Russia, an empire extending over eastern Europe, the whole of northern Asia, and a part of central Asia. Its limits are 38° 30' and 78° N. lat, and 17° 19' and 190° E. long. This area, which is more than twice as large as Europe, and embraces one-sixth of the land-surface of the globe, has a pop. estimated at near 130,000,000. (at the census of 1859 the total was only 74,000,000). The Russian empire consists of Euro-pean Russia, less than one-fourth of the whole, but including nearly three-fourths of its population; Finland; Poland; Caucasia; Siberia; Turkestan; and the Transcaspian region. Khiva and Bokhara are vassal states. The Russian dominions in America (Alaska) were sold to the United States in 1867. The table shows the areas and populations of the various sections of the empire in 1897.
Area in sq. m.
The 50 governments of European Russia.......................
The 10 Polish governments...........
The density of the population, 53 per sq. m. in the 50 governments, on the average varies from 189 in Moscow to 1 in Archangelsk. In the Polish governments it is 193 overhead; in Finland, 20; in Caucasus, 54; in central Asia, 6; in Siberia, only 1. The average for the empire is 15 per sq. m. The Baltic Sea, with the Gulfs of Bothnia, Finland, and Riga, is the chief sea of Russia; but it nowhere touches purely Russian territory, its coasts being peopled by Finns, Letts, Esthonians, and Germans. Nevertheless, four out of the five chief ports of Russia - St Petersburg, Reval, Libau, and Riga - are situated on the Baltic Sea, and except Libau, are frozen for from four to five months in the year. The Black Sea acquires more im-portance every year. Odessa is its great port; Nikolaieff is the naval arsenal; Sebastopol is a naval station; Batoum exports petroleum. - The Caspian Sea receives the chief Russian river - the Volga - connects Russia with its central Asian dominions and the Caucasus. Finland, Poland, Caucasus, Siberia, and Turkestan being dealt with under those respective headings, what follows relates only to European Russia. The leading feature in its physical structure is a broad, flat swelling about 700 miles wide, with an average height of 800 feet (highest points 1100), which crosses it from south-west to north-east and connects the elevated plains of middle Europe with the Urals. A belt of lowlands stretching from east Prussia to the White Sea fringes this central plateau on the north-west, separating it from the hilly tracts of Finland; while the plains of Bessarabia, Kherson, the Sea of Azov, and the lower Volga limit it on the south-east. The central plateau is diversified by three or four depressions. The Urals, which separate the lowlands of European Russia from those of Siberia, consist of a series of parallel ridges running south-west to north-east, their chief summits reaching 4950-5100 feet high. The chief rivers of Russia take their origin along the north-western border of the plateau, and some of them flow NW., while the others, though describing great curves, trend SE. The Niemen, the Dwina, the Lovat (continued by the Volkhoff and the Neva), and the two chief streams that reach the White Sea, the Onega and the North Dwina, are in the first group; while the Dnieper, the Don, and the Volga belong to the second. The Dniester and the Pruth rise on foreign territory; the Vistula has its mouth in Prussia. By means of three lines of canals and canalised rivers, which connect the upper tributaries of the Volga with the streams that flow into lakes Onega and Ladoga, the outlet of the chief artery of Russia, the Volga, has been transferred from the Caspian to the Gulf of Finland, and St Petersburg is the chief port for the Volga basin. The upper Volga and the upper Kama are also connected by canals with the North Dwina, and the Dnieper with the Duna, the Niemen, and the Vistula. The rainfall all over Russia is small, and as part of it falls in snow, which is rapidly thawed in the spring, the rivers are flooded then and in early summer, and they grow shallow by the autumn. In winter navigation ceases.
