Chukotsky District is an administrative and municipal district, one of the six in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia. It is the easternmost district of the autonomous okrug and the closest part of Russia to the United States, it borders with the Chukchi Sea in the north, the Bering Sea in the east, Providensky District in the south, the Kolyuchinskaya Bay in the west. The area of the district is 30,700 square kilometers, its administrative center is the rural locality of Lavrentiya. Population: 4,838 ; the population of Lavrentiya accounts for 30.2% of the district's total population. The district is populated by indigenous peoples, the majority being either Chukchi or Yupik; the sparse nature of the population means that this is the only district in the autonomous okrug without any urban localities. The selo of Uelen is located in the district, a focal point for indigenous artwork of the region as a whole and the birthplace of Yuri Rytkheu, the first internationally recognized Chukchi writer. Chukotsky District covers the northern half of the Chukchi Peninsula, at the northeastern tip of Eurasia.
Prior to 1957, the district was larger, as its territory covered not only present-day Chukotsky District, but present-day Providensky District, as well as a substantial territory now included in Iultinsky District. Uelen—the easternmost settlement on the Eurasian landmass and famous for its whale bone carving—is located on the district's territory, it features the most easterly point on the Eurasian landmass: Cape Dezhnev, named after Russian navigator Semyon Dezhnyov. It was the setting for a Dalstroy gulag site and the alleged starting point for Clemens Forell's epic journey in the novel As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me; the district includes Big Diomede Island, sometimes called Tomorrow Island since it is twenty-one hours ahead of its partner Little Diomede, despite being only 1 kilometer away across the sea. For the indigenous peoples, life has been rather static for the last few millennia, judging from archaeological excavations; the region contains about eighty archaeological and historical sites, many of which are in the vicinity of present-day villages.
From the view of non-indigenous people, the area now known as Chukotsky District was a formidable place and was only and tentatively explored in comparison with other areas of Chukotka. Semyon Dezhnyov and his Cossacks nearly had their entire fleet destroyed as they attempted to sail around the cape that would bear his name on their way to the Anadyr River in the mid-17th century. Eighty years Vitus Bering sailed through the strait which now bears his name, five years the first maps of the coastline were drawn by the Second Kamchatka Expedition. However, it was not for a further fifty-five years that the coast of the region was visited by James Cook, a permanent Russian presence in the form of trading posts in any of the villages was not established until the early 1900s. Prior to the establishment of the current administrative arrangement, Chukotsky Uyezd was founded with its seat in Provideniya Bay in 1909, in 1912, the seat was moved to Uelen with one of the first schools in the area opening there four years later.
There were. These settlements were destined to become local hubs and model Soviet villages Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, local indigenous people rely more on their traditional hunting skills and are considering the resettling a number of these villages due to the lack of centralized relocation; the table below outlines some of the more important historical localities within the district. Chukotsky District has the highest percentage of indigenous peoples in the whole of Chukotka, with 85% of people being of native origin; the native peoples are Chukchi, but there are small populations of Evens and Yupik. The remaining 15% of the population is of non-indigenous origin Russian; these people either migrated to the Far East or are the descendants of those who did, enticed by the higher pay, large pensions, more generous allowances permitted to those prepared to endure the cold and the isolation, as well as those who were exiled here as a result of the Stalin's purges or after having been released from the gulag.
Unlike with most other districts of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Chukotsky District's economy is much more focused on traditional marine hunting and reindeer herding. This is in part because, at around 85%, Chukotsky District has the highest percentage of indigenous peoples in the autonomous okrug. There is next to no industrial activity in this district, with the population involved in reindeer herding and seal hunting, with an administrative program in place to ensure that local indigenous peoples receive material incentives to continue with their traditional way of life. Although many native rural localities in the autonomous okrug have historical museums documenting the culture of the indigenous peoples, Chukotsky District has a strong cultural tradition, with Uelen being a notable hub for whale bone carving. Famous for its walrus ivory carvings, Uelen has long been a major artistic center in the region, with several of the leading exponents of the craft, such as Vukvutagin, Vukvol and Khukhutan, working out of Uelen.
Semyon Ivanovich Dezhnev was a Russian explorer of Siberia and the first European to sail through the Bering Strait, 80 years before Vitus Bering did. In 1648 he sailed from the Kolyma River on the Arctic Ocean to the Anadyr River on the Pacific, his exploit was forgotten for a hundred years and Bering is given credit for discovering the strait that bears his name. Dezhnyov was a Pomor, born about 1605 in the town of Veliky Ustyug or the village of Pinega. According to the anthropologist Lydia Black, Dezhnyov was recruited for Siberian service in 1630 as a service man or government agent, he served for eight years in Tobolsk and Yeniseisk, went to Yakutia in 1639, or earlier. He is said to have been a member of the Cossack detachment under Beketov, credited with founding Yakutsk in 1632. In any case, no than 1639 he was sent to Yakutia, where he married a Yakut captive and spent the next three years collecting tribute from the natives. In 1641 Dezhnyov moved northeast to a newly discovered tributary of the Indigirka River where he served under Mikhail Stadukhin.
Finding few furs and hostile natives and hearing of a rich river to the east, he, Stadukhin and Yarilo Zyrian sailed down the Indigirka east along the coast to the Kolyma River, where they built an ostrog. This was at the time the easternmost Russian frontier; the Kolyma soon proved to be one of the richest areas in eastern Siberia. In 1647, 396 men paid head-tax there and 404 men received passports to travel from Yakutsk to the Kolyma. From about 1642, Russians began hearing of a'Pogycha River' to the east which flowed into the Arctic and that the nearby area was rich in sable fur, walrus ivory and silver ore. An attempt to reach it in 1646 failed. In 1647 Fedot Alekseyev, an agent of a Moscow merchant, organized an expedition and brought in Dezhnyov because he was a government official; the expedition reached the sea but was unable to round the Chukchi Peninsula because it had to turn back due to thick drift ice. They tried again the following year. Fedot Alekseyev was joined by two others and Afstaf'iev, representing the Guselnikov merchant house, with their own vessels and men, while Alekseyev provided five vessels and the majority of the men.
Gerasim Ankudinov, with his own vessel and 30 men joined the expedition. Dezhnyov recruited his own men, 18 or 19, for fur gathering for private profit, as was the custom at the time; the whole group numbered between 121 people, travelling in traditional koch vessels. At least one woman, Alekseyev's Yakut wife, was with this group. On 20 June 1648 they sailed down the river to the Arctic. During the next year it was learned from captives that two koches had been wrecked and their survivors killed by the natives. Two other koches were lost in a way, not recorded; some time before 20 September they rounded a'great rocky projection'. Here Ankudinov's koch was wrecked and the survivors were transferred to the remaining two vessels. At the beginning of October a storm blew up and Fedot's koch disappeared.. Dezhnyov's koch was driven by the storm and was wrecked somewhere south of the Anadyr; the remaining 25 men wandered in unknown country for 10 weeks until they came to the mouth of the Anadyr. Twelve men walked for 20 days, found nothing and turned back.
Three of the stronger men got back to Dezhnyov and the rest were never heard of again. In the spring or early summer of 1649 the 12 remaining men built boats from driftwood and went up the Anadyr, they were trying to get out of the tundra into forested country to obtain sables and firewood. About 320 miles upriver they built a zimov'ye somewhere near Anadyrsk and subjected the local Anauls to tribute. Here they were stranded. In 1649 Russians on the Kolyma ascended the Anyuy River branch of the Kolyma and learned that one could travel from its headwaters to the headwaters of the Pogycha-Anadyr. In 1650 Stadukhin and Semyon Motora stumbled onto Dezhnyov's camp; the land route was superior and Dezhnyov's sea route was never used again. Dezhnyov spent the next several years collecting tribute from the natives. More cossacks arrived from the Kolyma. Dezhnyov found a walrus rookery at the mouth of the Anadyr and accumulated over 2 tons of Walrus ivory, far more valuable than the few furs found at Anadyrsk.
