Russia is a huge country. In fact, it is the biggest country in the world. Spanning around 1.8 million square miles, Russia certainly breaks some records.
The fact that Russia is spread across two continents—Russia and Asia—is one of its unusual characteristics. So is Russia part of Europe or Asia? While most people only consider it a European nation, a huge landmass of Russia falls under Asian territory.
Not aware of that?
You are not alone. Keep reading to learn some enlightening facts about this transcontinental country.
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Russia is the largest country in the world. And officially, it is the Russian Federation.
Russia was once a part of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), or what was commonly known as the Soviet Union. However, after the fall of the Soviet Union in December 1991, Russia became an independent country.
After the union was dissolved, Russia expanded its territory in Asia. As a result, it is a transcontinental country, spanning both Europe and Asia. The country shares borders with 16 other nations and spans eleven time zones.
Its neighbors are Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Estonia, Ukraine, and Latvia to the west; Finland and Norway to the northwest; Azerbaijan and Georgia to the southwest; Mongolia and Kazakhstan to the south; and North Korea and China to the southeast.
Russia also shares borders with two of its breakaway states, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Now that we know enough about Russia, let’s take a look at where it actually lies.
Is Russia Part Of Europe Or Asia?
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The Ural Mountains and the Ural River define the boundaries of Asia and Europe. And as Russia straddles both landmarks, it is in both Europe and Asia. But following the classification by the United Nations, Russia is placed under the European continent.
This is mainly because the majority of Russians live in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, which are closer to Europe. The Asian side of Russian land is largely uninhabited. Around 77% of Russia’s population lives on the European side of the country.
The capital of Russia, Moscow, has more than 12 million residents. As Moscow is in Europe, all of its inhabitants are European citizens. Other large cities on the European side with high populations are St. Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don, Kazan, and Nizhny Novgorod. Also, two of the top ten most populous cities in Europe—Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg—are situated on the Ural Mountains, the Europe-Asia border.
In contrast, only three large Russian cities lie on the Asian side of the country. Also, most of the citizens on the Asian side live close to the southern border. So a large part of the land is uninhabited.
Even though 75% of the Russian land lies on the Asian side, it is much less populated than the European side. This is why, despite being a transcontinental country, Russia is often misunderstood as a European country, while in reality, it is divided into two parts—European Russia and Asian Russia.
However, things are less complicated now, as Russia once spanned three continents. Yes, it heard it right.
In the second half of the 18th century, Russia owned the North American state of Alaska. However, it sold its ownership to the USA in 1866 for $7.2 million.
Also, Russia is not the only transcontinental country in the world. Egypt, Turkey, Kazakhstan, and Georgia are other transcontinental countries.
European Origin Of Russia
Russia was not as big as it is today. Initially, it was a smaller country and only belonged to the European continent. The country’s origins can be traced back to the 9th century with the first Slavic state, Kievan Rus.
By the 15th century, the Russian Empire, which started with a small area in Moscow, expanded to what it is today.
In 1721, Russia became a powerful country under the leadership of Peter the Great. It is during this time that Russia first started expanding into the Asian continent.
In the 20th century, after the First World War, Russia came together with other countries to form the Soviet Union. It was a powerful allegiance but broke down in 1991.