Russia’s cultural origins initially began in what is now present-day Ukraine and Belarus. The people, known as the East Slavs, emerged in the 3rd century AD and expanded into the territory now known as Russia. The founding of Novgorod in the second half of the 9th century is considered to be the birth of modern Russia. This medieval state extended from the Baltic Sea to the northern Ural Mountains and while initially successful, the Novgorod Republic began to decline in the 15th century.
The Romanov Dynasty, established in 1613, went on to become the dominant force that transformed Russia and existed into the 20th century. Between the 17-19th centuries, Russia’s territory continued to expand incorporating Siberia, the Arctic and into Asia. With the help of Peter the Great, Russia was brought out of the dark ages. Peter led a cultural revolution and built a new capital, St. Petersburg in 1703. The Russian Empire was formed in 1721 and power began to grow with Peter ruling until his death in 1725.
Catherine the Great, an admirer of what Peter the Great had accomplished, ruled Russia from 1762 until 1796. The most renowned and longest-running female leader of Russia, Catherine continued the policies that Peter had started and worked to modernize the country. While several rebellions happened during Catherine’s time in power, her reign has often been called the Golden Age of the Russian Empire and she presided over the Russian Enlightenment.
Russia grew into a global power and was successful in stopping Napoleon’s invasion of the country in 1812. Through alliances with various European countries, strong resistance and incredibly cold winter, Napoleon, despite being at the height of his success, was unable to defeat the Russians. Forcing Napoleon out of the country, Russia and their allies drove through Europe resulting in the war of the Six Coalition that ended with Napoleon’s exile to Elba.
Late in the 19th century, various socialist movements were established in the country. The Revolution of 1905 witnessed workers' strikes, peasant unrest and mutinies. When Russia entered the First World War in 1914 to fight on the side of Britain and France, the high casualties, as well as the high costs of war, angered an already unhappy public. It was these conditions along with Nicholas II’s refusal to change that brought about the 1917 Russian Revolution which saw the Bolsheviks take power. Initially, a liberal revolution, under Lenin, the world’s first communist state was established.
Russia’s Communist Party was in power from 1917 until 1991. The country became a superpower, creating the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Between 1922-1945, the USSR took over control of fourteen neighbouring states. This period of Russian history is characterized by Stalin’s oppressive rule as well as the Cold War. The 1970s and into the early 1980s are known as the Era of Stagnation which witnessed a stalled economy until Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader brought about reforms beginning in 1985. He introduced the policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) and within six years, the USSR had collapsed.
The sheer size of Russia as well as the cultural diversity within its borders means that there is much to see and do in this immense country. Once a mystery to the outside world, tourism has expanded and will continue to grow as Russia prepares to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. European Russia is the place to visit for culture and history while Siberia and the Far East are ideal for those in search of the outdoors. Diverse landscapes, rich history and more await any visitor to this amazing country.
Russia Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy-to-navigate travel information section dedicated to Russia.
Learn about the history and culture of Russia, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Russia's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information, will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Russia for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Russia tours today!
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