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General information Russian Federation
Russia, the Russian, is a transcontinental country extending over much of northern Eurasia. It is a semi-presidential republic comprising 84 federal subjects. Russia proper shares land borders with the following countries (counter-clockwise from northwest to southeast): Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. Additionally, the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad shares borders with Lithuania and Poland. It is also close to the U.S. state of Alaska, Sweden and Japan across relatively small stretches of water (the Bering Strait, the Baltic Sea, and La Pérouse Strait, respectively).
At 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sq mi) and with 142 million people, Russia is by far the largest country in the world, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth’s land area, and 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 possesses the world's largest mineral and energy resources, and is considered an energy superpower. It contains approximately one-quarter of the world's unfrozen fresh water and has the world's largest forest reserves.
The nation's history begins with that of the East Slavs. Founded and ruled by Vikings and their descendants, the first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus', adopted 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 Russian lands were divided. The most powerful successor state to Kievan Rus' was Moscow, which gradually came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus'. By the 18th century, the Grand Duchy of Moscow had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation and exploration to become the huge Russian Empire, stretching from Poland eastward to the Pacific Ocean.
Russia established worldwide power and influence from the times of the Russian Empire to being the preeminent constituent of the Soviet Union, the world's first and largest Communist state, and 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. Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the G8 and other global organizations. It is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the world's largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.