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Russian is one of the most widely spoken native languages in Europe. It belongs to the Slavic group of the Indo-European language family.
Russian is one of the five official languages of the United Nations, and ranks as the major world language along with Chinese, English, Spanish and Hindi. It is the native language of 142 million citizens of the Russian Federation, the world's largest country.
The geographical spread of the Russian language goes far beyond Russia, as it is spoken (or at least understood) in many countries of the former USSR and it remains the key language across all of the Caucasus and Central Asia. The total number of Russian language speakers around the world is estimated to be from 255 to 285 million.
Russian has proven to be a popular language of study both because of its international prominence and its famous literature works of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin, Gogol, Chekhov, and other famous writers.
Russian is presently spoken by emigrant communities from around the world speak Russian, including the immigrants living in Israel, United States, Canada, and other countries. Besides that, Russian was historically taught to some people in Eastern Europe under the Warsaw Pact, including Bulgaria, Hungary, German Democratic Republic, Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia.
Russian has the reputation of being a very difficult language to learn, and it is indeed somewhat more difficult for native English speakers than the Western European languages. Nevertheless, Russian is still easier to learn than Chinese, Japanese, or Arabic.
The Russian alphabet may initially seem intimidating because of the Cyrillic characters it contains. The alphabet originated from the 9th century. Its creators were two missionaries from Greece, the brothers Cyril and Methodius, who based it largely on the Greek.
As an Indo-European language, Russian has many Greek and Latin bases, it's easy to recognize them behind the Cyrillic disguise. There are also hundreds of modern words that are borrowed directly from English, the majority of them are connected with computing as you can see in the table below.
Yet despite these difficulties, Russian is being mastered by an increasing number of people around the world. They have found it worth the effort for many reasons, not the least of which is the great body of Russian literature which ranks among the most brilliant in the world.