Putin's Russia : Resurgence of superpower under ex. soviet KGB
Here are some of the most important facts about Russia.
Russia is by far the biggest country on Earth, nearly twice as big by area as its nearest rival, Canada.
Stretching across 11 times zones, it covers more than 17 million square kilometres (6.6 million square miles), from its border with Ukraine and the Baltic Sea right across to the Pacific Ocean.
It takes in the increasingly strategic Arctic Ocean in the north and the volatile Caucasus region in the south, and includes the vast steppes of resources-rich Siberia.
The border between Russia and China is one of the longest in the world.
Home to more than 146 million people, Russia also boasts vast energy reserves that have made it the world's second biggest supplier of both oil and gas.
Russian politics has been dominated by Vladimir Putin for more than 16 years.
The judo-loving veteran of the Soviet KGB secret police is the latest in a long line of strongmen leaders to rule over his nation.
Putin was a largely unknown figure when he was hand-picked by former president Boris Yeltsin as his successor in 1999 to take over after the dizzying years of transition from Communism to capitalism.
Thanks to a surge in oil prices Russia went from bust to boom in Putin's first decade in charge and he began looking to reclaim some of the former super power's lost standing in the world.
In 2014 Putin ruptured Moscow's ties with the West by annexing the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine following the ouster of a Kremlin-backed leader in Kiev.
He has also launched Moscow's first major military operation in decades outside the former Soviet region with a bombing campaign in Syria in support of leader Bashar al-Assad.
In 1917 the seizure of power by Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevik party following the collapse of the 300-year reign of the Romanov dynasty, plunging Russia into 70 years of Communist domination.
Russia was the centre of the Soviet Union that grew to include 15 republics from the Baltics in the West to Central Asia.
After the death of Lenin in 1924 Josef Stalin rose to dominate the Red Empire, instituting a bloody reign of terror that saw millions of citizens shot or sent to Gulag labour camps.
When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 Moscow was dragged into the Second World War. Over the next four years Russia bore the brunt of the bloodiest conflict in human history until the Allied victory in 1945.
Following the end of the war Moscow and its former allies in the West plunged into the Cold War as the Iron Curtain divided Europe in two.
In 1991, wracked by economic woes the Soviet Union disintegrated and Russia became an independent nation.