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Why was Russia such a backward country in the end of the 19th century?

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Luciana Machado 3.12.04 IB History - yr2 Why was Russia such a backward country in the end of the 19th century? The Tsarist state inherited by Nicholas II consisted of many weakenessesm, largely of political problems, social weaknesses and tensions, faults in the economy and other factors that all combined to make Russia a backward state. Russia's problems went as follow: The agrarian situation was a something that no matter how many changes acurred, yet they remained repressed and backward in several important aspects. The government in Russia had been bankrupt following the Crimean War and so transferred the large debt to the freed peasants. These debts were made worse by the inflated land values in the black soil and non-black soil provinces in Russia which also exacerbated the high interest payments on the peasants debts. The Emancipation Decrees of Alexander II also caused a stir as ex-serfs still bore a temporary obligation to their former masters until late 1881. ...read more.


The nobles however, were even more indebted despite the redemption payments. Many used the money they borrowed to subsidize their lifestyles rather than to invest in the productivity of the countryside. Nicholas II pursued a policy of low bread prices to feed the emerging industrial cities, but his efforts were in vain becuase of the repeated harvest failures of the 1890s. By1900, although agricultural productivity had increased by about 20% in Russia since 1860, it had more than doubled in Japan during the same period. Agriculture in Russia was bled dry in order to finance industrialization, but the move became counter-productive in that the lack of investment driven development in agriculture meant that it could not provide enough money to finance an effective industrialization. The reforms of Alexander II can be considered only half-filled as they had more virtual impact than actually a concrete one. Railway developement was not seriously undertaken until the 1870s to link the areas of industrial activity. ...read more.


There was a great problem of overcrowding as many workers lived in slum conditions and though modern machinery was imported from the west, in the steel industry, there were only wheelbarrows to move the finished steelaround the plant. The political backwardness of Russia was another factor that simply did not allow the country to move forward. Although Alexander II had modernized and strengthened local government with the creation of the Zemstvas, it was still not enough as it was not uniform throughout the Empire and did not have control over imperial finances. Alexander III made the Zemstvas a great target from his reactionary laws in 1890 and in 1892 the franchise was revised for rural and urban assembly elections order to restrict popular votes. The number of peasant delegates and westernized intellectuals was reduced from 21,000 people to 7,000 people. The representation of the nobles was markedly increased as the approval of the provincial governors was required for all zemstva employees, teachers, doctors, and lawyers. Zemstva's decisions were subject to review by the provincial governors and the minister of the interior. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

This is a good attempt, however it lacks a conclusion and could have incorporated more data to demonstrate Russia's position at the end of the 19th Century.
3 stars.

Marked by teacher Molly Reynolds 17/09/2013

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