Russia’s greatest achievements

It lists the most important achievements of Russia and its people throughout history, as well as a list of articles reviewing achievements in specific areas.

Geographic Achievements

  • Russia is the largest state in the world in terms of territory, occupying about 1/8 of the entire land area (17,125,187 km²), and has been one of the largest states in the world for almost its entire history. Today, the Russian Federation occupies 40% of Europe and the entire north of Asia (Siberia), in other words, the entire northeast and almost the entire north of Eurasia. The historical predecessors of modern Russia — the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire — were also the largest states in the world for most of their history: only briefly, in the late 19th and the first half of the 20th century, did the British Empire overtake them. The other historical states — Kievan Rus, the Novgorod Republic, the Grand Duchy of Moscow, and the Kingdom of Moscow — were the largest states in Europe. The Moscow kingdom in the 17th century shared first or second place in the world with the Spanish Empire.
  • Russia, taken as a whole, can rightfully be called the northernmost, wintest and coldest country in the world, Russia is the true North, including in comparison with Canada or Norway, most of whose population lives in much milder climatic conditions. Russia has the world’s northernmost location (the mainland), the coldest average temperature among independent countries, and the largest population living in harsh climates of long, cold winters.
  • Russia has the world’s largest reserves of natural resources, including large reserves of hydrocarbons (1st in the world for gas, 2nd for coal, 8th for oil), ferrous and nonferrous metals, and the world’s largest reserves of forests, black earth, and drinking water.
  • Russians first discovered or first scientifically explored more than 1/6 of the Earth’s land and significant sea areas — Eastern Europe, Siberia, the Arctic, Central and Central Asia, Northwestern America, Antarctica, in addition, Russian explorers contributed to the geographical discoveries in general in all parts of the world, including the tropical continents. Few nations can rival the Russians in the scale of geographic discovery and exploration (the English and Spaniards, to a lesser extent the Portuguese, Dutch, and French). In addition, the Russians were the first to venture into space.
  • Russians (including all the peoples of Russia) discovered, explored and inhabited most of the harshest, coldest and hardest-to-reach territories on Earth — Russians explored half of the entire Arctic and the northern pole of cold in Yakutia, Russians discovered Antarctica and reached the southern pole of cold (Vostok Station) and the southern pole of inaccessibility. The Russian icebreaker Arktika reached the North Pole in a surface voyage for the first time, Russians descended to the bottom of the deepest lake Baikal and to the bottom of the North Pole for the first time, Russians drilled the world’s deepest well (the Kola Superdeep).
  • Russia carried out the largest geographic expedition in world history — the Great Northern Expedition. The expedition of 1733-1743 mapped almost the entire Arctic and Far East coast of Russia, discovered the Aleutian Islands and North-Western America, laid the beginning of the academic scientific study of Siberia, Kamchatka, Alaska.

Military Achievements

  • Russia has survived numerous military invasions, yet no one has ever fully conquered and subjugated the Russians in more than 1,150 years of Russian history. The Russians drove the Poles out of Moscow in 1612, defeated Charles XII in 1709, Napoleon in 1812, and Hitler in 1945. Even the destructive Mongol invasion of XIII century led only to the partial dependence of Russian lands on the Golden Horde — in fact the Mongols came to the Russian lands only rarely, the internal management in that era was still carried out by Russian princes (only one grand duke was appointed by a label horde khan — but, again, from the rival Russian princes ruling family). The “Tatar-Mongol yoke” is in fact a late term, and the dependence on the Horde consisted mainly in the payment of tribute, and was eventually dropped (although tribute happened to pay and before the “yoke”, and after). Russia regained full sovereignty, and most of the territory of the Mongol Empire later became part of Russia.
  • Russia, as a great land power, built a record number of fortified lines and a great many fortresses, including such outstanding ones as the Moscow Kremlin (the largest medieval fortress), the Great Chain Line (the largest fortification of this type, comparable only to sections of the ancient Roman Limes) or the Tsaritsyn Line, the largest system of fortifications in 18th-century Europe. In terms of the scale of fortification activities only the Chinese can compare with the Russians with their Great Wall of China — but if the Chinese built one great system of fortifications to fence themselves off from the outside world, the Russians built more and more systems, joining more and more territories with the new lines.
  • Russia defeated (destroyed or dramatically weakened) many great empires and powers — the Khazar Khaganate, the Golden Horde and the post-Horde Khanates, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Swedish Empire, the Ottoman Empire, Napoleonic France, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Hitler’s Germany. Russia (the Soviet Union) also made a decisive contribution to defeating Japan in World War II by defeating the Japanese army on the continent in a matter of weeks during the Manchuria operation.
  • Russia (the Soviet Union) won, making a decisive contribution, the largest, bloodiest, and fiercest war in history, World War II (the Great Patriotic War), by stopping the largest military invasion in history (Hitler’s Barbarossa Plan) in the course of the war, conducting the largest defensive operations in history (defense of Moscow and Stalingrad), withstanding the heaviest in terms of casualties (blockade of Leningrad), conducting the largest tank battles in history (within the Battle of Kursk) and the largest offensive operations (the Belarusian operation).
  • In the mid-20th century, Russia (the Soviet Union) was able to quickly create its own nuclear weapons and a powerful nuclear arsenal (while refraining from using them), thereby establishing military parity with the United States and ridding the world of the threat of a new hot world war.
  • For hundreds of years the Russian army has been one of the strongest armies in the world as a whole, and the strongest in many individual areas. Nowadays, Russia indisputably leads in such areas as ground forces, missile and space forces, tank forces, etc., and the Russian Navy and Russian military aviation are considered to be the second strongest in the world. Historically, since the 15th century, Russian artillery has always been one of the most advanced and powerful in the world.

