Daniel Halliday
Dec 30 · Last update 2 mo. ago.
Why does Russia have such a large territory?
What lead to the Russian Federation being the largest country in the world and what does this mean for the country as a nation?
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Geographic Emptiness
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The collapse of the Mongol Empire
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Russian Expansionism
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Geographic Emptiness

Regardless of historical, social or political realities that helped lead Russia to being the largest country in the world today, it is inevitably Russia’s sparse population and the emptiness of large regions within the country that led to its massive territorial size. The expansion of Russian territory eastward under Ivan IV started in 1582 with the conquest of the Khanate of Sibir. This continued until the 18th century as a gradual conquering of indigenous groups as the east became Russia’s largest region of Siberia, and was largely made possible simply due to the lack of resistance met in these regions.

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The collapse of the Mongol Empire

Prior to Russian Imperialism the remnants of the Mongol Empire spread across from the Pacific Ocean to the Black Sea. By the end of the 13th century, following the fracturing of the Mongol Empire, which had declined into a collection of loosely connected khanates, these proved easy to conquer as Ivan the Great defeated the Tatar Golden Horde and expanded his territory South of Moscovy in 1480. This and other territorial weaknesses set the stage for the growth of the Russian empire in the following centuries, helping it on its way to becoming the huge territory it is today.

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Russian Expansionism

Russia became the largest country in the world following centuries of expansionism starting with Ivan the Great and surviving through Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great and Elizabeth of Russia. During the rule of Ivan III the foundations of a Russian state were laid as the Grand Duchy of Moscow grew to incorporate the Republic of Novgorod to the north and lands south by defeating the Mongol Golden Horde. This continued as Russia became an empire under Peter the great, and continued still through the reign of Elizabeth of Russia until the Russian Empire covered more territory than it does presently.

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