This is Russia, it’s big.
It borders Finland to the West and stretches further East than Japan.
Finland is in Europe and Japan is in Asia.
But where does Russia stand.
Is it European or Asian?
The divide between Europe and Asia is the Ural mountains.
So if you want a quick answer, Russia is in both.
But the real answer is more complicated.
I’ll take at look at all sides of this argument
and let you decide what you will.
俄罗斯疆域广阔 西接波兰 东临朝鲜
Russia is an enormous country stretching from Poland to North Korea.
Passing through 11 time zones.
Influenced by Asian and European invasions, trade,
侵略 外交 再侵略……
invasions, diplomacy, and invasions.
So how did Russia become Russia?
Eastern Slavs arose in Europe between the 3rd-8th centuries.
A bad ass Varangian warrior founded the Kievan Rus state in the 9th century.
And they got chummy with The Byzantines,
who were like “here have this cool Orthodox Christianity” .
The Mongols arrived and did what Mongols do.
The Rus became part of the Mongol Empire.
The Grand Duchy of Moscow started unifying the other Russian entities.
And Under Ivan the Great they defeated the Mongols
and merged Central and Western Russia.
The new Russian state began to expand into the territory once ruled by its conquerors.
Under Ivan the Terrible Russia began annexing nearby Khanates.
Russia conquered territory deep into Siberia.
Ivan became the first Tsar of all the Russians,
And ruled a multi ethnic, transcontinental Empire.
Skipping very far forward we arrive at Peter the Great.
Under his rule Russia conquered parts of the Baltic.
Where he founded Saint Petersburg,
Russia’s “Window to Europe”.
Peter the Great’s reforms brought Western
European cultural ideals to Russia.
He embarked on a modernisation campaign similar to the Japanese Meiji restoration.
Peter forced his nobles to wear European clothing, instituted a beard tax,
and adopted the Julian calendar.
He also declared himself Emperor of Russia.
However there was one thing that Peter couldn’t Westernise, geography.
According to Greeks, who Europeans based their geography on,
Russia was in Asia.
And thus Russia was still a spooky Asian entity on the borders of Europe.
Then Philip Johan von Strahlenberg came along in the 1730s
and change the definition of Europe.
Asia was now everything east of the Ural mountains.
Anna of Russia, Peter’s niece, obviously embraced this
and financed the distribution of Strahlenberg’s maps.
And Russia became less of a spooky Asian Empire with lands in Europe
more a Europeanish Empire with lands in Asia.
It was all a matter of re-branding.
But Europeans and Russians could still not decide 100%
whether Russia was a fully fledged European state, or an Asian one.
75% of Russia is east of the Ural mountains
firmly placing it inside Asia geographically.
you can see the Asian influence in Russia too.
As well as Asian religious influences,
particularly with Islam.
还有佛教 印度教 萨满教
As well as Buddhism, Hinduism, and
Shamanism in parts of Siberia.
Russia is multi ethnic and
has many people with both European and Asian heritage.
Over 160 ethnic groups live in Russia.
Russia is not a member of the EU nor does it plan to become a member.
It not a member of not NATO either.
The Russian government has instead focused on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO),
该组织的活动范围包括安全 军事 政治等领域
a security, military and political organisation whose
成员国有俄罗斯 中国 哈萨克斯坦
members are Russia, China, Kazakhstan,
吉尔吉斯斯坦 塔吉克斯坦 乌兹别克斯坦
Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
All of which would be considered Asian countries.
Russians themselves are even a recognised minority in People’s Republic of China.
While 75% of Russia is in Asia,
77% of it’s people aren’t.
The Western part of Russia is more European culturally.
The people speak European languages, and the cities look more European.
The old Russian capital of Saints Petersburg was designed to look like Venice.
Russia’s old rulers the Tsars spoke French at court
and were related to other European monarchs.
And even if many people don’t realise it European
culture would worse off without Russian contributions.
It’s next to impossible to go through the classical
libraries of Europe without finding a book
written by Dostoevsky or Tolstoy.
And classical music would be left wanting without Tchaikovsky.
And most importantly their singers compete in the Eurovision.
You could argue that modern Russia is a result of the Age of Empires.
Like the British or French.
Who also held transcontinental territories in the past.
But unlike the European empires the Russian Empire
was a mostly contiguous land empire.
Which made it much easier to maintain.
One of the main reasons for this cultural and continental confusion is that Russia is
populated with a majority European ethnic group.
Was invaded by an Asian Empire.
Which it then conquered the lands of.
And is now made up of elements of both.
Imagine if Alexander the Great’s empire survived to this day.
Would it be European or Asian?
Russia is both European and Asian,
European and not Asian, Asian and not European,
and neither Asian nor European.
It straddles the definition of both while also being totally different.
This is all caused by our messy definition of continents.
How many continents are there?
有人说7 有人说6 有人说5
Some people would say 7, others 6, some others 5.
There is no certain answer and it solely depends on your definition.
Europe isn’t a continent.
Europe and Asia should instead be treated as one mega-continent called Eurasia.
This is because there is no real border between Europe and Asia.
Tectonically, Europe and Asia are the same continent.
The choice of the Ural Mountains as a divide was arbitrary.
At best Europe should be a subcontinent, like India.
By dividing Europe from Asia we are making a continent based on cultural differences.
If we did that for every culture how many continents would end up with?
20? 40? 100?
So if you want to use a strict geographical definition,
Russia would be a Eurasian country.
Which actually sums up Russia very well,
a mix of both Europe and Asia.
Even with all these factors.
Some placing Russian nearer to Europe, others nearer to Asia.
If you asked a Russian whether they were Asian or European,
they would probably tell you that they were Russian.