Fans throughout the world are currently enjoying a unique sporting event that only takes place once every four years. This summer, the twenty-first edition of the FIFA World Cup is being played in Russia, the first time that this country hosts the event. First played in Uruguay in 1930, the FIFA World Cup has been played periodically, bringing together the 32 most competitive national teams (48 teams starting in 2026). During its almost 100 years of history, the FIFA World Cup has been won five times by Brazil as well as four times respectively by Italy and Germany (formerly West Germany). Other FIFA World Cup winners include Uruguay, Argentina, Spain, France, and England. This article explores the macroeconomics of this year’s FIFA World Cup host, Russia.

The World Cup and Russian Macroeconomics

Spanning throughout Eurasia, the Russian Federation is the largest country in the world with a total territory of approximately 17.1 million square kilometers, which is almost twice the size of the United States. From broad plains and hills to vast mountain ranges and the Siberian tundra, Russia has a very diverse landscape. Likewise, the country has a total population of 142.3 million citizens, some 75% of which lives in an urban setting, notably the capital city of Moscow with about 12.4 million inhabitants. The national annual gross domestic product (GDP) of Russia is US$4 trillion (PPP) and it experienced positive economic growth during 2017. The national economy is divided into 5% agriculture, 33% manufacturing, and 62% services. Similarly, it is estimated that the agricultural industry employs 10% of the national labor force, while manufacturing employs 28% and services employ another 62%. Meanwhile, the agriculture industry utilizes 14% of the national territory, while another 49% is forested.

In terms of natural resources, Russia has petroleum, natural gas, coal, timber, and other rare minerals. Within manufacturing, the national industry is focused on petrochemicals, mining, shipbuilding, heavy machinery, tractors, textiles, defense manufacturing, and transport vehicles. Simultaneously, the country’s agricultural industry has as main products grain, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, vegetables, fruits, beef, and milk. In terms of trade, Russia is the world’s sixteenth largest export economy. During 2016, the country imported US$181 billion worth of goods and exported US$270 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of US$89 billion. Furthermore, that same year, Russia’s main export, representing 28% or US$75.7 billion of the country’s total, was crude petroleum. Similarly, the country’s main import, representing 4.0% or US$7.2 billion of all international purchases, were cars. Regionally, Russia belongs to several economic and trade blocs, such as the Eurasian Economic Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Nevertheless, Russia’s main trade partners are members of the European Union, such as Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, as well as China, Belarus, and the United States.

(Read more about Coastal Resources, Territories & Maritime Trade)

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