Population: 140 million. Russia has a falling population and the number of working age people is declining. 73 per cent of the population lives in urban areas.
Political structure: A federation with a president and premier. The capital is Moscow, the language is Russian and the currency is the rouble.
Economy: Russia had one of the world’s fastest growing economies in the decade to 2008, with higher oil prices, foreign investment and strong domestic demand all contributing to economic growth and higher living standards. The government built up large foreign reserves which it was able to call on when the economy fell into a sharp recession last year.
Russia is a major producer of oil and gas, coal, heavy machinery and industrial equipment, defence equipment, and textiles.
The EU is by far Russia’s largest trading partner, taking 52 per cent of exports in 2008, mostly energy and mineral exports. The EU is also the largest foreign investor in Russia.