Spanning 11 timezones and two continents, Russia is the world's largest country in terms of area.
The country's geography includes
tundra, forests, steppe and high mountain ranges
. The Ural Mountains
. separate European and Asian Russia.
Early humans here
were Homo Erectus, Neanderthals and
the elusive Denesovans
Most central and northern Europeans descend from male Yamnayas
originated on the wide steppes north of the Black Sea. The fierce Scythians
mentioned by Herodotus were possibly still
following the Yamnaya lifestyle.
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.
Peter the Great founded the
Russian Empire that would last till the Russian Revolution in 1917.
After a vicious civil war the communists won and created
the communist Soviet Union (USSR).
WW II drew a heavy toll on Russia's population with an estimated 27 million casualties.
annexation of several East European countries started the Cold War
, which ended with the soft implosion of the Soviet Union
The occupied countries left as quickly as possible and what remained became the new Russian Federation.
Under Putin Russia
is striving to become an important world player again, sometimes via covert operations.