Russia as a Multi-Ethnic Empire

In the latter half of the nineteenth century,  Russia experienced a massive shift in population in a number of ways.  From ethnicity, to occupation, Russia became more modern than it had ever been before.

Kaeppler talk about the expansiveness of Russia’s ethnicity.  The vast array of backgrounds was established by the 1897 Russian Empire census, the only official one they had ever taken at that time.  In the census, it was revealed that the Russian ethnicity/ nationality made up only 44.3% of the entire Empire.  The other 55.7% was a large mixture of ethnicities;  This was shocking when the Tsar and government declared that two thirds of the empire was of Russian nationality.  The sheer number of nationalities, ethnicities, religions, and languages mentioned in Kappeler’s article is a testament to how diverse the Russian Empire was.

In addition to the ethnic diversity of Russia, there was also an increase in agricultural diversity.  With the freeing of serfs in 1861, Russia was undergoing a large amount of economic change.  Specific regions were beginning to focus on more commercial crops and crops that were more specific the the region they were being grown in.  For example, the Poles focused on cultivating Tobacco, while Middle Asia grew vineyards and rice.  This was only possible as trading was much more expansive and farming was more versatile.

Was this diversity a positive or negative aspect of the Russian Empire?