Former Soviet Union (USSR) Countries

A map showing the former USSR.

The Soviet Union (full name: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR) was a socialist state that was created by Vladimir Lenin in 1922. During its existence, the USSR was the largest country in the world. The USSR collapsed in 1991 and left in its place 15 independent states that we know today:

15. Armenia

With 11,500 square miles, the Republic of Armenia was commonly known as Soviet Armenia during the time of the USSR. The country was among the Soviet Union's constituent republics in December 1922. Soviet Armenia was created in 1920 during a time when the Soviets seized control of the First Republic of Armenia. The country is sometimes referred to as the Second Republic of Armenia as the first was short lived. Following the declaration of its sovereignty, the country's title changed to the Republic of Armenia on August 23, 1990. However, Armenia remained part of the Soviet Union until September 21, 1991 when the country was officially proclaimed as an independent state. Since its independence, Armenia has undergone a significant degree of development.

14. Moldova

Officially known as Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic or MSSR, Moldova was among the Soviet Union's 15 republics from 1940 to 1991. Soviet Moldova was created on August 2, 1940 from a region that was annexed from Romania known as Bessarabia and parts of an autonomous state within the Ukrainian SSR. Moldova was declared a sovereign state on June 23, 1990 but was officially known as the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova until May 23, 1991. Despite the country remaining a USSR constituent republic, it was renamed the Republic of Moldova. Following its independence, Moldova was affected by civil war.

13. Estonia

Estonia is one of the three Baltic States in northeastern Europe. Formerly known as the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic or ESSR, the region was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union. Initially, the ESSR was formed on the Republic of Estonia's territory on July 21,1940 as a result of the Soviet troop’s invasion on June 17, 1940. The country was also established following the authorization of a puppet government endorsed by the Soviet Union. On August 9, 1940, ESSR was eventually incorporated into the Soviet Union. Nazi Germany occupied the territory between 1941 and 1944. On May 8, 1990, ESSR was renamed the Republic of Estonia and its independence was recognized by the USSR on September 6, 1991. In August 1994, Russian troops withdrew from the country while its military presence ended in September 1995 after Estonia seized control of its nuclear reactor facilities located in Paldiski.

12. Latvia

The Republic of Latvia is another Baltic State located in Northern Europe. The country is one of former Soviet Union's constituent republics also known as Soviet Latvia or Latvia SSR. Soviet Latvia was established during World War II on July 21, 1940 as a puppet state of the Soviet Union. Both the European community and the US refused to acknowledge the annexation of Latvia into the USSR on August 5, 1940. Following the demise of the Soviet Union, the country restored its official name as the Republic of Latvia attaining its full independence on August 21, 1991. It was fully recognized as an independent state on September 6, 1991 by the Soviet Union. The country's primary goals in the post Soviet era were joining the European Union and NATO in 2004.

11. Lithuania

The Republic of Lithuania is one of the three Baltic States located in Northern Europe covering about 25,000 square miles. The country existed as a Soviet Union republic from 1940 to 1990 and was known as Soviet Lithuania or the Lithuanian SSR. Soviet Lithuania was established on July 21, 1940. The German Nazis occupied the territory between 1941 and 1944 and the territory was later reoccupied by the Soviet Union for the next 50 years. However, the US together with most European nations continued to acknowledge Lithuania as an independent sovereign nation. Soviet Lithuania declared itself a sovereign state on May 18, 1989 and despite authorities from the Soviet Union finding the action illegal, the country was re-established and declared an independent nation. It was named the Republic of Lithuania and the USSR acknowledged Lithuania as an independent state on September 6, 1991. Following the country's independence, Lithuania joined both NATO and the European Union in 2004 and the United Nations on September 17, 1991.

10. Georgia

The Republic of Georgia is at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Formerly known as Soviet Georgia or Georgian SSR, the region covers an area of 27,000 square miles. Soviet Georgia was one of the Soviet Union's constituent republics admitted to the USSR on December 30, 1922. On November 18, 1989, the territory declared its independence from the Soviet Union, and on November 14, 1990, it was renamed the Republic of Georgia. Following its independence, the country struggled with the economic and civil crisis through most of the 1990s.

9. Azerbaijan

The Republic of Azerbaijan is a country located at the crossroads of Southeastern Europe and Southwest Asia. The country was formerly known as Soviet Azerbaijan or Azerbaijan SSR. Azerbaijan SSR was renamed on November 19, 1990, as the Republic of Azerbaijan and remained in the Soviet Union until its full independence in 1991. Following the adoption of the country's new constitution in 1995, the Azerbaijan SSR Constitution ceased to exist. Following its independence, Azerbaijan became a member state of the Non-Aligned Movement and was elected by the United Nations General Assembly to become a member of the Human Rights Council on May 9, 2006.

