What kind of Russians live in Russia?
What kind of Russians live in Russia?

The Russian people in its three varieties - Great Russian, Belarusian and Little Russian - are today one of the largest Aryan peoples, second only in numbers to the English-speaking methanation.

The number of Great Russians alone is 145 million. According to most anthropological characteristics, Russians occupy a central position among the peoples of Europe. Russian populations are anthropologically quite homogeneous. Average anthropological indicators either coincide with the average Western European values, or deviate from them, remaining, however, within the fluctuations of Western groups.

Genetic studies also confirm that Belarusians and Ukrainians actually form a single ethnic community with Russians. Of other peoples, the closest to the Russian genotype are the Poles and, oddly enough, the Germans. It is among these peoples that the Y chromosome with the genetic marker R1a-M458 is most common. Meanwhile, the ancient Germans themselves were not Aryans at all - they were carriers of haplogroup I1, which is now worn by Swedes, Finns, Estonians, Norwegians, Danes and Icelanders, and although most of these peoples, except for the Finns and Estnians, the language belongs to the Indo-European family, they are not genetically Aryans.

The latter, however, is not so strange: at one time, almost the entire territory of present-day Germany was inhabited by the Slavs, and the Germans of that time, conquering their territories, killed men and took women as wives, sometimes leaving the old offspring of their new wives alive. Since the struggle for a long time went on with varying success, the opposite process took place, when the Slavs captured German wives. It should also not be forgotten that we, the Germans and the Balts have a common ancestor - a certain man who lived about ten thousand years ago. The rest of the peoples surrounding the Russians - the Mordovians, Tatars and other such haplogroups do not have, and the haplogroups prevailing among them are not common among Russians. This refutes the assertions of Ukrainian samostiischikov that the Great Russians are a product of the mixing of the Slavs with the Turkic and Finno-Ugric peoples.

The separation of the Veikorusskaya nation from the all-Russian nation that had developed in Kievan Rus was associated not only with the Tatar-Mongol invasion, but also with the conquest of the western Russian lands by Lithuania and Poland. And although neither in the east nor in the west the Russian population did not mix with the conquerors, as evidenced by genetics, three parts of the Russian people developed in isolation for several centuries, which led to linguistic and some socio-cultural differences.


The Russian nation is characterized by the unity of the language, as well as the community of material and spiritual culture. This unity does not exclude regional differences. Some of them basically go back to ancient times, to the early feudal, and possibly even to the pre-feudal period. Features in the material culture of the population of the southern and northern regions are noted by archaeologists even among the ancient East Slavic tribes.

Differences also arose as a result of the assimilation by the Eastern Slavs of the foreign-speaking non-Slavic population of Eastern Europe in the X-XIII centuries. and in the process of resettlement of Russians and the incorporation of representatives of other nationalities into their composition at a later time (XVI-XVII centuries and later). Peculiar historical and cultural groups arose as a result of various migrations from one region to another, the formation of a military-service population on the borders of the state (Cossacks, odnodvorts, etc.), etc.

Great Russians of the central provinces, 1862

Great Russians of the central provinces, 1862

By ethnographic and dialectological characteristics, the Russian population of the northern and southern regions differs most noticeably.There is a wide transition zone between them. Back at the beginning of the XX century. the differences between the historical and cultural groups of Russians were very clear. At present, these differences are smoothed out, but many persist even now (in language, folklore, customs, buildings, etc.).

Typical North Russian features of culture and life and the northern "okay" dialect can be traced on the territory approximately from the basin of the river. Volkhov in the west to the river. Mezen and the upper reaches of the Kama and Vyatka in the east (i.e., Novgorod Region, Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, Arkhangelsk, Vologda, part of Kalinin, Yaroslavl, Ivanovo, Kostroma, Gorky and other regions).

South Russian features in the culture, everyday life of the population and the southern "akay" dialect prevail on the territory from the basin of the river. Desna in the west to the Penza region. in the east and approximately from the Oka in the north and to the Khoper basin and the middle Don in the south (most of the Ryazan, Penza, Kaluga regions, Tula, Tambov, Lipetsk, Oryol, Kursk, etc.).

