Russia’s population is unevenly distributed over the country’s vast area. Most of the population lives in the European part of the country. The population density varies from less than one resident per square kilometer in parts of Siberia to 4,900 in Moscow.
Of Russia’s residents, just over four-fifths are ethnic Russians, that is, East Slavs with Russian as their mother tongue. In addition to Russians, there are many other peoples of different origins. The largest minorities are Tatars and Ukrainians. Other significant minorities are Bashkirs, thieves, Chechens, Armenians and Belarusians. Ukrainians and Belarusians, like the Russians, are East Slavic people, while the Tatars and Bashkiris are Turkish people. The rest of the population, a total of about ten percent, is made up of more than a hundred different nationalities.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Russia, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
From 1992 to 2003, the natural population growth was negative, ie the deaths were more than the births. In 2012, there was a balance between death rates and birth rates, and since then the number of births has been more than the number of deceased. Birth rates are significantly higher in Muslim-dominated areas such as Chechnya and Dagestan in the Caucasus than in regions with a predominantly Russian population.
Part of the population growth is due to increasing immigration. Significantly more people move to Russia than the number leaving the country each year. In addition to immigrants, there are 11–12 million migrant workers who are in Russia to work longer or shorter periods. Both immigrants and migrant workers come in most from other former Soviet republics, that is, countries like Russia included in the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991, for example Ukraine and the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia. Of the migrant workers, 1.5 to 1.8 million are estimated to be in the country illegally.
The xenophobia is widespread. In recent years, several people have been killed in attacks with racist signs.
The conflict in Ukraine (see Foreign Policy and Defense) has given rise to a stream of refugees across the border with Russia.
As a result of the migration, the number of Muslims in Russia has increased, causing concern for radical Islamism to spread. Concern is fueled by the Muslim uprising against the central power that is ongoing in Russian republics in the south, such as Dagestan.
Many millions of Russians live outside Russia in other former Soviet republics. Most Russians are found in Ukraine.
Russian is one of the world’s ten largest languages. It belongs to the Indo-European language family and is counted alongside the Ukrainian and Belarusian to the East Slavic languages. These have their roots in an older common language that began to develop into three independent languages in the 1300s.
The oldest preserved scriptures are in ancient church Slavic, which is the liturgical language of Slavic Orthodox churches. The Church Slavic is written like the Russian with the Cyrillic alphabet, which was developed from the Greek and was named after the Greek missionary Kyrillos (827-869).
In the 1600s, the Moscow dialect became pronounced as a Russian official and literary language. During Peter the Great in the 18th century, many church Slavic elements were cleared out of Russian and replaced by more popular forms. In addition, words of Tatar origin were recorded, as were loan words from French and German.
Turkish languages, which belong to the Altaic language family, are spoken by a number of people groups in, for example, the Central Asian parts of Russia. Finnish-Ugric languages are spoken by assassin wines, Finns, Karelians and a variety of small peoples living widely in northern Russia. Furthermore, a large number of North Caucasian languages as well as Mongolian and other languages are spoken.
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
82% Russians, 4% Tatars, 3% Ukrainians, 1% thieves, Bashkir, 1%, Belarusians and another hundred people
Number of residents
144 495 044 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
74.3 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
12.9 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
12.9 per 1000 residents (2016)
0.1 percent (2017)
1.8 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
53.5 percent (2017)
72 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
77 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
67 years (2016)
Russian is the official language 1
- a number of minority languages also exist including Turkish and Finnish-Ugric languages
New team shortens penalty for Chodorovsky
As a result of a changed law on economic crime, former oligarch Michail Chodorkovsky and his co-worker Platon Lebedev receive their two-year prison sentence for fraud and tax fraud.
Americans are forbidden from adopting Russian children
Russia adopts a law that prohibits American citizens from adopting Russian children. The law is seen as a direct response to a decision by the US Congress to blacklist Russian citizens suspected of involvement in the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a detention in 2009 (see November 2009 and September 2011). The only one responsible for Magnitsky’s death, a former head of the medical department at the prison where Magnitsky was being held, is simultaneously released by a Moscow court.
Police convicted of involvement in Politovskaya murder
A former police officer is sentenced to eleven years in prison for involvement in the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. The police must have shadowed Politkovskaya and provided her gunman with a weapon.
Navalnyj again charged
Aleksey Navalnyj is being prosecuted again, this time with his brother. The charges relate to fraud and money laundering when they both worked with a postal carrier.
The Minister of Defense is dismissed
Following a corruption scandal, Putin dismisses Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and the head of the armed forces General Nikolaj Makarov. The deposition of Serdukov surprises the outside world, as he is considered loyal to Putin. During his years as defense minister, however, Serdyukov has cut back and modernized the defense, which has given him many enemies.
New Minister of Defense will be Sergei Sjojgu, former head of the Russian rescue service. The head of the armed forces will be General Valerij Gerasimov, who led the Russian forces during the second war in Chechnya, which began in 1999 (read more about the conflict in Chechnya).
Suspected terrorists are killed in Kazan
In Tatarstan, two suspected terrorists and a police officer were killed in a raid on a suspected arrest for terrorists in the city of Kazan.
Imam is killed in Dagestan
An imam who advocated for peace and parts of his family killed the town of Derbent in Dagestan. Thus, five Muslim leaders were killed during the year.
