Russian Empire (1721–1917)

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Russian Empire
Россійская Имперія
Flag of Russian Empire
Russian Imperial flag.png
and largest city
Saint Petersburg
Official languagesRussian
Mode of productionFeudalism
• Last Emperor
Nicholas II
• Established
• Dissolution
• Total
22,800,000 km²
• 1897 census

The Russian Empire was a semi-feudal monarchy that was proclaimed by Peter I in 1721 and overthrown in the February Revolution in 1917. Throughout its entire existence, it was ruled by the same family, the Romanovs. The Russian Empire included the area of modern-day Russia, the other Soviet republics, Finland, Alaska, and Poland. Most of the empire's territory later became part of the USSR, but Finland and Poland became independent after the revolution and Alaska was sold to the United States in 1867.


The male literacy rate was 1–12% for rural areas and 20–25% for urban areas.[1] The literacy rate for women was even lower and girls could not go to school.[2]


In Saint Petersburg in 1908, 60% of textile workers did not have their own rooms and slept in crowded barracks. The average proletarian family had only three square meters of floor space. In 1913, 58% of workers lived in company-owned accommodations with bunk beds.

In 1912, there were 24,500 small apartments in Moscow that housed a total of 325,000 people, or more than 13 people per apartment. The nobility and bourgeoisie lived in large mansions and villas, often with hundreds of square meters of space per resident.

Only 3% of houses were connected to sewage systems and only 5% of urban homes had electricity.[3]


  1. Boris N. Mironov (1991). The Development of Literacy in Russia and the USSR from the Tenth to the Twentieth Centuries (p. 234). History of Education Quarterly. doi: 10.2307/368437 [HUB]
  2. Nicholas V. Riasanovsky (2005). Russian Identities: A Historical Survey (pp. 112–18).
  3. "Housing in the USSR" (2017-01-13). Stalin Society. Archived from the original on 2022-03-30. Retrieved 2022-05-20.