During the Soviet period, natural and geopolitical phenomena shaped
the characteristics of Russia's population. In that period, wars,
epidemics, famines, and state-sanctioned repression claimed millions
of victims. Before the 1950s, each decade brought to the population
of the former Russian Republic some form of cataclysmic demographic
event: a brutal collectivization process and the famine that ensued
in the 1920s and 1930s, the Great Terror of Joseph V. Stalin in the
1930s, and World War II. Although those events ended more than sixty
years ago, such disasters have had significant long-term effects. In
age-groups above fifty, women greatly outnumber men.
According to the 2002 Russian census, the Russian population is
Russia is seventh worldwide in terms of total population behind
China, India, US, Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan.
of Russian residents, or 73% of the total population lives in
cities, while 27% live in rural areas.
Compared to the last census, which was taken in 1989, Russia's total
population shrunk by 1.8 million people. Like most developed
countries, urbanization - or the process where people move to cities
– has stopped. Almost 20 percent of the population lives in 13
cities with a population of one million or more: Moscow, Saint
Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Samara,
Omsk, Kazan, Chelyabinsk, Rostov, Ufa, Volgograd and Perm. The two
largest cities -
and Saint Petersburg have a population of
10.4 million and 4.7 million, respectively.
is one of the world's 20 most populated cities.
regions of Russia occupy only a quarter of the territory of the
country, but are inhabited by over 70 percent of the population.
acutely uneven distribution of human resources is a striking feature
of Russian geography and population. Despite government attempts to
settle people in sparsely populated Asian areas abundant in
resources, this imbalance persists.
Prior to the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, major historical
internal migration paths were from the western parts of Russia and
the Soviet Union to the northern and eastern regions. In contrast to
the American experience, Russia has had difficulty in stabilizing
the population in newly settled eastern and northern areas of the
federation, where the climate and living conditions are harsh.
Despite pay and benefit incentives, turnover has continued to hamper
the operations of the giant territorial production complexes,
especially in the key energy sector.