Learn more about East Slavs
The East Slavs are a Slavic ethnic group, the speakers of East Slavic that evolved into the Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian peoples. Each of the many nationalities of Russia and Ukraine has a separate history and complex origins.
 Inhabitants of the East European Plain
Relatively little is known about the East Slavs prior to approximately AD 9th century. The reasons are the apparent absence of written language (Cyrillic, created ca. AD 863 was specifically for Slavic adoption) and the remoteness of East Slavic lands. What little is known comes from archaeological digs, foreign traveller accounts of the Rus land, and linguistic comparative analyses of Slavic languages.
Except for the controversial Book of Veles, very few native Russian documents, dating before the 11th century (none ante-dating the 9th century) were discovered. The earliest known, major manuscript with information on Russian history is the Primary Chronicle, written in the late 11th and early 12th centuries. It lists the twelve Slavic plemena (tribal unions, tribal nations) who, by the 9th century settled between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. These plemena are Polans, Drevlyans, Dregovichs, Radimichs, Vyatichs, Krivichs, Slovens, Dulebes (later known as Volhynians and Buzhans)(white) Khorvats, Severians, Ulichs, Tivertsi.
Based upon available archaeologic and linguistic evidence, historians postulate  that the Slavs organised as an ethnic group in the middle of 2nd millennium BC, in the area now delimitted among Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, western Belarus, and the northwestern Ukraine, by the 8th century BC, Slavs had entered the Iron Age and started their gradual eastward and southward migrations.
In the following centuries, Slavic settlers met the other, ethnic groups who either lived or had moved to the East European Plain. Between the AD 1st century and the 9th century, the Scythians, Goths, nomadic Huns, Avars, and Magyars passed through the Rus region in their particular migrations. Although some of them could have subjugated the region's Slavs, these foreign tribes left little of consequence. More significantly, this period was of Slavic expansion as an agriculturist and beekeeper, hunter, fisher, herder, and trapper people; by the 6th century, the Slavs were the dominant ethnic group on the East European Plain.
By 600 AD, the Slavs had split linguistically into southern, western, and eastern branches. The East Slavs settled along the Dnieper river in what is now Ukraine; they then spread northward to the northern Volga valley, east of modern-day Moscow and westward to the basins of the northern Dniester and the Southern Buh rivers in present-day Moldova and southern Ukraine. Their location allowed them to control the trade route between the Scandinavia-Baltic sea region and the eastern remnants of the Roman Empire, particularly the Byzantine Empire and the Grecian colonies on the northern coast of Black Sea. They had trade relations with both Vikings and Byzantines. Kiev - the future capital of Rus' - was probably established in the 5-6th century AD as a fortress which controlled Dnieper river and was used to collect taxes from boats returning from Byzantia. Many other cities were built in the subsequent 500 years.
In the eighth and ninth centuries, some East Slavic tribes had to pay tribute to the Khazars, a Turkic-speaking people who adopted Judaism in the late eighth or ninth century and lived in the southern Volga and Caucasus regions.
 East Slavs and the Varangians
- Dregovichi | Drevlyane | Slovene | Krivichi | Polyane | Radimichi | Vyatichi | Severyane | Tivertsi | Uglichi | Volynyane | Duleby | Buzhane | Polochane
 Modern East Slavs
Modern East Slavic peoples and ethnic groups include:
Three generations of a Russian family, ca. 1910
1961 USSR postage stamp depicting Belarusian traditional costumes
Ukrainians in traditional dress
Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space
 See also
- This article contains material from the Library of Congress Country Studies, which are United States government publications in the public domain. - Russiabg:Източни славяни
cs:Východní Slované de:Ostslawen es:Eslavos orientales ko:동슬라브족 he:היסטוריה של רוסיה: פרהיסטורית והיסטוריה מוקדמת ja:東スラヴ人 nl:Vroege Oostelijke Slaven pl:Słowianie wschodni pt:Eslavos do Leste ro:Slavii estici timpurii ru:Восточные славяне sk:Východní Slovania uk:Східні слов'яни zh:東斯拉夫人 hr:Istočni Slaveni