Learn more about Russian Empire
- The subject of this article was previously also known as Russia. For other uses, see Russia (disambiguation)
The Russian Empire formed from the powerful medieval state of Muscovy, which was ruled by the successors of Ivan IV as Tsars. Though the empire was only officially proclaimed late in 1721 by Tsar Peter I, it was truly born when Peter became Tsar in early 1682. Peter was disgusted by what he saw as the backwardness of his kingdom, and so, prior to his gaining the throne, he travelled about Europe, working in various jobs and gaining the experience necessary to bring Muscovy into the then-present. Following a war in the Baltic in the early 1700s, Peter gained a foothold along the coastline, and founded the city that would be the capital of his empire for almost 200 years, Saint Petersburg. By the end of the 19th century the size of the empire was about 22,400,000 square kilometers (almost 1/6 of the Earth's landmass); its only rival in size at the time was the British Empire. However, at this time, the majority of the population lived in European Russia. More than 100 different ethnic groups lived in the Russian Empire, with the majority ethnic Russians comprising about 45% of the population.
In 1914 the Russian Empire consisted of 81 provinces (guberniyas) and 20 regions (oblasts). Vassals and protectorates of the Russian Empire included the Emirate of Bukhara, the Khanate of Khiva and, after 1914, Tuva (Uriankhai).
In addition to modern Russia, prior to 1917 the Russian Empire included most of present-day Ukraine, (Dnieper Ukraine and Crimea), Belarus, Moldova (Bessarabia), Finland (Grand Duchy of Finland), Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan (Russian Turkestan), most of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia (Baltic provinces), as well as a significant portions of Poland (Kingdom of Poland) and Ardahan, Artvin, Iğdır , and Kars from Turkey. Between 1742 and 1867 Russian Empire claimed Alaska as its colony.
The Russian Empire was an hereditary absolute monarchy headed by an autocratic Emperor (tsar) from the Romanov family. Russian Orthodox Christianity was the official faith of the Empire and was controlled by the tsar through the Holy Synod. Subjects of the Russian Empire were segregated into sosloviyes, or social estates (classes) such as "dvoryanstvo" (nobility), clergy, merchants, cossacks and peasants. Native people of Siberia and Central Asia were officially registered as a category called "inorodtsy" (non-Slavic, literally: "people of another origin").
This period, together with overlaps with the preceding and subsequent periods, is covered in the following articles.
- Russian history, 1682-1796
- Russian history, 1796-1855
- Russian history, 1855-1892
- Russian history, 1892-1920
Peter the Great changed his title from Tsar in 1721, when he was declared Emperor of all Russia. While subsequent rulers kept this title, the ruler of Russia was commonly known as Tsar or Tsarina until the fall of the Empire during the February Revolution of 1917.
 Imperial external territories
The empire also controlled a major overseas territory in the Americas:
- Russian America or Alaska (1744-1867)
Furthermore, the empire has at times controlled concession territories, notably the port of Kwantung & the Chinese Eastern Railway Zone, both conceded by imperial China, as well as a concession in Tientsin.
 See also
- Library of Congress Country Studies: Russia
- Hingley, Ronald. The Tsars, 1533-1917. Macmillan, 1968.
- Warnes, David. Chronicle of the Russian Tsars: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers of Imperial Russia. Thames & Hudson, 1999.
 External links
- The Empire that was Russia: color photographs from Library of Congress
- Russian Army During the Napoleonic Wars
|Russian/Soviet territorial dominions|
|Metropolitan power: Image:Romanov Flag.svg Russian Empire - Soviet Union Image:Flag of the Soviet Union.svg|
| Monarchies in personal union with imperial Russia: Kingdom of Congress Poland (1815-1831) | Grand Duchy of Finland (1809-1917)
Russian imperial protectorate: Manchuria
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