Civilization and state achievements

  • Russian statehood is more than 1150 years old — and most of its history Russia (Novgorod Principality, Great Principality of Kiev, Great Principality of Vladimir, Great Principality of Moscow, Moscow Kingdom, Russian Empire, Soviet Union, Russian Federation) was among the great powers of its time. Few countries can boast such a long, uninterrupted and independent statehood, with a statehood that played a leading role in international relations almost throughout its history.
  • Russians more than 1150 years ago managed to build an advanced civilization in the zone of cold northern climate and long winters, in the depth of the continent and on the shores of freezing seas, in conditions of frequent droughts and risky agriculture. It is enough to remember ancient Novgorod with its wooden bridges and aqueducts, with many stone temples and birch bark letters, testifying to the high level of education of the population for those times. Archetypal Nordic Scandinavians — the Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes — lived in a milder sea climate (thanks to the Gulf Stream), but they called Russia “the country of cities”. Russia from ancient times was and remains to this day the northern frontier of world civilization (and in XX century this frontier has been moved even further — in space).
  • Russia is a core country (Heartland, or Heartland in Mackinder’s concept) of Eurasian civilization, a continental power (but with a strong navy), an heir to Byzantium (through Orthodoxy and the idea of the Third Rome) and, simultaneously, an heir to the nomadic empires of central Eurasia. Russia’s unique historical inheritance allows it to say that it does not fully belong to either the West or the East, that “it is not Russia that is between East and West, it is East and West that are to the left and right of Russia” (Vladimir Putin).
  • Russian (Russian) people is a unique example of a family of more than 100 indigenous peoples of Russia — one of the most successful examples in the history of multi-ethnic (multinational) state. Already ancient Russia was a very motley in its ethnic composition of the country, whose population consisted of various Slavic and Finno-Ugric tribes, Vikings, Jews, steppe tribesmen, Kipchaks and Polovtsians. Later, during the time of the Moscow principality and the Russian Empire, the number of peoples in Russia grew to a hundred. In contrast to the Western colonial empires, any nation included in the Russian Empire had equal rights and opportunities with the other peoples, and the representatives of each nation had a chance to enter the elite of the state — for example, a third of the Russian nobility was of Tatar origin (Kutuzov, Suvorov, Yusupov…), there were also many Germans and descendants of people from Western Europe, Scandinavia, Poland and Lithuania. There were, of course, all kinds of difficulties in inter-ethnic relations, but nevertheless, the majority of the indigenous peoples of Russia have survived to this day, have a developed language and culture (and often their own religious traditions), were not subjected to genocide, and were not considered barbarians, savages, or subhuman, as was very common in the West. In today’s Russia, the Minister of Defense is Tuvinian, the head of the Central Bank is Tatar, the Patriarch has Mordvin roots, the mayor of the capital has roots from small Siberian peoples, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has Armenian roots, etc.

