Which Continent – Is Russia Part of Europe or Asia?

Is Russia part of Europe or Asia? We think that the answer is “both,” and here is why.

Is Russia Part of Europe or Asia?

European? Asian? Why not both?

The answer to whether Russia is officially a part of Europe, or a part of Asia, is one of those annoying parts of general knowledge that can drive some people crazy. People seem to have different opinions on the nature of Russia as a location, and how it’s actually classified within the countries of the world.

At Sporcle, we generally say that Russia is a part of “both” Asia and Europe – not just because we’re trying to cut down on the number of trivia-based brawls that break out over Geography questions, but because that answer is actually rooted in fact.

Russia is a natural bridge between both Western and Eastern heritage.

77% in Asia – The Rest in Europe

According to geographical experts, maps, and professionals in the world of politics, about 77% of Russia is located within the borders of Asia. Yet, somewhat bizarrely, more Russians live in the European part of the country than the Asian part.

It’s worth noting that Russia has never actually decreed itself as being an Asian or European country. Most people just assume that it’s in Europe, even though more than three-quarters of the land mass rests in Asia.

So, how do we define which part is which?

The simple answer is that geographically, the Ural Mountains are used to mark the border between Asia and Europe. Anything that creeps over the western border of the Urals in Europe, while everything left over on the Eastern side is in Asia. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

The problem is that Russia is a lot more complicated as a country than we might think.

Answering the Asia/Europe Question

Russia is a huge country, measuring out at about 17,098,242 km2 in size. While only about four million of those kilometers are situated on the European side, 75% of the Russian population lives in Europe, which is why the area has a population of about 27 people per km2, compared to a much smaller density of 2.5 people per km2 on the Asian side. 

A long time ago, during the late 18th and 19th centuries, the question of which continent Russia belonged to was even more complicated because the country was one of the few in history to span three separate locations. As well as its European and Asian space, Russia was also holding onto territory in North America during that time, with various Russian colonies living throughout Alaska.

In 1867, the country gave up its American territories and sold Alaska to the United States for a pretty reasonable price of $7.2 million. In other words, if you were frustrated by this question before – count yourself lucky. It could have been a lot worse!

Is Russia Developing into Europe or Asia?

While some people in Russia consider themselves to be from a strictly Asian background, others are happy to embrace European heritage instead. The truth is that both are equally important when it comes to understanding the factors that make Russia unique.

Ever since the 1840s and 1850s, when opposing intellectual movements began to take shape around the Asia or Europe debate, Russian leaders have been forced to think carefully about whether they should be building closer links with Europe or Asia. As such, Russia has continued to grow in a way that gives it equal access to both backgrounds.

Countries on More than One Continent

Is Russia part of Europe or Asia? In our opinion, it’s both.

Ultimately, Russia is one of the select few countries around the world that’s lucky enough to be located in multiple continents at once. Perhaps the other most well-known transcontinental state that you might know is Turkey, which can also be found in both Asia and Europe.

There are also a few other less-known transcontinental states too, such as France, which has territory on almost every continent around the world! Egypt also straddles both Asia and Africa, while Greece lies mostly in Europe, with a couple of islands close to Turkey in Asia.

And just in case you were wondering – since the 2018 World Cup recently took place in Russia, it seems natural to be curious about which FIFA region the country is included in. Russia is part of the Union of European Football Associations, and not the Asian Football Confederation. This is due largely to that West/East population difference outlined above.

Are there some other complicated geographical queries that tend to stump you on trivia nights? Let us know in the comments below!

Now that you know a bit more about Russia’s boundaries, try the Russia’s Borders quiz below: