People of Russia
Most of the roughly 150 million Russians derive from the Eastern Slavic
family of peoples, whose original homeland was probably present-day
Poland. Russian is the official language of Russia and an official
language in the United Nations. As the language of writers such as
Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekov, and Solzhenitsyn, it has great
importance in world literature.
Russia's educational system has produced nearly 100% literacy. About 3
million students attend Russia's 519 institutions of higher education
and 48 universities. As a result of great emphasis on science and
technology in education, Russian medical, mathematical, scientific, and
space and aviation research is generally of a high order. The number of
doctors in relation to the population is high by American standards,
although medical care in Russia, even in major cities, is far below
The Russian labor force is undergoing tremendous changes. Although
well-educated and skilled, it is largely mismatched to the rapidly
changing needs of the Russian economy.
Millions of Russian workers are underemployed. Unemployment is highest
among women and young people. Many Russian workers compensate by
working other part-time jobs. Following the collapse of the Soviet
Union and the economic dislocation it engendered, the standard of
living fell dramatically. The standard of living has been on the rise
since 1999, but almost one-third of the population still does not meet
the minimum subsistence level for money income.
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