Soviet Union (TheodoresTomfooleries)
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Motto: "Пролетарии всех стран, соединяйтесь!"
Anthem: State Anthem of the Soviet Union
and largest city
|Official languages||None (De-jure)|
Russian (As a Lingua franca; De-facto)
|Recognised national languages|
|Ethnic groups |
State atheism (de-facto)
|Government||Federal Marxist-Leninist one-party directorial parliamentary socialist republic|
|Soviet of Nationalities|
|Soviet of the Union|
|7 November 1917|
|30 December 1922|
• End of the Russian Civil War
|16 June 1923|
|25 February 1956|
|10 August 2002|
|22,402,200 km2 (8,649,500 sq mi) (1st)|
• Water (%)
• 2019 census
|17.2/km2 (44.5/sq mi) (214)|
|GDP (nominal)||2019 estimate|
|$10.48 trillion (2nd)|
• Per capita
|HDI (2019)|| 0.948|
very high · 6th
|Currency||Soviet Ruble (SUR)|
|Date format||CE, mm/dd/yyyy|
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), is a transcontinental country spanning across Eurasia. It is the largest country in the world by area at 22.4 million km2 (8.64 million mi2); it stretches over 15% of the Earth's surface area, extends across eleven time zones and borders eleven countries. It is the 3rd most populous country in the world and the most populous in Europe, with a population of 385.38 million in 2019. The country's largest city and capital is Moscow with a metropolitan population of 21.272 million, other major cities include Leningrad, Kiev, Tashkent and Baku.
As a federation of 15 co-equal soviet socialist republics, the Soviet Union is a multi-ethnic and diverse nation, with over 128 registered ethnicities. The East Slavs, consisting of the Russians, Byelorussians and Ukrainians, make up the majority of the population at 66% of the population, while Turks make up an additional 24%.
The origins of the Soviet Union can ultimately be traced back to the Rus', a confederation of Old Russian-speaking principalities in Eastern and Northern Europe that was a predecessor of the Tsardom and Empire of Russia. The Kievan Rus' would rule over a multi-ethnic confederation for nearly 4 centuries until the Mongol invasions destroyed the capital of Kiev and forced most of the Rus' into vassalisation.
The Rus' would eventually be re-unified under the Grand Duchy of Moscow led by Ivan the Great, who was the first Russian sovereign to style himself tsar. His grandson, Ivan the Terrible would be crowned Tsar of the Rus' in 1547. Russia would grow continuously over a period of 150 years at 35,000 km2 per year. Ivan's successor, Feodor would die childless in 1598 resulting in a succession crisis that would end with the fall of the Rurikid dynasty and the rise of the Romanovs with the election of Mikhail Romanov to the throne. Russia would expand into Siberia under his reign, becoming the largest country in the world. Peter, reigning from 1682, would embark on a series of ambitious reforms that would westernise the Russian state, transforming it into a great power. Under his reign, he usurped control of the Baltic Sea from the Swedish Empire, moved the capital north to Saint Petersburg and was crowned Emperor of the Rus' in 1721. His second-youngest child, the Empress Elizabeth would die childless in 1762, leading to throne passing to his hated grandson Peter III. He was overthrown in a palace coup led by his wife, the Prussian Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, who would take the name Catherine. Under her reign, Russia would establish itself as a great power, carving up the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with Prussia and the Habsburg while conquering the remainder of Siberia and establishing naval supremacy over the Black Sea. Her grandson, Alexander I would fight in the Napoleonic Wars, conquering Finland from the Swedish in 1809 and later most of the Caucasus and Poland. His brother, Nicholas, succeeded him in 1825 and expanded the Russian Empire's borders into Central Asia, conquering the Kazakh Khanate in the process.
