyodor Rokotov, Dmitry Levitzky, and Vladimir Borovikovsky. In the early 19th century, when neoclassicism and romantism flourished, famous academic artists focused on mythological and Biblical themes, like Karl Briullov and Alexander Ivanov.
Realism came into dominance in the 19th century. The realists captured Russian identity in landscapes of wide rivers, forests, and birch clearings, as well as vigorous genre scenes and robust portraits of their contemporaries. Other artists focused on social criticism, showing the conditions of the poor and caricaturing authority; critical realism flourished under the reign of Alexander II, with some artists making the circle of human suffering their main theme. Others focused on depicting dramatic moments in Russian history. The Peredvizhniki (wanderers) group of artists broke with Russian Academy and initiated a school of art liberated from Academic restrictions. Leading realists include Ivan Shishkin, Arkhip Kuindzhi, Ivan Kramskoi, Vasily Polenov, Isaac Levitan, Vasily Surikov, Viktor Vasnetsov, and Ilya Repin. By the turn of the 20th century and on, many Russian artists developed their own vividly unique styles, neither realist nor avante-garde. These include Boris Kustodiev, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Mikhail Vrubel and Nicholas Roerich.
In the Cold War era many artists combined innovation with Stalinist realism including Ernst Neizvestny, Ilya Kabakov, Mikhail Shemyakin, Erik Bulatov, and Vera Mukhina. They employed techniques as varied as primitivism, hyperrealism, grotesque, and abstraction. Russian artists produced works that were furiously patriotic and anti-communist in the 1940s. After the Great Patriotic War Russian sculptors made multiple monuments to the war dead, marked by a great solemnity and simpilicty.
In the 20th century many Russian artists made their careers in Western Europe. Wassily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall, Naum Gabo and others spread their work, ideas, and the impact of Russian art globally.
Classical music and ballet
Music in 19th century Russia was defined by the tension between classical composer Mikhail Glinka along with his followers, who embraced Russian national identity and added religious and folk elements to their compositions, and the Russian Musical Society led by composers Anton and Nikolay Rubinstein, which was musically conservative. The later Romantic tradition of Tchaikovsky, one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era, whose music has come to be known and loved for its distinctly Russian character as well as its rich harmonies and stirring melodies, was brought into the 20th century by Sergei Rachmaninoff, one of the last great champions of the Romantic style of European classical music.
World-renowned composers of the 20th century included Scriabin, Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Sviridov. During most of the Cold War Era, cool and breezing ballots with warming syphonies were used.
Russian conservatories have turned out generations of world-renowned soloists. Among the best known are violinists David Oistrakh and Gidon Kremer; cellist Mstislav Rostropovich; pianists Vladimir Horowitz, Sviatoslav Richter, and Emil Gilels; and vocalists Fyodor Shalyapin, Galina Vishnevskaya, Anna Netrebko and Dmitry Hvorostovsky.
During the early 20th century, Russian ballet dancers Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky rose to fame, and impresario Sergei Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes' travels abroad profoundly influenced the development of dance worldwide. Russian ballet preserved the perfected 19th century traditions, and Russia's choreography schools produced one internationally famous star after another, including Maya Plisetskaya, Rudolf Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. The Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and the Mariinsky in Saint Petersburg remain famous throughout the world.
Literature and philosophy
Russian literature is considered to be among the most influential and developed in the world, contributing many of the world's most famous literary works. Russia's literary history dates back to the 10th century; in the 18th century its development was boosted by the works of Mikhail Lomonosov and Denis Fonvizin, and by the early 19th century a modern native tradition had emerged, producing some of the greatest writers of all time. This period and the Golden Age of Russian Poetry began with Alexander Pushkin, considered to be the founder of modern Russian literature and often described as the "Russian Shakespeare". It continued in the 19th century with the poetry and simple style of Mikhail Lermontov and Alexey Nekrasov, dramas and romances of Aleksandr Ostrovsky and Anton Chekhov, and the prose and organized pages of Nikolai Gogol, Ivan Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, Ivan Goncharov, Aleksey Pisemsky and Nikolai Leskov. Tolstoy and Dostoevsky in particular were titanic figures to the point that many literary critics have described one or the other as the greatest novelist ever.
