Russia is the largest country in the world by territory that stretches over a vast expanse of Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. The shores of Russia are washed by 12 seas of 3 oceans: the Pacific, the Arctic and the Atlantic.
Russian scenery varies from steppes in the South, plains and forests in the Central Region, tundra and taiga in the North, highlands and deserts in the East.
Russia borders 14 countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Norway, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, North Korea and China. It also has a sea border with the USA.
The area of Russian Federation has been inhabited by thousands of years. The history of medieval Russia (Kievan Rus) begins in the 9th century and is shared with two other East Slavic peoples - Belarus and Ukraine. For many centuries the Kievan Rus was a very powerful empire in Europe. Then Moscow rose to power and in the 16th century Ivan the Terrible crowned himself the first Tsar of Russia. Russian empire continued to expand under the rule of the Romanov Dynasty Tsar Peter the Great, who founded St. Petersburg and moved the capital there from Moscow. In 1917, the Russian revolution led by Vladimir Lenin overthrew Tsar Nicholas II and established the communist state of the Soviet Union. During World War II millions were killed by the German invasion. At the cost of huge sacrifices and with the help of allies, the Soviet Union defeated Nazis in 1945. In 1991, under Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union collapsed, which gave independence to all of its 15 republics including Russia.
Over the past 20 years, the two largest cities in Russia, Moscow and St. Petersburg, had gone through enormous changes and massive renovations and became elegant and contemporary. Today these both cosmopolitan cities could boast high-end restaurants and cozy cafes, modern shopping centers and safe public areas, old museums and new art galleries, classic and contemporary theatres and music grounds.