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The Rurik Dynasty, beginning in 862, founded the first East Slavic State, Kievan Rus. Through Kiev's trade relations with Scandinavia and the Byzantine Empire, Kiev began to be influenced by these surrounding regions. Byzantine and Slavic cultures fused, and a Slavic version of the Eastern Orthodox religion formed. As the Norse grew in size, their influence grew in the region of Kiev as well, overtaking the Slav culture and absorbing the Greek Christian influences over the tenth century. Know More...
Located in North Asia, Russia is spread over a very large portion of the continent, and is the largest country in the entire world. Russia borders many countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Norway, Poland, and Ukraine. Russia also has a long coastline along the Arctic and North Pacific Oceans, and several smaller seas, including the Baltic, Black, and Caspian Seas.
As such a large nation, Russia has a wide variety of landscapes and natural features. The majority of Russia is made up of plains, steppes and forests, and the northern coast consists of tundra. The major mountain ranges in Russia are located toward the south, and include the Caucasus, Ural, and Altai ranges. Know More...
Russia is a semi-presidential republic, with both a president, elected by popular vote, and a prime minister, appointed by the president. Russia's legislative branch is a bicameral Federal Assembly, divided into the upper house, the Federation of Council, and lower house, the State Duma.
Russia is separated into eighty-three smaller divisions, called federal subjects. There are forty-six provinces in Russia, known as oblasts, twenty-one republics, which enjoy a fairly high degree of autonomy, nine territories, or krais, four autonomous districts (okrugs), two federal cities (Moscow and Saint Petersburg), and one autonomous oblast.
Russia's ancient cities form what is known as the Golden Ring, a circle of each of the most important cities from ancient Russia. The world-famous Trans-Siberian Railway is a popular way of getting around the huge country.
Moscow and Saint Petersburg are the most frequently visited cities in Russia, and contain many historical sites, works of art, and unique architecture for which Russia is known. Saint Basil's Cathedral, as well as several other churches and cathedrals, government buildings, and the Moscow Kremlin, are ornate works of art that amaze many travelers every year. Juxtaposed to these unusual structures, Soviet-style buildings, like skyscrapers, are found all around Moscow.
Russia's education system is free to Russian citizens and managed by the Ministry of Education through regional administrators. Private school educations are available, but students generally attend public schools until university, when some then choose private education.
Students attend a compulsory eleven-year course for their general education, which is divided into elementary education, middle, and then senior education. These are usually all together at one school. After the first nine years of education, students may choose to attend vocational training for their final two years.
Around half of all Russians move on to higher education, attending one of many public or private schools around the country. Russia's university system is undergoing changes to begin following the model of the Bologna Process, like the majority of European countries.
Russia is often called Mother Russia or the Motherland.
The Russian language uses the Cyrillic script as its alphabet.
Around 160 ethnic groups are found around Russia.
Vodka is considered Russia's national drink - the word vodka is derived from the word for water.
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