Technical, Scientific, Economic Achievements

  • Russia has made many important scientific discoveries and technical inventions. In particular, such Russian scientific achievements as the graph theory, mathematical notation and many other merits of Leonard Euler, Lobachevsky’s non-Euclidean geometry, Mendeleev’s periodic table, achievements of the Russian school of organic chemistry are widely known, many discoveries of chemical elements in Russia (ruthenium and synthesized elements), Tsiolkovsky’s theory of cosmonautics, Peter Kapitsa’s discovery of superfluidity, Basov and Prokhorov’s theory of lasers, Pavlov’s experiments in physiology, Lomonosov’s discovery of the law of conservation of mass in chemical reactions and much more. Russian scientists have made significant contributions in virtually every field of science. Similarly, Russian inventors have made important and often decisive contributions to the development of practical electrical engineering, electric welding and electric lighting, radio and television, central heating, military technology, nuclear power, aircraft and helicopter engineering, space technology, and much more.
  • Russian weapons are the best in the world in many categories and in many ways (in terms of price/quality ratio, reliability, unpretentiousness, power, etc.). For decades the Russian defense industry has been the world’s second largest arms exporter. The whole world is familiar with Russian tanks and combat aircraft, multiple rocket launchers and air defense systems, submarines and warships, the Kalashnikov assault rifle and other Russian infantry weapons. Many weapons inventions have historically been made by Russian engineers. Russia created and tested the most powerful weapon in the world, the Tsar Bomba.
  • Russia (the Soviet Union) ushered in the space age of humanity: the first space rocket, the first satellite, the first spaceport, the first cosmonaut, the first man in outer space, the first robotic glider, the first space station, the launch of the first module of the International Space Station — all these are achievements of the USSR and Russia.
  • Russia is a pioneer and leader in the nuclear power industry. The first NPP in the world (Obninsk) was built in the Soviet Union, the Soviet and Russian technologies for nuclear fuel enrichment are the best in the world, today Russia is building a considerable number of nuclear power units both at home and abroad, and is developing a number of promising nuclear technologies such as fast neutron reactors, closed fuel cycle, floating nuclear power plants, space nuclear propulsion system etc.
  • Russia is an energy superpower, both because of its enormous hydrocarbon reserves and because of its advanced hydropower and world-leading nuclear power. Russia is the world’s largest gas producer and exporter, as well as the world’s largest oil producer, the main builder of nuclear power plants abroad, and the main provider of nuclear fuel enrichment services. Historically, Russia has also been an important exporter of energy resources and materials used in energy technology: Ancient Russia exported wax (for candle lighting), the Moscow Tsardom was the main European exporter of timber, tar and hemp (for use of wind energy in shipbuilding), the Russian Empire exported grain (the main energy carrier in the era of cartage and muscle power).
  • Russia has many of the most extensive transportation and communication systems on the planet, including the world’s longest railway line (the Trans-Siberian Railway), its own global satellite navigation system (GLONASS), the world’s second-longest railway network, and the world’s second-longest network of waterways (navigable rivers connected by canals).

Cultural and sporting achievements

  • Russian culture is one of the most recognizable, recognized and respected national cultures in the world. This is especially true of the classic Russian culture of the 19th and 20th centuries: Russian classical literature (Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov), Russian theater and Stanislavsky’s system, Russian classical music (Tchaikovsky, The Mighty Handful, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Sviridov), Russian opera and ballet, Russian painting of the late 19th and early 20th centuries… Russians reached the highest peaks in classical art at a time when the world was already turning to avant-garde art, but Russians also pioneered and innovated in many areas of contemporary art (abstract painting, the art of film editing and much more).
  • Russian architecture is one of the most diverse and vibrant in the world. It is enough to list the architectural styles developed in Russia — Old Russian architecture (including white stone and wooden architecture), tent architecture, Russian patterned architecture, Russian Baroque, Russian classicism, Neo-Russian and Neobyzantine style, Russian eclecticism and modern, Russian Islamic and Buddhist architecture, constructivism and Stalinist architecture, Soviet functionalism and modern international architecture. In fact, all local and Byzantine architectural traditions were preserved and developed in Russia, borrowing all major European architectural styles and some Eastern styles and techniques. Russian architects and engineers (Melnikov, Shukhov) had a great influence on the development of modern architecture.
  • Russian is one of the most influential and widespread languages in the world. 162 million people in the world consider Russian as their native language (8th place in the world), for another 110 million people Russian is the second language of communication. Russian is the second most popular language on the Internet, after English. Russian is the fourth most translated from it. Not long ago, during the Soviet era, about a quarter of all world scientific literature was written and printed in Russian. As a result of a comprehensive assessment, the Russian language ranks 4th in the world in terms of influence.
  • Russia is one of the two greatest sporting powers of the last half century, and the greatest sporting power in winter sports. From 1956 to 1994, teams from the USSR, the CIS and Russia were almost constantly at the top of the Olympic medal standings (both winter and summer), and after a break, Russia triumphed again in 2014 at the Sochi Olympics. Team Russia/USSR leads in total victories at world championships in ice hockey (the most popular winter game sport). In addition, Russia is the perennial leader in many other individual sports — figure skating, synchronized swimming, weightlifting, etc.

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