All over European Russia, except in the Baltic Provinces, the south of the Crimea, and a narrow strip of land on the Black Sea, the climate is continental. A very cold winter, followed by a spring which sets in rapidly; a hot summer; an autumn cooler than spring; early frosts; and a small rainfall, chiefly during the summer and the autumn, are the main features. The winter is cold everywhere. All over Russia the average temperature of January is below the freezing-point, and it only varies between 22° F. in the west and 5° to 7° in the east. All the rivers are frozen over early in December, and they remain under ice for from 100 days in the south to 160 in the north. In summer the temperature is high all over Russia, and reaches 78° at Astrakhan. The flora of Russia marks four regions: (a) the Arctic tundras are chiefly covered with mosses, lichens, and shrubs. (b) The forest-region, which covers the whole of northern and middle Russia, is either forest-region proper or prairies dotted with forests. The forest-region again is either of coniferous (in the north) or deciduous trees. (c) The Steppes are immense plains covered with grass, and devoid of forests. (d) The flora of the Mediterranean region occupies a narrow strip along the southern coast of the Crimea. The fauna of European Russia is very much like that of middle Europe. Wolves and bears are common in the north. The reindeer is still met with in the north; the wild boar and the bison are each limited to one district; the elk, the lynx, the glutton, the beaver are now very scarce.
The various sections of the country differ much from one another. The Baltic provinces form one section, another is the low-lying Lake Region from the Gulf of Riga to the White Sea. The central plateau contains the most populous agricultural and industrial parts of European Russia. Its physical aspects vary, however, a good deal in the different parts. The Lithuanian provinces of Kovno, Vilna, and part of Grodno and Vitebsk, drained by the Niemen and the upper Dwina, are, on the whole, a very poor region. White Russia, watered by the upper Dnieper and its right-hand tributaries, comprises the governments of Moghileff, Minsk, and southera Vitebsk, as well as parts of Grodno, Vilna, and Smolensk, and is one of the poorest regions of Russia; about one-tenth of the total area is covered with marshes. Little Russia, or the Ukraine, comprising the governments of Tcherni-goff, Kieff, Poltava, and part of Kharkoff, as well as Volhynia and Podolia on the spurs of the Carpathians, belongs to the richest and most populous parts of Russia. The soil is mostly a rich black earth, and assumes farther south the aspect of fine grassy steppes, or prairies, yielding rich crops of wheat. Kieff is one of the chief industrial centres of Russia, and woollen cloth mills are rapidly spreading in Podolia. Middle Russia comprises the provinces of Tver, Moscow, Vladimir, Smolensk, Orel, Tula, Kaluga, Kursk, Ryazan, Tamboff, Penza, part of Voronezh, southern Yaroslav, and Simbirsk, peopled by more than 25,000,000 Great Russians, the average density being over 100 inhabitants per sq. m. Except on its outskirts, this region presents everywhere the same aspects, wide undulating plains covered with cornfields and dotted with small deciduous forests. The soil is of very moderate fertility in the north, but very fertile in the black earth belt of the south. Farther north-east the country is more elevated, but less effectively drained; and vast forests stretch from the upper Volga to the Urals. The governments of Kostroma, Vologda, and Vyatka, together with those parts of Nijni-Novgorod and Kazan which lie on the left bank of the Volga, belong to this domain; and Perm (which includes the mining districts on the Asiatic slope of the Urals) and North Ufa are the chief centres for the iron industry. The Middle Volga governments of Simbirsk, Saratoff, and Samara, and the South Ural governments of South Ufa and Orenburg, belong to a great extent to the steppe-region of south Russia. The Steppe-region occupies a belt more than 200 miles wide along the littoral of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, and extends eastwards through the region of the lower Volga and Ural till it meets the steppes of central Asia. As far as the eye can reach there are gently undulating plains, clothed with rich grass, and destitute of trees; yet in the deep ravines grow willows, wild cherries, wild apricots, and so forth. The whole is coated with a thick layer of fertile 'black earth.' In the Crimea the soil is a clay impregnated with salt. The Caspian Steppes form a link between Europe and Asia.
