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Soviet Union

Socialist state in Eurasia (1922–1991) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Soviet Union,[lower-alpha 18] officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics[lower-alpha 19] (USSR),[lower-alpha 20] was a transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, it was nominally a federal union of fifteen national republics;[lower-alpha 21] in practice, both its government and its economy were highly centralized until its final years. It was a one-party state governed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, with the city of Moscow serving as its capital as well as that of its largest and most populous republic: the Russian SFSR. Other major cities included Leningrad (Russian SFSR), Kiev (Ukrainian SSR), Minsk (Byelorussian SSR), Tashkent (Uzbek SSR), Alma-Ata (Kazakh SSR), and Novosibirsk (Russian SFSR). It was the largest country in the world, covering over 22,402,200 square kilometres (8,649,500 sq mi) and spanning eleven time zones.

Quick facts: Union of Soviet Socialist RepublicsСоюз Совет...
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Союз Советских Социалистических Республик
Soyuz Sovyetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik
(in Russian; for names of the Soviet Union
in other official languages, see this list)[1]
1922–1991
Flag of Soviet Union
Flag
(1955–1991)
State Emblem(1956–1991) of Soviet Union
State Emblem
(1956–1991)
Motto: Пролетарии всех стран, соединяйтесь!
"Workers of the world, unite!"
Anthem: Интернационал
"The Internationale" (1922–1944)

Государственный гимн СССР[lower-alpha 1]
"State Anthem of the Soviet Union" (1944–1991)
The Soviet Union during the Cold War
The Soviet Union during the Cold War
Capital
and largest city
Moscow
55°45′N 37°37′E
Official languagesRussian[lower-alpha 2]
Recognised regional languages
Ethnic groups
(1989)
70% East Slavs
17% Turkic
13% other
Religion
Secular state (de jure)
State atheism (de facto)
Demonym(s)Soviet
GovernmentSee also: Government of the Soviet Union
Main Leader 
 1922–1924
Vladimir Lenin[lower-alpha 3]
 1924–1953
Joseph Stalin[lower-alpha 4]
 1953[lower-alpha 5]
Georgy Malenkov[lower-alpha 6]
 1953–1964
Nikita Khrushchev[lower-alpha 7]
 1964–1982
Leonid Brezhnev[lower-alpha 8]
 1982–1984
Yuri Andropov
 1984–1985
Konstantin Chernenko
 1985–1991
Mikhail Gorbachev[lower-alpha 9]
Chairman/President 
 1922–1946 (first)
Mikhail Kalinin[lower-alpha 10]
 1988–1991 (last)
Mikhail Gorbachev[lower-alpha 11]
Premier 
 1922–1924 (first)
Vladimir Lenin[lower-alpha 12]
 1991 (last)
Ivan Silayev[lower-alpha 13]
LegislatureCongress of Soviets
(1922–1936)[lower-alpha 14]
Supreme Soviet
(1936–1991)
Soviet of Nationalities
(1936–1991)
Soviet of Republics
(1991)
Soviet of the Union
(1936–1991)
Historical era
7 November 1917
30 December 1922
 End of the Civil War
16 June 1923
31 January 1924
5 December 1936
1939–1940
1941–1945
24 October 1945
25 February 1956
9 October 1977
11 March 1990
19–22 August 1991
8 December 1991[lower-alpha 15]
26 December 1991[lower-alpha 16]
Area
 Total
22,402,200 km2 (8,649,500 sq mi) (1st)
 Water
2,767,198 km2 (1,068,421 sq mi)
 Water (%)
12.3
Population
 1989 census
Neutral increase 286,730,819[6] (3rd)
 Density
12.7/km2 (32.9/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)1990 estimate
 Total
$2.7 trillion (2nd)
 Per capita
$9,000
GDP (nominal)1990 estimate
 Total
$2.7 trillion[7] (2nd)
 Per capita
$9,000 (28th)
Gini (1989)0.275
low
HDI (1990 formula)0.920[8]
very high
CurrencySoviet ruble (Rbl) (SUR)
Time zone(UTC+2 to +12)
Driving sideright
Calling code+7
ISO 3166 codeSU
Internet TLD.su[lower-alpha 17]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag_of_the_Russian_Soviet_Federative_Socialist_Republic_%281918%E2%80%931925%29.svg 1922:
Russian SFSR
Flag_of_the_Ukrainian_Soviet_Socialist_Republic_%281919-1929%29.svg Ukrainian SSR
Flag_of_the_Byelorussian_Soviet_Socialist_Republic_%281919%E2%80%931927%29.svg Byelorussian SSR
Flag_of_the_Transcaucasian_SFSR_%28variant%29.svg Transcaucasian SFSR
Flag_of_Russia.svg 1923:
Provisional Priamurye Government
Flag_of_the_Bukharan_People%27s_Soviet_Republic.svg 1924:
Bukharan SSR
Flag_of_Khiva_1920-1923.svg Khorezm SSR
Flag_of_Poland_%281927%E2%80%931980%29.svg 1939:
Poland (portion)
Flag_of_Finland.svg 1940:
Finland (portion)
Flag_of_Romania.svg Romania (portion)
Flag_of_Estonia.svg Estonia
Flag_of_Latvia.svg Latvia
Flag_of_Lithuania_%281918%E2%80%931940%29.svg Lithuania
Flag_of_the_Tuvan_People%27s_Republic_%281943-1944%29.svg 1944:
Tuva
Flag_of_Germany_%281935%E2%80%931945%29.svg 1945:
Germany (portion)
Flag_of_Japan_%281870%E2%80%931999%29.svg Japan (portion)
Flag_of_the_Czech_Republic.svg 1946:
Czechoslovakia (portion)
1990:
Lithuania
Flag_of_Lithuania_%281988%E2%80%932004%29.svg
1991:
Georgia
Flag_of_Georgia_%281990%E2%80%932004%29.svg
Estonia Flag_of_Estonia.svg
Latvia Flag_of_Latvia.svg
Ukraine Flag_of_Ukraine_%28Soviet_shades%29.svg
Moldova Flag_of_Moldova.svg
Kyrgyzstan Flag_of_the_Kirghiz_Soviet_Socialist_Republic_%28reverse%29.svg
Uzbekistan Flag_of_Uzbekistan.svg
Tajikistan Flag_of_Tajikistan_%281991%E2%80%931992%29.svg
Armenia Flag_of_Armenia.svg
Azerbaijan Flag_of_Azerbaijan.svg
Turkmenistan Flag_of_the_Turkmen_Soviet_Socialist_Republic.svg
Belarus Flag_of_Belarus_%281918%2C_1991%E2%80%931995%29.svg
Russia Flag_of_Russia_%281991%E2%80%931993%29.svg
Kazakhstan Flag_of_the_Kazakh_Soviet_Socialist_Republic.svg
Close

