Demographics of Russia

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Russia's area is about 17 million square kilometers (6.5 million sq. mi.). It remains the largest country in the world by more than 2.5 million square miles. Its population density is about 9 persons per square kilometer (22 per sq. mi.), making it one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Its population is predominantly urban.


As of 2002, Russia had approximately 145 million inhabitants, roughly 103 million in the European part, and 42 million in the Asian part.

Most Russians derive from the Eastern Slavic family of peoples, with Turkic (8.4%), Caucasian (3.3%), Uralic (1.9%) and other minorities.

Birth rate: 10.2 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Death rate: 16.5 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Net migration rate: 1.0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.46 male(s)/female
total population: 0.88 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 11.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 67.19 years
male: 61.95 years
female: 72.69 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.3 children born/woman (2005 est.)

Population aging

Russia's population is falling. Lower birth rates and higher death rates reduced Russia's population at a 0.5% annual rate during the 1990s. By comparison, although in many developed countries birthrates have dropped below the long-term population replacement rate, in only a few countries is the population actually declining. Population decline is particularly drastic in Russia, with higher death rates especially among working-age males due to poverty, abuse of alcohol and other substances, disease, stress, and other afflictions. Russians generally disapprove of permanent or temporary immigration of working-age males from countries other than the Russian-speaking former Soviet states that might help solve economic problems brought on by its declining population.

Ethnic groups

The Russian Federation is home to as many as 160 different ethnic groups and indigenous peoples. As of the 2002 census, 79.83% of the population (115,889,107 people) is ethnically Russian, followed by (groups larger than one million):

Most smaller groups live compactly in their respective regions and can be categorized by language group The ethnic divisions used here are those of the official census, and may in some respects be controversial. The following lists all ethnicites resolved by the 2002 census, grouped by language:

  • Jews 229,938 (0.16%)
  • Ket 1,494 (0.00%)

Some 1.6% of the population are ethnicities not native to the Russian territory. The census has an additional group of 'other' ethnicities of 42,980 (0.03%).

see also: Northern indigenous peoples of Russia


Demographic structure of Russia gradually changes over time. In 1970 Russia had the third largest population of Jews in the world (est. 2.15 million), following only United States and Israel. By 2002, due to jewish emigration, their number fell as low as 230 thousand (est.) At the same time, Russia experiences a constant flow of immigration. On average, 200 thousand legal immigrants enter the country every year; about half are ethnic Russians from the republics of the former Soviet Union. In addition, there are at least 1.5 million illegal immigrants in the country. There is a significant inflow of ethnic Georgians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Tajiks, and Ukrainians into big Russian cities, something that is treated very unfavorably by many citizens and even gives rise to nationalist sentiments. Numbers of Chinese flee the overpopulation and birth control regulations of their home country and settle in southern Siberia. This and low birth rates of most ethnic groups native to Russia, indicates that a significant shift in ethnic structure is underway. By some estimates, by 2050 Russia will be populated by 50-60% of Russians and 20-25% of various ethnic groups native to the Caucasus region.


Languages: Russian is the common official language throughout the Russian Federation understood by 99% of its current inhabitants and widespread in many adjacent areas of Asia and Eastern Europe. National subdivisions of Russia have additional official languages, see their respective articles. There more than 100 languages spoken in Russia. Many of them are endangered to extinct.


According to a 2002 survey by the All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), more than two-thirds of respondents described themselves as adherents to a religious confession: 58% Russian Orthodox, 5% Muslim and less than 2% adhere to a non-Orthodox Christian denomination. 32% self-described as non-religious, agnostic or atheist.

Judaism according to the 2002 census is down to below 0.2%. In the Asian part of Russia, Shamanism/Animism is widespread, sometimes in combination with Islam or Christianity. Buddhism has some adherents, mainly in the Russian Far East.


Main article: Education in Russia Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 100%
female: 97% (1989 est.)

Russia's free, widespread and in-depth educational system, inherited with almost no changes from Soviet Union, has produced nearly 100% literacy. Private schools are rare (although getting more popular) and can be mainly found in the capital region. 97% of children receive their compulsory 8-year basic or complete 10-year education in Russian. Other languages are also used in their respective republics, for instance tatar (1%), Yakut (0.4%) etc.

About 3 million students attend Russia's 519 institutions of higher education and 48 universities. As a result of great emphasis on science and technology in education, Russian medical, mathematical, scientific, and space and aviation research is generally of a high order.

The number of doctors in relation to the population is high by American standards, although medical care in Russia, even in major cities, is far below Western standards.

Labor force

The Russian labor force is undergoing tremendous changes. Although well-educated and skilled, it is largely mismatched to the rapidly changing needs of the Russian economy. Millions of Russian workers are underemployed. Unemployment is highest among women and young people. Many Russian workers compensate by working other part-time jobs. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic dislocation it engendered, the standard of living fell dramatically. The standard of living has been on the rise since 1999, but almost one-third of the population still does not meet the minimum subsistence level for money income. The Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade estimates that the percentage of people under the subsistence level will gradually decrease by 23%-25% in the period up to 2005.


As of 2004, average life expectancy in Russia was 59 years for males and 72 years for females. The biggest factor that contributes to low life expectancy is high mortality among working-age males due to preventable causes ( violent crimes, traffic accidents, alcohol ). Some infectious diseases are also implicated, such as AIDS/HIV and, what is very rare outside former USSR, tuberculosis. Both diseases became widespread in Russia in the 1990s. However, the underlying problems with healthcare in Russia pre-date post-Soviet period. Soviet Union has been increasingly lagging behind Western world in mortality and life expectancy areas since late 1960's. By 1985, life expectancy for males was only 62.7 years in Russia, compared to 71.6 in Great Britain and 74.8 in Japan. Turmoil of early 1990s and economic crisis of 1998 caused life expectancy in Russia to go down while it was steadily growing in the rest of the world.

Russia and Ukraine are said to have the highest growth rates of HIV infection in the world outside Sub-Saharan Africa. In Russia HIV seems to be transmitted mostly by intravenous drug users sharing needles, although data is very uncertain. There is evidence of growing transmission between sex workers and their clients. Data from the Federal AIDS Center shows that the number of registered cases is doubling every 12 months and by May 1, 2002 had reached 193,400 persons. When this number is adjusted to include people who have not been tested for the disease, estimates of the actual number of infected persons vary from 800,000 to 1 million.

Main cities

Moscow is the largest city (population 10.1 million) and is the capital of the Federation. Moscow continues to be the center of Russian Government and is increasingly important as an economic and business center. Its cultural tradition is rich, and there are many museums devoted to art, literature, music, dance, history, and science. It has hundreds of churches and dozens of notable cathedrals; it has become Russia's principal magnet for foreign investment and business presence.

St. Petersburg (population 4.6 million), established in 1703 by Peter the Great as the capital of the Russian Empire, was called Petrograd during World War I and Leningrad after 1924. In 1991, as the result of a city referendum, it was renamed St. Petersburg. Under the Tsars, the city was Russia's cultural, intellectual, commercial, financial, and industrial center. After the capital was moved back to Moscow in 1918, the city's political significance declined, but it remained a cultural, scientific, and military-industrial center. The Hermitage is one of the world's great fine arts museums.

Finally, Vladivostok, located in the Russian Far East, is becoming an important center for trade with the Pacific Rim countries.

See also

External links

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