(CNN)Here’s some background information about Russia. The Russian Federation is the largest country in the world, covering more than one ninth of the earth’s land area.
About Russia:(from the CIA World Factbook)Area: 17 million sq km (1.8 times the size of the United States.)Population: 142,257,519 (July 2017 est.)Median age: 39.3 years oldCapital: MoscowRead MoreEthnic groups: Russian 77.7%, Tatar 3.7%, Ukrainian 1.4%, Bashkir 1.1%, Chuvash 1%, other or unspecified 14.1% (2010 census, most recent available)Religion: Russian Orthodox 15-20%, Muslim 10-15%, other Christian 2% (2006 est.)GDP (purchasing power parity): $3.751 trillion (2016 est.)GDP per capita: $26,500 (2016 est.)Unemployment: 5.3% (2016 est.) Other Facts:One of the top producers of natural gas and oil in the world.The legislative body, the Federal Assembly, is made up of the lower house, the State Duma, and the upper house, the Federation Council. Russia spans nine time zones.Contains one fourth of the world’s fresh water.Timeline:1613 – Mikhail Romanov’s coronation establishes the Romanov dynasty, which lasts for more than 300 years.1917 – The Bolshevik Revolution begins. The new government formed eventually becomes the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a communist country.July 1918 – Tsar Nicolas II and the royal family are executed by the Bolsheviks, in Yekatrinburg, Russia.January 21, 1924 – Vladimir Lenin, founder and first leader of the USSR, dies. He is replaced by dictator Joseph Stalin, who leads until his death in 1953.1939-1945 – Helps the Allied Powers defeat Nazi Germany during World War II. Other Allies include the United States, Great Britain, France and China.1955 – The Warsaw Pact is organized, creating a military alliance of communist nations in Eastern Europe, including the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania.October 4, 1957 – The Soviet Union launches Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite, which starts the “space race” between the Soviets and the United States. April 12, 1961 – Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human to go to space.October 1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis: During one of the most dangerous confrontations of the “Cold War” between the communist Eastern Bloc countries and the West, the Soviet Union installs nuclear missiles on Cuba capable of reaching most of the US. President John F. Kennedy orders a naval blockade of Cuba, and six days later, the Soviets agree to remove the missiles. Photos: The history of the Cold War Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – The end of World War II set the stage for the Cold War, the struggle between communism and capitalism that pitted East against West and pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war. The Crimean resort town of Yalta was the setting for an historic meeting of British, U.S. and Soviet leaders — Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Josef Stalin — in February 1945. With the defeat of Nazi Germany imminent, the Big Three allies agreed to jointly govern postwar Germany, while Stalin pledged fair and open elections in Poland. Hide Caption 1 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – The decision by the United States to use the atomic bomb against Japan in August 1945 was credited with ending World War II. Hundreds of thousands in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were killed instantly or died from radiation in the aftermath of the bombings. Hide Caption 2 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – President Harry S. Truman introduces Winston Churchill at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946. In his speech, the former British prime minister declared, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the Continent.”Hide Caption 3 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – In 1947, U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall proposed a massive aid program to rebuild Europe after the ravages of World War II. Nearly $13 billion in U.S. aid was sent to Europe from 1948 to 1952 under the Marshall Plan, but the Soviet Union and communist Eastern Europe declined U.S. aid, citing “dollar enslavement.” Here, an American worker paints the Marshall Plan logo on a machine tool ready to be exported to Europe.Hide Caption 4 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – On June 24, 1948, the Soviet Union made a bid for control of Berlin by blockading all land access to the city. Berlin was divided into four sectors under U.S., British, French and Soviet control, but the city itself lay entirely in Soviet-occupied eastern Germany. From June 1948 to May 1949, U.S. and British planes airlifted 1.5 million tons of supplies to the residents of West Berlin. After 200,000 flights, the Soviet Union lifted the blockade. Here, a tattered group of Berliners stand amid the ruins of a building near Tempelhof Airfield as a C-47 cargo plane brings food to the city.Hide Caption 5 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – In June 1949, Chinese Communists declared victory over Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces, who later fled to Taiwan. On October 1, Mao Zedong proclaimed the People’s Republic of China. Two months later, Mao (left) traveled to Moscow to meet with Josef Stalin (right) and negotiate the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance.Hide