In 1659 Dezhnyov transferred his authority to the discoverer of Lake Baikal. In 1662 he was at Yakutsk. In 1664 he reached Moscow in charge of a load of tribute goods, he served on the Olenyok River and the Vilyuy River. In 1670 he escorted 47,164 rubles of tribute to Moscow and died there in late 1672; as stated above, Dezhnyov traveled with Fedot Alekseyev and two others and Afstaf'iev. Except for Dezhnyov, none of the other leaders of this expedition survived to tell their tale. Dezhnyov rounded the eastern extremity of Asia, East Cape, now known to Russians as mys Dezhenyova made landfall on the Diomede Islands, sailed through the Bering Strait, reached the Anadyr River, ascended it and founded the Anadyr ostrog. Four of the
Cetaceans are aquatic mammals constituting the infraorder Cetacea. There are around 89 living species; the first is the Odontoceti, the toothed whales, which consist of around 70 species, including the dolphin, beluga whale, sperm whale, beaked whale. The second is the Mysticeti, the baleen whales, which have a filter-feeder system, consist of 15 species divided into 3 families, include the right whale, bowhead whale, pygmy right whale, gray whale; the ancient and extinct ancestors of modern whales lived 53 to 45 million years ago. They diverged from even-toed ungulates, they were amphibious, evolved in the shallow waters that separated India from Asia. Around 30 species adapted to a oceanic life. Baleen whales split from toothed whales around 34 million years ago; the smallest cetacean is Maui's dolphin, at 50 kg. Baleen whales have a tactile system in the short hairs around their mouth. Cetaceans have well-developed senses—their eyesight and hearing are adapted for both air and water, they have a layer of blubber, under the skin to maintain body heat in cold water.
Several species exhibit sexual dimorphism. Two external forelimbs are modified into flippers. Cetaceans have streamlined bodies: they can swim quickly, with the killer whale able to travel at 56 kilometres per hour in short bursts, the fin whale able to cruise at 48 kilometres per hour, dolphins able to make tight turns at high speeds, some species diving to great depths. Although cetaceans are widespread, most species prefer the colder waters of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, they spend their lives in the water of rivers. This has drastically affected their anatomy to be able to do so, they feed on fish and marine invertebrates. Some baleen whales are specialised for feeding on benthic creatures. Male cetaceans mate with more than one female, although the degree of polygyny varies with the species. Cetaceans are not known to have pair bonds. Male cetacean strategies for reproductive success vary between herding females, defending potential mates from other males, or whale song which attracts mates.
Calves are born in the fall and winter months, females bear all the responsibility for raising them. Mothers of some species fast and nurse their young for a short period of time, more typical of baleen whales as their main food source aren't found in their breeding and calving grounds. Cetaceans produce a number of vocalizations, notably the clicks and whistles of dolphins and the moaning songs of the humpback whale; the meat and oil of cetaceans have traditionally been used by indigenous peoples of the Arctic. Cetaceans have been depicted in various cultures worldwide. Dolphins are kept in captivity and are sometimes trained to perform tricks and tasks, other cetaceans aren't as kept in captivity. Cetaceans have been relentlessly hunted by commercial industries for their products, although this is now forbidden by international law; the baiji has become "Possibly Extinct" in the past century, while the vaquita and Yangtze finless porpoise are ranked Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Besides hunting, cetaceans face threats from accidental trapping, marine pollution, ongoing climate change. The two parvorders, baleen whales and toothed whales, are thought to have diverged around thirty-four million years ago. Baleen whales have bristles made of keratin instead of teeth; the bristles filter other small invertebrates from seawater. Grey whales feed on bottom-dwelling mollusks. Rorqual family use throat pleats to expand their mouths to sieve out the water. Balaenids have massive heads. Most mysticetes prefer the food-rich colder waters of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, migrating to the Equator to give birth. During this process, they are capable of relying on their fat reserves; the parvorder of Odontocetes – the toothed whales – include sperm whales, beaked whales, killer whales and porpoises. The teeth are designed for catching fish, squid or other marine invertebrates, not for chewing them, so prey is swallowed whole. Teeth are shaped like cones, pegs, tusks or variable.
