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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union


Population: 286,717,000 (January 1989 estimate). Average annual growth rate 0.9 percent. Density twelve persons per square kilometer; 75 percent of people lived west of Ural Mountains.

Nationalities: 51 percent of population Russian, 15 percent Ukrainian, 6 percent Uzbek, nearly 4 percent Belorussian, and 24 percent about 100 other nationalities.

Religions: Religious worship authorized by Constitution, but Marxism-Leninism, the official ideology, militantly atheistic. Reliable statistics unavailable, but about 18 percent Russian Orthodox; 17 percent Muslim; and nearly 7 percent Roman Catholic, Protestant, Armenian Orthodox, Georgian Orthodox, and Jewish combined. Officially, most of remainder atheist.

Languages: Russian the official language. Over 200 other languages and dialects spoken, often as the primary tongue; 18 languages spoken by groups of more than 1 million each. About 75 percent of people spoke Slavic languages.

Education: Highly centralized school system with standardized curriculum. Compulsory attendance through eleventh grade. Strong emphasis on training for vocations selected by central authorities. Indoctrination in Marxist-Leninist ideology at all levels. Science and technology emphasized at secondary level and above. As of 1979 census, official literacy rate 99.8 percent for persons between nine and forty-nine years old. Over 5.3 million studied at universities and institutes, nearly 50 percent parttime . All education free, and in many cases students received stipends.

Health and Welfare: Medical care by government health institutions; free, but of poor quality for general public despite highest number of physicians and hospital beds per capita in world. Welfare and pension programs provided, albeit marginally, for substantial segments of population.

Data as of May 1989