Human activity in Russia streches back a million years, with evidence of Stone Age hunting communities in the region from Moscow to the Altai and Lake Baikal. By 2000 BC a basic agriculture, relying on hardy cereals, had penetraded from the Danube region as far east as the Moscow area and the southern Ural mountains.
At about the same time, people in Ukraine and southern areas of European Russia domesticated the horse and developed a nomadic, pastoral lifestyle.
While central and northern European Russia remained a complete backwater for almost 3.000 years, the south was subject to a succession of invasion by nomads from the east.
The first written records, by the 5th-century-BC Greek historian Herodotus, concern a people called the Scythians, who probably originated in the Altai region of Siberia and Mongolia and were feared for their riding and battle skills. They spread as far west as southern Russia and Ukraine by the 7th century BC. The scythian empire, which streched south as far as Egypt, ended with the arrival of another people from the east, the Sarmatians in the 3rd century BC.
In the 4th century AD, came the Huns of the Altai region, followed by their relations the Avars, then by the Khazars, a grouping of Turkic and Iranian tribes from the Caucasus, who occupied the lower Volga and Don Basins and the steppes to the east and west between the 7th and 10th centuries.
The crafty and talented Khazars brought stability and religious tolorance to areas under there control. Their capital was Itil, near the mouth of the Volga. In the 9th century they converted to Judaism, and by the 10th century they had mostly settled down to farming and trade.

The migrants who were to give Russia its predominant character were the Slavs. There is some disagreement about where the Slavs originated, but in the first centuries AD they expanded rapidly to the east, west and south from the vicinity of present-day northern Ukraine and southern Belarus.
The Eastern Slavs were the ancestors of the Russians; they were still spreading eastward across the central Russian woodland belt in the 9th century. From the Western Slavs came the Poles, Czechs, Slowaks and others. The Southern Slavs became the Serbs, Slovenes and Bulgarians.
The Slavs' conversion to Christianity in the 9th and 10th centuries was accompanied by the introduction of an alphabet devised by Cyril, a Greeg missionary, which was simplified a few decades later by a fellow missionary, Methodius. The forerunner of Cyrillic, it was based on the Greek alphabet, with a dozen or so additional characters.

The first Russian state developed out of the trade on river routes across Eastern Slavic areas - between the Baltic and Black sea and, to a lesser extent, between the Baltic Sea and the Volga river. Vikings from Scandinavia, called Varangians had been nosing east from the Baltic since the 6th century AD, trading and raiding for furs, slaves and amber, and comming into conflict with the Khazars and with Byzantium, the eastern centre of Christianity. Though by no means united themselves, they created a loose confederation of city-states in the Eastern Slavic areas.
The founding of Novogorod in 862 by Rurik of Jutland is traditionally taken as the birth of the Russian State. In 882, his successor Oleg ventured south and conquered Kiev, which had been previously paying tribute to the Khazars. Oleg, Rurik's son Igor and Igor's son Sviatoslav subsequently subdued all local East Slavic tribes to Kievan rule, destroyed the Khazar Khaganate and launched several military expeditions to Byzantium and Persia.
In the 10th to 11th centuries, Kievan Rus' became one of the largest and most prosperous states in Europe. The reigns of Vladimir the Great (980–1015) and his son Yaroslav the Wise (1019–1054) constitute the Golden Age of Kiev, which saw the acceptance of Orthodox Christianity from Byzantium and the creation of the first East Slavic written legal code, the Russkaya Pravda. In the 11th and 12th centuries, constant incursions by nomadic Turkic tribes, such as the Kipchaks and the Pechenegs, caused a massive migration of the East Slavic populations to the safer, heavily forested regions of the north, particularly to the area known as Zalesye; which led to intermingling with the native Volga Finnic tribes.
Ultimately Kievan Rus' disintegrated, with the final blow being the Mongol Invasion of 1237–40, that resulted in the destruction of Kiev, and the death of about half the population of Rus'. The invaders, later known as Tatars, formed the State of the Golden Horde, which pillaged the Russian principalities and ruled the southern and central expanses of Russia for over two centuries.

The most powerful state to eventually arise after the destruction of Kievan Rus' was the Grand Duchy of Moscow. While still under the domain of the Mongol-Tatars and with their connivance, Moscow began to assert its influence in the Central Rus' in the early 14th century, gradually becoming the leading force in the process of the Rus' lands' reunification and expansion of Russia.
Led by Prince Dmitry Donskoy of Moscow, the united army of Russian principalities inflicted a milestone defeat on the Mongol-Tatars in the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380.
Ivan III ("the Great") finally threw off the control of the Golden Horde and consolidated the whole of Central and Northern Rus' under Moscow's dominion. He was also the first to take the title "Grand Duke of all the Russias".
The Grand Duke Ivan IV (the "Terrible") was officially crowned first Tsar of Russia in 1547. During his long reign, Ivan the Terrible nearly doubled the already large Russian territory by annexing the three Tatar khanates (parts of the disintegrated Golden Horde): Kazan and Astrakhan along the Volga River, and the Siberian Khanate in southwestern Siberia. Thus, by the end of the 16th century, Russia expanded into Asia, and was transformed into a transcontinental state. When Ivan IV died of poisoning in 1584, rule passed to his second son Fyodor, who died childless in 1598, ending the 700-year Rurikdid dynasty.