Female beaked whales' teeth are hidden in the gums and are not visible, most male beaked whales have only two short tusks. Narwhals have vestigial teeth other than their tusk, present on males and 15% of females and has millions of nerves to sense water temperature and salinity. A few toothed whales, such as some killer whales, feed on mammals, such as pinnipeds and other whales. Toothed whales have well-developed senses – their eyesight and hearing are adapted for both air and water, they have advan
King Island (Alaska)
King Island is an island in the Bering Sea, west of Alaska. It is south of Wales, Alaska. King island is a small island located about 40 miles offshore, south of the village of Wales and about 90 miles northwest of Nome; the island is about 1 mile wide with steep slopes on all sides. It was named by James Cook, first European to sight the island in 1778, for Lt. James King, a member of his party, it is part of the Bering Sea unit of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The island was once the winter home of a group of about 200 Inupiat who called themselves Aseuluk, meaning "people of the sea," or Ukivokmiut, from Ukivok, the village of King Island and "miut," meaning "people of" or "group of people"; the Ukivokmiut spent their summers engaging in subsistence hunting and gathering on King Island and on the mainland near the location of present-day Nome, Alaska. Their winters were spent in other subsistence activities hunting and fishing on the ice. Subsistence activities on and around the island included hunting seals and walruses, crab fishing, gathering bird eggs and other foods.
The spring and summer was the important time of gathering to the Ukivokmiut, while the winters were the time of dance. Due to the limited daylight during the winter, the days were spent dancing in the "Qagri", or men's communal house; as an example, the month of December is known to the Ukivokmuit as "Sauyatugvik" or the time of drumming. After the establishment of Nome, the islanders began to sell intricate carvings to residents of Nome during the summer. In the mid-1900s the Bureau of Indian Affairs closed the school on Ukivok, forcefully taking the children of Ukivok to go to school on mainland Alaska, leaving the elders and adults to gather the needed food for winter; because the children were not on the island to help gather food, the adults and elders had no choice but to move to mainland Alaska to make their living. By 1970, all King Island people had moved to mainland Alaska year-round. Although the King Islanders have moved off the island, they have kept a distinct cultural identity, living a similar life as they had on the island.
Some King Islanders still return to the island to gather subsistence foods, such as seal. In 2005 and 2006 the National Science Foundation funded a research project which brought a few King Island natives back to the island; some participants had not been back to the island in 50 years. The King Island Community awaits the project's results. King Island first appeared on the 1880 U. S. Census as the unincorporated native Inuit village of "Ookivagamute." In 1890, it returned as Ukivok. It next appeared in 1910 as King Island and would continue to report until 1960, with the exception of 1950 when no figure was reported, it next reported as Ukivok again, classified as a native village in 1980 and 1990, but with no residents. It has not reported since. King Island Native Community Ancient mask returned to Alaska ghost village, MSNBC, January 18, 2008 Photogallery of traditional ecological knowledge of King Island, Oregon State University, October 28, 2008 Munoz photographs - King Island early 1950s Survey of a King Island kayak Deanna M Kingston, "King Island", Encyclopedia of the Arctic, A-F p 1090, Routledge, 2012.
Curtis, Edward P The North American Indian. Volume 20 - The Alaskan Eskimo. P 99-103 https://web.archive.org/web/20130512233632/http://www.kawerak.org/tribalHomePages/kingIsland/ http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/king-island-living-community-and-mystical-place
Russia the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres, Russia is by far or by a considerable margin the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, the ninth most populous, with about 146.77 million people as of 2019, including Crimea. About 77 % of the population live in the European part of the country. Russia's capital, Moscow, is one of the largest cities in the world and the second largest city in Europe. Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Estonia, Latvia and Poland, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, China and North Korea, it shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U. S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. However, Russia recognises two more countries that border it, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia.
The East Slavs emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a Varangian warrior elite and their descendants, the medieval state of Rus arose in the 9th century. In 988 it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Rus' disintegrated into a number of smaller states; the Grand Duchy of Moscow reunified the surrounding Russian principalities and achieved independence from the Golden Horde. By the 18th century, the nation had expanded through conquest and exploration to become the Russian Empire, the third largest empire in history, stretching from Poland on the west to Alaska on the east. Following the Russian Revolution, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic became the largest and leading constituent of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the world's first constitutionally socialist state; the Soviet Union played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II, emerged as a recognized superpower and rival to the United States during the Cold War.
The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite and the launching of the first humans in space. By the end of 1990, the Soviet Union had the world's second largest economy, largest standing military in the world and the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, twelve independent republics emerged from the USSR: Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and the Baltic states regained independence: Estonia, Lithuania, it is governed as a federal semi-presidential republic. Russia's economy ranks as the twelfth largest by nominal GDP and sixth largest by purchasing power parity in 2018. Russia's extensive mineral and energy resources are the largest such reserves in the world, making it one of the leading producers of oil and natural gas globally; the country is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.
Russia is a great power as well as a regional power and has been characterised as a potential superpower. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and an active global partner of ASEAN, as well as a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the G20, the Council of Europe, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Trade Organization, as well as being the leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and one of the five members of the Eurasian Economic Union, along with Armenia, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan; the name Russia is derived from Rus', a medieval state populated by the East Slavs. However, this proper name became more prominent in the history, the country was called by its inhabitants "Русская Земля", which can be translated as "Russian Land" or "Land of Rus'". In order to distinguish this state from other states derived from it, it is denoted as Kievan Rus' by modern historiography.
The name Rus itself comes from the early medieval Rus' people, Swedish merchants and warriors who relocated from across the Baltic Sea and founded a state centered on Novgorod that became Kievan Rus. An old Latin version of the name Rus' was Ruthenia applied to the western and southern regions of Rus' that were adjacent to Catholic Europe; the current name of the country, Россия, comes from the Byzantine Greek designation of the Rus', Ρωσσία Rossía—spelled Ρωσία in Modern Greek. The standard way to refer to citizens of Russia is rossiyane in Russian. There are two Russian words which are commonly
Geodesy, is the Earth science of measuring and understanding Earth's geometric shape, orientation in space, gravitational field. The field incorporates studies of how these properties change over time and equivalent measurements for other planets. Geodynamical phenomena include crustal motion and polar motion, which can be studied by designing global and national control networks, applying space and terrestrial techniques, relying on datums and coordinate systems; the word "geodesy" comes from the Ancient Greek word γεωδαισία geodaisia. It is concerned with positioning within the temporally varying gravity field. Geodesy in the German-speaking world is divided into "higher geodesy", concerned with measuring Earth on the global scale, "practical geodesy" or "engineering geodesy", concerned with measuring specific parts or regions of Earth, which includes surveying; such geodetic operations are applied to other astronomical bodies in the solar system. It is the science of measuring and understanding Earth's geometric shape, orientation in space, gravity field.
To a large extent, the shape of Earth is the result of rotation, which causes its equatorial bulge, the competition of geological processes such as the collision of plates and of volcanism, resisted by Earth's gravity field. This applies to the liquid surface and Earth's atmosphere. For this reason, the study of Earth's gravity field is called physical geodesy; the geoid is the figure of Earth abstracted from its topographical features. It is an idealized equilibrium surface of sea water, the mean sea level surface in the absence of currents and air pressure variations, continued under the continental masses; the geoid, unlike the reference ellipsoid, is irregular and too complicated to serve as the computational surface on which to solve geometrical problems like point positioning. The geometrical separation between the geoid and the reference ellipsoid is called the geoidal undulation, it varies globally between ± 110 m. A reference ellipsoid, customarily chosen to be the same size as the geoid, is described by its semi-major axis a and flattening f.
The quantity f = a − b/a, where b is the semi-minor axis, is a purely geometrical one. The mechanical ellipticity of Earth can be determined to high precision by observation of satellite orbit perturbations, its relationship with the geometrical flattening is indirect. The relationship depends on the internal density distribution, or, in simplest terms, the degree of central concentration of mass; the 1980 Geodetic Reference System posited a 1:298.257 flattening. This system was adopted at the XVII General Assembly of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, it is the basis for geodetic positioning by the Global Positioning System and is thus in widespread use outside the geodetic community. The numerous systems that countries have used to create maps and charts are becoming obsolete as countries move to global, geocentric reference systems using the GRS 80 reference ellipsoid; the geoid is "realizable", meaning it can be located on Earth by suitable simple measurements from physical objects like a tide gauge.