The country's roots lay in the October Revolution of 1917, which saw the Bolsheviks overthrow the Russian Provisional Government that formed earlier that year following the February Revolution and the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, marking the end of the Russian Empire. The new government, led by Vladimir Lenin, established the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (RSFSR), the world's first constitutionally guaranteed socialist state.[lower-alpha 22] Persisting internal tensions escalated into the brutal Russian Civil War. As the war progressed in the Bolsheviks' favor, the RSFSR began to incorporate land conquered from the war into nominally independent states, which were unified into the Soviet Union in December 1922. Following Lenin's death in 1924, Joseph Stalin came to power. Stalin inaugurated a period of rapid industrialization and forced collectivization that led to significant economic growth, but also contributed to a famine in 1930–1933 that killed millions. The forced labour camp system of the Gulag was also expanded in this period. Stalin conducted the Great Purge to remove his actual and perceived opponents. After the outbreak of World War II, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The combined Soviet civilian and military casualty count — estimated to be around 20 million people — accounted for the majority of losses of Allied forces. In the aftermath of World War II, the territory occupied by the Red Army formed various Soviet satellite states. In the postwar period until the 1960s, the Soviet Union experienced rapid economic development and achieved important "firsts" in the race to space.

The beginning of the Cold War saw the Eastern Bloc of the Soviet Union confront the Western Bloc of the United States, with the latter grouping becoming largely united in 1949 under NATO and the former grouping becoming largely united in 1955 under the Warsaw Pact. There was no direct military confrontation between the two organizations; instead, the conflict was fought on an ideological basis and through proxy wars. Both NATO and the Warsaw Pact led to the expansion of military forces and their integration into the respective blocs. The Warsaw Pact's largest military engagement was the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, its own member state, in August 1968 (with the participation of all pact nations except Albania and Romania), which, in part, resulted in Albania withdrawing from the pact less than one month later. Following Stalin's death in 1953, a period known as de-Stalinization occurred under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev. The Soviets took an early lead in the Space Race with the first artificial satellite, the first human spaceflight, and the first probe to land on another planet (Venus).

In the 1970s, there was a brief détente in the Soviet Union's relationship with the United States, but tensions emerged again following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. In the mid-1980s, the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform the country through his policies of glasnost and perestroika. In 1989, during the closing stages of the Cold War, various countries of the Warsaw Pact overthrew their Marxist–Leninist regimes, which was accompanied by the outbreak of strong nationalist and separatist movements across the entire Soviet Union. In 1991, Gorbachev initiated a national referendum—boycotted by the Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova—that resulted in the majority of participating citizens voting in favour of preserving the country as a renewed federation. In August 1991, hardline members of the Communist Party staged a coup d'état against Gorbachev; the attempt failed, with Boris Yeltsin playing a high-profile role in facing down the unrest, and the Communist Party was subsequently banned. The Russian Federation became the Soviet Union's successor state, while all of the other republics emerged from the USSR's collapse as fully independent post-Soviet states.

The Soviet Union produced many significant social and technological achievements and innovations. It had the world's second-largest economy, and the Soviet Armed Forces comprised the largest standing military in the world. An NPT-designated state, it possessed the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world. It was a founding member of the United Nations as well as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Before the dissolution, the country had maintained its status as one of the world's two superpowers through its hegemony in Eastern Europe, military and economic strengths and scientific research.

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