Naive question re a language

Thanks in advance for any answers or tips.

I am using Duolingo to begin my learning of the Russian language (if there is a better product please let me know). In the beginning lessons they use “Россия” as “Russia” such as “вот Россия”. Speaking with a Russian friend and saying “в Россия” was wrong, he corrected it to “в России”.

He wasn’t sure how to explain the difference and said this: “Может примеры помогут:

  1. Россия большая, Россия красивая, Россия интересная
  2. Из России с любовью, граница России, экономика России, я еду из России”

Is “Россия” for Russia in general, while “России” is for specific Russian things?

This question appeared on a blog devoted to Russian study. Most of the questions are from people with some knowledge of the language but this questioner obviously is in for a rude awakening when he encouters the Russian case system. I just thought it was a great examplle of how naïve learners i.e. without a knowledge of linguistics approach a language: “Why doesn’t it work like English?” You almost expect him to want to put an s on Россия to put “All the Russias” into Russian ( = vse rossii ).

This is not a comment on Duolingo.

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