The population of the empire embraces a great variety of nationalities; but the Russians, comprising the Velikorusses or Great Russians, the Malorusses or Little Russians, and the Byelorusses or White Russians, are the predominant race. They number 77,000,000 - 70,000,000 in European Russia. None of the three is a pure race. The Great Russians, who invaded a territory occupied by Finnish tribes, ended by Russian-ising them. The Little Russians assimilated Turkish tribes, as the White Russians did Lithuanians. The Great Russians inhabit middle Russia in a compact mass of over 35,000,000, and even in east and north Russia they constitute from two-thirds to three-fourths of the population. The Little Russians, nearly 15,000,000 in all, are settled in Little Russia, which contains also in the borderlands some 12 per cent. of Jews, and 6 per cent. of Poles. The White Russians, who number about 5,000,000, dwell in the west, but they are more mixed with Poles, Jews, and Little Russians. The Poles number 5,000,000 in Poland (q.v.), and 1,000,000 in the western governments of Russia. Some 120,000 other Slavs - Servians, Bulgarians, and Bohemians - exist in small colonies in Bessarabia and Kherson. The Letts and the Lithuanians number 2,600,000 in Russia and 400,000 In Poland. Armenians, Kurds, and Persians number 1,300,000, chiefly in Caucasia. The Caucasus (q.v.), inhabited by a great variety of races, has a pop. of 7,500,000. Jews are very numerous in the towns of west Russia (about 3,500,000) and Poland (1,300,000). Nearly three-fourths of the Russian Jews are artisans or factory-workers, while the 30,000 Jews in Bessarabia and Kherson are good agriculturists. The Finnish race includes the Finns and the Karelians (1,850,000 in Finland and 350,000 in European Russia); the Esthonians, the people of Livonia, and other Western Finns in the Baltic Provinces (about 1,000,000); the Lapps and the Samoyedes in the far north; and the Volga Finns and the Ugrians (1,750,000 in European Russia and 50,000 in Siberia). The Eastern Finns are being rapidly absorbed by the Russians; but the Western Finns warmly cherish their nationality. The Turko-Tartars - i.e. Tartars, Bashkirs, Kirghizes, etc. - are mere feeble remnants of the tribes who once conquered Russia. They are 3,500,000 in European Russia, 4,500,000 in central Asia, 1,500,000 in the Caucasus, and 350,000 (Tartars and Yakuts) in Siberia. The Mongol race is represented by 480,000 Kalmucks in Russia and central Asia, as well as by 250,000 Buriats in Siberia; while the Manchurian tribes (Tunguses, etc.) number 50,000 in Siberia (q.v.). Of west Europeans the Germans (about 1,000,000, of whom 500,000 are in Poland) are the most numerous. They have prosperous colonies in south Russia; and in the chief towns there are numbers of German artisans and merchants. The Swedes are 300,000 in Finland. There are, besides, nearly 900,000 Roumanians in south-west Russia, and about 1,000,000 Europeans of various nationalities scattered throughout the empire. The population is rapidly increasing. Great numbers of European Russians emigrate every year to the Asiatic dominions.
The great bulk of the Russians - excepting a few White Russians professing the Union - belong to the GrAeco-Russian Church, officially styled the Orthodox-Catholic Church, or to one of its numberless sects of dissenters (raskol). The Poles and most of the Lithuanians are Roman Catholics (11,500,000); while the Finns, the Esthonians, and other Western Finns, the Swedes, and the Germans are Protestants (about 6,200,000). Islam claims all the Turco-Tartars, Bashkirs, and Kirghizes. Buddhism has the Kalmucks and the Buriats. Shamanism is the religion of most of the natives of Siberia, as well as of the nominally Christian Mordvins, Votyaks, Tchuvashes, and some Kirghizes. The Voguls, the Samoyedes, and other inhabitants of the far north are fetich worshippers. The GrAeco-Russian, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Moslem, Jewish, and Buddhist clergy are maintained or protected by the state. The making of proselytes from the Greek Church is severely punished. To the numerous sects of dissenters, or raskolniks, one-third of the so-called Orthodox Russians belong. The Russian dissenters may be classed under three divisions, all equally numerous: the 'Po-povtsy' (who have priests), the 'Bezpopovtsy' (who have none), and the 'Dukhovnyie Khristi-ane' (spiritualist Christians). The 'stundist' evangelical movement has spread rapidly in Little Russia.