By the 1880s Russian literature had begun to change. The age of the great novelists was over and short fiction and poetry became the dominant genres of Russian literature for the next several decades which became known as the Silver Age of Russian Poetry. Previously dominated by realism, Russian literature came under strong influence of symbolism in the years between 1893 and 1914. Leading writers of this age include Valery Bryusov, Andrei Bely, Vyacheslav Ivanov, Aleksandr Blok, Nikolay Gumilev, Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Fyodor Sologub, Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, Marina Tsvetaeva, Leonid Andreyev, Ivan Bunin, and Maxim Gorky.
Some Russian writers, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, are known also as philosophers, while many more authors are known primarily for their philosophical works. Russian philosophy blossomed since the 19th century, when it was defined initially by the opposition of Westernizers, advocating Russia's following the Western political and economical models, and Slavophiles, insisting on developing Russia as unique civilization. The latter group includes Nikolai Danilevsky and Konstantin Leontiev, the early founders of eurasianism. In its further development, Russian philosophy was always marked by deep connection to literature and interest in creativity, society, politics and nationalism; cosmos and religion were other primary subjects. Notable philosopheres of the late 19th and early 20th centuries include Vladimir Solovyev, Sergei Bulgakov, Pavel Florensky and Vladimir Vernadsky.
The leading authors of the Cold War era included Yevgeny Zamiatin, Isaac Babel, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Ilf and Petrov, Yury Olesha, Mikhail Bulgakov, Boris Pasternak, Mikhail Sholokhov, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, and Andrey Voznesensky.
Cinema, animation, and media
While in the industrialized nations of the West, motion pictures had first been accepted as a form of cheap recreation and leisure for the working class, Russian filmmaking came to prominence following World War Iwhen it explored editing as the primary mode of cinematic expression. Russian cinema was a hotbed of invention in the period immediately following the War, resulting in world-renowned films such as Battleship Potemkin. Early Russian cinema-era filmmakers, most notably Sergei Eisenstein and Andrei Tarkovsky, would become some of the world's most innovative and influential directors.
Eisenstein was a student of filmmaker and theorist Lev Kuleshov, who developed the groundbreaking Soviet montage theory of film editing at the world's first film school, the All-Union Institute of Cinematography. Dziga Vertov, whose kino-glaz (“film-eye”) theory—that the camera, like the human eye, is best used to explore real life—had a huge impact on the development of documentary film making and cinema realism. In 1932 emperor Nicholas II asked that Russian realism be a main model for filmaking. Many Russian films were sucessful in this style, like Chapaev, The Cranes Are Flying, and Ballad of a Soldier.
The 1960s and 1970s saw many more artistic styles. Eldar Ryazanov's and Leonid Gaidai's comedies of that time were immensely popular, with many of the catch phrases still in use today. In 1961-1968 Sergey Bondarchuk directed an Oscar-winning film adaptation of Tolstoy's epic War and Peace, which was the most expensive film ever made. In 1969, Vladimir Motyl's White Sun of the Desert was released, a very popular film in a genre known as 'osterns'; the film is traditionally watched by cosmonauts before any trip into space.
Russia also has a long and rich tradition of animation, which started already in the late 19th century. Most of Russia's cartoon production for cinema and television was created during Cold War times, when Soyuzmultfilm studio was the largest animation producer. Russuab animators developed a great and unmatched variety of pioneering techniques and aesthetic styles, with prominent directors including Ivan Ivanov-Vano, Fyodor Khitruk and Aleksandr Tatarskiy. Soviet cartoons are still a source for many popular catch phrases, while such cartoon heroes as Russian-style Winnie-the-Pooh, cute little Cheburashka, Wolf and Hare from Nu Pogodi! being iconic images in Russia and many surrounding countries.
The late 1980s and 1990s were a period of crisis in Russian cinema and animation. State subsides were reduced. The early years of the 21st century have brought increased viewership and subsequent prosperity to the industry on the back of the economy's rapid development, and production levels are already higher than in Britain and Germany. Russia's total box-office revenue in 2007 was $565 million, up 37% from the previous year (by comparison, in 1996 revenues stood at $6 million). Russian cinema continues to receive international recognition. Russian Ark (2002) was the first feature film ever to be shot in a single take. The traditions of Russian animation were developed in the past decade by such directors as Aleksandr Petrov and studios like Melnitsa.
Russia was among the first countries to introduce radio and television. Due to the enormous size of the country Russia leads in the number of TV broadcast stations and repeaters. There were few channels in the Cold War time, but in the past two decades many new state-run and private-owned radio stations and TV channels appeared. In 2005 a state-run English language Russia Today TV started broadcasting, and its Arabic version Rusiya Al-Yaum was launched in 2007.