Ethnographic differences between north and south are in the types of rural settlements and buildings. In the north, small villages and graveyard villages prevail. The south is characterized by large multi-yard villages. Northern peasant buildings are distinguished by their monumental architecture, a developed multi-chamber high building with an adjoining two-story covered courtyard; the South Russian village is characterized by a low (without a basement) hut or hut with a peculiar layout and an open courtyard (and often without a courtyard at all). In the past, differences were also traced in agricultural technology, its terminology, as well as in women's clothing (in the north - a sundress, in the south - poneva), in embroidery and ornamentation. Currently, many features of material culture have already disappeared, others (such as traditional clothing, embroidery), if they exist, then in a few places.

The Central Russian group occupies the territory, mainly of the Volga-Oka interfluve, where from the XIV century. the unification of the Russian principalities around Moscow began and the formation of the main nucleus of the Russian nationality took place. According to the modern administrative division, these are Moscow, Vladimir, the north of Ryazan, Kaluga, parts of Kalinin, Yaroslavl, Gorky, Kostroma, Ivanovo and some other adjacent regions.

The region of the Central Russian transitional dialect (along the line of Pskov, Kalinin, Moscow, Ryazan, Penza, Saratov), ‚Äč‚Äčallocated by dialectologists, is somewhat narrower than the region that is distinguished by ethnographic data. The Central Russian group is, as it were, a link between the northern and southern Russian populations. Her material and spiritual culture combines northern and southern features. On the other hand, many local characteristics (in clothing, buildings, customs) are widespread in the north and south.

According to dialectological and ethnographic data, the Russian population of the Middle Volga region is closely related to the Central Russian population of the central regions; it also has some differences and can be considered as a subgroup of the Central Russian population. The formation of the Russian population of the Middle Volga region took place much later (in the 16th-17th centuries) and in different conditions than in the center; Russians settled in the neighborhood with the population of the Volga region, diverse in their ethnic composition, which affected the culture of the Volgar.


A kind of transitional group includes the population of the ancient Russian territory in the basin of the river. Velikaya, the upper reaches of the Dnieper and Western Dvina (Pskov, Smolensk, parts of the Kalinin and other adjacent regions). In terms of language and ethnographic characteristics, it is, as it were, a transitional group between the northern and middle, middle and southern Russian population, as well as Russians and Belarusians. Ties with Belarusians are especially pronounced in the southern part of these western regions (Smolensk oblast).

B a kind of transitional group includes the population of the ancient Russian territory in the basin of the river.Velikaya, the upper reaches of the Dnieper and Western Dvina (Pskov, Smolensk, parts of the Kalinin and other adjacent regions). In terms of language and ethnographic characteristics, it is, as it were, a transitional group between the northern and middle, middle and southern Russian population, as well as Russians and Belarusians. Ties with Belarusians are especially pronounced in the southern part of these western regions (Smolensk oblast).

The population of the north- and southeastern regions is also distinguished, mainly formed from the 16th-17th centuries. The population of the northeast - the Urals (Kirov, Perm, Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk and parts of the adjoining regions), according to the "okayas" dialect and many North Russian features in culture, adjoins the northern group of Russians, but also has features characteristic of the Central Russian population, which is explained by two main directions along which the territory was settled - from the north and from the central regions and the Volga region.

The population of the southeast (from the Khopra basin to the Kuban and Terek basins - mainly the former Don Cossack region, the eastern part of Novorossiya, Kuban, Terek regions, etc.) is territorially and historically connected with the population of the southern Russian regions, but differs markedly from it in language. folklore, peculiarities in the dwelling (in the past there were differences in clothing). In general, the material and spiritual culture of the population there was not uniform due to the great diversity of the ethnic composition of this region.


In addition to these large ethnographic groups and subgroups, there are smaller, distinctive groups of the Russian population that have special names or self-names.

The Far North - the coast of the White Sea - is inhabited by the Pomors. Pomors is more a geographical than an ethnographic term and means: 1) the population of the White Sea coast from the river. Onega to Kem and 2) inhabitants of the northern sea coast. The Pomors, who are descendants of the ancient Novgorod settlers, are similar in their material and spiritual culture to the rest of the Russian population of the North and differ mainly in the peculiarities of their economic life; they have long been known as brave sailors, sea animal hunters and experienced fishermen.

