Total population
129 million[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Russia: 111,016,896[2] (2010)
 Ukraine7,170,000 (2018) including Crimea[3]
 Kazakhstan3,644,529 (2016)[4]
(including Russian Jews and Russian Germans)
(excluding ethnic German repatriates)[5][6]
 United States3,072,756 (2009)
(including Russian Jews and Russian Germans)[7]
 Israel938,500 (2011)
(including Russian Jews)[8]
 Belarus785,084 (2009)[9]
 Uzbekistan750,000 (2016)[10]
 Canada622,445 (2016)
(Russian ancestry, excluding Russian Germans)[11]
 Latvia487,250 (2018)[12]
 Moldova369,488 (2004)[13][14]
 Kyrgyzstan352,960 (2018)[15]
 Estonia328,299 (2019)[17]
 Argentina300,000 (2018)[18]
 Turkmenistan150,000 (2012)[19]
 Lithuania129,797 (2017)[20]
 Azerbaijan119,300 (2009)[22]
 Franceapprox 96,000 (1999)[23]
 Australia67,055 (2006)[25]
(Russian ancestry)[26]
 Romania36,397 (2002)
 Czech Republic35,759 (2016)[28]
 Tajikistan35,000 (2010)[29]
 South Korea30,098 (2016)[30] [31]
 Georgia26,453 (2014)[32]
 Hungary21,518 (2016)[33]
 Sweden20,187 (2016)[34]
 China15,609 (2000)[35]
 Bulgaria15,595 (2002)[36]
 Armenia14,660 (2002)[37]
 New Zealand5,979 (2013)[38]
Predominantly Eastern Orthodox Christianity
(Russian Orthodox Church)
Related ethnic groups
Other East Slavs (Belarusians and Ukrainians),[39] Eastern South Slavs (Bulgarians, Serbs, Macedonians, and Montenegrins)

Russians (Russian: русские, tr. russkiye, IPA: ˈruskʲɪje) are an East Slavic ethnic group and nation native to Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe (some territories of the former Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire), the most numerous ethnic group in Europe. The majority of ethnic Russians live in the Russian Federation, notable minorities exist in other former Soviet states such as Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Ukraine and the Baltic states. A large Russian diaspora (sometimes including Russophones, i.e. Russian-speaking non-Russians) also exists all over the world, with notable numbers in the United States, Germany, Brazil, and Canada. The culture of the ethnic Russian people has a long tradition and it is a foundation for the modern culture of the whole of Russia. The Russian language originally was the language of ethnic Russians. They are historically Orthodox Christians by religion.

The ethnic Russians formed from East Slavic tribes and their cultural ancestry is from Kievan Rus'. The Russian word for ethnic Russians is derived from the people of Rus' and the territory of Rus'. The Russians share many historical and cultural traits with other European peoples and especially with other East Slavic ethnic groups, specifically Belarusians and Ukrainians. Many ethnic groups had a common history within the former Soviet Union and Russian Empire, which was influential in spreading of Russian culture and language. The Russian language is official in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, and also spoken as a secondary language in many former Soviet states.

The ethnic Russians is the one of 194 ethnic groups who live in Russia, according to the 2010 census. Despite of 80.90% (111,016,896 people) of the population voluntarily declared themself as ethnically Russian, the Constitution declared Russia a multinational (multiethnic) state and named "multinational people of Russia" as a sovereign nation (i.e. not ethnic Russian, officially Russia is not a nation state). The Russian word used for citizens of Russia is different from the word for ethnic Russian (see Citizenship of Russia), other languages often do not distinguish these two groups. The Tsardom of Russia became a multiethnic state in the 16th century (see History of Russia). The number of ethnic Russians living outside the Russian Federation is estimated at roughly between 20 and 30 million people (see Russian diaspora).


There are two Russian words which are commonly translated into English as "Russians". One is "русские" (russkiye), which most often means "ethnic Russians" (the subject of this article). Another is "россияне" (rossiyane), which means "citizens of Russia". The former word refers to ethnic Russians, regardless of what country they live in and irrespective of whether or not they hold Russian citizenship. Under certain circumstances this term may or may not extend to denote members of other Russian-speaking ethnic groups from Russia, or from the former Soviet Union. The latter word refers to all people holding citizenship of Russia, regardless of their ethnicity, and does not include ethnic Russians living outside Russia. Translations into other languages often do not distinguish these two groups.[40]

The name of the Russians derives from the Rus' people (supposedly Varangians). According to the most prevalent theory, the name Rus', like the Finnish name for Sweden (Ruotsi), is derived from an Old Norse term for "the men who row" (rods-) as rowing was the main method of navigating the rivers of Eastern Europe, and that it could be linked to the Swedish coastal area of Roslagen (Rus-law) or Roden, as it was known in earlier times.[41][42] The name Rus' would then have the same origin as the Finnish and Estonian names for Sweden: Ruotsi and Rootsi.[43] According to other theories the name Rus' is derived from Proto-Slavic *roud-s-ь ( from *rъd-/*roud-/*rуd- root), connected with red color (of hair)[44] or from Indo-Iranian (ruxs/roxs — «light-colored», «bright»).[45]

Until the 1917 revolution, Russian authorities never specifically called them "Russians", calling them "Great Russians" instead, a part of "Russians" (all the East Slavs).