Russia is a country with a rich history. There are many glorious and heroic events. Of course there are disputable moments too. The history of Russia begins with that of the Eastern Slavs and the Finno-Ugric peoples. The state of Garðaríki ("the realm of towns"), which was centered in Novgorod and included the entire areas inhabited by Ilmen Slavs, Veps, and Votes, was established by the Varangian chieftain Rurik in 862 (the traditional beginning of Russian history)
During the 17th century the Russian empire expanded rapidly eastwards through Siberia to the Pacific coast. Now, in the 19th century, important consolidations are made to the south of this vast region. Russian control is gradually exerted over the fierce Turkish tribes living to the east of the Caspian Sea. By mid-century the region north of the Aral Sea is securely incorporated, bringing the Kazakhs within the empire. During the reign of Alexander II the pressure continues southwards on the territory of the Uzbeks. By 1885 the ancient cities of Bukhara and Samarkand are in Russian hands. The emperor's writ reaches now to the frontiers of Persia and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, in the far east, Russia has exacted valuable concessions from the weakened Qing dynasty in China. Under the treaty of Aigun (one of the 'unequal treaties' resulting from the Opium Wars) Russia is granted in 1858 the Pacific coast from its Siberian border southwards to the frontier with Korea. At the southern end of this coastline, as far as possible from the ice of the Arctic Circle, Russia is now able to develop the naval base of Vladivostok. With her extensive territory on the Baltic and the Black Sea (gained in the wars of the 18th century), Russia has now assembled the mighty empire which will survive as a single state until the 1990s.
The history of the Russian Federation officially starts in January 1992. The Russian Federation was recognized as the legal successor to the Soviet Union on the international stage. However, Russia has lost its superpower status after facing serious challenges in its efforts to forge a new post-Soviet political and economic system. Scrapping the socialist central planning and state ownership of property of the Soviet era, Russia attempted to build an economy based on market capitalism, often with painful results. Even today Russia shares many continuities of political culture and social structure with its tsarist and Soviet past.