Great Russians of the Voronezh province

Great Russians of the Voronezh province, 1862

In the southern Russian regions, small groups of comparatively late newcomers from the central and western regions are interspersed with a mass of population uniform in ethnographic characteristics. Some of them are descendants of the former military population of the lower category (archers, gunners, Cossacks, etc.), settled along the line of guard fortifications in the 16th - 17th centuries. for the protection of the state border from the raids of nomads (later the bulk of this population became part of the one-households, "peasants of the fourth right").

Among the later settlers were peasants who left for the "steppe" after its "pacification", as well as peasants resettled by landowners from other regions. In the recent past, all these groups clearly differed from each other in terms of ethnographic characteristics, especially clothing. Women from the local indigenous population wore poneva and a horned kitsch, one-piece dresses - a striped skirt or a sundress and a kokoshnik, etc.

In the west of the southern Russian territory (in the basin of the Desna and the Seim), there is a population called the Polekhs; in its culture, in addition to the main southern Russian features, there is a significant commonality with the Belarusians, and partly with the Lithuanians. The Polekhs, apparently, are adjacent to a group of goryuns living outside the RSFSR - in the Ukrainian SSR (according to the old administrative division in the former Putivl district of Kursk province).

In the Kursk region. lives a group of the population called Sayan, which is distinguished by some peculiarities in language and way of life.

In the east of the southern Russian territory in the basin of the middle Oka, in the culture of the population (especially in embroidery, ornament, clothing, types of buildings, etc.), connections with the peoples of the Volga region are strongly traced.

In the Zaokskaya part (northern Ryazan and Tambov regions), the Russian population is known under the name Meschera.It has some ethnographic features in clothing, dwelling and clattering dialect. The Russian meschera, apparently, was formed as a result of the assimilation of the local Finnish by the Slavic population. In the Penza and Saratov regions there are small "islets" of the Meshchera, formed there as a result of the movement of a part of the population from the north of the Ryazan region. to the southeast (in the 16th century - to the territory of the Penza region and in the 18th century - to the Saratov province).

Cossacks live on the Don, Volga, Terek, Urals and Kuban. The Cossacks were ethnographically not homogeneous. Don, Ural, Kuban, Orenburg, Terek Cossacks differed from each other, although over time they developed a certain commonality of everyday life.

In the past, despite the strong class stratification, the Cossacks in their position sharply differed from the peasants (economic viability, privileges associated with military service, special public administration). The most numerous, Don Cossacks formed the earliest (in the XVI-XVII centuries) from a variety of Russian and foreign-language, mainly Eastern components.

The Don Cossacks from olden times were subdivided into riding and lower Cossacks, that is, living in the upper and lower reaches of the Don. Until now, the Verkhovtsy and Nizovtsy differ in physical type, features in buildings, folklore, etc. The descendants of the North Caucasian Cossacks (Greben and Terek, formed from the end of the 16th century) in their way of life and culture are in many ways close to the neighboring Caucasian highlanders (Chechens, etc..) that were part of them.

The group of Kuban Cossacks was formed in the late 18th - early 19th centuries. from Ukrainian and Russian immigrants. Ukrainian features in their language and life are very strong, especially in the western part of the Kuban Cossacks. The descendants of the Cossacks are also settled on the Volga, along the river. Yaik (Ural), where the Ural Cossacks live; their core was formed in the 16th century. from the Don natives, but gradually other ethnic elements were included in it.

Outside of Russia, Russians live in Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, the Baltic countries, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, making up a significant part of the workers and intelligentsia in cities, industrial centers, and new buildings. There is a Russian population there and in rural areas.

In the Caucasus, the modern Russian collective farm peasantry was made up of the descendants of the Terek and Kuban Cossacks, of the peasants - migrants and deported in the 19th century. sectarians (Dukhobors, Molokans, etc.), who came mostly from the southern provinces of Russia; the latter live mainly in the Transcaucasus. The Russian population of Central Asia and Kazakhstan was made up of former Cossacks and peasants, who came mainly from the southern regions of Russia.

The following table shows how many Russians live in different regions of Russia.

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And finally, how many Russians are there in the former Soviet republics?

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