It may seem like an absurd question but the reality is much more complex: what continent is russia in? Europe or Asia? The answer may be simple or it can be difficult and depends on the definition of continent and the definition of people. Part of Russia is located in Europe. If we consider the Ural Mountains as the border between Europe and Asia, 75% of Russians live in this area. The remaining 25% live across the vast area from the Urals to the Pacific Ocean.
So the simplest answer would be: Russia belongs to both continents, Europe and Asia. However, many scholars prefer to catalog this region of the globe differently and prefer to indicate only one continent, Eurasia, which extends from Lisbon in Portugal to Vladivostok in the Russian Far East. But the question does not end here. There are also scholars who argue that the borders of Europe should be made according to the ethnicities that live in this area. According to them, Russia is a peculiar case: the ethnic Russians would be considered European but the rest, who constitute a good part of the population, would be considered Asian. Geographically, the consequences of this division would be unusual: this would mean that all of Russia would be part of Europe except certain regions with other ethnic groups, such as Tatarstan.
Russia is a massive country – 17,098,242 square kilometres in size. But only about 4 million square kilometres of Russia are in Europe, west of the Urals. The remaining 13 million square kilometers, including Siberia and the Russian Far East are in Asian Russia. European Russia is much more densely populated than the rest of Russia, though. About 75% of the Russian population lives in European Russia. Population density in European Russia is around 27 people per square kilometer, whereas in Asian Russia contains just 2.5 people per square kilometer.
Russia’s territory straddles both continents, which gives it a true Eurasian character that can also be observed in the country’s cultural and ethnic make-up. Russia, of course, is not the only country that has part of its territory on two different continents. Staying in Europe, there’s also Turkey, which covers part of Europe and part of Asia or Spain, which covers part of Europe (Iberia) and Africa. So, while Russia shares a European (Western) and an Asian (Eastern) heritage, Turkey is a bridge between Europe and Asia, and Spain between Europe and Africa. But going back to Russia, the fact is that Russia is both in Europe and in Asia.
Culturally and politically, when people think of Russia, they typically think of Europe, or at least that’s what the consensus seems to be in the US. Russia is typically seen as a great European power, both historically and currently. Politically, its capital, Moscow, is undoubtedly in the European portion of the nation. When we think of Russian culture, we think of ethnic Russians who live in Eastern Europe rather than the many native peoples in Siberia, and associate it with the country as a whole.
There’s also a debate of where the European part of Russia ends and where the Asian part begins. Some say the Ural Mountains form this boundary – everything west of them are European. However, this raises another question. Does this mean Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, and even Kazakhstan, are European, or are they Asian?