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Geography - note: largest country in the world in terms of area but unfavorably located in relation to major sea lanes of the world; despite its size, much of the country lacks proper soils and climates (either too cold or too dry) for agriculture.

total: 17,075,200 sq km
land: 16,995,800 sq km
water: 79,400 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly less than 1.8 times the size of the US

Climate: ranges from steppes in the south through humid continental in much of European Russia; subarctic in Siberia to tundra climate in the polar north; winters vary from cool along Black Sea coast to frigid in Siberia; summers vary from warm in the steppes to cool along Arctic coast.

Terrain: broad plain with low hills west of Urals; vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia; uplands and mountains along southern border regions.

Natural resources: wide natural resource base including major deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, and many strategic minerals, timber; note: formidable obstacles of climate, terrain, and distance hinder exploitation of natural resources.

Environment - current issues: air pollution from heavy industry, emissions of coal-fired electric plants, and transportation in major cities; industrial and agricultural pollution of inland waterways and sea coasts; deforestation; soil erosion; soil contamination from improper application of agricultural chemicals; scattered areas of sometimes intense radioactive contamination.


Population: 147,305,569 (July 1997 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years : 20% (male 15,258,810; female 14,683,485)
15-64 years: 67% (male 47,945,470; female 51,067,792)
65 years and over: 13% (male 5,645,915; female 12,704,097) (July 1997 est.)

Population growth rate: -0.29% (1997 est.)

Birth rate: 9.52 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 14.84 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 23.5 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 64.81 years
male: 58.39 years
female: 71.56 years (1997 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.35 children born/woman (1997 est.)

Ethnic groups: Russian 81.5%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 3%, Chuvash 1.2%, Bashkir 0.9%, Byelorussian 0.8%, Moldavian 0.7%, other 8.1%

Religions: Russian Orthodox, Muslim, other

Languages: Russian, other

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male : 100%
female: 97% (1989 est.)


National Capital:  Moscow

Independence: 24 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)

Constitution: adopted 12 December 1993

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Political parties and leaders:
pro-market democrats : Yabloko Bloc [Grigoriy YAVLINSKIY]; Russia's Democratic Choice Party [Yegor GAYDAR]; Forward, Russia! [Boris FEDOROV]
centrists/special interest parties: Our Home Is Russia [Viktor CHERNOMYRDIN]; Russian People's Republican Party [Aleksandr LEBED]; Congress of Russian Communities [Dmitriy ROGOZIN]; Women of Russia [Alevtina FEDULOVA and Yekaterina LAKHOVA]
anti-market and/or ultranationalist : Communist Party of the Russian Federation [Gennadiy ZYUGANOV]; Liberal Democratic Party of Russia [Vladimir ZHIRINOVSKIY]; Agrarian Party [Mikhail LAPSHIN]; Power To the People [Nikolay RYZHKOV and Sergey BABURIN]; Russian Communist Workers' Party [Viktor ANPILOV and Viktor TYULKIN]
note: some 269 political parties, blocs, and associations tried to gather enough signatures to run slates of candidates in the 17 December 1995 Duma elections; 43 succeeded. 

Economy - overview: Russia, a vast country with a wealth of natural resources, a well-educated population, and a diverse, but declining, industrial base, continues to experience formidable difficulties in moving from its old centrally planned economy to a modern market economy. Most of 1996 was a lost year for economic reforms, with government officials focused in the first half of the year on President YEL'TSIN's reelection and then on his medical problems. The only major success was in the fight against inflation, which fell from 131% in 1995 to 22% in 1996. Russia failed to make any progress in restructuring its social welfare programs to target the most needy - among whom are many of the old pensioners - or to pass needed tax reform. While approximately 75% of industry has now been privatized, the agricultural sector has undergone little reform since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Stockholder rights remain weak while crime and corruption are rampant in much of the economy. Many enterprises continue to operate without hard budget constraints, resulting in barter trade and increased inter-enterprise debts. According to official statistics, the Russian economy declined for the fifth straight year since the beginning of reforms, with GDP in 1996 falling by 6% and industrial output by 5%. The true size of the Russian economy remains controversial, however, with estimates of unreported economic activity ranging from 20%-50% of GDP. Indeed, according to Russian statistics, the Russian consumer has seen a small improvement in the last several years, with real average incomes growing by about 8% from early 1993 to late 1996. The share of the Russian population living below the poverty line is said to have dropped from one-third in early 1993 to one-fifth in late 1996. Few Russians lack basic necessities, and ownership of consumer goods such as VCRs and automobiles has increased markedly. The growth of wage and pension arrears slowed in the second half of 1996, and the government pledged to clear all budget-funded wage and pension arrears by the end of 1997. The government continued to be plagued with tax collection problems during 1996, forcing it to cut its planned spending by 18%. A crackdown on major tax debtors at the end of the year had only limited success. Spending by all levels of government remains high, between 40%-45% of GDP. The economy is continuing its integration into world markets. Russia's trade surplus, after adjustment for unreported "shuttle" trade, grew to a record $28.5 billion in 1996, according to official Russian statistics. Export growth, which slowed from 18% to 9%, was due mostly to increased raw material prices. After increasing by 15% in 1995, imports dipped by 2% in 1996 as Russian demand for Western consumer goods slackened. Russia is continuing to make progress in its WTrO negotiations; the government has made quick accession one of its major policy goals. The continued unsettled economic and political situation has discouraged foreign investment, which totaled only $6.5 billion in 1996, including $2.1 billion in direct investment; furthermore, capital flight continues to exceed in volume the inflow of foreign capital. The central bank estimates that $30 billion in US currency circulates in the Russian economy. In March 1997, YEL'TSIN signaled his intention to restart stalled economic reforms by reorganizing the cabinet, bringing in a new team of ministers with strong reform credentials.

Agriculture - products: grain, sugar beets, sunflower seed, vegetables, fruits (because of its northern location does not grow citrus, cotton, tea, and other warm climate products); meat, milk.

total value: $88.3 billion (1996)
commodities : petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas, wood and wood products, metals, chemicals, and a wide variety of civilian and military manufactures
partners: Europe, North America, Japan, Third World countries

total value: $59.8 billion (1996)
commodities : machinery and equipment, consumer goods, medicines, meat, grain, sugar, semifinished metal products
partners: Europe, North America, Japan, Third World countries

Debt - external: $130 billion (yearend 1996)

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 38,449,126 (1997 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males : 29,996,967 (1997 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $NA
note : the Intelligence Community estimates that defense spending in Russia fell by about 10% in real terms in 1996, reducing Russian defense outlays to about one-sixth of peak Soviet levels in the late 1980s (1997 est.)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: NA%

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