The geoid can, therefore, be considered a real surface. The reference ellipsoid, has many possible instantiations and is not realizable, therefore it is an abstract surface; the third primary surface of geodetic interest—the topographic surface of Earth—is a realizable surface. The locations of points in three-dimensional space are most conveniently described by three cartesian or rectangular coordinates, X, Y and Z. Since the advent of satellite positioning, such coordinate systems are geocentric: the Z-axis is aligned with Earth's rotation axis. Prior to the era of satellite geodesy, the coordinate systems associated with a geodetic datum attempted to be geocentric, but their origins differed from the geocenter by hundreds of meters, due to regional deviations in the direction of the plumbline; these regional geodetic data, such as ED 50 or NAD 27 have ellipsoids associated with them that are regional "best fits" to the geoids within their areas of validity, minimizing the deflections of the vertical over these areas.
It is only because GPS satellites orbit about the geocenter, that this point becomes the origin of a coordinate system defined by satellite geodetic means, as the satellite positions in space are themselves computed in such a system. Geocentric coordinate systems used in geodesy can be divided into two classes: Inertial reference systems, where the coordinate axes retain their orientation relative to the fixed stars, or equivalently, to the rotation axes of ideal gyroscopes; the X-axis lies within the Greenwich observatory's meridian plane. The coordinate transformation between these two systems is described to good approximation by sidereal time, which takes into account variations in Earth's axial rotation. A more accurate description takes polar motion into account, a phenomenon monitored by geodesists. In surveying and mapping, important fields of application of geodesy, two general types of coordinate systems are used in the plane
The Soviet Union the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were centralized; the country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Minsk, Alma-Ata, Novosibirsk, it spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, steppes and mountains; the Soviet Union had its roots in the 1917 October Revolution, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by a treaty which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s.
Stalin committed the state's ideology to Marxism–Leninism and constructed a command economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During his rule, political paranoia fermented and the Great Purge removed Stalin's opponents within and outside of the party via arbitrary arrests and persecutions of many people, resulting in at least 600,000 deaths. In 1933, a major famine struck the country. Before the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, agreeing to non-aggression with Nazi Germany, after which the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939. In June 1941, Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk; the territories overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Soviet Union.
The post-war division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the United States-led Western Bloc, known as the Cold War. Stalin died in 1953 and was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization; the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during Khrushchev's rule, among the many factors that led to his downfall in 1964. In the early 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed with the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. In 1985, the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost and perestroika, which caused political instability. In 1989, Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist governments; as part of an attempt to prevent the country's dissolution due to rising nationalist and separatist movements, a referendum was held in March 1991, boycotted by some republics, that resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation.
Gorbachev's power was diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin's high-profile role in facing down a coup d'état attempted by Communist Party hardliners. In late 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the Soviet Union; the remaining 12 constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states, with the Russian Federation—formerly the Russian SFSR—assuming the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and being recognized as the successor state. The Soviet Union was a powerhouse of many significant technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite, the first humans in space and the first probe to land on another planet, Venus; the country had the largest standing military in the world. The Soviet Union was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states and possessed the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, it was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.
The word "Soviet" is derived from a Russian word сове́т meaning council, advice, harmony and all deriving from the proto-Slavic verbal stem of vět-iti, related to Slavic věst, English "wise", the root in "ad-vis-or", or the Dutch weten. The word sovietnik means "councillor". A number of organizations in Russian history were called "council". For example, in the Russian Empire the State Council, which functioned from 1810 to 1917, was referred to as a Council of Ministers after the revolt of 1905. During the Georgian Affair, Vladimir Lenin envisioned an expression of Great Russian ethnic chauvinism by Joseph Stalin and his supporters, calling for these nation-states to join Russia as semi-independent parts of a greater union, which he named as the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia. Stalin resisted the proposal, but accepted it, although with Lenin's agreement changed the name of the newly proposed sta