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Russia (Russian: Росси́я, tr. Rossija), officially known as the Russian Empire (Russian: Российская империя, tr. Rossiyskaya Imperiya), is a sovereign state in northern Eurasia. It is a federal constitutional monarchy and is the largest country in the world. Russia is the world's fourth most populous country with over 440 million people at the end of 2015. Extending across the entirety of northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans several time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Sweden, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait.
The nation's history began with that of the East Slavs, who emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a Varangian warrior elite and their descendants, the medieval state of Rus arose in the 9th century. In 988 it adopted Orthodox Christianity from theByzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Rus' ultimately disintegrated into a number of smaller states; most of the Rus' lands were overrun by the Mongol invasion and became tributaries of the nomadic Golden Horde in the 13th century. The Grand Duchy of Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities, achieved independence from the Golden Horde, 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 in Europe to Alaska in North America.
In 1917, Russia experienced two revolutions; one in February which resulted in the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and the establishment of the short-lived Russian Republic, and one in October which led to the creation of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, the first constitutionally socialist state. The ensuing civil war saw the White movement re-establish the Russian Empire and a transition to parliamentary democracy, though the loss of territory following the Great War and three years of civil war made the country quite fragile. Following the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and ensuing Great Depression, chaos gripped the nation, leading to the establishment of a military dictatorship under Alexander Kolchak, who suspended parliament and initiated purges of those he deemed his rivals. His successor, Alexander Lvovich Kazembek, re-established the Duma but used his popularity to consolidate power within Russia and declare his party, the Union of Mladorossi, the sole legal party in 1938, transforming the Russian Empire into a one-party state, which it would remain until 1978. Russia cemented a military alliance with the reconstituted German Empire and played a large role in the Second World War; reconquering the Baltic nations, Finland and Poland, re-annexing Bessarabia from Romania, and entering in the war against Japan by invading Manchuria, annexing the region, conquering the fledgling Mongol state and also annexing the northern districts East Turkestan.
Following the war, Russia entered a golden age of prosperity along with its German ally. This era saw some of the most significant technological advances of the 20th century, contributing much to the advancement of space exploration and nuclear technology. Much of 20th century Russia was characterized by the russification of citizens in their annexed territories and solidifying their hold over their vast tracks of land within the Empire. Russia began to liberalize at the political level after the death of Prime Minister Anastasy Vonsyatsky, with the legalization of other political parties and the reinstitution of parliamentary democracy. However, the government remains centralized and many describe the government as authoritarian, however the general public support the current system of government.