At the beginning of the 20th century, Russia was a place of enormous size and diversity. Its landmass spanned one-sixth of the globe – from Western Europe to the Pacific Ocean, from the Arctic Circle to the Black Sea and the Balkans. It boasted more than 125 million people and 100 ethnicities and language groups.
Such was its vast size that for most people, Russia was almost incomprehensible. In 1897, the Russian government helped fill in the gaps by conducting its first-ever census. This was a vast undertaking took several months to collect information from every corner of the empire. Its findings are summarised in this fact box: