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Spanning eleven time zones, Russia is the largest country on earth.

After a difficult economic period in the 1990s when the country was transferring to a free market economy after seventy years of communism, Russia has once again become a strong political player with a growing economy and political stability.

Some facts about Russia:

Population: 142 million people (9th largest in the population in the world)

Life expectancy: 66 years

Major cities: Moscow: 10 million, Saint Petersburg: 4 million, Novosibirsk: 1.5 million

Gross Domestic Product is $1.29 trillion per year (11th in the world).

Religion in Russia

There is no formal state church, but Orthodoxy's 1,000-year history as part of the culture of Russia gives the Orthodox Church enormous political influence. The 1997 federal law on freedom of religion was pushed through the Duma (Parliament) at the insistence of the Orthodox hierarchy. It supersedes all local laws, imposes restrictions on and discriminates against minority religions – especially newer arrivals. The legislation is so complex and ambiguous that its application is haphazard. In some areas it has become a pretext for arbitrary restrictions on local and expatriate organisations. 

Non Orthodox Christian churches can be divided as follows:

Type            % of population       Number of Believers       Annual Growth

Evangelical      0.7%                     1,000,000                   +5.4%

Charismatic     0.3%                     509,000                      +4.9%

Pentacostal    0.3%                     419,000                      +2.9%

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