Caption 6 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – In August 1949, President Truman signed the North Atlantic Treaty, which marked the beginning of NATO. Two years earlier, he requested $400 million in aid from Congress to combat communism in Greece and Turkey. The Truman Doctrine pledged to provide American economic and military assistance to any nation threatened by communism. Hide Caption 7 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – On June 25, 1950, North Korean Communist forces invaded South Korea. Two days later, President Truman ordered U.S. forces to assist the South Koreans. Here, U.S. Marines land at Inchon as the battle rages. Three years later, an armistice agreement was signed, with the border between North and South roughly the same as it had been in 1950. The willingness of China and North Korea to end the fighting was in part attributed to the death of Stalin in March. There has never been a peace treaty, so the Korean War, technically, has never ended.Hide Caption 8 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – On March 29, 1951, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of selling U.S. atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. The Rosenbergs were sent to the electric chair in 1953, despite outrage from liberals who portrayed them as victims of an anti-communist witch hunt.Hide Caption 9 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – The Rosenbergs’ conviction helped fuel the rise of McCarthyism, the anti-communist campaign led by U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin in 1953-54 at the peak of the Cold War. Nearly 400 Americans — including the ordinary, the famous and some who wore the uniform of the U.S. military — were interrogated in secret hearings, facing accusations from McCarthy and his staff about their alleged involvement in communist activities. While McCarthy enjoyed public attention and initially advanced his career with the start of the hearings, the tide turned. His harsh treatment of Army officers in the secret hearings precipitated his downfall.Hide Caption 10 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – In 1955, the Warsaw Pact was organized, creating a military alliance of communist nations in Eastern Europe that included Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the Soviet Union. Here, the Soviet Army marches during May Day celebrations in 1954. Hide Caption 11 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite to orbit the Earth. In 1958, the United States created NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the space race was in full gear.Hide Caption 12 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – On January 1, 1959, leftist forces under Fidel Castro overthrew the government of Fulgencio Batista in Cuba. Castro soon nationalized the sugar industry and signed trade agreements with the Soviet Union. The next year, his government seized U.S. assets on the island.Hide Caption 13 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev speaks at the 1960 Paris Summit, which was interrupted when an American high-altitude U-2 spy plane was shot down on a mission over the Soviet Union. After the Soviets announced the capture of pilot Francis Gary Powers, the United States recanted earlier assertions that the plane was on a weather research mission.Hide Caption 14 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – A hand reaches over the glass imbedded in the newly constructed Berlin Wall, which divided the eastern and western sectors of the city in August 1961. The U.S. had rejected proposals by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to make Berlin a “free city” with access controlled by East Germany, and on August 15, Communist authorities began construction on the wall to prevent East Germans from fleeing to West Berlin. Hide Caption 15 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – In 1961, a U.S.-organized invasion of 1,400 Cuban exiles is defeated by Castro’s forces at the Bay of Pigs. U.S. President John F. Kennedy takes full responsibility for the disaster. The next year, the Soviet Union installs nuclear missiles on Cuba capable of reaching most of the U.S. Kennedy orders a naval blockade of Cuba until the Soviets removes the missiles; he announces the move on TV (pictured). Six days later, the Soviets agree to remove the missiles, defusing one of the most dangerous confrontations of the Cold War. In 1963, the U.S. and Soviet Union agreed to install a hot line allowing the leaders to communicate directly during a crisis.Hide Caption 16 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – An estimated 250,000 people crammed a large Berlin square to hear President Kennedy speak in 1963. “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin,” Kennedy told the crowd. “And therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.'” A few months later, the president would be assassinated in Dallas, an event that jarred the nation and the world.Hide Caption 17 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in August 1964. The resolution, approved by Congress, gave Johnson power to send U.S. troops to South Vietnam after it was alleged that North Vietnamese patrol boats had fired on the USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin. Hide Caption 18 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – Hovering U.S. Army helicopters