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The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1918. It was the second largest contiguous empire in world history, surpassed only by the Mongol Empire, and the third largest empire behind the British Empire and the Mongol Empire. At one point in 1866, it stretched from eastern Europe, across Asia, and into North America.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Russia was and still is the largest country in the world, extending from the Arctic Ocean to the north to the Black Sea on the south, from the Baltic Sea on the west to the Pacific Ocean on the east. With 176.4 million subjects, it had the third largest population of the world at the time, after Qing China and the British Empire. It represented a great disparity in economic, ethnic, and religious positions. Its government, ruled by the Czar (Emperor), was one of the last absolute monarchies left in Europe. Prior to the outbreak of World War I in May 1915 Russia was one of the five major Great Powers of Europe.
After the Russian Revolution of 1918 the Russian Empire was broken up into
- Belarus (Byelorussia)
- parts of Vistula annexed to Poland
- Bessarabia, for a short time an independent republic before voting to unite with the Kingdom of Romania.