The Russian Empire (Pre-reform Russian orthography: Россійская Имперія, Modern Russian: Российская Империя, translit: Rossiyskaya Imperiya) was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the short-lived Russian Republic, which was succeeded by the Soviet Union. It was one of the largest empires in world history, surpassed in landmass only by the British and Mongol empires: at one point in 1866, it stretched from eastern Europe across Asia and into North America.
At the beginning of the 19th century the Russian Empire extended from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea on the south, from the Baltic Sea on the west to the Pacific Ocean on the east. With 125.6 million subjects registered by the 1897 census, it had the third largest population of the world at the time, after Qing China and the British Empire. Like all empires it represented a large disparity in economic, ethnic, and religious positions. Its government, ruled by the Emperor, was the last absolute monarchy in Europe at the time of its demise. Prior to the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 Russia was one of the five major Great Powers of Europe.
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