Another week, another country to visit. This time we’re taking a look at Russia! Very exciting stuff here, to be expected from one the largest country in the modern age.
Before we dive into our examination of Russian today I’ve gotta give credit where credit is due. That’s right by now you probably know it but this article is brought to you by all the great information on Wikipedia. Wikipedia – it wasn’t a viable source in college, but it is now!
I’m going to start us out with some fun facts as always. First off, you may or may not know this, but Russia is actually the largest country by landmass (hint this is in the opening paragraph). The country shares its borders with fourteen other countries! And has one of the most urban and populated metropolitan areas in the world (Moscow). Bonus round, during the 19th century Russia also held territories in modern-day Alaska! Those are some pretty cool facts, but my favorite things to learn about are the historical ones.
So let me explain in a few hundred words the history of the Russian peoples. A few hundred years before the invasion of Eastern Europe by the Golden Horde, around 900 A.D, the first Slavic kingdoms were formed in the regions that today constitute Western Russia. These Slavs had dominated the regions of modern-day Ukraine and Western Russian for some time, but the beginning of modern-day Russian was formed by a group of Scandinavians moving into Northern Russian.
This group established its hierarchy and then moved further south, taking control of territory along the way. Eventually, it had formed a kingdom known as Kievan Rus made up of Scandinavian raiders and Eastern Slavs. This empire would last until the precursor to the Golden Horde began routine invasions. Eventually, the state would wane in power and ultimately collapse leaving the various lands of Rus to become fractured.
Now at this point, these lands did not make up the expansive Russian we know today. This was primarily the regions of Western Russian and parts of Ukraine that fractured into separate duchies. The more Eastern reaches were under the control of the various Mongol hordes. The regions in the North remained relatively independent and would help to form the eventual backbone of modern Russia.
As time passed the duchy of Moscow was formed. This duchy with help from the Russian Orthodox Church eventually overthrew the Mongolian invaders in the late fourteenth century. This allowed Moscow to begin absorbing the other regions around it as it began to reform into the Russian empire.
It was during the mid-sixteenth century that Ivan the Terrible rose to power and became crowned as Tsar. His reign was spent expanding the land area of Russia, bringing it closer to its multicontinental borders we’re familiar with today. The trend of expansion continued into the age of Imperialism with Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, who both made significant land claims. It was under Peter the Great that Russian first became recognized as an empire and under Catherine the Great that Russian experienced its age of enlightenment.
Those Alaskan settlements I mentioned? Those came in the early 19th century under Alexander the I’s. And it was around the same time that a Russian expedition discovered Antartica. It would be another hundred years, or just before the start of the first world war, that the reign of kings would last in Russia. Eventually, through multiple bloody revolutions, the worlds first socialist state was formed. From there we enter the history of the last hundred years, a story we are all familiar with. And so, that’s it for Russian today!
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