pour machine gun fire into the tree line to cover the advance of South Vietnamese ground troops in an attack on a Viet Cong camp northwest of Saigon, near the Cambodian border, in March 1965. The Vietnam War lasted nearly a decade and left more than 58,000 Americans dead.Hide Caption 19 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – On June 5, 1967, Israel launched an attack that becomes known as the Six Day War, seizing the Sinai and Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria. The Soviet Union accused the United States of encouraging Israeli aggression. Here, several Israeli soldiers stand close together in front of the Western Wall in the old city of Jerusalem following its recapture.Hide Caption 20 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – On January 5, 1968, reformer Alexander Dubcek became general secretary of the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia, pledging the “widest possible democratizations” as the Prague Spring movement swept across the country. Soviet and Warsaw Pact leaders sent an invasion force of 650,000 troops in August. Dubcek was arrested and hard-liners were restored to power. Here, residents carrying a Czechoslovak flag and throwing burning torches attempt to stop a Soviet tank in Prague on August 21, 1968. Hide Caption 21 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. salutes the U.S. flag on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. He and mission commander Neil Armstrong became the first humans to walk on the moon. Their mission was considered an American victory in the Cold War and subsequent space race, meeting President Kennedy’s goal, voiced in 1961, of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth” before the end of the decade.Hide Caption 22 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – Chinese leader Mao Zedong shakes hands with U.S. President Richard Nixon after their meeting in Beijing on February 22, 1972. Nixon became the first U.S. president to visit China. The two countries issued a communiqué recognizing their “essential differences” while making it clear that “normalization of relations” was in all nations’ best interests. The rapprochement changed the balance of power with the Soviets. Two-and-a-half years later, Nixon resigned as president amid the Watergate scandal.Hide Caption 23 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev shake hands after signing the SALT II treaty limiting strategic arms in Vienna, Austria, on June 18, 1979. The first phase of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks began in Helsinki, Finland, with a finished agreement signed by President Nixon and Brezhnev in Moscow on May 26, 1972. It placed limits on both submarine-launched and intercontinental nuclear missiles.Hide Caption 24 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – President Ronald Reagan talks to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev during a two-day summit between the superpowers in Geneva, Switzerland on November 21, 1985. Gorbachev ushered in an era of economic reforms under perestroika and greater political freedoms under glasnost. Two years later, Reagan and Gorbachev signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in Washington. It mandated the removal of more than 2,600 medium-range nuclear missiles from Europe, eliminating the entire class of Soviet SS-20 and U.S. Cruise and Pershing II missiles.Hide Caption 25 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – President Reagan, commemorating the 750th anniversary of Berlin, addresses the people of West Berlin at the base of the Brandenburg Gate, near the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987. Due to the amplification system being used, the President’s words could also be heard on the Eastern (communist-controlled) side of the wall. “Tear down this wall!” was the famous appeal by Reagan, directed at Gorbachev, to destroy the Berlin Wall. The address Reagan delivered that day is considered by many to have affirmed the beginning of the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet bloc. Hide Caption 26 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – Soviet troops cross the Soviet-Afghan border along the bridge over the Amu Darya river near the town of Termez, Uzbekistan, during their withdrawal from Afghanistan on February 6, 1989. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 as communist Babrak Karmal seized control of the government. U.S.-backed Muslim guerrilla fighters waged a costly war against the Soviets for nearly a decade.Hide Caption 27 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – A demonstrator pounds away at the Berlin Wall as East Berlin border guards look on from above the Brandenburg Gate on November 11, 1989. Gorbachev renounced the Brezhnev Doctrine, which pledged to use Soviet force to protect its interests in Eastern Europe. On September 10, Hungary opened its border with Austria, allowing East Germans to flee to the West. After massive public demonstrations in East Germany and Eastern Europe, the Berlin Wall fell on November 9.Hide Caption 28 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – While vacationing in the Crimean peninsula, Gorbachev was ousted in a coup by Communist hard-liners on August 19, 1991. The coup soon faltered as citizens took to the streets of Moscow and other cities in support of Russian President Boris Yeltsin (pictured), who denounced the coup. Military units abandoned the hard-liners, and Gorbachev was released from house arrest. He officially resigned on December 25 as the Soviet Union was dissolved.Hide Caption 29 of 30 Photos: The history of the Cold WarThe history of the Cold War – Jubilant people step on the head of the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder and chief of the Soviet secret police, later known as KGB, which was toppled in front of the KGB headquarters in Moscow, on August 23, 1991. The KGB was responsible for mass arrests and executions. Hide Caption 30 of 30December 1979 – The USSR invades Afghanistan. The last troops leave in 1989.March 11, 1985 – Mikhail Gorbachev is elected general secretary of the Communist Party. During his time as leader of the USSR, he advocates political and social reforms called “perestroika” (restructuring) and “glasnost” (openness), and participates in a series of summit meetings with US President Ronald Reagan.June 1991 – Boris Yeltsin is elected president of the Russian Republic, the largest of the Soviet republics, in the first democratic presidential election in Russian history. August 1991 – Yeltsin helps put down a coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. December 19, 1991 – President Yeltsin issues a decree ordering the Russian government to seize the Kremlin from the USSR.December 21, 1991 – Eleven of the 12 Soviet republics sign an agreement to form the Commonwealth of Independent States. December 25, 1991 – President Gorbachev resigns. Yeltsin is now the leader of the new Russian state after the official dissolution of the Soviet Union. Photos: Events leading up to the end of the Soviet Union Photos: Events leading up to the end of the Soviet UnionCollapse of the Soviet Union – March 1985: Mikhail Gorbachev, pictured here a month later with Poland’s General Wojciech Jaruzelski, becomes Soviet leader, ushering in a new era of reform and openness.Hide Caption 1 of 10 Photos: Events leading up to the end of the Soviet UnionCollapse of the Soviet Union – March 1987: Gorbachev is courted by foreign leaders, including Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, keen for him to build on democratic advances that have boosted his popularity.Hide Caption 2 of 10 Photos: Events leading up to the end of the Soviet UnionCollapse of the Soviet Union – June 1988: A visit by US President Ronald Reagan affrms Gorbachev’s thawing ties with the West even as hardliners at home oppose his policies. Hide Caption 3 of 10 Photos: Events leading up to the end of the Soviet UnionCollapse of the Soviet Union – February 1989: Soviet military involvement ends in Afghanistan a month before Russians elect a new parliament in the first free elections since the Soviet Union’s 1917 founding.Hide Caption 4 of 10 Photos: Events leading up to the end of the Soviet UnionCollapse of the Soviet Union – Summer 1989: Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement defeats communists in Poland. Amid anti-communist defiance Gorbachev loosens control of Warsaw Pact countries.Hide Caption 5 of 10 Photos: Events leading up to the end of the Soviet UnionCollapse of the Soviet Union – Autumn, winter 1989: Upheaval sweeps the Soviet-sponsored states, with the symbolic collapse of the Berlin Wall accelerating change throughout the Eastern Bloc. Hide Caption 6 of 10 Photos: Events leading up to the end of the Soviet UnionCollapse of the Soviet Union – 1990: As anti-Moscow unrest gathers in Soviet states, Boris Yeltsin is elected parliamentary president. He later quits the Communist Party. Gorbachev, meanwhile, faces resistance.Hide Caption 7 of 10 Photos: Events leading up to the end of the Soviet UnionCollapse of the Soviet Union – August 1991: As unrest continues in the republics, hardline coup plotters seize Gorbachev and position tanks outside parliament. Yeltsin rallies demonstrators against the plot.Hide Caption 8 of 10 Photos: Events leading up to the end of the Soviet UnionCollapse of the Soviet Union – August 1991: The coup collapses under public pressure and army insurrection. The Russian flag is flown over the Kremlin and Gorbachev quits his Communist Party role. Hide Caption 9 of 10 Photos: Events leading up to the end of the Soviet UnionCollapse of the Soviet Union – December 1991: As the Baltic states lead the charge towards sovereignty, a new Commonwealth of Independent States is declared, forcing Gorbachev to quit as Soviet leader. Hide Caption 10 of 10September 21, 1993 – President Yeltsin disbands parliament. Lawmakers vote to impeach Yeltsin and elect Alexander Rutskoi as acting president. October 4, 1993 – Troops loyal to President Yeltsin surround and attack the parliament. December 11, 1993 – The first parliamentary elections are held under the new constitution with the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia receiving 24% of the vote. December 11, 1994 – Invasion of Chechnya. July 30, 1995 – Russia calls a truce with Chechen separatists.July 3, 1996 – President Yeltsin defeats challenger Gennady Zyuganov in the presidential election by 14%. August 9, 1996 – Chechen separatists capture the capital of Grozny.May 12, 1997 – Russia signs a peace treaty with Chechen separatists.September 23, 1999 – Russia initiates a bombing campaign against Chechen separatists.December 31, 1999 – Yeltsin resigns as president, naming Vladimir Putin as interim president.