Russia • Largest country in the world (6,592,800 sq. miles) • 9th largest population in the world (142 million people) • Spans 11 time zones • World’s largest mineral and energy resources • World’s largest forest reserves • Its lakes contain approximately ¼ of the world’s unfrozen fresh water
Russian History • Dominated by Mongolia for over three centuries • Ivan the Great (Ivan III) finally united Russia in the mid-1440’s • Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) was officially the first czar (or emperor) of Russia. Although he did many great things to unite Russia, constant fighting, famine, and the death of his sons caused the decline of Russia.
Russian History cont. • Peter the Great officially founded the Russian Empire in 1721. He founded the capital at St. Petersburg in 1703. Peter the Great took back parts of Russia lost by Ivan IV. • Catherine II (Catherine the Great) defeated Napoleon and brought Russia closer to being a world power towards the end of the 18th century. • The period of the czars continued until the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Russian Revolution • Russian people revolted during World War I, ending the rule of the czars. • Vladimir Lenin took control of the government, and created the world’s first Communist state. • The capital was moved to Moscow in 1918. • The U.S.S.R. (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) was created in 1922.
Economic Struggles • Under Communist rule, a command economy was implemented. • The government took control of the state’s wealth, land, mines, factories, banks, and transportation systems. • Collective farms were common. Large teams of laborers were moved to the farms to work together.
Communism • After Lenin’s death in 1924, Joseph Stalin took control of the government. • He was considered by most to be a ruthless dictator. • His regime is known for Stalinism, which was the inhumane, rapid industrialization of the U.S.S.R. Stalin sent millions of Soviets who did not conform to the Stalinist ideal to forced-labor camps. • Historians believe about 20 million Soviets died from starvation, executions, and life in the labor camps.
Cold War • The time of Stalin was the beginning of the Cold War, which was the period of high tension between the Soviet Union and the United States. • The Cold War escalated numerous times to potential World Wars, but never reached that point. The most notable events were the Berlin Blockade, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Soviet-Afghan War.
Fall of the Soviet Union • The Cold War ended during the time of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reign as ruler. • Gorbachev introduced openness within the country and a time of restructuring to modernize the country. • The U.S.S.R. was the 2nd largest economy in the world before its collapse.
Russian Federation • The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, forming 15 new and independent republics. • Boris Yeltsin was elected President of Russia in 1991, in the first direct presidential election in Russian history.
Russia Today • Current President – Vladimir Putin • World’s leading natural gas exporter • World’s 2nd leading oil exporter • 7th highest GDP in the world • 2nd largest number of billionaires in the world (101), with Moscow being the city with the most billionaires. Moscow has been voted the 2nd most expensive city to live in the world two years in a row. • Currency is the ruble. ($1 U.S. dollar = $23.8 Rubles)
Russian Culture • Shrinking population (decreased over 200,000 people in 2007) • Russia has a free education system guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution. (literacy rate – 99.4%). Competitive entry makes schooling very strong. • Free, universal health care for all citizens. • As a result of the large difference in life expectancy between men and women and because of the lasting effect of World War II, where Russia lost more men than any other nation in the world, the gender imbalance remains to this day and there are 0.859 males to every female.
Culture cont. • Virtually all Russians speak Russian, the official state language. Approximately 7 million speak English (2nd most spoken language) • Religions (Orthodox Christian – 20%, Islam – 11%, other Christian – 2%, non-religious – 50-60%) • Classical music and ballet are world famous in Russia. Tchaikovsky composed Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty.
Sports in Russia • 1980 Summer Olympics held in Moscow (boycott by U.S. due to Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979) • Since the 1952 Olympics, Soviet/Russian athletes have always been in the top 3 for the number of gold medals awarded in Summer Olympics. • The 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia. • Site of the 2007 World Ice Hockey Championships in Moscow.
Western Republics • Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine and the Baltic Republics • Baltic Republics – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania • These countries are the six countries in the western part of the former Soviet Empire that are now independent since the collapse in 1991.
