Russia (or Russian Federation) is a transcontinental country existing in Europe and Asia. Russia is known to be one of the world's great powers, being one of the permanent five member of the United Nations Security Council. Russia is generally regarded as the successor state to the Soviet Union, which was dissolved in 1991.
Some of the first inhabitants of Russia were nomadic people of the steppes, who migrated there thousands of years ago. The first powerful Russian state was Kievan Rus', which was founded by Vikings in the 9th century. By the 13th century, Kievan Rus' had been succeeded by the Grand Duchy of Moscow in Russia. In 1547, the Grand Duchy of Moscow formed the Tsardom of Russia, with Ivan IV as its first Tsar, or Emperor. By the late 1600s Russia was one of Europe's great powers. In 1721, the Tsardom of Russia became the Russian Empire under Peter the Great. In 1861, serfdom was abolished, but this did not end dissent in the empire. When Tsar Nicholas II took the reins in 1894, the Russian Empire was doomed. At the beginning of World War I, the Russian army suffered massive defeats from the German Empire and in 1917 a communist revolution ended its participation in the war. The revolution led to the establishment of the Soviet Union, the first communist state in the world. After defeating Nazi Germany in World War II, the Soviet Union became of the world's two superpowers, with the United States. The two nations then entered a period of proxy wars and threat of nuclear war dubbed the Cold War, which partly resulted from the invention of nuclear weapons. In the 1980s, the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev began gradual economic and political reforms that led to its dissolution in 1991, with Russia as its prime successor state.
Russia is the largest country in the world at 17,075,400 square kilometers (6,592,800 square miles). It shares borders with North Korea, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland.