(NATIONALISM and EMPIRE in EUROPE – continued)

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Russian Territorial Expansion

While Italy was unifying, Russia's emperors had been extending their control eastward toward the Pacific. Traders and settlers in Siberia, said to be around 0.9 million in 1800, had increased to 2.7 million by 1850, most of them in the western part of Siberia. In 1857 Russia founded a penal colony in the north of Sakhalin Island. In 1858 the Russians took advantage of China's weakness and signed, with the Manchu dynasty ruling China, the Treaty of Aigun. In this treaty, Russia gained 600,000 square kilometers of territory on the left bank of the Amur River (which now separates China from Russia) – a gain in territory almost the size of California and Oregon combined. In 1860, in the Treaty of Beijing, Russia gained territory south from the Amur River along the East Sea (Sea of Japan) to Korea – territory approximately the size of California. In the south of that region, in 1860, the Russians founded the port city of Vladivostok.

In the Caucasus region, Russia had been facing the "holy wars" of Islamic mountain peoples. In 1857, following the Crimean War, the Russians launched a new offensive there. Russians captured the legendary Shamil, leader of the resistance to Russia. In the region were the Armenians and Georgians – Christians – and they looked to the Russians for protection against the threat from the Ottoman Turks as well as attacks by Muslim mountaineers. And some Muslims in the region migrated to Turkey rather than be ruled by the Russians.

Russia was also expanding into Central Asia. There the population was sparse and largely tribal, Muslim and mobile herders. Resistance to the Russians was armed with little more than a few antiquated firearms. The United States was Russia's primary source of cotton, and when this supply was curtailed during the US Civil War the growing of cotton in Central Asia became of greater importance to Russia. The Russians captured the city of Tashkent in June 1865. Tashkent became a Russian administrative center. Russian settlers began moving into the conquered areas, with the Russian army defending the settlers against attacks by local people.

In 1867, Alexander's government moved toward a greater consolidation of the frontier of its empire by selling to the United States all its "territory and dominion" on the continent of North America, namely Alaska, and adjacent islands – a continuation of a pull back from Fort Ross in northern California in 1841. In 1875, Russia pulled back from the Kurile Islands (historically islands that belonged to the Ainu people). Russia acknowledged Japan's control there and received, in exchange, recognition of its control over the southern half of Sakhalin Island, giving all of Sakhalin, for the time being, to Russia.


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