Russia: Then and Now

In the final years of the Cold War, General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev introduced glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in an attempt to modernize communism in the Soviet Union. But his efforts inadvertently led to the USSR splitting into 15 independent republics in 1991—Russia by far the largest. Since then, Russia has struggled to build a democratic political system and market economy in place of the old system. Here are some figures comparing the old USSR to the new Russia:

  USSR Russia
  Population 288,742,345 145,470,197
  Growth Rate 0.8% -0.35%
  Birthrate 18 births per 1,000 9.35 births per 1,000
  Death Rate 11 deaths per 1,000 13.85 deaths per 1,000
  Life Expectancy 69 years 67.34 years
  GDP US$1.1 trillion US$241 billion
  GDP Per Capita US$7,400 US$4,200
  GDP Growth Rate 1.5% 6.3%
  Inflation Rate 5% 20.6%
  Exchange Rate 0.58 rubles/US dollar* 28.36 rubles/US dollar
  Area 22,402,200 sq. km 17,075,200 sq. km

Figures derived from various sources, including the CIA World Factbook and The World Bank Group.

* The exchange rate in the Soviet Union was administratively set. The exchange rate on the black market was much higher.