Russia, or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the largest country in the world; covering over 17,125,191 square kilometres, consisting of more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, extending to eleven time zones, and has borders with sixteen sovereign nations. Russia has a population of 146.7 million; and is the ninth-most populous country, as well as the most populous country in Europe. Moscow, the capital, is the largest city in Europe, while Saint Petersburg is the second-largest city and the country's cultural centre. Russians are the largest Slavic and European nation; speaking Russian, the most spoken Slavic language, and the most spoken native language in Europe.
The East Slavs emerged as a recognisable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. The medieval state of Rus' arose in the 9th century. In 988 it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium.
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