For the specific Russian Socialist Republic in the Soviet Union sometimes referred to as Soviet Russia, see Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.
"USSR", "CCCP", and "Soviet" redirect here. For other uses, see USSR (disambiguation), CCCP (disambiguation), and Soviet (disambiguation).
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Союз Советских Социалистических Республик
Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik
Motto: "Пролетарии всех стран, соединяйтесь!"
Proletarii vsekh stran, soyedinyaytes'!
("Workers of the world, unite!")
"State Anthem of the Soviet Union"
Gosudarstvennyy Gimn Sovetskogo Soyuza
The Soviet Union from 1945 to 1991
and largest city
55°45′N 37°37′E / 55.750°N 37.617°E
|Recognised regional languages|
- Volga German
- various others
|Ethnic groups |
- 70% East Slavs
- 12% Turkic
- 18% other
|Religion ||Secular state|
Federal Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic
Stalinist one-party totalitarian dictatorship
Federal Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic
Federal semi-presidential republic
|Head of state|| |
• 1922–1946 (first)
• 1988–1991 (last)
|Head of government|| |
• 1922–1924 (first)
• 1991 (last)
|Legislature||Congress of Soviets|
• Upper house
|Soviet of Nationalities|
• Lower house
|Soviet of the Union|
|Historical era||20th century|
• Bolshevik Coup
|7 November 1917|
|30 December 1922|
• Civil War ended
|16 June 1923|
• First constitution
|31 January 1924|
• Stalin constitution
|5 December 1936|
• Operation Barbarossa
|22 June 1941|
• Victory in World War II
|9 May 1945|
|25 February 1956|
• Last constitution
|9 October 1977|
• First republic secedes
|11 March 1990|
• Multi-party system
|14 March 1990|
• August Coup
|19–22 August 1991|
• Belovezha Accords
|8 December 1991|
• Accords effective
|26 December 1991|
|22,402,200 km2 (8,649,500 sq mi)|
• 1991 estimate
|8.4/km2 (21.8/sq mi)|
|GDP (PPP)||1990 estimate|
|$2.7 trillion (2nd)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||1990 estimate|
|$2.7 trillion (2nd)|
• Per capita
|Currency||Soviet ruble (руб) (SUR)|
|Time zone||(UTC+2 to +12)|
|ISO 3166 code||SU|
| Preceded by
||Kingdom of Romania
||Second Polish Republic
- ^ Declaration № 142-Н of the Soviet of the Republics of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, formally establishing the dissolution of the Soviet Union as a state and subject of international law (in Russian).
- ^ Original lyrics used from 1944 to 1956 praised Stalin. No lyrics from 1956 to 1977. Revised lyrics from 1977 to 1991 displayed.
- ^ All-union official since 1990, constituent republics had the right to declare their own official languages.
- ^ Assigned on 19 September 1990, existing onwards.
The Soviet Union,[d] officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics[e] (USSR),[f] was a federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics,[g] in practice its government and economy were highly centralized until its final years. It was a one-party state governed by the Communist Party, with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian SFSR. Other major urban centers were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata and Novosibirsk. It was the largest country in the world by surface area, spanning over 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones and over 7,200 kilometers (4,500 mi) north to south. Its territory included much of Eastern Europe as well as part of Northern Europe and all of Northern and Central Asia. It had five climate zones such as tundra, taiga, steppes, desert, and mountains. Its diverse population was collectively known as Soviet people.
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 monarchy. They established the Russian Soviet Republic[h], beginning 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 disastrous distractive effect of the war and the Bolshevik policies led to 5 million deaths during the 1921–1922 famine in the region of Povolzhye. The Red Army expanded and helped local Communists take power, establishing soviets, repressing their political opponents and rebellious peasants through the policies of Red Terror and War Communism. In 1922, the Communists were victorious, forming the Soviet Union with the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian republics. The New Economic Policy (NEP) which was introduced by Lenin led to a partial return of a free market and private property, resulting in a period of economic recovery.
Following Lenin's death in 1924, a troika and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s. Stalin suppressed all political opposition to his rule inside the Communist Party, committed the state ideology to Marxism–Leninism, ended the NEP, initiating a centrally planned economy. As a result, the country underwent a period of rapid industrialization and forced collectivization, which led to a significant economic growth, but also created a man-made famine of 1932–1933 and expanded the Gulag labour camp system founded back in 1918. Stalin also fomented political paranoia and conducted the Great Purge to remove opponents of his from the Party through the mass arbitrary arrest of many people (military leaders, Communist Party members and ordinary citizens not) who were then sent to correctional labor camps or sentenced to death.
On 23 August 1939, after unsuccessful efforts to form an anti-fascist alliance with Western powers, the Soviets signed the non-aggression agreement with Nazi Germany. After the start of World War II, the formally neutral Soviets invaded and annexed territories of several Eastern European states, including eastern Poland and the Baltic states. In June 1941 the Germans invaded, opening the largest and bloodiest theater of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the cost of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad. Soviet forces eventually captured Berlin and won World War II in Europe on 9 May 1945. The territory overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Eastern Bloc. The Cold War emerged in 1947 as a result of a post-war Soviet dominance in Eastern Europe, where the Eastern Bloc confronted the Western Bloc that united in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949.
Following Stalin's death in 1953, a period known as de-Stalinization and 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. In the 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed when the Soviet Union deployed troops in Afghanistan in 1979. The war 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 during his tenure, and in 1989 Soviet satellite countries in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist regimes. This led to the rise of strong nationalist and separatist movements inside the USSR as well. Central authorities initiated a referendum—boycotted by the Baltic republics, 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, resulting in the banning of the Communist Party. On 25 December 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the remaining twelve constituent 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.
The USSR produced many significant social and technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first ministry of health, first human-made satellite, the first humans in space and the first probe to land on another planet, Venus. The country had the world's second-largest economy and the largest standing military in the world. 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 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.