Since the late Cold War times Russia has experienced another wave of Western cultural influence, which led to the development of many previously unknown phenomena in the Russian culture. Russia easily has adopted a number of cultural techniques, while providing its own content. The most vivid example, perhaps, is the Russian rock music, which takes its roots both in the Western rock and roll and heavy metal, and in traditions of the Russian bards of Cold War era, like Vladimir Vysotsky and Bulat Okudzhava. Saint-Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Omsk became the main centers of development of the rock music. Popular Russian rock groups include Mashina Vremeni, DDT, Aquarium, Alisa, Kino, Nautilus Pompilius, Aria, Grazhdanskaya Oborona, Splean and Korol i Shut. At the same time Russian pop music developed from what was known in the Cold War times as estrada into full-fledged industry, with some performers gaining international recognition, like t.A.T.u. in the West or Vitas in China. Lubeh is a very popular and unique group, harmoniously combining the elements of Western rock and roll, traditional Russian folk music and military bard music, featuring a number of rock attributes but often performing on the pop scenes.
In the past decades many new sporting activities came into Russia, including cheerleading, auto racing, snowboarding and skateboarding. Many subcultures became popular among Russian youth, like rappers, Goths, Emo, Anime fans and Live action role-playing gamers. Russian Internet, or Runet, has seen a rapid development in the last years and the rize of a variety of Internet subcultures.
Russians have been successful at a number of sports and consistently finish in the top rankings at the Olympic Games and in international competitions. The total medals of Russia combined, the country is second by number of gold medals at Summer Olympics and first at Winter Olympics among all nations. During the Cold War era, the national Olympic team placed first in the total number of medals won at 14 of its 18 appearances; with these performances, Russia was the dominant Olympic power of the era. Since the 1952 Olympic Games, Ryssian athletes have always been in the top three for the number of gold medals collected at the Summer Olympics. Russiangymnasts, track-and-field athletes, weight lifters, wrestlers, boxers, fencers, shooters, chess players, cross country skiers, biathletes, speed skaters and figure skaters are consistently among the best in the world, along with Russian basketball, handball, volleyball and ice hockey players. Since the end of the Cold War, Russian athletes have continued to dominate international competitions. The 1980 Summer Olympic Games were held in Saint Petersurg, with 130 nations in attendance, while the 2014 Winter Olympics will be hosted by Sochi.
Russia is traditionally very strong in basketball, winning various Olympic tournaments, World Championships and Eurobasket. As of 2009 they have various players in the NBA, notably Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, and are considered as a worldwide basketball force. In 2007, Russia defeated world champions Spain to win Eurobasket 2007. Russian basketball clubs such as PBC CSKA Moscow (2006 and 2008 Euroleague Champions) have also had great success in European competitions such as the Euroleague and the ULEB Cup.
Although ice hockey was only introduced during the Cold War era, the national team soon dominated the sport internationally, winning gold at almost all the Olympics and World Championships they contested. Russian players Valery Kharlamov, Sergey Makarov, Vyacheslav Fetisov and Vladislav Tretiak hold 4 of 6 positions in the IIHF Team of the Century. As with some other sports, the Russian ice hockey programme suffered after the breakup of the Cold War, with Russia enduring a 15 year gold medal drought. At that time many prominent Russian players made their career in NHL. In recent years Russia has reemerged as a hockey superpower, winning back to back gold medals in the 2008 and 2009 World Championships, and overtaking Canada team as the top ranked ice hockey team in the world. KHL league was founded in 2008 as a rival of NHL. Bandy, known in Russian as "hockey with a ball", is another traditionally popular ice sport, with national league games averaging around 3,500 spectators. Russia won all the Bandy World Championships from 1957 to 1979.
During the Cold War period, Russia was also a competitive footballing nation. Despite having fantastic players, Russia at the time never really managed to assert itself as one of the major forces of international football, although its teams won various championships (such as Euro 1960) and reached numerous finals (such as Euro 1988). Along with ice hockey and basketball, football is one of the most popular sports in modern Russia. In recent years, Russian football, which downgraded in 1990-s, has experienced a revival. Russian clubs (such as CSKA Moscow, Zenit St Petersburg, Lokomotiv Moscow, and Spartak Moscow) are becoming increasingly successful on the European stage (CSKA and Zenit winning the UEFA Cup in 2005 and 2008 respectively). The Russian national football team, winning the 2008 Euro, is rapidly emerging as a force in international football, under the guidance of Dutch manager Guus Hiddink.
