In its political meaning, the term Russia applies to the Russian Empire until 1917, to the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR) from 1917 to 1991, and to the Russian Federation since 1991. The name also is often used informally to mean the whole of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR); the Russia Federation was established in 1991 when the USSR disintegrated and the former RSFSR became an independent nation. The term Russia also is used to designate the area inhabited by the Russian people as distinguished from other Eastern Slavs and from non-Slavic peoples.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.