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The Russian Language

Russian, which is the most widely spoken Slavic language in the world, has around 167 million mother tongue speakers and an additional 100 million second language speakers spread across Russia and the former republics of the Soviet Union, as well as the former Warsaw pact nations and other states that fell under the Soviet sphere of influence.

Significant numbers of Russian speakers can also be found in the United States and Israel1. Russian is the official language of Russia and is a co-official language in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Russian is an Indo-European language and is part of the East Slavic family of languages, which includes Belarusian and Ukrainian. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, there are three main Russian dialects: a Northern group that extends from St. Petersburg eastward across Siberia; a Southern group that can be found throughout most of central and southern Russia; and, finally, a Central group that lies between the Northern and Southern dialect clusters. It is in the Central group where modern standard Russian can be found, having been derived from the flavor of the language spoken in and around the capital of Moscow2.

Below are some brief but important facts about the country of Russia and its people.

    Capital: Moscow
  • Currency: Russian ruble (RUR)
  • Government Type: Federation
  • Population: 143,782,338 (July 2004 est.)
  • Internet Country Code: .ru; Russia also has responsibility for a legacy domain “.su” that was allocated to the Soviet Union, and whose legal status and ownership are contested by the Russian Government, ICANN, and several Russian commercial entities.
  • Internet Hosts: 560,874 (2004)
  • Internet Users: 6 million (2002)
For additional demographic information on Russia and its people, please see the following link:

For information on The Russian Language, please see our Quick Facts Library.

1 “Russian: a language of Russia (Europe)”

[Accessed December 21, 2004]

2 “Russian language” Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.

[Accessed December 22, 2004]