The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, also known as the Soviet Union or the USSR, was a socialist union in Eurasia. First established in 1922, the USSR was made up of national Soviet republics with a centralized economy and government. All of Northern Asia and most of Eastern Europe were part of the USSR. The USSR was governed by the Communist Party.
During its existence, the USSR was the largest country in the world based on area at over 8.6 million square miles. In the late 1980s, the population had risen to over 288 million, making it the third most populous nation in the world, with approximately 80% of residents living in the western European region of the USSR.
The official language of the USSR was Russian, although there were other regional languages recognized, including Georgian, Uzbek, Latvian, Ukrainian, and Estonian, just to name a few. There were also a few minority languages such as Finnish, German, Tatar, and Korean. About 70% of the population was East Slav, while 12% were Turkic. The remaining 18% was made up of other ethnic groups.
The treaty to establish the USSR was first signed in 1922. This occurred after Vladimir Lenin overthrew the Russian Provisional Government. After Lenin’s death in 1924, Joseph Stalin came to rule over the region and adopted the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, which he created. During Stalin’s rule, a command economy was established, leading to collectivization and Industrialization.
In the late 1930s, the USSR signed a pact with Nazi Germany, which later collapsed when Germany attacked the region. This led to one of the largest battles in history.
It was in the later 1980s when the republics of the Soviet Union began to take steps to declare their sovereignty. By 1991, all republics with the exception of Russia and Kazakhstan declared their independence. In December of that year, the Belavezha Accord was signed by the presidents of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine which dissolved the USSR. A few weeks later, representatives of Soviet republics signed the Alma-Ata Protocol to confirm the accords. On December 25, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned from his role as the president of the USSR and declared the office to be extinct.
During its history, there were 15 Soviet Socialist Republics, or SSRs. Those were:
- Belarus (now known as Belorussia)
- Kirgiziya (now known as Kyrgyzstan)
- Moldavia (now known as Moldova)