Landlocked country in eastern Europe 1/3 of the country is covered in forest The land and its people were devastated in WWII, in which 25% of the population was lost…and half of their resources. Alexander Lukashenko has been president since 1994, and has implemented Soviet-era policies despite objections from western countries. 2 official languages (Belarusian & Russian) No official religion, although most are Orthodox Christians One of the closest allies to Russia Founding member of the C.I.S. (Commonwealth of Independent States), and home of its headquarters in Minsk. National Library of Belarus in Minsk Belarus
Landlocked country in eastern Europe One of a select few countries in the world that are ruled by a democratically-elected communist government. Russian forces still remain in east Moldova today against their wishes in Transnistria (wants to secede from Moldova) Wants to join the European Union for economic stability President of Moldova – Vladimir Voronin Poorest country in Europe with per capita income of $2,500 Imports all of its supplies of petroleum, natural gas and coal Religion – Orthodox Christian 90% Moldova
Largest of the former Soviet states (besides Russia) located on the Black Sea Market economy that has been increasing about 7% per year since the year 2000 after hard beginnings Has 3 separate branches of government – judicial, executive and legislative President Viktor Yushchenko won a heated election in 2004 that involved dioxin poisoning after a runoff 29th largest GDP in the world Universal Health Care Ukraine Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Kiev Antonov An-225 is the largest flying airplane ever built (275.6 ft. long, 290 ft. wingspan) Olympic stadium in Kiev
Chernobyl, Ukraine • Home of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster • Worst nuclear accident in history • Explosion sent a huge amount of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and in the geographic area • 350,000 people were evacuated • At the time of the accident, 7 million people lived in the contaminated area • Since the accident, thousands of children in the area have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer caused by radiation
Located on the Baltic Sea (thus the name Baltic Republics) Member of the European Union since 2004 Independence from Russia and Germany following WWI, but then lost at the beginning of WWII Suffered greatly in the early to mid-20th century after German and Soviet occupation, with thousands being put into Soviet labor camps Regained independence in 1991 with collapse of Soviet Union About 1/3 of the country’s population of 1.4 million people live in Tallinn (capital) Ranked #3 in the world for freedom of the press Market economy with no debt and a balanced budget (U.S. debt is currently $9.4 trillion) One of the 1st countries in the world to have a flat tax rate, which is decreasing to its goal of 18% by 2010 Estonia Tallinn TV tower (tallest building in Estonia – 1,030 ft.
Located on the Baltic Sea south of Estonia Member of European Union since 2004 Christianity is the majority religion, and 60% of Latvia is Latvian…with 27% being Russian Lutheran is the primary branch of Christianity, similar to Estonia Ranked 12th in the world for freedom of the press Latvia Riga (capital)
Located on the Baltic Sea south of Latvia Similar to Estonia and Latvia, independence after WWI taken away by Russia during WWII Approximately 200,000 Lithuanian Jews were killed or exiled during WWII (one of the highest mortality rates of the Holocaust 85% of Lithuania’s residents are ethnic Lithuanians, speaking Lithuanian (1 of 2 surviving Baltic languages) 80% of Lithuanians are Roman Catholic Less than 2% of the population lives below the poverty line, and literacy rate is 99.6% Oddly, Lithuanians have the highest suicide rate in the world (over 90/100,000 population) Lithuania Vilnius (capital)
Transcaucasia • The republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia • The oldest human skulls found outside of Africa were found in the republic of Georgia in 1999 • Traditional gateway for migration between Europe and Asia
Armenia • Landlocked, mountainous country between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea • Kingdom of Armenia arose around 600 BC, and was one of the most powerful kingdoms of its time within the region. Kingdom remained for almost 1,000 years • Considered the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as its official state religion in 301 • During WWI, Armenians are remembered for the Armenian Genocide. The Ottoman Empire (Turkey) killed between 650,000 and 1.5 million Armenians. • April 24th is known widely as Armenian Martyr Day • Armenia maintains good relations with almost every country in the world, with two major exceptions…Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan • Largest of the south Caucasus countries located on the Caspian Sea • Predominantly Islamic country with potential rich oil resources in the Caspian Sea • Economy has been improving slowly since the separation from the Soviet Union, but inflation has hurt their growth. • Population is almost 50/50 male/female and urban/rural, but population growth is very slow, with doubling time being approximately 106 years • Separation of powers in the government between legislative, judicial and executive…with the current president being Ilham Aliyev
Georgia • Mountainous country located on the Black Sea • Representative democracy, and was the 2nd country to adopt Christianity as its state religion in 337 • Declared independence in 1918, which lasted until 1921. At that time, the Red Army (Soviet military) invaded Georgia and took control • Tourism has long been important to Georgia’s economy. Also, wine making is a very old tradition • About 1/3 live below the poverty line. • The Georgian supra (dinner party) is a traditional dining activity that involves mass quantities of food and lots of friends and socializing.
