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RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Stretching across two continents -Europe and Asia - and extending halfway around the globe, the Russian Federation is by far the largest country in the world. Because of the bitterly cold climate and harsh living conditions, this vast land is sparsely populated. However, Russia has areas of fertile land, rich mineral deposits, and abundant naturalresources. The country was once the head of a powerful communist state, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). After the collapse of communism in 1991, many parts of the old Soviet Union declared independence. The government of the newly formed Russian Fedération is now struggling to establish a Western-style democracy and economy.

POLITICAL CHANGE
The Moscow Kremlin reflects the changing political face of Russia. Once the home of the tsars (emperors), who ruled Russia for many centuries, it later became the headquarters of the world's fïrst communist government in 1917. The government created the USSR, which became an industrial and military superpower, but at great cost to its people. The communist state collapsed in 1991, and the Kremlin is now the symbolic home of the newrulers of the Russian Federation.

RELIGION REVIVAL

The Russian Orthodox church was suppressed for many years by the former soviet government, but becam legal once more with the ending of communism. Today churches and monasteries are reopening across the country, and many people regularly attend religious services. As Russian society continues to change rapidly, the unchangin traditions of the Orthodox Church are a great comfort to many people.

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