8. Tajikistan

The Republic of Tajikistan is a landlocked, mountainous country located in Central Asia. Tajikistan was known as Soviet Tajikistan or Tajik SSR. Soviet Tajikistan existed between 1929 and 1991. From 1927 to 1934, collective farming and the accelerated expansion of cotton production took place particularly in the southern region of the territory. Other small scale developments took place over time which resulted in improved irrigation infrastructure. The territory was renamed the Republic of Tajikistan on August 31, 1991 and it declared its independence on September 9, 1991. Tajikistan was recognized as an independent state by the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991. Following its independence, the country fell into the Civil War involving different factions. As a result, more than half a million residents fled the country due to increased poverty and persecution.

7. Kyrgyzstan

With 77,000 square miles, Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous and landlocked country. Initially, the Soviet Union had established its power in the region in 1919. However, Soviet Kyrgyzstan was established on December 5, 1936. The territory's name was changed to the Republic of Kyrgyzstan through a vote by the Supreme Soviet in December 1990. On December 25, 1991, Kyrgyzstan attained full independence and on May 5, 1993, the name changed to the Kyrgyz Republic. Following its independence, the country joined the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the UN. Through the better part of the new millennium, the country has suffered immense political instability.

6. Belarus

In 1919, the region of Belarus that was under the Russian rule was established and it was known as Soviet Belarus, Soviet Byelorussia, or BSSR. However, Lithuanian Byelorussia SSR soon emerged which caused competition between the Soviet Union and Poland. The western region of modern day Belarus remained as part of Poland but was later annexed by the BSSR while the Belarusian SSR became the founding member of the USSR. Between the 1920s and 1930s, the Soviet Union introduced economic and agricultural policies in the territory that resulted in political repression and famine. A mass grave for victims who were executed between 1937 and 1941 was discovered near Minsk. The act was linked to the Soviet Union prompting the nationalists of Belarus to seek independence and declare its sovereignty on July 27, 1990. Post-independence, the country has faced many disputes with Russia which have subsequently weakened the relationship between the two countries.

5. Uzbekistan

The Republic of Uzbekistan is one of the world's doubly landlocked countries and is located in Central Asia. Soviet Uzbekistan was established on October 27, 1924. Between 1941 and 1945 about 1.5 million Uzbekistanis fought against Nazi Germany alongside the red army during World War II. Uzbekistan proclaimed itself a sovereign state on June 20, 1990 and declared its independence on August 31, 1991. Following the country's independence, Uzbekistan held its first election. At present, Uzbekistan has the second highest rate of modern slavery in the world at 3.97%.

4. Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan, formerly known as Turkmenia, covers an area of 190,000 square miles. Turkmenistan was annexed into the Russian Empire and was later established as one of the Soviet Union's constituent republics in 1924. The Soviet Union reorganized agricultural practices thus destroying the nomadic lifestyle in the country. Its political life was controlled by Moscow. Economically, Turkmenistan played its delegated role within the USSR. However, the country declared its sovereignty in 1990 but was barely ready for independence, therefore, opting to preserve the USSR. On October 27, 1991, the country declared its independence from the Soviet Union which was recognized on December 26, 1991. Since the country's independence from the Soviet Union, Turkmenistan has maintained in a neutral position in regards to most international matters.

3. Ukraine

Ukraine is a sovereign state covering an area of 233,000 square miles. Ukrainian SSR or UkSSR was among the Soviet Union's constituent republics and was admitted to the Soviet Union on December 30, 1922. Soviet Ukraine was the UN's founding member, but the All-Union state acted as its legal representative in matters concerning other countries that were not a part of the USSR. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Society, UkSSR was renamed as Ukraine and its new constitution was approved on June 28, 1996. Post independence the country has retained its seat in the UN and continues to pursue allegations in foreign courts against the Russian Federation in hopes of recovering its foreign property share.

2. Kazakhstan

The Republic of Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world covering an area of 1.05 million square miles. It is a transcontinental country located in Eastern Europe and northern Central Asia. Soviet Kazakhstan was established in 1936, as part of the Soviet Union. During the USSR's dissolution, the country was the last member of the Soviet Union's constituent republics to declare independence. Following the independence of Kazakhstan, the country has been headed by Nursultan Nazarbayev. The current president's governance has been characterized by suppression of political opposition and human rights abuses.

1. Russian Federation

With 6.6 million square miles, the Russian Federation is the world's largest country and is located in Eurasia. Soviet Russia together with other Soviet Republics formed the USSR. Russia was the largest member of the Soviet Union with more than half of the USSR's total population. Soviet Russia dominated the Soviet Union during its entire history which lasted 69 years. Before 1991, the Soviet economy was the world's second-largest which was later significantly affected by inflation. The Soviet Union was experiencing political and economic turmoil by 1991, prompting the Baltic Republics to disaffiliate from the union. After the dissolution of the USSR on December 25, 1991, Russia underwent a major economic crisis leading to high death rates, low birth rates, and the collapse of social services. Meanwhile, millions of Russians were affected by poverty that increased from 1.5% to about 39 to 49%. Violent crime, extreme corruption, criminal gangs, and lawlessness characterized the 1990's in Russia.


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