The Russian Empire of the 18th century was the third largest in history. Russia was the main member of the USSR (Soviet Union) until its collapse in 1991. Russia has an extremely strong history of excellence in arts and the sciences.
Is Russia in Europe or Asia? Both. Sort of. Most of its landmass is east of the Ural mountains, which would be considered Northern Asia. But most of its population, and capital city Moscow, are in Europe. And culturally, Russia is European rather than Asian.