Religion in Russia

Russia is the largest country in the world, covering over 6 million square miles. It’s located in Eastern Europe and shares its borders with many other countries, including Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Georgia. It has a population of over 144 million people. The capital of Russia is Moscow and the official language is Russian. Russia is home to some of the world’s most remarkable natural wonders like Lake Baikal and Mount Elbrus. The country also boasts a rich cultural heritage with its many historic cities like Saint Petersburg, Novgorod and Kazan. See for other countries that start with letter R.


The Russian Federation has a population density of 8 residents per km2, but the population is unevenly distributed; the northern two-thirds of the country has only 0.9 residents per km2. The majority of the population (74 percent) live in cities, and the majority in one of the country’s fifteen million cities (see table).

The natural growth rate of the population has gradually decreased during the post-war period and turned into a population decline during the 1990s. Mortality among men has also been a contributing factor to maintaining the oblique gender distribution from the Second World War. To this is added a certain regional relocation, which has primarily meant a growing urbanization. During the Soviet period, migration was controlled by a system of administrative restrictions (mainly domestic passports and residence permits), which have been partially preserved after the dissolution of the Union. Ethnically, the Russian Federation is characterized by great diversity.

People in Russia


Although the Russian Federation is far less linguistically inconsistent than the Soviet Union, and the majority of the population has Russian as their mother tongue, there are a significant number of linguistic minorities, many of whom have their own autonomous republics or territories. In these, the respective minority languages are used as official in addition to Russian, which is the official language of the federation. The number of speakers of the minority languages is difficult to estimate, as a transition to Russian is gradually taking place in many areas, and bilingual or multilingualism is widespread.

The minority languages represent a number of different language families. In the European Russian Federation, several Finno-Ugric languages ​​are spoken, such as Karelian, Komi, Mari, Kurdish and Vepsi. The Uralic language family is also represented by the Samoan languages (eg Nentsic) in the north. Among the Altaic languages, which are spoken in both the European and Asian parts of the Russian Federation, there are both Turkish (Bashkiric, Jakutic, Tatar, Chuvash, etc.) as well as Mongolian (Burjatic) and Manchu-Tongan languages (evenki).

Tatar is by far the largest minority language in the Russian Federation, with about 5 million speakers, but also Bashkir and Chuvash are spoken by over 1 million people. In the Russian part of the Caucasus, a large number of Northwest and Northeast Caucasian languages are spoken (especially in Dagestan), but also eg. Ossetian (an Indo-speaking language).

Within the Russian Federation, there have traditionally been significant groups that speak languages such as Yiddish, Polish and German, but as a result of political persecution and forced relocations, the number has been greatly reduced. Most of the main languages of the former Soviet republics are also represented in the Russian Federation with larger or smaller groups of speakers.


On pre-Christian religion in Russia, see Slavs (Religion) and Finno-Ugric religions.

According to thesciencetutor, Russian Orthodox Church has dominated since the Middle Ages. From this, in the 1600s, were the old believers who formed special societies. Due to the kingdom’s expansion, some Roman Catholic dominated areas were incorporated. Among the Catholics there was a large group of Byzantine rites (compare Ukrainian Catholic Church). The Siberian peoples, with their various indigenous religions, went to a large extent to the Orthodox Church. In Russia there have also been a significant number of Muslims and also Buddhists (Kalmucker). Protestant movements reached west from here; the Baptists in particular received widespread use. On Russian soil, a number of extreme sects also appeared without equivalents in other countries. Skoptsy.

During the communist period, religion was strongly suppressed; relief came first through Gorbachev’s reforms in the late 1980s. After the introduction of religious freedom, the situation is characterized by a strong – partly inexplicable and chaotic – renaissance for various religious groups, including neo-religious and esoteric movements.

With its diversity of ethnic groups, the Russian Federation is a multireligious society, where, however, the Russian majority is generally oriented towards the Russian Orthodox Church. However, the new freedom has opened up for a strong activity also among evangelical free churches (mainly Baptists and Pentecostal friends), often supported from the West with personal and financial resources. The Roman Catholic Church has also increased its activity, and a Catholic Archbishop was inaugurated in 1991. Through the relocation during the Soviet period, there are a large number of Muslims (mainly Sunnis) in the country. Buddhist groups are noticeable in the Faro-Asiatic areas, mainly in Burjatia. The Jewish communities have also received a renaissance, despite the great emigration to Israel in recent years.

