Moscow (pron.: /ˈmɒskaʊ/ or /ˈmɒskoʊ/; Russian: Москва, tr. Moskva; IPA: [mɐˈskva] ( listen)) is the capital city and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural and scientific center in Russia and in Europe. According to Forbes 2011, Moscow has the largest community of billionaires in the world. Moscow is the northernmost megacity on Earth, the second (after Istanbul) most populous city in Europe, and the 6th largest city proper in the world. It’s also the largest city in Russia with a population, according to the 2010 Census, of 11,503,501. By its territorial expansion on July 1, 2012 southwest into the Moscow Oblast, the capital increased its area 2.5 times; from about 1,000 square kilometers (390 sq mi) up to 2,500 square kilometers (970 sq mi), and gained additional population of 230,000 people.
Moscow is situated on the Moskva River in the Central Federal District of European Russia. In the course of its history the city has served as the capital of a progression of states, from the medieval Grand Duchy of Moscow and the subsequent Tsardom of Russia to the Soviet Union. Moscow is the site of the Moscow Kremlin, an ancient fortress that is today the residence of the Russian president. The Kremlin is also one of several World Heritage Sites in the city. Both chambers of the Russian parliament (the State Duma and the Federation Council) also sit in Moscow.
The city is served by an extensive transit network, which includes four international airports, nine railway terminals, and one of the deepest underground metro systems in the world, the Moscow Metro, third to Tokyo and Seoul in terms of passenger numbers. It is recognized as one of the city’s landmarks due to the rich and varied architecture of its 188 stations.
Over time, Moscow has acquired a number of epithets, most referring to its size and preeminent status within the nation: The Third Rome (Третий Рим), The Whitestone One (Белокаменная), The First Throne (Первопрестольная), The Forty Forties (Сорок Сороков). In old Russian the word «Сорок» (forty) also meant a church administrative district, which consisted of about forty churches. The demonym for a Moscow resident is Moskvitch, rendered in English as Muscovite.
The city is named after the river (old Russian: гра́д Моско́в, literally «the city by the Moskva River»). The first reference to Moscow dates from 1147 when Yuri Dolgorukiy called upon the prince of the Novgorod-Severski to «come to me, brother, to Moscow».
Nine years later, in 1156, Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy of Rostov ordered the construction of a wooden wall, the Kremlin, which had to be rebuilt multiple times, to surround the emerging city. After the sacking of 1237–1238, when the Mongols burned the city to the ground and killed its inhabitants, Moscow recovered and became the capital of the independent Vladimir-Suzdal principality in 1327. Its favorable position on the headwaters of the Volga River contributed to steady expansion. Moscow developed into a stable and prosperous principality, known as Grand Duchy of Moscow, for many years and attracted a large number of refugees from across Russia.
Under Ivan I of Moscow the city replaced Tver as a political center of Vladimir-Suzdal and became the sole collector of taxes for the Mongol-Tatar rulers. By paying high tribute, Ivan won an important concession from the Khan. Unlike other principalities, Moscow was not divided among his sons, but was passed intact to his eldest. Moscow’s opposition against foreign domination grew. In 1380, prince Dmitry Donskoy of Moscow led a united Russian army to an important victory over the Tatars in the Battle of Kulikovo. The battle, however, was not decisive and only two years later Moscow was sacked by khan Tokhtamysh. Ivan III, in 1480, finally broke the Russians free from Tatar control, allowing Moscow to become the center of power in Russia. Under Ivan III the city became the capital of an empire that would eventually encompass all of present-day Russia and other lands.
In 1571, the Crimean Tatars attacked and sacked Moscow, burning everything but the Kremlin.
In 1609, the Swedish army led by Count Jacob De la Gardie and Evert Horn started their march from Great Novgorod toward Moscow to help Tsar Vasili Shuiski, entered Moscow in 1610 and suppressed the rebellion against the Tsar, but left it early in 1611, following which the Polish–Lithuanian army invaded. During the Polish–Muscovite War (1605–1618) hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski entered Moscow after defeating the Russians in the Battle of Klushino. The 17th century was rich in popular risings, such as the liberation of Moscow from the Polish–Lithuanian invaders (1612), the Salt Riot (1648), the Copper Riot (1662), and the Moscow Uprising of 1682. The plague epidemics ravaged Moscow in 1570–1571, 1592 and 1654–1656. The city ceased to be Russia’s capital in 1712, after the founding of Saint Petersburg by Peter the Great near the Baltic coast in 1703. The Plague of 1771 was the last massive outbreak of plague in central Russia, claiming up to 100,000 lives in Moscow alone. During the French invasion of Russia in 1812, the Muscovites burned the city and evacuated, as Napoleon’s forces were approaching on 14 September. Napoleon’s Grande Armée, plagued by hunger, cold and poor supply lines, was forced to retreat and was nearly annihilated by the devastating Russian winter and sporadic attacks by Russian military forces. As many as 400,000 died in during this time and only a few tens of thousands of ravaged troops returned.
In January 1905, the institution of the City Governor, or Mayor, was officially introduced in Moscow, and Alexander Adrianov became Moscow’s first official mayor. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, on 12 March 1918 Moscow became the capital of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and of the Soviet Union less than five years later. During World War II (the period from June 22, 1941, to May 9, 1945 known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War), after the German invasion of the USSR, the Soviet State Defense Committee and the General Staff of the Red Army was located in Moscow.
In 1941, sixteen divisions of the national volunteers (more than 160,000 people), twenty-five battalions (18,500 people) and four engineering regiments were formed among the Muscovites. That November, the German Army Group Center was stopped at the outskirts of the city and then driven off in the Battle of Moscow. Many factories were evacuated, together with most of the government, and from 20 October the city was declared to be under siege. Its remaining inhabitants built and supervised antitank defenses, while the city was subjected to air bombing. Joseph Stalin refused to leave Moscow, meaning the general staff and the council of people’s commissars remained in the city as well. Despite the siege and the bombings, the construction of Moscow’s metro system continued through the war, and by the end of the war several new metro lines were opened.
Both German and Soviet casualties during the battle of Moscow have been a subject of debate, as various sources provide somewhat different estimates. Total casualties between 30 September 1941, and 7 January 1942, are estimated to be between 248,000 and 400,000 for the Wehrmacht and between 650,000 and 1,280,000 for the Red Army.
On 1 May 1944, a medal For the defense of Moscow and in 1947 another medal In memory of the 800th anniversary of Moscow were introduced. In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, on May 8, 1965, Moscow became one of twelve Soviet cities awarded the Hero City title.
In 1980, it hosted the Summer Olympic Games, which were boycotted by the United States and several other Western countries due to the Soviet Union’s involvement in Afghanistan in late 1979. In 1991, Moscow was the scene of the failed coup attempt by the government members opposed to the reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev. When the USSR ceased to exist in the same year, Moscow still continued to be the capital of Russia.
Since then, the emergence of a market economy in Moscow has produced an explosion of Western-style retailing, services, architecture, and lifestyles. In 1998, Moscow hosted the first World Youth Games — see 1998 World Youth Games. This city will host the 2013 World Championships in Athletics.