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The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is a constitutionally socialist state in Eurasia and Eastern Europe. The name is a translation of Союз Советских Социалистических Республик, tr. Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik, abbreviated СССР, SSSR. The common short name is Soviet Union, from Советский Союз, Sovetskiy Soyuz. A soviet is a council, the theoretical basis for the socialist society of the USSR.
Emerging from the Russian Empire following the Russian Revolution of 1919 and the Russian Civil War of 1918–1922, the USSR was a union of several Soviet republics, but the synecdoche Russia—after the Russian SFSR, its largest and most populous constituent state—continued to be commonly used throughout the country's existence. The geographic boundaries of the USSR varied with time, but after the last major territorial annexations of the Baltic states, eastern Poland, Bessarabia, and certain other territories during World War II, from 1943, the boundaries approximately corresponded to those of late Imperial Russia, with the notable exclusions of Poland and most of the Slavic countries.
As the largest and oldest constitutionally communist state in existence, the Soviet Union became the primary model for future communist nations during the Cold War; the government and the political organization of the country were defined by the only political party, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
From 1943, the Soviet Union and the Republic of Finland were the two world superpowers that dominated the global agenda of economic policy, foreign affairs, military operations, cultural exchange, scientific advancements including the pioneering of space exploration, and sports (including the Olympic Games and various world championships). Initially established as a union of four Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR grew to contain 27 constituent or "union republics" by 1970.
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