How Much Do You Know About The Former USSR?


By: Isadora Teich

6 Min Quiz

Image: / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (or USSR), is also known as the Soviet Union. The socialist mega-state swept Eurasia during most of the 20th century and had a huge effect on the world as a whole. As a geopolitical power, the former Soviet Union struck fear into the hearts of the Western World for decades. This controversial one-party state is still a favorite topic of historians today. While it ultimately fell, this dark and fascinating state casts a long shadow that will not soon be forgotten by students of history.  

While it was dominated by Russia, the Soviet Union spanned 11 time zones and stretched throughout much of the northern hemisphere, from Europe all the way to sharing a maritime border with the US state of Alaska. The Soviet Union was the largest country on earth by pure land area and one of the most populous. Known for its totalitarian rule and high death toll, this unique country is also largely credited with the defeat of Nazi Germany in the east and keeping the west on its toes during the Space Race. 

If you are a true comrade, see how much you really know about the former USSR with this history quiz! 

During which year did the USSR begin officially?

The USSR began officially on Dec. 30, 1922. It was formed by The Treaty on the Creation of the USSR. This legalized the unification of several Eurasian republics, including Russia.


In what year did the Soviet Union fall?

The USSR fell on Dec. 26, 1991. On this day, the Soviet government granted independence to all of its republics and created the commonwealth of independent states.


What kind of state was the USSR?

The USSR was a one-party socialist state. It was governed by the Communist Party.


What kind of war did Stalin believe was inevitable?

Stalin was a Marxist. He believed that the proletariat and the bourgeoisie would go to war, and that the working classes would ultimately win and create a dictatorship of the proletariat.


What was the capital of the USSR?

Moscow was the capital of the USSR. Today it is still the capital and the largest city of Russia.


During its reign, the Soviet Union was the ________ country on earth.

The USSR stretched from Eastern Europe and throughout Eurasia, sharing maritime borders with Japan and Alaska. It was the largest country on earth by land, spanning 11 time zones. It covered about a sixth of the world's land.


The Soviet Union had its roots in the ___________ Revolution of 1917.

Vladimir Lenin led the Bolsheviks to overthrow the government during the October Revolution of 1917. This led to the official creation of the USSR in 1922.


What was the official religion of the Soviet Union?

Often in socialist state systems, the government adapts non-religion as the way of doing things. State atheism means that the government is actively anti-religion.


Who was the first head of the Soviet Union?

Revolutionary and political thinker Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin, was the first prime minister of the Soviet Union. He helped to create it in 1922, but only ran it for 2 years before his death in 1924.


Who came to power as the head of the USSR after Lenin?

After Lenin's death, a power struggle ensued. From it, Joseph Stalin became the head of the USSR in the mid-1920s. He headed the state until 1953.


Which tragedy struck the USSR in the 1930s?

The Holodomor was a man-made famine in several Soviet grain-growing regions in 1933. It killed 3-7 million people. In Ukraine, it is recognized as a genocide of Ukrainians carried out by the Soviet government.


What did Stalin do to political opponents?

The Great Purge was carried out by Lenin's government between 1936-1938 to eliminate political rivals and others who were considered a problem. It resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.


Was forced labor common in the Soviet Union?

Forced labor was used extensively throughout the USSR. It was used to control Soviet citizens and is what provided the manpower for many of their government projects.


The Eastern Front of World War II was largely fought by the Soviet Union: True or false?

While the UK, US, and various other countries collaborated on the Western Front to defeat the Nazis, the USSR largely handled them on the Eastern Front alone, with some help from smaller states. The Eastern Front of World War II is widely regarded to be the most cataclysmically violent theater of war in human history.


The Soviet Union had the highest casualty count of any state in WWII: True or false?

Those in the Red Army were famous for their brutality, known to destroy cities and fight until their deaths. The USSR sacrificed roughly 30 million of its own citizens to combat fascism.