Alexander II would embark on a series of reforms similar to his great-great-great grandfather, most notably the Edict of Emancipation of Russia. Following his assassination in 1881, his son Alexander III would undo much of his policies and turned the Russian Empire away from reform, leaving it weak by the time the unprepared Nicholas ascended to the throne in 1894. Nicholas led a disastrous war against Japan in 1905, resulting in a revolution which saw the de-jure end of absolute monarchism in Russia and the establishment of a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. In practice however, Nicholas II still retained near absolute power, which allowed for the blame to be placed upon him when Russia resulted disastrous defeats in World War I. Nicholas would be forced to abdicate the throne in 1917, resulting in the end of the monarchy and a period of political instability. Vladimir Lenin's Bolsheviks would coup the government in Saint Petersburg, declaring the establishment of a socialist state that would later turn into the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. The bloody Russian Civil War would end with the unification of the RSFSR's fellow Soviet republics and satellite states into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. After Lenin's death in 1924, Joseph Stalin would succeed him, building on Leninism to create Marxism-Leninism, which continues to be the governing ideology of both the Soviet Union and several other countries across the globe. Under Stalin, the country would rapidly modernize and industrialize, leading to excess mortalities in the 1930s. 1939 saw a brief non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, which would be broke after only 2 years following the German invasion in June 1941. The Soviet Union would lose 27 million people throughout their war with the Germans, which would end with the Soviet Union and its allies emerging victorious. Stalin would establish a series of satellite states in Eastern Europe- his successor, Nikita Khrushchev implemented a series of economic reforms while condemning Stalin's brutality and his cult of personality, resulting in a period of de-Stalinisation and the escalation of the Cold War with the establishment of the Warsaw Pact in 1956. The Soviet Union's economy and development would gradually stagnate under Leonid Brezhnev, leading to a short period of short-lived governments before the unofficial Soviet Civil War ended with Mikhail Gorbachev's reformist faction falling to Grigory Romanov, who passed minor reforms but for the most part continued the policies of his predecessors.
The Soviet Union today stands as one of the world's two superpowers along with the United States. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and is also a member of the European Cooperative Community, SCO, CSCE along with other organisations. The Soviet Union ranks high in literacy, human development, possesses the world's second-largest military, and is the world's largest producer of petroleum and natural gas. Globally, the Soviet Union ranks low for human rights, owing to its suppression of free speech and press. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) holds an absolute monopoly on political and state power, with opposition candidates and groups banned.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Geography
- 3 History
- 4 Foreign Policy
- 5 Politics
- 6 Military
- 7 Space Program
- 8 Economy
- 9 Demographics
- 10 Culture
- 11 Sports
The word soviet is derived from the Russian term sovet (Russian: совет), meaning 'council', 'assembly', 'advice', related to English wise.
The Soviet Union was originally to be titled "Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia" (Russian: Союз Советских Республик Европы и Азии; Soyuz Sovetskikh Respublik Evropy i Azii), however after an agreement by Stalin and Lenin it was later changed to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
"СССР" (Or SSSR in Latin Alphabets) is the official Russian abbreviation of "USSR". Other common cognates include "Союз ССР" (Soyuz SSR) which roughly translates to "Union of SSRs" in English, as well as "Советский Союз" (Sovetskiy Soyuz) which literally translates to "Soviet Union". This term is never used unabbreviated as it is seen as offensive, since following the Great Patriotic War "СС" or "SS" has become affiliated with the Schutzstaffel.
The Soviet Union is frequently (and incorrectly) referred to as "Russia"; which is incorrect since Russia is only one of the Republics. Efforts to correct this have largely been fruitless, however the Soviet Union officially insists on "Soviet Union" rather than Russia to stress its multi-ethnic nature.
The Soviet Union is the world's largest country with an area of 22,402,200 square kilometres (8,649,500 sq mi). It covers 1/6th of Earth's land surface and is larger than the continents of Australia, Europe, and South America, with a size comparable to North America. The country spans 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) east to west across eleven time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres (4,500 mi) north to south. The country is also widely diverse climate wise- with five climate zones (Tundra, Taiga, Steppes, Desert and mountains)
The Soviet Union possesses the world's largest border at over 60,000 kilometres (37,000 mi), 2/3rds of which is coastline. The Soviet Union borders Norway and Finland to the Northwest, the Baltic Sea, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania in the west, the Black Sea, Turkiye and Iran in the south, (as well as the Caspian Sea and Afghanistan), and Mongolia, China, and North Korea to the east. It is seperated from the United States by the Beiring Strait, while the La Pérouse Strait separates it from the Japanese island of Hokkaido.
The country's highest mountain is Communism Peak inTadzhikistan at 7,495 metres (24,590 ft) high. It also contains most of the world's largest lakes, including the Caspian Sea (shared with Iran) and Lake Baikal, the world's largest and deepest freshwater lake.
Revolution and Foundation
Most of the territory of the Soviet Union before the 1917 revolutions was led by the Emperor of All Russia and the Russian Empire: an autocratic and authoritarian state with the Emperor (often called the Tsar) as its absolute monarch. The monarchy had largely failed to constitutionalize and reform due to the actions of Alexander III and Nicholas II. A State Duma, equivalent to a parliament- was established after the 1905 Russian Revolution but its powers were largely nonexistent as Nicholas continued to rule in all but name as an autocrat. The monarchy itself was particularly embarassed after its disastrous defeat in the Russo-Japanese War which saw the near-annihilation of the Russian Baltic Fleet. Further controversies with the Tsar and rising unpopularity after the events of Bloody Sunday in Saint Petersburg only further exacerbated the likelihood of revolution.