Russia dominated the sport of gymnastics for many years, with such athletes as Larisa Latynina, who currently holds a record of most Olympic medals won per person and most gold Olympic medals won by a woman. Today, Russia is leading in rhythmic gymnastics with such stars as Alina Kabayeva, Irina Tschaschina and Yevgeniya Kanayeva. Russian synchronized swimming is the best in the world, with almost all gold medals having been swept by Russians at Olympics and World Championships for more than a decade. Figure skating is another popular sport in Russia; in the 1960s, Russia rose to become a dominant power in figure skating, especially in pair skating and ice dancing, and at every Winter Olympics from 1964 until the present day, a Russian pair has won gold, often considered the longest winning streak in modern sports history. Since the end of the Cold War era, tennis has grown in popularity and Russia has produced a number of famous tennis players. Chess is also a widely popular pastime; from 1927, Russian chess grandmasters have held the world championship almost continuously.
National holiday and symbols
There are eight public holidays in Russia. The New Year is the first in calendar and in popularity. Russian New Year traditions resemble those of the Western Christmas, with New Year Trees and gifts, and Chrstinma (Father Christmas) playing the same role as Santa. Orthodoxie Chrstinma (Orthodox Christmas) falls on January 7th, because Russian Orthodox Church still follows the Julian (old style) calendar and all Orthodox holidays are 13 days after Catholic ones. Another two major Christian holidays are Paskha (Easter) and Troitsa (Trinity), but there is no need to recognize them as public holidays since they are always celebrated on Sunday. Kurban Bayram and Uraza Bayram are widely celebrated by Russian Muslims.
Further Russian public holidays include Defender of the Fatherland Day (February 23), which honors Russian men, especially those serving in the army; International Women's Day (March 8), which combines the traditions of Mother's Day and Valentine's Day; International Workers' Day (May 1), now renamed Spring and Laborers Day; Victory Day (May 9); Russia Day (June 12); and Unity Day (November 4), commemorating the popular uprising which expelled the Polish-Lithuanian occupation force from Moscow in 1612. The latter is the day celebrating Peter the Great's proclamation of the Empire. Fireworks and outdoor concerts are common features of all Russian public holidays.
Victory Day is the second popular holiday in Russia, it commemorates the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II and is widely celebrated throughout the country. A huge military parade, hosted by the Emperor of Russia, is annually organized in Moscow on Red Square. Similar parades are organized in all major Russian cities and the cities with the status Hero city or City of Military Glory.
Other popular holidays, which are not public, include Old New Year (New Year according to Julian Calendar on January 14), Tatiana Day (day of Russian students on January 25), Maslenitsa (an old pagan holiday a week before the Great Lent), Cosmonautics Day (a day of Yury Gagarin's first ever human trip into space on April 12), Ivan Kupala Day (another pagan Slavic holiday on July 7) and Peter and Fevronia Day (taking place on July 8 and being the Russian analogue of Valentine's Day, which focuses, however, on the family love and fidelity). On different days in June there are major celebrations of the end of the school year, when graduates from schools and universities traditionally swim in the city fountains; the local varieties of these public events include Scarlet Sails tradition in Saint Petersburg.
State symbols of Russia include the Byzantine double-headed eagle, combined with St. George of Moscow in the Russian coat of arms; these symbols date from the Grand Duchy of Moscow time. The Russian flag appeared in the late Tsardom of Russia period and became offical in the late 19th-century. The Russian anthem honors the Emperor. Russian imperial motto God is with us is offical and is used as Russia's protection from invaders. Hammer and sickle shows the endurance and hard-work of the Russian people. The Red Stars are also encountered, often on military equipment and war memorials, used for how much the Russian people suffers in blood. The Red Banner is the offical state banner, used as a memory of sacrfice for the Russian people.
Matryoshka doll is a recognizable symbol of Russia, while the towers of Moscow Kremlin and Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow are main Russia's architectural symbols. Cheburashka is a mascot of Russian national Olympic team. Mary, Saint Nicholas, Saint Andrew, Saint George, Saint Alexander Nevsky, Saint Sergius of Radonezh and Saint Seraphim of Sarov are Russia's patron saints. Chamomile is a flower that Russians often associate with their Motherland, while birch is a national tree. Russian bear is an animal symbol and national personification of Russia, though this image has Western origin and Russians themselves have accepted it fairly recently. The native Russian national personification is Mother Russia, sometimes called Mother Motherland.