The Cold War was largely between the USSR and:

The Cold War pitted the Eastern Bloc against the Western Bloc. The principal enemies of this long conflict following WWII were America and the USSR, who engaged in proxy wars around the world over the course of years.


Who was the head of the USSR after Stalin's death?

Stalin died on March 5, 1953 at age 74 after suffering a fatal stroke. He was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who denounced Stalin and wanted to dismantle his cult of personality and policies.


What happened during the Khrushchev Thaw?

Khrushchev aimed to undo a lot of Stalin's mass imprisonment and censorship during a period of time known as the Khrushchev Thaw. This displeased the communist party's conservative wing so much that they overthrew Khrushchev in 1964.


The USSR took an early lead in the space race by doing what?

During the Space Race, the East and West fought to innovate technology and explore space first. The USSR took an early lead with both the first artificial satellite and the first human space flight.


Under Stalin, what did the USSR develop?

The Soviet atom bomb project was the classified project authorized by Joseph Stalin to research and create nuclear weapons. They successfully tested their first nuclear weapon in 1949.


Who was the last leader of the Soviet Union?

The last leader of the USSR was Mikhail Gorbachev. He aimed to liberalize and reform the economy, but caused severe political instability with his policies.


What happened during the Autumn of Nations?

Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, various Soviet satellite states in Eurasia overthrew their Soviet governments. These included states like Romania and East Germany. This era is also known as the Revolutions of 1989.


When did the Cold War end?

The Cold War officially ended on Dec. 3, 1989. It officially ended when Soviet leader Gorbachev met with President Bush on a Soviet ship.


During its height, the USSR had the world's _________ largest economy.

The Soviet Union was a massive powerhouse covering a sixth of the world's land. It had the second largest economy on earth after the US, and was responsible for many technological advancements.


Which climate zone could be found in the USSR?

The USSR was truly massive, spanning 11 time zones and containing 5 distinct climate zones. These were tundra, steppes, taiga, mountains and desert.


The Soviet Union shared a border with which countries?

The USSR was truly massive, sharing land borders with numerous Eurasian countries, from Hungary to North Korea. It was also across the Bering Strait from the northern United States.


How was Stalin presented in Soviet media?

A cult of personality was built up around Josef Stalin. He was presented as a sort of all-knowing and all-powerful figure, which earned him both fans and critics abroad.


Who was the last Russian Tsar?

Nicholas II was the final Tsar of Russia. He abdicated in 1917 following the February Revolution, to be replaced with a Russian Provisional Government. This government was overthrown by Bolshevik Revolutionaries during the October Revolution of 1917.


What did Lenin die of?

Lenin died at 53 years old in 1924 after a long decline. In 1925 his preserved brain was dissected, which revealed that he had suffered from severe sclerosis.


Lenin believed that ultimately society would naturally become what?

Lenin was a devout Marxist. He believed that eventually society would evolve into a classless, stateless and completely equitable society where workers controlled their own destiny and took care of each others' needs first. He thought that socialism would help society make this transition.


Why is Stalin's government widely condemned by historians?

Stalin's government was a totalitarian government under which all rivals or opponents were repressed, imprisoned or killed. His regime oversaw hundreds of thousands of executions and multiple famines.


Which of these was Russia the first to send into space?

The Soviets made Yuri Gagarin the first human to ever be sent into space in 1961. Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to go to space in 1963. However, before both of these people they sent a dog named Laika to space.


Throughout the 1980s, the USSR was:

Throughout the 1980s, the cracks in the USSR began to show. A period of stagnation and aging leaders did not help, and many of their satellite states began to revolt and break away.


In 1991, the final leader of the USSR:

On December 1991, Gorbachev resigned as president of the USSR. He declared the office extinct and that night the Soviet flag was lowered and the Russian flag was raised in Russia.


What happened to the highest governmental body when the USSR was dissolved?

The Supreme Soviet, the highest governmental body of the Soviet Union, voted itself out of existence. This followed all of its republics voting to leave and Gorbachev resigning as leader.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!