The ruble is the official currency of the Russian Federation. Rubles are also used by two republics that are only partially recognised: Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The currency is subdivided into 100 kopecks, but kopeck-denominated coins are used infrequently. The ruble has no official symbol, but it is often denoted by the first three, or only the first, letter of the word in the Cyrillic alphabet. The ruble is the traditional currency of Russia, which was adopted by the Soviet Union. The ruble was last introduced, in its seventh incarnation, in 1998. It is issued by the Central Bank of Russia in the form of coins and banknotes.
The ruble was first introduced as the currency of Russia in the 16th century. In 1704, the ruble was standardized as 28 grams of silver, but in 1885, the gold ruble was pegged to the French franc. The first redenomination of the ruble occurred in 1922, and it was redenominated again in 1923. Another redenomination in 1924 made the ruble the first currency of the Soviet Union. The fourth ruble, known as the gold ruble, lasted until 1947. After World War II, the ruble was again redenominated in order to invalidate currency that was stolen during World War II. In 1961, another redenomination occurred, and when the Soviet Union broke up in 1993, Russia kept the ruble as its currency but simply renamed it from the Soviet ruble to the Russian ruble. The last redenomination occurred in 1998 when the new ruble replaced the old ruble at a rate of 1: 1000.
Russia is the largest country in the world by area and as such has abundant natural resources with which to fuel its market economy. Although a period of economic turmoil existed for the first decade after the breakup of the Soviet Union and the transition to capitalism, the economy of Russia has begun to improve over the course of the 21st century. Annual growth averaged 8 percent from 2000 to 2008. Economic growth has largely been due to services and goods for domestic use rather than exports. The leading exports of Russia include metals, wood, oil and natural gas. Today, Russia is considered a world leader economic development, education, science and industry, boasting a higher rate of college graduates than any country in Europe. One of the biggest obstacles Russia faces in improving its economy even more is modernising its long-neglected infrastructure.