The political organisation of Russia is a very heterogeneous structure. It has at bottom a great deal of self-government. Till 1905 the empire was an absolute and hereditary monarchy, the final decision in all legislative, executive, and judicial questions resting with the emperor; though a state council discussed measures elaborated by the separate ministries. The imperial authority has been wont to be represented by an army of officials, whose powers are very extensive. In 1905 a constitution and some measure of responsible government was promised. The Duma, a democratic parliament of rather vague powers, met for the first time in 1906, and was soon at feud with the bureaucracy. The several states and territories are ruled each by a governor or governor-general. Finland (q.v.) is substantially a separate state. Four-fifths of the population are ' peasants.' Next come the burghers and the 'merchants' (9 per cent. in European Russia), the clergy (less than 1 per cent.), the nobility (1.3 per cent.), the military (6.l), and foreigners (0.3). The peasants, including the liberated serfs, are grouped in village communes (107,943 in European Russia and Poland); and the assembly of all the householders of the commune, the mir, enjoys a certain degree of self-government. The land being held in common throughout Great Russia and Siberia, it is the mir that periodically distributes the land into allotments. The administration of the economic affairs of the district and the province was in 1866 committed to the district and provincial assemblies or zemstvos. Since 1874 military service has been rendered obligatory upon all able citizens between twenty-one and forty-three. But of the actual total (860,000) liable for conscription every year little more than one-third (260,000) are selected for four years' service with the colours; the remainder are inscribed either in the reserve or the militia. In peace the army numbers nearly 1,000,000 men, scattered all over the empire; the war footing is reckoned at 4,500,000, with 580,000 horses and 5100 guns. The navy was almost totally destroyed in the Japanese war of 1904-5. There are in the empire about 84,500 elementary schools, with 4 1/2 million pupils (1,231,256 were girls); nearly 1500 middle schools (classical gymnasiums, Realschulen, &c), with 350,000 pupils; and 31 higher institutions, of which nine are universities, with 20,000 male and 600 female students. The language is pure Slavonic, and the rich and varied literature has of late become known in western Europe, from Gogol and Pushkin to Turgenief and Tolstoi. The finances of Russia are in a precarious state, though the state revenue increased from £58,700,000 in 1877 to £200,000,000 in 1904; the debt in 1904 was £750,000,000.
Of European Russia, nearly one-fifth is unproductive and two-fifths are under forests. The remainder is partly meadow or pasture-ground and partly arable land. Two-fifths of the registered area belongs to the crown, one-third is held by the peasants' communes (representing 25,000,000 men), and one-fourth is held by 481,400 private proprietors (most of it by the nobility). Agriculture is the chief occupation of the people of Russia; only in central Russia (Moscow, Vladimir, Nijni) does industry take the lead. The conditions of agriculture are very different in different parts of the country. A line drawn from Kieff to Nijni-Novgorod and Vyatka, will divide the country into two parts, of which the south-eastern has a surplus of wheat and rye and exports them, while the other has to import both. Bad years recur, as in India, at intervals of from ten to twelve years, sometimes followed by severe famine (as in 1891) in many provinces. Flax and hemp are extensively cultivated in the west, the sugar-beet is grown in the south and south-west, and tobacco is produced in the south. The vine is widely cultivated on the Black Sea littoral and in Caucasia. Cotton is widely planted in Turkestan. The empire is very rich in all kinds of minerals. Gold is obtained in Siberia and the Ural Mountains. Silver and lead are obtained in Siberia, the Kirghiz Steppes, the Caucasus, and Finland; platinum in the Urals. Iron ores are found in profusion both in the Asiatic dominions and in European Russia. Zinc is mined in Poland, tin in Finland, and cobalt and manganese ore in Caucasia. Salt is obtained