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Russia: The World's Largest Nation

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Back before the days of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Russia was America's enemy numero uno. This giant, mysterious nation has been home to some of the world's best hockey players, communist revolutionaries, delicious baked treats and - of course - those wacky wooden dolls that fit inside each other. Read on to discover just a little more about this puzzling nation.

Where is Russia?

Russia is 10.5 million square miles (17 million square kilometers), which makes it the largest country in the world. It's located in northeastern Europe and northern Asia. Russia stretches from the Baltic Sea in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east and from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea in the south.

Communism, Cold War and Collapse :: Russian History 101

As with most countries, Russia's history is a long and confusing one. In 862 A.D., Vikings founded Novgorod. Novgorod then joined up with neighboring city-states and Russia (such as it was) was born. Russia was ruled by tsars and tsarinas (like kings and queens) for a lot of its history. The centuries of mistreatment suffered by poor farmers led up to civil war in 1917. The poor people wanted to change to a communist system. Communism is a kind of political system (so is democracy) in which all property is publicly owned and each person is paid and works according to his or her needs and abilities.

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), which included Russia and 14 other soviet communist republics, was established in 1922. Stalin became the USSR's communist dictator (a ruler with absolute power) and a particularly dark period in Russian history began. Millions of people who were thought to be enemies of the government were killed or sent to concentration camps. Out of this era came the Cold War, which wasn't actually a war, but rather a period of time marked by political tension and weaponry stockpiling between the Soviet Union and the United States. Eventually Stalin died, the Cold War thawed and in 1991 the USSR broke up. These days, Russia is conflict with Georgia over the disputed independence of Georgia's South Ossetia territory.

Did U Know?

  • Many of the world's best hockey players are from Russia, including Ilya Kovalchuk, Sergei Fedorov, and Nikolai Khabibulin.
  • Surnames (last names) did not exist in Russia for most of the Middle Ages.
  • Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest railway in the world; it's 5,787 miles (9,288.2 kilometres) long and spans eight time zones.
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