Russia is a federation which, since March 1, 2008, consists of 83 federal subjects (Russian: субъект федерации, subyekt federatsii). They are also known as the constituent entities of the Russian Federation. In 1993, when the Constitution of Russia was adopted, there were 89 federal subjects listed. By 2008, the number of federal subjects had been decreased to 83 because of several mergers. The federal subjects are of equal federal rights in the sense that they have equal representation—two delegates each—in the Federation Council (upper house of the Federal Assembly). They do, however, differ in the degree of autonomy they enjoy. Federal subjects should not be confused with Federal districts of Russia which are much larger and each encompass many federal subjects. There are 83 federal subjects in the Russian Federation; while there are only eight federal districts. The official government translation of the Constitution of Russia in Article 5 states: "1. The Russian Federation shall consist of republics, krays, oblasts, cities of federal significance, an autonomous oblast and autonomous okrugs, which shall have equal rights as constituent entities of the Russian Federation." How to translate the Russian term was discussed during the 49th annual American Translators Association conference in Orlando, in which Tom Fennel, a freelance translator, argued that the term "constituent entity of the Russian Federation" should be preferred to "subject". This recommendation is also shared by Tamara Nekrasova, Head of Translation Department, Goltsblat BLP, who in her "Traps & Mishaps in Legal Translation" presentation in Paris stated that "constituent entity of the Russian Federation is more appropriate than subject of the Russian Federation (subject would be OK for a monarchy)" Russia i/?r?/ or /?r?/ (Russian: Россия, tr. Rossiya; IPA: [rs?ij?] ( listen)), also officially known as the Russian Federation (Russian: Российская Федерация, tr. Rossiyskaya Federatsiya; IPA: [rs?ijsk?j? fd?rats?j?] ( listen)), is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidenti
l republic, comprising 83 federal subjects. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (both via Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It also has maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk, and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. At 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sq mi), Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area. Russia is also the world's ninth most populous nation with 143 million people as of 2012. Extending across the whole of northern Asia, Russia spans nine time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. Russia has the world's largest reserves of mineral and energy resources and is the largest producer of oil and natural gas globally. Russia has the world's largest forest reserves and its lakes contain approximately one-quarter of the world's fresh water. The nation's history began with that of the East Slavs, who emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a Varangian warrior elite and their descendants, the medieval state of Rus arose in the 9th century. In 988 it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Rus' ultimately disintegrated into a number of smaller states; most of the Rus' lands were overrun by the Mongol invasion and became tributaries of the nomadic Golden Horde. The Grand Duchy of Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities, achieved independence from the Golden Horde, and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus'. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, which was the third largest empire in history, stretching from Poland in Europe to Alaska in North America.