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Spanning 11 time zones and two continents, Russia is the world's largest country with a geography of tundra, forests, steppe and high mountain ranges. The mighty Ural separates European from Asian Russia.
Homo Erectus, Neanderthals and Denesovans all left their marks here well before modern Homo Sapiens arrived.
Most Europeans descend from male Yamnayas who roamed the wide steppes north of the Black Sea, 5000 years ago. Today's European Russians descend from medieval Slavic tribes of the Kievan Rus who were ruled by Vikings.
In the 15th century Ivan the Great created the basis for a national Russian state . Later Peter the Great founded the Russian Empire that would last till the Russian Revolution.
After a vicious civil war the communists won and created the communist Soviet Union (USSR) in 1922.
WW II drew a heavy toll on the Russian population with an estimated 27 million casualties.
The annexation of  several East European countries started the Cold War, which ended with the soft implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Most of the former occupied countries left the Union as quickly as possible and what remained became the new Russian Federation under president Yeltsin.
Today, Russia's surprisingly small  economy is heavily based on export of gas and oil.
President Putin seems obsessed with Making Russia Great Again, using sneaky covert military operations that in 2022 culminated in the brutal invasion of Ukraine. Somebody better stops him before he sets the whole world in flames...
St Petersburg
Sergiev Posad