from salt-lakes. Russia has excellent coal-basins, especially in the Don region. The rich oil-wells of Baku supply Russia with petroleum and steam-fuel. In 1903 the annual production of the 17,000 manufactories of the empire, which employ 1,711,750 workmen, was valued at £130,000,000, without reckoning the mining industry and the industries which pay excise duties (tobacco, sugar, spirits, beer, petroleum and matches). The chief industrial centres are Moscow and the surrounding governments, St Petersburg, and Poland. The woollen trade is taking firm root in the south. The production of alcohol (chiefly vodka, the national spirit) averages 80 to 90 million gallons of alcohol every year. There are over 280 sugar-mills and nearly 400 tallow-factories in Russia. The domestic industries, which are carried on by the peasants of central Russia along with agriculture, are of much greater importance in Russia than in western Europe. Some 7,500,000 peasants are engaged in these domestic trades, whose yearly produce amounts to £180,000,000. The exports to foreign countries consist principally of corn and flour (55 per cent. of the total exports), various articles of food (butter, eggs, etc.), flax, timber, linseed, raw wool, naphtha, and illuminating oils, and reach an annual value of £70,000,000 to £94,000,000. The imports (about £60,000,000) consist chiefly of raw cotton (£7,000,000 to £10,000,000), tea, raw metals, machinery, raw wool, colours, iron and steel goods, coal, coffee, wine and fruit; the manufactured goods imported may amount to £16,000,000. The exports to Great Britain, which were £26,315,000 in 1888, were £22,000,000 in 1903; the imports, £4,810,000 in the former year, were £11,200,000 in the latter. The ports of Russia are entered every year by about 12,000 vessels of 11 1/2 million tons, of which only 1100 to 1700 (chiefly belonging to Finns or Greeks) sail under the Russian flag. The importance of the Russian rivers for traffic has already been mentioned. About 1860 Russia had less than 1000 miles of railways; but in 1905 she had a network measuring 36,500 miles, out of which 5000 miles are in Siberia and 2000 in the Trans-caspian region. Nine-tenths of the cost has been defrayed by the state by means of loans. The Siberian railway to Vladivostok was completed in September 1904 by the opening of the Baikal section; and the Orenburg-Tashkend line was finished in 1905.
The Russian monarchy is traced to the Varangian or Northman Rurik. Vladimir and his people were baptised at Kieff in 9S8. In the 13th century befell the terrible Mongol invasion; from 1240 to 1480 the Russian princes paid tribute to the Mongol-Tartar Khans. Ivan the Great (1462-1505) expelled the Mongols, and made Moscow the capital of an important state, extending to the White Sea. Ivan the Terrible (1533-84) extended his dominions to the Black Sea and well into Siberia. Peter the Great (1689-1725) planted Russia firmly on the Baltic. Under Catharine II. (1762-96) great acquisitions were made at the expense of Poland, Turkey, Persia, and Sweden; next century Russia, besides annexing the Caucasus, made vast extensions of her territory in central Asia and eastern Siberia; so that now she nearly touches British India, marches with China, and has a naval station at Vladivostok on the Sea of Japan. But the too great energy of the 'forward party' in the Far East provoked Japanese suspicions; the practical annexation of Manchuria and intrigues in Corea led to the Japanese war of 1904-5, in which the fortress of Port Arthur fell, and Russian armies were repeatedly defeated In great battles and forced gradually to retreat. Peace was made in 1905, only after violent agitation had begun at home for a constitution and greater personal freedom, attended by strikes, riots, mutinies, revolutionary risings, and massacres of the Jews. See works on Russia by Sir D. M. Wallace (1877; new ed. 1905), Sutherland Edwards (1879), Geddie (1881), Morfill (1882), A. J. C. Hare (1888), Stepniak (from the Nihilist point of view, 1885-88), Tikhomirov (1887), Norman (1902), Skrine (1903), and Kropotkine (1905). For history, see the Russian historians Karamzin, Soloviev, Kostomarov, Bestuzhef-Riumin, etc.; Rainbaud, History of Russia (1878; Eng. trans. 1879; 2d ed. 1887); the shorter history by Morfill (1890); and Nisbet Bain, The First Romanoffs (1905).