Country Listing

Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union


The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were difficult for Russia. Not only did technology and industry continue to develop more rapidly in the West but also new, dynamic, competitive great powers appeared on the world scene: Otto von Bismarck's united Germany, the post-Civil War United States, and Meiji Restoration Japan. Although it was an expanding regional giant in Central Asia straddling the borders of the Ottoman, Iranian, British Indian, and Chinese empires, Russia could not generate enough capital to undergo rapid industrial development or to compete with advanced countries on a commercial basis. Russia's fundamental dilemma was that either it could attempt to accelerate domestic development and risk upheaval at home or it could progress slowly and risk becoming an economic colony of the more advanced world. The transformation of the economic and social structure of Russia was accompanied by political ferment, particularly among the intelligentsia, and also by impressive developments in literature, music, the fine arts, and the natural sciences.

Data as of May 1989