Population and Government
With a population (1993) of 148,673,000 inhabitants, Russia is the sixth most populated country in the world. The density is 9 inhab / km2; in rural areas of European Russia it is 25 inhab / km2 and just over a third of the territory has less than 1 inhab / km2, in particular the northern part of European Russia and large areas of Siberia.
Russia is one of the largest plurinational states in the world, although Russians are the predominant nationality. The non-Russian population is estimated at 18%; the most prominent minorities are Tatars (3.8%) and Ukrainians (3%). The country has 32 ethnic divisions.
There are thirteen cities with more than one million inhabitants. The largest city is Moscow (8,801,000 inhabitants according to estimates for 1990); other important cities are St. Petersburg (4,468,000 inhabitants), Nizni Novgorod (1,443,000 inhabitants), Yekaterinburg (1,367,000 inhabitants) and Samara (1,258,000 inhabitants).
In Russia, over a hundred languages are spoken; however, the Russian language is the most widely used in business, administration and education. Most ethnic groups are bilingual.
The practice of religion was under the control of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), and was even persecuted for almost seven decades; Since the dissolution of the USSR, numerous creeds, sects and religious confessions have appeared and traditional religions have reemerged: orthodox Christianity and other forms of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism.
According to recipesinthebox.com, the government of Russia was the last national government established among the republics of the former USSR. Only in the last years of the USSR did certain institutions such as the Supreme Soviet, the Communist Party and the KGB (Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti, Committee for State Security) be established for Russia. But real power was exercised by the central authorities of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), until the dissolution of the USSR. After prolonged confrontations, President Boris Yeltsin, supported by the executive’s reformist forces, requested the drafting of a new constitution, approved in a popular referendum in 1993. In the late 1980s, the political scene underwent a radical change: it changed from a totalitarian state with a single party towards a democratic system with numerous fractional political groups.
The economy was affected in a very negative way by the dissolution of the USSR. The economic decline began in the last years of the Soviet period. The purchasing power of the Russian currency, the ruble, which remains the currency today in many of the former Soviet republics, has fallen at an alarming rate and the state is facing the huge budget deficit inherited from the Soviet period.
Russia is an eminently cereals country. Other important crops are sunflower seeds, sugar beets, soybeans, potatoes and vegetables. The main occupation of the northern population is reindeer breeding. Most of the arable land extends through the so-called fertility triangle, which stretches from the Baltic to the Black Sea, to narrow to the south of the Urals. During the Soviet regime, irrigation systems were built in river basins in European Russia; nevertheless, the main irrigation projects are located in the republics of central Asia.
Russia has 20% of the world’s forests and around one third of the coniferous forests, which is why it is one of the main producers of wood and wood products, mainly white wood, worldwide. The Russian fishing industry is one of the largest in the world. Among the most commercial species in continental waters, it is worth mentioning the Caspian sturgeon, which is the main source of caviar in the world. The Okhotsk Sea is one of the richest fishing grounds on the planet. Russia has the largest mineral reserves in the world and is especially rich in fossil fuels. Mining is the most important economic sector, as it provides the country’s largest exports, based on crude iron, copper and nickel, mainly from the Urals. In addition, it is one of the most important gold producers.
Bauxite, tin, lead and zinc are also extracted and manganese is produced. From the Soviet point of view, heavy industry should have priority over other sectors, with a special focus on the construction of machinery and the metallurgical sector. The armaments industry enjoys absolute priority within national production programs and highlights the sector’s technological progress. Initially, manufacturing companies were concentrated in Moscow and St. Petersburg; at the same time, electrification work has started in the Ural region and in some regions of Siberia; over time, production in the eastern regions increased. In addition to the production of transport equipment, shipbuilding, vehicle engines and agricultural machinery, Russia is also an important producer of textile articles. The food industry also has a prominent place. The currency unit is the ruble. Even today it remains the only currency in many of the former Soviet republics. Tourism was the largest foreign exchange producer in the former USSR and remains an important source of funds; Moscow, St. Petersburg and the surrounding area, as well as the Black Sea coast, are the most frequented spots for vacationing tourists.