Russia stretches across Northern Europe from its western borders with Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine, and almost reaches Alaska in the east. By area, it’s the largest country in the world.

Russia has the world’s eighth largest oil reserves and in 2011 was the world’s largest oil producer and second largest producer of natural gas. It’s also a top exporter of metals such as steel and aluminium.

Moscow, the capital, is slowly adjusting to a new lifestyle. Symbols of western influence, such as fast food outlets sit alongside the country’s great historical buildings. Opportunities for culture range from ballet, opera and theatre to art galleries. The city has a good underground system.

The Essentials

142.5 million 
Russian, plus many minority languages 
Russian ruble 
Mild summers, sometimes warm. Winters can be bitterly cold in many areas. 
Largest Cities
Moscow (cap) pop 11.5m, St Petersburg 5.2m, Novosibirsk pop 1.5m
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