Open main menu


(See reference map VIII)


22,402,200 km2; 10.2% cultivated, 35.5% forest, 16.8% pasture and hay land, 37.5% other

Land boundaries: 20,619 km


Limits of territorial waters (claimed): 12 nm (fishing 200 nm)

Coastline: 46,670 km (incl. Sakhalin)


Population: 269,876,000 (July 1982), average annual growth rate 0.8%

Nationality: noun—Soviet(s); adjective—Soviet

Ethnic divisions: 72% Slavic, 28% among some 170 ethnic groups

Religion: Russian Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Moslem, and Jews

Language: more than 200 languages and dialects (at least 18 with more than 1 million speakers); 76% Slavic group, 8% other Indo-European, 11% Altaic, 3% Uralian, 2% Caucasian

Literacy: 98.5% of population (ages 9-49)

Labor force: civilian 144 million (midyear 1981), 22% agriculture, 78% industry and other nonagricultural fields, unemployed not reported, shortage of skilled labor reported


Official name: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Type: Communist state

Capital: Moscow

Political subdivisions: 15 union republics, consisting of 20 autonomous republics, 6 krays, 122 oblasts, 8 autonomous oblasts, and 10 autonomous okrugs

Legal system: civil law system as modified by Communist legal theory; revised constitution adopted 1977; no judicial review of legislative acts; legal education at 18 universities and 4 law institutes; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: October Revolution Day, 7 November

Branches: Council of Ministers (executive), Supreme Soviet (legislative), Supreme Court of USSR (judicial)

Government leaders: Leonid I. BREZHNEV, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and Chairman of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet; Nikolay A. TIKHONOV, Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers

Suffrage: universal over age 18; direct, equal

Elections: to Supreme Soviet every five years; 1,500 deputies elected in 1979; 71.7% party members

Political party: Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) only party permitted

Voting strength (1979 election): 174,944,173 persons over 18; allegedly 99.99% voted

Communists: over 17 million party members

Other political or pressure groups: Komsomol, trade unions, and other organizations which facilitate Communist control

Member of: CEMA, Geneva Disarmament Conference, IAEA, IBEC, ICAC, ICAO, ICCAT, ICCO, ICES, ILB, 1LO, IMCO, International Lead and Zinc Study Group, INRO, IPU, ISO, ITC, ITU, IWC—International Whaling Commission, IWC—International Wheat Council, UN, UNESCO, UPU, Warsaw Pact, WFTU, WHO, W1PO, WMO, WTO


GNP: $1,392.5 billion (1980, in 1980 US prices), $5,245 per capita; in 1980 percentage shares were—54% consumption, 33% investment, 13% government and other, including defense (based on 1970 GNP in rubles at adjusted factor cost); average annual growth rate of real GNP (1971-80), 3.2%, average annual growth rate (1976-80), 2.7%

Agriculture: principal food crops—grain (especially wheat), potatoes; main industrial crops—sugar, cotton, sun-flowers, and flax; degree of self-sufficiency depends on fluctuations in crop yields; calorie intake, 3,300 calories per day per capita in recent years

Fishing: catch 9.5 million metric tons (1980); exports 483,504 metric tons (1980), imports 181,938 metric tons (1980)

Major industries: diversified, highly developed capital goods industries; consumer goods industries comparatively less developed

Shortages: natural rubber, bauxite and alumina, tantalum, tin, tungsten, fluorspar, and molybdenum

Crude steel: 163 million metric ton capacity as of 1 January 1979; 149 million metric tons produced in 1981, 555 kg per capita

Electric power: 279,500,000 kW capacity (1981); 1,325.0 billion kWh produced (1981), 4,927 kWh per capita

Exports: $76,437 million (f.o.b., 1980); petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas, metals, wood, agricultural products, and a wide variety of manufactured goods (primarily capital goods)

Imports: $68,473 million (f.o.b., 1980); grain and other agricultural products, machinery and equipment, steel products (particularly large diameter pipe), consumer manufactures

Major trade partners: $144.9 billion (1979 total turnover); trade 54% with Communist countries, 33% with industrialized West, and 13% with less developed countries

Aid: economic—total extended to non-Communist LDCs (1954-80), $21.5 billion

Official monetary conversion rate: 0.649 rubles=US$1 (average 1980)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 141,800 km total; 139,917 km broad gauge (1.524 m); 1,833 km narrow gauge (mostly 0.750 m); 110,815 km broad gauge single track; 43,700 km electrified; does not include industrial lines (1980)

Highways: 1,346,500 km total; 373,000 km asphalt, concrete, stone block; 554,000 km asphalt treated, gravel, crushed stone; 419,500 km earth (1980)

Inland waterways: 142,000 km navigable, exclusive of Caspian Sea (1980)

Freight carried: rail—3,728.0 million metric tons, 3,439.9 billion metric ton/km (1980); highways—24.1 billion metric tons, 432.3 billion metric ton/km (1980); waterway—568. 1 million metric tons, 244.9 billion metric ton/km, excluding Caspian Sea (1980)

Pipelines: 70,000 km crude oil; 20,000 km refined products; 135,000 km natural gas

Ports: 53 major (most important: Leningrad, Riga, Tallinn, Kaliningrad, Liepaja, Ventspils, Murmansk, Arkhangel'sk, Odessa, Novorossiysk, Uichevsk, Nikolayev, Sevastopol, Vladivostok, Nakhodka); over 180 selected minor; 58 major inland ports (some of the more important: Astrakhan, Baku, Gorkiy, Kazan, Khabarovsk, Krasnoyarsk, Kubyshev, Moscow, Rostov, Volgograd, and Kiev (1982)


Military manpower: males 15-49, 68,359,000; 54,009,000 fit for military service; 2,101,000 reach military age (17) annually

  1. The US Government does not recognize the incorporation of the Baltic States—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—into the Soviet Union.