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Ten Facts about the Russian Empire

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Ten Facts about the Russian Empire


Editor’s office of the Russkiy Mir Portal

The Bronze Horseman is an equestrian statue of Peter the Great in Saint Petersburg. Photo credit: Godot13 /

300 years ago, on October 22 (November 2), 1721, at the end of the victorious Great Northern War with Sweden, the Russian kingdom was proclaimed an empire. This happened when Tsar Peter the Great accepted the title of Emperor and Autocrat of All Russia, Peter the Great, and Father of the Fatherland at the request of the senators. The empire existed for nearly two centuries. It ceased to exist after the abdication of Nicholas II on September 1 (14), 1917, when the Provisional Government declared Russia a republic.

– The House of Romanov was the reigning imperial house of Russia but there is one point. After the death of Peter the Great's daughter, Empress Elizaveta Petrovna, in 1762, the direct lineage of succession in the Romanov dynasty was terminated. Elizaveta Petrovna was succeeded by the son of her late sister Anna Duke Karl Peter Ulrich von Holstein-Gottorp, known as Peter III. Although the dynasty continued to be called the Romanovs in Russia, it was officially called the Holstein-Hottorp-Romanovs in European genealogy.

– Everyone knows that St. Petersburg, built by Peter the Great, was the capital of the empire. It is believed that Moscow regained its capital status after a long break only in 1918 when the Bolshevik government moved there from Petrograd. In fact, Moscow was the capital of the Russian Empire, albeit not for long. This happened in 1728 during the short reign of Peter II, the son of Tsarevich Alexei and grandson of Peter the Great, who returned the imperial court to Moscow. In 1730 the emperor died, and Anna Ioannovna, who succeeded him, returned the court to St. Petersburg (in 1732).

The Greater Coat of Arms of the Russian Empire. Photo credit: Igor Barbe 2006 /

– The Russian Empire was the largest state in Eurasia with a territory of 22.8 million square kilometers (in 1895 - 1905) and a population of about 180 million people by 1916. It was second only to the British Empire (33 million square kilometers and 480 million people) and the Qing Dynasty (by population - about 400 million people).

– By 1913 the Russian Empire's economy was third in the world in GDP, trailing the United States and the British Empire only. At the beginning of the 20th century, Russia, along with the United States, held a leading position in world agriculture. Russia's share in world industry was, according to various estimates, about 5.3% to 12.7% (fourth to fifth place in the world).

– In 1901, Russia built the longest Trans-Siberian railroad on the planet. And in terms of the total length of railroads, Russia came second in the world.

Map of the Russian Empire in 1914. Photo credit:

– Three citizens of the Russian Empire became Nobel laureates - the physiologists Ivan Pavlov (1904) and Ilya Mechnikov (1908), and the writer Henrik Senkevich (1905).

– The official religion of the empire was Orthodox Christianity, and Russian was the official national language. However, there were also official local languages - Polish, Finnish, and Swedish.

– After the revolution of 1905, for the first time in Europe, women's suffrage was introduced in the Russian Empire (though only in the Grand Duchy of Finland, which enjoyed substantial autonomy). And there, for the first time in the world, women were elected to the parliament (Seimas).

– Currently, the territory of the Russian Empire features Russia, Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. It is because of the Russian Empire's successful wars against Turkey, such independent states as Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Montenegro were established.


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