The position of the Russian Orthodox Church has been partially strengthened by nationalist currents, while criticism of some church leaders’ adaptation during the Soviet period has occurred, causing parishes to break out of the official church. At the same time, the past persecution and recognition of the many martyrs during the Soviet empire are underway. The increased activity among evangelical communities and other Western movements has led to strong reactions from the Russian Orthodox Church; a new law has been passed that bans “non-historical” communities. However, the practical application of the law is unclear. The Russian Orthodox Church continues its ecumenical work, although there have at times been strong tensions with the Catholic Church, especially when it was reorganized in Russia. The Orthodox Church strongly rejects what it calls “proselytism”; all attempts to intrude on its territory. There have also been strong links between the Orthodox Church and nationalist movements.

After the Soviet era, the Orthodox Church has undergone an astonishing transformation. Hundreds of churches have been restored or rebuilt, e.g. The Savior Cathedral in Moscow, which was demolished on Stalin’s orders. Monasteries from the time before the revolution that were kept closed have been resettled, including Valamo monastery on an island in Ladoga. When the remnants of the tsar family were brought to St. Petersburg in 1998 and buried there, it took place in the solemn church forms. From being a suppressed and sometimes forbidden movement, the church has become an unidentified Russian factor of identity and a large part of the population profess to be Orthodox.

The prehistory of Russia

The prehistory of Russia is the history of the country before the establishment of the first state formations in the 600-800s after our time.

Stone Age

Findings from the Palaeolithic period is mainly from the southern areas. Remains of the Neanderthal have been found in the Caucasus. However, Paleolithic settlements from the period 30 000–10 000 years back have a wider distribution.

During the ice age, humans have largely hunted mammoth and other large terrestrial animals. Unlike the settlements from Western Europe, which from this time are often caves, the Russian are from open settlements. Traces of houses have been found. By the end of the ice age these could become very long and well built. The oldest settlements from Siberia are about 20,000 years old and date from Lake Baikal. Traces of cabins have been found here.

In the time between 25,000 and 20,000 before the present, tombs are often found where the dead have been equipped with tools of flint, pearls and pendants. In addition, small boulders with carved animal figures have been found.

The people in the northern regions have been dressed in leather suits with a fitted hood and moccasins sewn together with their pants. Costume reconstructions are based on discoveries of small women statues. Further south, a number of burial finds have been made. The dead have usually been covered with red ocher. The artistic expression is represented by small ” Venus figures”, in rock carvings from Siberia and paintings from caves in Southern Ural.

Russia covers an immensely large and geographically disparate area, and in Neolithic times, therefore, diverse cultural groups based on different types of business were developed. North of the deciduous forest area, in the swamp and coniferous area – lived various hunter and fishing groups. On the tundra, reindeer hunters kept. During the third millennium, the Afanajevoculture originated in the Jenisej valley in southern Siberia. Humans were hunters and hunters. They buried their dead in piles.

The Bronze Age

Andronovo culture from the mid-2nd millennium had a slightly wider spread – in the area from Don to Jenisej. The people lived in houses that were half buried in the ground – up to 10 houses in each settlement unit. They grew wheat and millet and were cow farmers. However, their descendants went on to become nomads. These have left few physical traces. An exception is their special burial form (see kurgan). Some tombs are both exceptionally well preserved and contain especially rich grave goods (see Majkop). This burial custom lasted for a few thousand years. The Scythians, as we know from classical writers, had a similar burial practice. This burial practice has led to the preservation of a rich archaeological material that testifies to life form, technical standard and perhaps first and foremost to a high artistic sense of style and style.

In the area between the rivers Volga and Kama existed in the centuries after 800 BCE. a culture group called the pineapple culture. Objects of both bronze and iron have been found on large burial fields with skeleton graves. Ananino culture has been in contact with both Finland, Northern and Central Sweden and Northern Norway where bronze axes of ananinotype have been found. This is partly about “pure” types, and partly about imitations.

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Iron Age

In the forests of Western Russia, Slavic people lived in the Iron Age, who gradually exited on the steppes to the south. Baltic and Finnish tribes lived along the Baltic Sea and northeast of the slaves. In the 800s, several Slavic kingdoms were established, including an empire with its center in Kiev (Kiev Empire) and one in Novgorod. According to tradition, the Russian empires are associated with Scandinavians who had settled in the area. These were called intoxicants. Rus established a trade route from the Gulf of Finland via the Russian rivers to the Black Sea and Byzantium (today’s Istanbul).

Russia Religion