Learn more about Russians
|Total population||137 million (est.)|
|Regions with significant populations|| Russia:|
115,889,000 (2002 census)
|Religion|| Predominantly Russian Orthodox. A small minority of Russians practice Protestantism. Many have atheistic or agnostic beliefs. <tr>
<th style="background-color:#fee8ab;">Related ethnic groups</th> <td style="background-color:#fff6d9;">Slavs
The English term Russians is also used to refer to citizens of Russia, regardless of their ethnicity (see demographics of Russia for information on other nationalities inhabiting Russia); in Russian, this meaning is covered by the recently revived politically correct term Rossiyanin (Россиянин, plural Rossiyane). According to 2002 census, ethnic Russians make up about 80 % of the population of Russia .
Russians are the most numerous ethnic group in Europe and one of the largest in the world with a population of about 137 million people worldwide. Roughly 116 million ethnic Russians live in Russia and about 18 million more live in the neighboring countries. A relatively significant number of Russians, around 3 million, live elsewhere in the world, mostly in North America and Western Europe, but also in other places of Eastern Europe, Asia and elsewhere.
Orthodox Christianity is a dominant faith among the Russians. More specifically, the vast majority of Russian believers belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, which played a vital role in the development of Russian national identity. In other countries Russian faithful usually belong to the local Orthodox congregations which either have a direct connection (like the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, autonomous under the Patriarch of Moscow) or historical origin (like the Orthodox Church in America or a Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) with the Russian Orthodox Church .
Even non-religious Russians mostly associate themselves with Orthodox faith for cultural reasons. Some Russians are Old Believers: a relatively small schismatic group of the Russian Orthodoxy that rejected the liturgical reforms introduced in the 17th century.
Despite continuing growth in religious observance since Soviet times, church attendance rates in Russia are relatively low.
See also Category:Religion in Russia.
 Russians outside of Russia
Ethnic Russians historically migrated throughout the area of former Russian Empire and Soviet Union, sometimes encouraged to re-settle in borderlands by Tsarist and later Soviet government. On some occasions ethnic Russian communities such as Lipovans who settled in Danube delta or Doukhobors in Canada immigrated as religious dissidents fleeing the central authority.
After the Russian Revolution and Russian Civil War starting in 1917, many Russians were forced to leave their homeland fleeing the Bolshevik regime, and millions became refugees. Many white emigrés were participants in the White movement, although the term is broadly applied to anyone who may have left the country due to the change in regime.
Today largest ethnic Russian diasporas outside of Russia live in former Soviet states such as Ukraine (about 8 million), Kazakhstan (about 4.5 million), Belarus (about 1.2 million), Latvia (about 700,000), Uzbekistan (about 650, 000) and Kyrgyzstan (about 600,000). There are also small Russian communities in the Balkans, Eastern and Central European nations such as Germany, as well as in China and Latin America. These communities may identify themselves either as Russians or citizens of these countries, or both, to varying degrees.
The governments and the majority public opinion in Estonia and Latvia, which has the largest share of ethnic Russians among the Baltic countries, hold the view that many of the ethnic Russians arrived in these countries as part of a Soviet-era colonization and deliberate Russification by changing the countries' ethnic balance. Among the many Russians who arrived during the Soviet era most came there for economic reasons, or in some cases, because they were ordered to move.
People who had arrived to Latvia and Estonia during the Soviet era, mostly Russians, were only provided with an option to acquire naturalised citizenship which required passing a test demonstrating knowledge of the national language as well as knowledge of the country's history and customs. The language issue is still contentious, particularly in Latvia, where ethnic Russians have protested against plans to educate them in the national language instead of Russian. Since 1992, Estonia has naturalized some 137,000 residents of undefined citizenship, mainly ethnic Russians 136,000, or 10 percent of the total population, remain without citizenship.
Although not among the largest immigrant groups, significant numbers of Russians emigrated to Canada, Australia, the United States and Brazil. Brighton Beach, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, is an example of a large community of recent Russian immigrants. Another one is in Sunny Isles Beach, a northern suburb of Miami. At the same time, many ethnic Russians from former Soviet territories have emigrated to Russia itself since the 1990s. Many of them became refugees from a number of states of Central Asia and Caucasus (as well as from the separatist Chechen Republic), forced to flee during political unrest and hostilities towards Russians.
Both the European Union and the Council of Europe, as well as the Russian government, expressed their concern during the 1990s about minority rights in several countries, most notably Latvia. In Moldova, the Russian-dominated Transnistria region broke away from government control amid fears the country would soon reunite with Romania. In June of 2006 Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the plan to introduce national policy aiming at encouraging ethnic Russian immigration to Russia. 
Russians (俄罗斯族) are one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China (as the Russ), and there are approximately 15,600 Russian Chinese living mostly in northern Xinjiang, and also in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang. See also Harbin Russians and China Far East Railway.
 Emergence of Russian ethnicity
Early ancestors of the Russians were East Slavic tribes who migrated to the East European Plain in the early middle ages. Most prominent Slavic tribes in the area of modern European Russia included Vyatichs, Krivichs, Radimichs, Severians and Ilmen Slavs. By the 11th century East Slavs assimilited Finno-Ugric tribes Merya and Muroma and Baltic tribe Eastern Galindae who also used to populate the same area (modern Central Russia).
Ethnic Russians known as Great Russians (as oppose to White Russians and Little Russians) began to be recognized as a distinct ethnic group in the 15th century, when they were referred to as Muscovite Russians, during the consolidation of Muscovy Tsardom as a regional power. Between 12th and 16th century Russians known as Pomors migrated to Northern Russia and settled White Sea coasts. As a result of the migrations and Russian conquests (following liberation from the Mongol Golden Horde domination) during 15th-16th centuries Russians settled the Volga, Urals and Northern Caucasus regions. Between 17th and 19th centuries Russian migrants settled the vast sparsely inhabited areas in Siberia and Russian Far East. A major role in these territorial expansions and migrations was played by the Russian Cossacks.
According to most ethnologists ethnic Russians originated from the earlier Rus' people (East Slavs of Kievan Rus), and gradually evolved into a different ethnicity from the western Rus people who became the modern-day Belarusians and Ukrainians. Between 15th and 18th centuries modern Russian language gradually developed from the Old East Slavic and Church Slavonic languages. Some ethnologists maintain that Russians were a distinct Slavic group even before the time of Kievan Rus. Others believe that the distinguishing feature of the Russians is not primarily their separation from Western Rus, but that ethnic Russians are a mix of East Slavic and non-Slavic (for example Finno-Ugric, Germanic, Baltic and Turkic) tribes. However, the origin of the Slavic peoples is itself a matter on which there is no consensus.
 See also
- List of Russians
- Russians in Japan
- Russian culture
- Baltic Russians
- Russian colonization of the Americas
 Online references
- Russians left behind in Central Asia, by Robert Greenall, BBC News, 23 November 2005.
- Latvia: Ethnic Russians Divided On Moscow's Repatriation Scheme, by Claire Bigg, Radio Free Europe, 15 August 2006.
- (English) CIA factbook - Russia
- (English) China Internet Information Center - The Russian Ethnic Group
- (Russian) 4.1. Population by nationality
- (Russian) Russians: short descriptionaf:Russe
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