Russia (Russian: Россия, Rossiya), or the Russian Federation (Russian: Rossiyskaya Federatsiya), is one of the three major supraglobal powers (those being the United States, the Peoples Republic of China and of course the Russian Federation) and is a massive transcontinental country extending over much of northern Eurasia. It is a Semi-Presidential and Parliamentary Republic with a powerful President and Premier, comprising 83 federal subjects and the state Duma (the White House or Russian Parliament) and with a strong executive body, well known as the Kremlin. Russia shares land borders with the following countries (counterclockwise from northwest to southeast): Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (via Kaliningrad Oblast), Poland (via Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It also borders the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Caspian Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Black Sea. Russia is close to the United States (Alaska) and Japan. At 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sq mi), Russia is the largest country in the world, covering nearly a seventh of the Earth’s land area; with 142 million people, it is the ninth largest by population. It extends across the whole of northern Asia and 40% of Europe, spanning 11 time zones and incorporating a great range of environments and landforms. Russia has the world’s greatest reserves of mineral and energy resources, and is considered the number one energy superpower. It has the world’s largest forest reserves and its lakes contain approximately one-quarter of the world’s unfrozen fresh water.

The nation’s history began with that of the East Slavs. The Slavs 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, who arose in the 9th century and adopted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in 988AD, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Kievan Rus devolved into 50 to 60 Russian pricncipalities, as 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 1300-1480AD and lead the independence struggle against the Golden Horde, commonly known as the the Tatar Mongols. Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus by the 15th and 16th centuries under Ivan III (The Great) and first to be called Tsar of all the Russias, as the Grand Duchy of Muscovy was supreme at the Great Standoff on the Ugra River (Ugorschina in Russian). Derived from Ugra (the Great Standoff on the Ugra River) was an on again-off again conflict between the forces of Akhmat Khan, Khan of the Great Horde, vs. the Grand Duke Ivan III of Muscovy and other Russian Armies under the control of his brothers in 1480. This resulted in the eventual retreat of the Tatar-Mongols and is often taken as the end of Tatar rule over Russia. 

Having consolidated the core of Russia under his rule, Ivan III became the first Moscow ruler to adopt the title of Tsar and Ruler of all Rus. Ivan competed with his powerful northwestern rival Lithuania for control over some of the semi-independent former principalities of Kievan Rus in the upper Dnieper and Donets river basins. Through the defections of some princes, border skirmishes, and a long, inconclusive war with Lithuania that ended only in 1503, Ivan III was able to push westward, and the the new Russian State in Moscow tripled in size under his rule.

The reign of the Tsars started officially with Ivan IV of Russia (Ivan the Terrible), the first monarch to be crowned Tsar of all the Russias in 1547, but in practice it started with Ivan III, who completed centralization of the state (traditionally known as the gathering of the Russian lands) and at the same time as Louis XI did the same in France. The eventual complete defeat of the Tatar Khan and the capture of Kazan was achieved by Tsar Ivan IV who was the first to reign as the new Russian overlord propelling the Grand Duchy of Muscovy to be named Russia. 

By the end of the 16th and early 17th centuries, the nation had greatly expanded through military and naval conquest, annexation and exploration to become the Russian Empire. This status was greatly enhanced by the reformist euro-centric Tsar Peter the Great in the early 18th century, which made the Imperial Russian Empire the third largest empire in history, stretching from Poland eastward to the Pacific Ocean and Alaska. Russia established worldwide power and influence from the times of the Russian Empire to being the largest and leading constituent of the Soviet Russian Socialist Federated Republics (Soviet Union) and the world’s first and largest constitutionally socialist state and a recognized superpower. The nation can boast a long tradition of excellence in every aspect of the arts and sciences. The Russian Federation was founded following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, but is recognized as the continuing legal personality of the Soviet Union. It has one of the world’s fastest growing major economies and has the world’s eleventh largest GDP by nominal GDP or seventh largest by purchasing power parity with the eighth largest military budget. Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a member of the G8, APECSCO, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and is a largest member of the Commonwealth of Independent States. It is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the world’s largest stockpile of offensive nuclear forces, which still remain on hair-trigger alert with it’s `supposed, former Cold War foes’ giving claim to many of a new growing rift of `spheres of influence’ in Europe and Asia between them.

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