Soviet Union

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Союз Советских Социалистических Республик
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[a]
"State Anthem of the USSR" (1944–1991)
The Soviet Union after World War II
The Soviet Union after World War II
Capital
and largest city
Moscow
55°45′N 37°37′E / 55.750°N 37.617°E / 55.750; 37.617
Official languagesRussian (1990–1991)[b]
Recognised regional languages
Ethnic groups
(1989)
Religion
Secular state (de jure)
State atheism (de facto)
Demonym(s)Soviet
GovernmentSee also: Government of the Soviet Union
Leader 
• 1922–1924
Vladimir Lenin[c]
• 1924–1953
Joseph Stalin[d]
• 1953[f]
Georgy Malenkov[e]
• 1953–1964
Nikita Khrushchev[g]
• 1964–1982
Leonid Brezhnev[h]
• 1982–1984
Yuri Andropov
• 1984–1985
Konstantin Chernenko
• 1985–1991
Mikhail Gorbachev[i]
Head of state 
• 1922–1946 (first)
Mikhail Kalinin
• 1988–1991 (last)
Mikhail Gorbachev
Head of government 
• 1922–1924 (first)
Vladimir Lenin
• 1991 (last)
Ivan Silayev
LegislatureCongress of Soviets
(1922–1936)[j]
Supreme Soviet
(1936–1991)
Soviet of Nationalities
(1936–1991)
Soviet of Republics
(1991)
Soviet of the Union
(1936–1991)
Historical eraInterwar periodWorld War IICold War
7 November 1917
30 December 1922
• Civil War ended
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[k]
26 December 1991[l]
Area
• Total
22,402,200 km2 (8,649,500 sq mi) (1st)
Population
• 1989 census
Neutral increase 286,730,819[5] (3rd)
• Density
12.7/km2 (32.9/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)1990 estimate
• Total
$2.7 trillion[6] (2nd)
• Per capita
$9,000
GDP (nominal)1990 estimate
• Total
$2.7 trillion[6] (2nd)
• Per capita
$9,000 (28th)
Gini (1989)0.275
low
HDI (1989)0.920[7]
very high
CurrencySoviet ruble (руб) (SUR)
Time zone(UTC+2 to +12)
Driving sideright
Calling code+7
ISO 3166 codeSU
Internet TLD.su[m]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
1922:
Russian SFSR
Ukrainian SSR
Byelorussian SSR
Transcaucasian SFSR
1924:
Bukharan SSR
Khorezm SSR
1939:
Poland (portion)
1940:
Finland (portion)
Romania (portion)
Estonia
Latvia
Lithuania
1944:
Tuva
1945:
Germany (portion)
Japan (portion)
1946:
Czechoslovakia (portion)
1990:
Lithuania
1991:
Georgia
Estonia
Latvia
Ukraine
Transnistria
Moldova
Kyrgyzstan
Uzbekistan
Tajikistan
Armenia
Azerbaijan
Turkmenistan
Belarus
Russia
Kazakhstan

The Soviet Union,[n] officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics[o] (USSR),[p] was a Communist state that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a federal union of fifteen national republics;[q] in practice its government and economy were highly centralized until its final years. The country was a one-party state governed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, with Moscow as its capital within its largest and most populous republic, the Russian SFSR. Other major cities were 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.

The Soviet Union had its roots in the October Revolution of 1917 when the Bolsheviks, headed by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Provisional Government that had earlier replaced the house of Romanov of the Russian Empire. They established the Russian Soviet Republic, the world's first constitutionally guaranteed socialist state.[r] Tensions escalated into a civil war between the Bolshevik Red Army and many anti-Bolshevik forces across the former Empire, among whom the largest faction was the White Guard. The White Guard engaged in violent anti-communist repression against the Bolsheviks and suspected worker and peasant Bolsheviks known as the White Terror. The Red Army expanded and helped local Bolsheviks take power, establishing soviets, repressing their political opponents and rebellious peasants through Red Terror. By 1922, the balance of power had shifted and the Bolsheviks had emerged victorious, forming the Soviet Union with the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian republics. Upon the conclusion of the civil war Lenin's government introduced the New Economic Policy, which led to a partial return of a free market and private property; this resulted in a period of economic recovery.

Following Lenin's death in 1924, Joseph Stalin came to power.[8] Stalin suppressed all political opposition to his rule inside the Communist Party and inaugurated a command economy. As a result, the country underwent a period of rapid industrialization and forced collectivization, which led to significant economic growth, but also contributed to a famine in 1932–1933. The Gulag labour camp system was also expanded in this period. Stalin also fomented political paranoia and conducted the Great Purge to remove his actual and perceived opponents from the Party through mass arrests of military leaders, Communist Party members, and ordinary citizens alike, who were then sent to correctional labor camps or sentenced to death.

