Russia, a nation that spans both Europe and Asia, is home to over 143 million people.
The official language is Russian, and because of compulsory free education, literacy rates are at 100%. English is not very widely spoken.
Russia is now a federal semi-presidential constitutional republic, after almost 75 years as an authoritarian one-party Communist state. The government is led by a president and prime minister, who is appointed by the president and approved by parliament.
Under the rule of the U.S.S.R. (through 1991), religion was suppressed and the nation was official atheist. Religious worship is now permitted and many different religions are represented, including Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism.
The currency is the Russian ruble.