Russland flag 10 x 15 cm
Russia or the Russian Federation is a transcontinental country extending over much of northern Eurasia. It is a semi-presidential republic comprising 83 federal subjects. 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, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and is also close to the United States (Alaska), Republic of Korea, Sweden, and Japan. It borders the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Caspian Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Black Sea.
At 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sq mi), Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than an eighth 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 an 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', arose in the 9th century and 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 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 and independence struggle against the Golden Horde. Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus'. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation and exploration to become the Russian Empire, which was 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 Union, 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. It is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the world's largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a member of the G8, APEC and the SCO, and is a leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
The flag of Russia is a tricolor of three equal horizontal fields, white on the top, blue in the middle and red on the bottom. The flag was first used as an ensign for merchant and war ships and only became official in 1896. Rumored to be based on the Dutch tricolor, the flag continued to be used by the Russian Provisional Government even after the Tsar was toppled in the February Revolution and was not replaced until the October Revolution which established a Bolshevik government. From that time period, a red flag charged with communist symbols was favored over the tricolor. It was not until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 that the tricolor was brought back as the official flag of the new Russian Federation. The modern era flag underwent a slight change in 1993 and has been official since 2000. The flag of Russia provided the Pan-Slavic colours of red, blue and white that appear in the flags of Slavic countries (including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Serbia).