Conflicts… • Nagorno-Karabakh is a region that is located within Azerbaijan, but officially is part of Armenia. • Both countries went to war against each other from 1988-1994 over the land • A cease fire in May 1994 ended the fight, but not the struggle. Peace talks have been underway since, and until this day to determine the fate of the region. • Armenia controls the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, along with approximately 9% of Azerbaijan’s territory • Over 17,000 died in the conflict
More Conflicts… • The oil in the Caspian Sea has been valued at over $12 trillion • If the Caspian is a sea, then all countries bordering it would have legal rights to its own part of the sea bed • If the Caspian is a lake, the law says that most of the resource wealth must be shared equally among the countries that border it. • Azerbaijan has large reserves of oil off of its coast, so it says that the Caspian is a sea • Russia says that the Caspian is a lake, as they have very few offshore oil reserves.
Even More Conflicts… • South Ossetia wants to reunite with North Ossetia (part of Russia), and fought from 1989-1992…resulting in over 2,000 deaths and 40,000 refugees • Ethnic cleansing of Georgians occurred in Abhkazia from 1992-1993 in which an unknown number were killed and up to 250,000 refugees • Separatists in both regions were supported by Russia, although the United Nations does not recognize either region as states.
They fight too much!!! • First Chechen War (1994-1996) between Russia and Chechnya was to stop Chechnya from seceding from Russia…with approximately 46,000 dead (Hospital Crisis was stepping stone to cease fire) • Second Chechen War (1999-????) between Russia and Chechnya was again to bring back Chechnya to Russia…leaving a half million people displaced after severe bombings by Russian aircraft. (School hostage crisis in 2004)
Central Asia • Consists of five independent republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan • Very closely tied to its nomadic people who have no permanent homes, and live in yurts…which are light and portable tents common throughout Central Asia. • It has been a crossroads for people, goods, and ideas for centuries, as the Silk Road runs right through the region.
Silk Road • Trade routes that linked East Asia to West Asia • The Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of the great civilizations of Egypt, China, Mesopotamia, Persia, India, and Rome • This trade route helped to lay the foundations for the modern world • It runs right through Central Asia and the former Soviet Republics
Central Asia History • The area was dominated for centuries by the nomadic horse peoples, whose lifestyles were well suited for warfare • Their lack of unity was the only reason they didn’t achieve world power. • Periodically, a great leader would organize several tribes into one force…and they created an almost unstoppable power • Their dominance of the region ended in the sixteenth century as firearms were introduced and allowed people to take control • In the 19th century, Great Britain and the Russian Empire began to struggle for control of the region • Both the British and the Russians would send spies and disguised officers in to befriend locals and map the area…which historians call The Great Game. • In the 1920’s, the Soviet Union took control of the region and governed it until the collapse in 1991.
Central Asian Culture • Islam is a strong unifying factor for the people • There once was a sizable group of Jews in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, but moved to Israel, the U.S. or Europe after the Soviet Union collapsed…due to the revival of Islam in the region • Music is very popular in Kyrgyzstan, with the playing of the komuz • The majority of the inhabitants of Central Asia speak a language from the Turkic language group.
Current Status of Central Asia • Russia continues to dominate their political decisions, although their influence is slowly waning • Political and economic relations are growing quickly with Turkey due to their ethnic and linguistic ties • Iran is becoming more and more involved in the region’s politics, as they are pushing to construct an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf The United States has military involvement in the region as well, primarily due to its oil resources. U.S. military bases have been constructed in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, which are both allies in the War on Terror