- a country in northern Asia and eastern Europe; population 140,041,200 (est. 2009); official language, Russian; capital, Moscow. Official name Russian Federation.
The modern state originated from the expansion of the principality of Muscovy into a great empire. Russia played an increasing role in Europe from the time of Peter the Great in the early 18th century. Following the overthrow of the tsar in the Russian Revolution of 1917, Russia became the largest of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union, with more than three quarters of the area and over half of the population. On the break-up of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Communist control in 1991, Russia emerged as an independent state and a founder member of the Commonwealth of Independent States