The Authority for Patriotism is established
Putin establishes a new authority to strengthen patriotism in the country.. Putin’s critics warn that the authority is slowing down the modernization of society and comparing it with the Ministry of Agitation and Propaganda that existed in Soviet times.
An opposition committee is appointed
Regime critics appoint a committee to coordinate opposition to Putin. Political, activist Aleksey Navalnyj, author and columnist Dmitry Bykov, chess player Garry Kasparov and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov are among those elected.
New law on treason
Duman adopts a new law that broadens the definition of treason. The opposition claims that the law will be used to imprison virtually all Russians who have contact with foreigners. The sentence scale includes up to 20 years in prison.
United Russia wins in local elections
United Russia wins in local elections in most of Russia’s regions. The party wins all five governorships that are announced for elections and dominates in both mayoral elections and elections to local, decisive assemblies. Even in this election there is information that the authorities have manipulated the election.
Pussy Riot member freed
One of the members of the punk band Pussy Riot, who was sentenced to prison, is released when she never participated in the song. The other two band members will be sent to their detention camps in October.
USAID is ordered to cease
The government orders the US aid agency USAID to terminate its operations in Russia. USAID has been supporting Russian civil society since the early 1990s. The Kremlin now accuses USAID of interfering with Russian domestic policy. The decision will further strain relations between the two countries.
Religious leader killed in Dagestan
A senior Muslim leader and at least five others are killed in a suicide bombing in Dagestan. The act is yet another in the line of attacks on Muslim leaders who turn to extremist interpretations of Islam (see also July 2014).
Deed against religious leaders in Tatarstan
In Tatarstan, the supreme Muslim leader of the republic, the muftin of Tatarstan, is seriously injured in a bombing and on the same day the former vice muftin is shot dead. Both deaths are blamed on Islamic extremists.
Suicide bombers kill seven in Ingducia
Seven policemen are killed by a suicide bomber in Ingushia. The bomb explodes at a funeral for a policeman who was shot dead the day before. The attack takes place just days after armed men opened fire in a mosque and injured seven people in the nearby Republic of Dagestan.
Navalnyj is charged with embezzlement
One of the leaders of the mass protests against Putin around the turn of the year, the lawyer and blogger Aleksey Navalnyj, is charged with embezzlement. Navalnyj is accused of fraud in connection with a log shop in the Kirov region three years ago. (see also April 2013).
Pussy Riot members are sentenced to prison
Three members of the punk band Pussy Riot are sentenced to two years in prison for performing a protest song in February against Putin in the Savior Cathedral. The behavior sparked a storm of protest among religious Russians. The judge states that the band members were guilty of hooliganism and “seriously undermined the social order”.
Duman approves WTO membership
Duman approves with a small margin Russia’s membership in the World Trade Organization WTO. Membership thus enters into force.
New laws for pressure on the opposition
Duman adopts several laws that put pressure on the opposition:
- Voluntary organizations that receive foreign financial support and work on political issues must register as “foreign agents”. They must submit to financial review and report on their activities. The law was later approved by President Putin.
- Defamation, which had been decriminalized in 2011, will again be punishable. Fines can be 5 million rubles (equivalent to one million Swedish kronor).
- The government gets the right to close internet sites without judicial review. The initiators of the bill argue that it is only for the purpose of stopping the spread of illegal material such as abuse of children, but critics fear that it should be used as a broader censorship tool.
Direct election to governor positions
Direct elections are reintroduced to the governor posts abroad (compare December 2011). Under the new law, all candidates for the governor’s office must be supported by a certain number of local council members and officials in order to stand for election.
Fines for demonstrations shocked
Fines for participating in demonstrations without a permit and causing damage to property or persons are increased from 5,000 rubles (equivalent to just over SEK 1,000) to 300,000 rubles (equivalent to just over SEK 64,000) for participants and twice for organizers.
Explosives are found
The National Security Service finds missiles, grenade launchers and explosives that would be used in attacks during the Sochi Winter Olympics. The attack plans must have been prepared by Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov.
Demonstration against Medvedev
A minor demonstration also takes place when Dmitry Medvedev is appointed head of government by Parliament, Duma.
Hundreds arrested during demonstration
Putin is installed as president. On May 6, the day before the installation, a large demonstration will be held at Bolotnaja Square in Moscow with tens of thousands of participants. The demonstration culminates in violent clashes between activists and police. Hundreds of protesters are arrested. Thirteen people were later indicted for rioting.
Dumb suggestion to new party law
Duman adopts a bill that makes it easier to form political parties. The proposal is forwarded to Parliament’s upper house, the Federation Council.
Putin becomes president – protests
Putin wins as expected presidential elections with just over 63 percent of the vote. In second place comes the Communist Party candidate Gennady Ziuganov with 18 percent. Businessman Michail Prochorov becomes third with 8 percent. The other two candidates – the Nationalist Liberal Democratic Party’s Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Sergei Mironov, who is running for A Fair Russia, receive 6 and 4 percent respectively.
This time, too, there are reports of electoral fraud but not to the same extent as in the December election. The day after the election demonstrates around 20,000 people in Moscow in protest of the result. Over 550 people are arrested. Most are released the following day, but some are sentenced to shorter prison terms.
Oppositionists demand re-election
The opposition to Putin holds a new demonstration in Moscow with tens of thousands of participants demanding re-election. Just over a week before the election, unanimous opinion polls suggest that Putin will receive an absolute majority of the votes and thus win already in the first of two rounds of elections.