The causes of the fall of the Soviet Union were many and included ethnic conflict, a lack of support for the idea of communism and economic troubles caused by a focus on arms. Despite reform efforts by Mikhail Gorbachev, the then leader of the Soviet Union, the country was never able to reorganize and rebuild.
As a nation that covered more square miles than any other in the world, the former Soviet Union encompassed many smaller republics populated with various ethnic groups. These ethnic groups were not always able to find a way to coexist peacefully, which eventually gave way to a constant state of political unrest that was further agitated by the widespread economic struggles caused by the expenditure of large amounts of money on military and weapons in a competition with the United States to be the world's most powerful nation. The lack of prosperity made it more difficult to convince citizens to invest fully in the idea of communism. In 1987, the republics began breaking away and demanding to form their own nations. The final straw came after a failed coup in 1991 that involved the kidnapping of Gorbachev himself. The group that kidnapped Gorbachev tried to take control of the military, but the members of the military rebelled, which led to a period of widespread civil unrest. Shortly thereafter, the Soviet Union collapsed.