Moscow is the capital and the largest city of Russia with 12.2 million residents within the city limits and 16.8 million within the urban area. Moscow is one of three federal cities in Russia.
Moscow is a major political, economic, cultural, and scientific center of Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as the largest city entirely on the European continent. By broader definitions Moscow is among the world's largest cities, being the 14th largest metro area, the 17th largest agglomeration, the 16th largest urban area, and the 10th largest by population within city limits worldwide. Moscow is the northernmost and coldest megacity and metropolis on Earth. It is home to the Ostankino Tower, the tallest free standing structure in Europe; the Federation Tower, the tallest skyscraper in Europe; and the Moscow International Business Center. By its territorial expansion on July 1, 2012 southwest into the Moscow Oblast, the area of the capital more than doubled; from 1,091 square kilometers (421 sq mi) up to 2,511 square kilometers (970 sq mi), and gained an additional population of 233,000 people.
At the gates of the Soviet capital, the German invaders suffered their first defeat in 1941. The advance of the German Army Group Centre came to a halt in late November 1941, at the outskirts of Moscow itself. The Soviet Government had by then been evacuated, yet Joseph Stalin remained in the city. Struggling between determination and despair, the city's population helped build defensive positions in the streets. The underground metro stations provided shelter during German air raids. General Georgy Zhukov, who assumed command of the city's defence, largely left close combat tactics to the local commanders on the city's approaches, and focused on concentrating fresh troops from Siberia for an eventual counter-attack. The Soviet counter-offensive was launched on 5 and 6 December 1941. In the freezing cold of an unusually harsh winter, Soviet forces, including well-equipped ski battalions, drove the exhausted Germans back out of reach of Moscow and consolidated their positions on 7 January 1942. The victory in the battle provided an important boost in morale for the Soviet population. Moscow was awarded the title Hero City in 1965.