On 23 August 1939, the Soviets signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany. After the start of World War II, the formally neutral Soviets invaded and annexed territories of several Eastern European states, including the eastern regions of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. In June 1941, the Germans invaded, opening an Eastern Front. Soviet war casualties accounted for the majority of Allied casualties of the conflict. The Soviets gained the upper hand over Axis forces at the Battle of Stalingrad, captured Berlin and declared victory in Europe on 9 May 1945. The territory taken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Eastern Bloc. The Cold War began in 1947, where the Eastern Bloc confronted the Western Bloc, which would unite in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949.

Following Stalin's death in 1953, a period known as de-Stalinization and the Khrushchev Thaw occurred under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev. The country developed rapidly, as millions of peasants were moved into industrialized cities. The USSR took an early lead in the Space Race with the first ever satellite and the first human spaceflight and the first probe to land on another planet, Venus. In the 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. The war there drained economic resources and was matched by an escalation of American military aid to Mujahideen fighters.

In the mid-1980s, the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to further reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost and perestroika. The goal was to preserve the Communist Party while reversing economic stagnation. The Cold War ended and in 1989 Warsaw Pact countries in Central and Eastern Europe overthrew their Marxist-Leninist regimes. Strong nationalist and separatist movements broke out across the USSR. Gorbachev initiated a referendum—boycotted by Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova — which resulted in the majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the Union as a renewed federation. In August 1991, a coup d'état was attempted by Communist Party hardliners. It failed, with Russian President Boris Yeltsin playing a high-profile role in facing down the coup. The main result was the banning of the Communist Party. The republics, led by Russia and Ukraine, declared independence. On 25 December 1991, Gorbachev resigned from his presidency. All the republics emerged from the dissolution of the Soviet Union as independent post-Soviet states. The Russian Federation (formerly the Russian SFSR) assumed the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and is recognized as its continued legal personality in world affairs.

The Soviet Union produced many significant social and technological achievements and innovations regarding military power. It boasted the world's second-largest economy and the largest standing military in the world.[6][9][10] The USSR was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states. It was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the OSCE, the WFTU and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.

Before its dissolution, the USSR had maintained its status as a superpower, alongside the United States, for four decades after World War II. Sometimes also called "Soviet Empire", it exercised its hegemony in East-Central Europe and worldwide with military and economic strength, proxy conflicts and influence in developing countries and funding of scientific research, especially in space technology and weaponry.[11][12]


Cite error: There are <ref group=lower-alpha> tags or {{efn}} templates on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist|group=lower-alpha}} template or {{notelist}} template (see the help page).

  1. ^ Hough, Jerry F. "The ‘Dark Forces," the Totalitarian Model, and Soviet History." The Russian Review, vol. 46, no. 4, 1987, pp. 397–403
  2. ^ Bergman, Jay. "Was the Soviet Union Totalitarian? The View of Soviet Dissidents and the Reformers of the Gorbachev Era." Studies in East European Thought, vol. 50, no. 4, 1998, pp. 247–281.
  3. ^ "Crises in the USSR: Are the Constitutional and Legislative Changes Enough". Cornell International Law Journal. 23 (2). Archived from the original on 19 March 2022. Retrieved 24 April 2022.
  4. ^ "Law of the USSR of March 14, 1990 N 1360-I 'On the establishment of the office of the President of the USSR and the making of changes and additions to the Constitution (Basic Law) of the USSR'". Garant.ru. Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  5. ^ Almanaque Mundial 1996, Editorial América/Televisa, Mexico, 1995, pages 548–552 (Demografía/Biometría table).
  6. ^ a b c "GDP – Million – Flags, Maps, Economy, Geography, Climate, Natural Resources, Current Issues, International Agreements, Population, Social Statistics, Political System". Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Human Development Report 1990" (PDF). HDRO (Human Development Report Office) United Nations Development Programme. p. 111. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 February 2019. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  8. ^ "Joseph Stalin - Biography, World War II & Facts - History". 12 November 2009. Archived from the original on 12 September 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  9. ^ Scott and Scott (1979) p. 305
  10. ^ "October 30, 1961 – The Tsar Bomba: CTBTO Preparatory Commission". Archived from the original on 19 March 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  11. ^ "The Soviet Union and the United States – Revelations from the Russian Archives | Exhibitions – Library of Congress". www.loc.gov. 15 June 1992. Archived from the original on 15 September 2017. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  12. ^ Wheatcroft, S. G.; Davies, R. W.; Cooper, J. M. (1986). Soviet Industrialization Reconsidered: Some Preliminary Conclusions about Economic Development between 1926 and 1941. Vol. 39. Economic History Review. pp. 30–2. ISBN 978-0-7190-4600-1. Archived from the original on 21 March 2021. Retrieved 25 May 2020.

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