Also See: Major Cities in Russia
There are no official figures for the population of Russia in 2013, but the 2010 census, the results of which were released in late 2011 and early 2012, reports that the official population of Russia was 142,946,800.
The Census results are probably the most reliable indicator, but other estimates of the Russia population are available. Rosstat, the official Government statistics agency suggested that the population of Russia in 2011 was 141.8 million, and the CIA estimated that the population was even lower: 138.7 million.
Russia is one of the few countries with a negative growth rate, and its 2013 population is estimated at 142,572,794. An official estimate, however, places the population at 143,500,000 in August 2013, although official figures are not always considered reliable. It's currently the 9th most populous country on earth, despite being one of the largest.
Russia Population 2013
Like most countries, Russia undertakes a census every decade or so. There is no fixed schedule, though, and until 2009 it was not certain that the 2010 census would even take place. It was only a late intervention from the Russian Government, allocating 10 billion roubles, that prevented it from being pushed back to 2013.
The full Russian census results are being released in sections throughout 2011 and 2012 ; you can view them as and when they are released at the official Russian Census website (in Russian language).
For the headline figures, though, take a look at this Russian population infographic created by Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
The estimated 2013 population of Russia, which is 142,572,794 (143.5 million, official estimate), is pretty interesting, as Russia recently released its latest batch of data, as reported by Forbes. This information shows that Russia's run of increasing births and decreasing deaths may be ending. From January to March 2013, the number of births shrank by about 4,000, while the number of deaths increased the same amount. This means the natural loss of population was about 20% larger than in the previous year.
Russia's natural change in population over the past twenty-five years has been fairly unstable, decreasing in the early 90's, leveling out and then climbing beginning in 2005 before leveling out again.
As you can see from the graphic, almost half of all Russians live in just two areas: the Central and Volga federal districts. The further east you go --to Siberia and beyond -- the less dense the population is.
The graphic also demonstrates that Russia is a fairly ethnically diverse country. Although almost 81% of Russian citizens identify themselves as ethnic Russians, there are also other large ethnic groups. 3.9% of Russians are Tartars, 1.4% Ukrainians, 1.2% Bashkirs, 1.1% Chuvashs and 1.0% Chechens. 3.9% of the population did not declare any ethnic origin.
In total there are more than 170 different ethnic groups in Russia. Russia is the official language of the country and spoken by almost everyone. There are also 27 other official languages in Russia, and more than a hundred other languages that do not have official recognition. Some are close to extinction.
The Russian state religion is Orthodox Christianity. There is no official census data on religion, but a 2010 survey indicated that 73% of Russians were Orthodox Christians, 20% were non-religious, 6% were Muslims, and 1% were members of other religious groups.
Largest Russian Citiies
Moscow is the largest city in Russia with a population of 11.5 million people, which also makes it the sixth largest city in the world. Saint Petersburg is the second largest Russian city, with 4.8 million people, making it the 40th largest city in the world.
Interestingly, Russia is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, in part due to its harsh climate. The country has a population density of just 8.4 people per square kilometer (22 per square mile), but the population is most dense in the European are aof the country around Saint Petersburg and Moscow.
Russia is mostly an urban country; according to the census results, 74% of Russians live in urban areas -- either towns or cities. Ten other Russian cities have a population of more than a million people. You can see the full list below.
Interestingly, the population of Russia’s cities has increased over the past ten years, reflecting the increasing urbanization of Russia as people move from the countryside to cities in search of better employment.
Russian Population Decline
The Russian population has been steadily declining for almost two decades now. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the population of Russia was recorded at 148,538,000.
Over the next decade, the population decreased at a fairly steady rate of a half percent per year. The causes for this were twofold. Firstly the number of people dying increased due to a fall in living standards and, among men who were hit hardest, alcoholism. The average life expectancy for women held fairly steady at 75 years, but Russian male life expectancy dropped dramatically to 63 years.
Combined with this, birth rates fell sharply as well. From around 17 per 1,000 persons in the mid 1980s, the rate fell to below 10 per 1,000 in the mid-1990s – well below the rate needed to sustain a population. Economic uncertainty was a major factor in this, persuading people against having children.
Russian Population Increase
The Russian economy grew strongly during the first decade of the 20th century, and in 2009 the Russian population saw a small but significant increase. The increase was reported as between 15,000 and 25,000 people and was attributed to a falling death rate and increasing migration.
There are also indications that birth rates may be increasing slightly – probably due to a combination of increased confidence in Russia’s economic prospects and Government incentives to new mothers -- especially a $10,000 payment which is made to mothers who have three or more children.
Russia Population Projections
After 15 years of declining growth, Russia finally recorded population growth for the first time again in 2009, and in 2013, Russia has a total fertility rate of 1.7 children per woman, which is the highest in Eastern Europe.
Contrary to popular opinion in the West, Russia's population is actually growing, not shrinking, although its growth is very, very small. While the population was shrinking in the 1990's and early 2000's, at the moment it is slowly growing. Despite this, it's likely that the population will shrink again between now and the next ten or twenty years, as the country's very smalll growth is completely driven by immigration, not natural growth.
While projections into the future of Russia are very difficult, it's estimated that Russia will fall from the 9th most populous country to 17th by 2050. Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin has announced that he plans to boost Russia's dwindling population by encouraging immigration and higher birth rates, but estimates show that Russia's population will drop from 2013's 143 million to only 107 million by 2050.
Population growth and demographics have long been a problem for Russia, as a decade ago the nation was losing 1 million people a year, and many doubt Putin's plans will work. Time will tell if Russia is able to overcome its issues and see greater growth, as otherwise it will be prone to collapsing infrastructure with its massive land area and untapped natural resources.