In 1914 Russia entered into World War I, largely to failure: it is estimated that over 2.25 million men died with an additional 3.749 and 3.343 million wounded or captured. The war not only devastated the population of Russia with famine but also crashed the economy as the Germans managed to capture the industry-rich Kingdom of Poland and pushed into modern day Lithuania. In March, 1917 a revolution broke out in Saint Petersburg which resulted in the Abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and the end of the Russian Empire. In its place came the Russian Provisional Government and subsequently the Russian Republic. The country was largely unstable and the government unpopular, it mainly shared power with the Petrograd Soviets which de-facto acted as its own rival government to Alexander Kerensky's government. Further tensions between the Provisional government and the Petrograd Soviet led to a largely bloodless revolution in Petrograd where the Petrograd Soviet declared itself the ruling government of Russia. A resulting civil war broke out which saw millions of casualties. On 25 January 1918, the third All-Russian Congress of Soviets officially named the state the Russian Soviet Republic, which later signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk which ceded a significant portion of Russia's most valuable industrial and agricultural land to the Central Powers. The name was changed later in the year to the "Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic". Vladimir Lenin was the political leader of the Bolsheviks for the war. Leon Trotsky largely led the war effort as Minister of Defence (then called "People's Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs"). Other notable commanders include Yakov Sverdlov; the namesake of Sverdlovsk, and Joseph Stalin. During most of the period of the civil war, the Bolsheviks enacted the policy of war communism from 1918-1921.
Treaty on the Creation of the USSR
Stalin Era (1927-1953)
World War II
De-Stalinization and Khrushchev Thaw (1953–1964)
Brezhnev Era (1964 - 1985)
Ligachev Era (1985 - 1994)
Gurenko Era (1994 - 2004)
The Soviet Union is a one-party state dominated by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which is constitutionally guaranteed a monopoly over politics. Non-partisan politicians are allowed to hold or run for office, however they must accept the CPSU's platform. Political opposition of any kind is forbidden, and political freedoms in the Soviet Union are hence considered to be heavily limited. The Supreme Soviet is the supreme authoritative legislative body of the central government, however the Central Committee of the CPSU is regarded as the ultimate decision-making body, owing to it being the director of all party and government activities.
The Soviet Union is a federation of Union Republics, based on national delimination. Constitutionally, the Union Republics are considered equal to one-another, although de-facto the Russian SFSR dominates, owing to its large size, population and economy. Autonomous okrugs, autonomous oblasts, and ASSRs are often common when there is a significant ethnic minority in a particular region of a Union Republic, such as in the case of the Komi ASSR in the Russian SFSR. ASSRs are subordinate to their respective Union Republics and cannot secede from the Union, unlike Union Republics who are constitutionally guaranteed the right to secede.
The Soviet space program was the world's first space program, founded in 1955. Its notable accomplishments include the first satellite, the first animal in orbit, the first Spacecraft to escape Earth's gravity, the first man in space, the first woman in space, the first soft-landing on the moon, the first exchange of crews in space, the first space rover, the first space station, the first permanently crewed space station and the first fully automated flight of a spaceplane.
Originally, the Soviet space program was de-centralized and was split among numerous competing design bureaus. After 1996, however, the NSKA became the Soviet Union's centralized space agency, under the jurisdiction of the Soviet Space Forces. The country competes with the United States' NASA and the United States Space Force.
The Soviet Union organizes its economy using a system of command economy, being directed by central planning by Gosplan, itself organized into 5 year plans. The Soviet economy has noticeably avoided the economic liberalization of other communist countries whilst remaining relatively economically strong. The Soviet economy is noted for its high economic security as well as its high employment rate and moderate GDP per capita but is also strained by its lack of quality in its consumer products.
Science and technology
Nationalities and ethnic groups
The Soviet Union's geographic size has led it to become one of the world's most ethnically diverse countries. Russia alone is home to 193 different ethnic groups. East Slavs make up the largest percent of the Soviet population, with 58% of the population claiming ethnicity/nationality from an East Slavic nation. Turks are the second largest group of people with 27% of the population. The Central Asian republics, notably Uzbekistan, Kirghizia and Tadzhikistan, are the fastest growing republics by population. Russians are the largest group by population and have a significant diaspora across the nation, with a combined population of over 25 million. Central Asia is home to a significant Russian population of 10.2 million, 7 million of who live in Kazakhstan.