Thus began the Time of Troubles (1598-1613); a spell of anarchy, dynastic chaos and foreign invasion. During the Polish–Muscovite War (1605–1618), Polish–Lithuanian forces reached Moscow and installed the impostor False Dmitriy I in 1605, then supported False Dmitry II in 1607. In 1612, the Poles were forced to retreat by the Russian volunteer corps, led by two national heroes, merchant Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky.
In February 1613, with the chaos ended and the Poles expelled from Moscow, a national assembly, composed of representatives from fifty cities and even some peasants, elected Michael Romanov, to the throne.
The immediate task of the new dynasty was to restore peace. Fortunately for Moscow, its major enemies, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Sweden, were engaged in a bitter conflict with each other, which provided Russia the opportunity to make peace with Sweden in 1617 and to sign a truce with the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1619.

The 17th century saw a hudge growth in the Russian lands. In 1650 Tsar Alexey commissioned the Cossack traider Yerofey Khabarow to open up the far-eastern region. In 1689 the Russians where in occupation of the northern bank of the Amur. The Treaty of Nerchinsk sealed a peace with neighbouring China that lasted for more then 150 years. Additionaly when Cossacks in Ukraine appealed for help against the Poles, Alexey came to their aid, and in 1667 Kiev, Smolensk and lands east of the Dnjepr came under Russian control.
Under Peter the Great, Russia was proclaimed an Empire in 1721, and became recognised as one of the European great powers. Ruling from 1682 to 1725, Peter defeated Sweden in the Great Northern War, forcing it to cede West Karelia and Ingria, as well as the Governorate of Estonia and Livonia, securing Russia's access to the sea and sea trade. In 1703, on the Baltic Sea, Peter founded Saint Petersburg as Russia's new capital.
Throughout his rule, sweeping reforms were made, which brought significant Western European cultural influences to Russia.
Catherine II ("the Great"), who ruled in 1762–96, presided over the Age of Russian Enlightenment. She extended Russian political control over the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and incorporated most of its territories into Russia during the Partitions of Poland, pushing the Russian frontier westward into Central Europe. In the south, after the successful Russo-Turkish Wars against Ottoman Turkey, Catherine advanced Russia's boundary to the Black Sea, defeating the Crimean Khanate. As a result of victories over Qajar Iran through the Russo-Persian Wars, by the first half of the 19th century, Russia also made significant territorial gains in Transcaucasia and the North Caucasus.
Catherine's strategy was continued with Alexander I's (1801–25) wresting of Finland from the weakened kingdom of Sweden in 1809 and of Bessarabia from the Ottomans in 1812. At the same time, the Russians became the first Europeans to colonise Alaska and founded settlements in California, such as Fort Ross.
In alliances with various other European countries, Russia fought against Napoleon's France. The French invasion of Russia at the height of Napoleon's power in 1812 reached Moscow, but eventually failed miserably as the obstinate resistance in combination with the bitterly cold Russian winter led to a disastrous defeat of invaders, in which more than 95% of the pan-European Grande Armée perished. Led by Mikhail Kutuzov and Barclay de Tolly, the Imperial Russian Army ousted Napoleon from the country and drove throughout Europe in the War of the Sixth Coalition, finally entering Paris. Alexander I controlled Russia's delegation at the Congress of Vienna, which defined the map of post-Napoleonic Europe.
During the reigns of Alexander II (1855-1881) and Alexander III (1881-1894) Central Asia came fully under Russian control. In the east, Russia acquired a long strip of Pacific coast from China and built the port of Vladivostok. At the same time is was forced to sell the Alaskan territories to the USA in 1867.
The late 19th century saw the rise of various socialist movements in Russia. Alexander II was killed in 1881 by revolutionary terrorists and the reign of his son Alexander III (1881–94) was less liberal but more peaceful.

The last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II (1894–1917), was unable to prevent the events of the Russian Revolution of 1905, triggered by the unsuccessful Russo-Japanese War. The uprising was put down, but the government was forced to concede major reforms, including granting the freedoms of speech and assembly, the legalisation of political parties, and the creation of an elected legislative body, the State Duma of the Russian Empire.
In 1917 the February Revolution forced Nicholas II to abdicate; he and his family were imprisoned and later executed in Yekaterinburg during the Russian Civil War. The monarchy was replaced by a shaky coalition of political parties that declared itself the Provisional Government.
An alternative socialist establishment co-existed, the Petrograd Soviet, wielding power through the democratically elected councils of workers and peasants, called Soviets. The rule of the new authorities only aggravated the crisis in the country instead of resolving it. Eventually, the October Revolution, led by Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Provisional Government and gave full governing power to the Soviets, leading to the creation of the world's first Socialist State.
Following the October Revolution, the Russian Civil War (1917–1923) broke out between the anti-Communist White Movement and the new Soviet regime with its Red Army. Both the Bolsheviks and White movement carried out campaigns of deportations and executions against each other, known respectively as the Red Terror and White Terror. By the end of the civil war, Russia's economy and infrastructure were heavily damaged. There were an estimated 7–12 million casualties during the war, mostly civilians.

On 30 December 1922, Lenin and his aides formed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), a federation of theoretically independent Soviet Republics.
Following Lenin's death in 1924, a troika was designated to take charge. Eventually Joseph Stalin, the General Secretary of the Communist Party, managed to suppress all opposition factions and consolidate power in his hands to become the country's dictator by the 1930s. Leon Trotsky, the main proponent of world revolution, was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1929, and Stalin's idea of Socialism in One Country became the official line.
Under Stalin's leadership, the government launched a command economy, industrialisation of the largely rural country, and collectivisation of its agriculture. During this period of rapid economic and social change, millions of people were sent to penal labor camps ("Gulag"). The Soviet Union made the costly transformation from a largely agrarian economy to a major industrial powerhouse in a short span of time.

On 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany broke their non-aggression treaty; and invaded the ill-prepared Soviet Union with the largest and most powerful invasion force in human history, opening the largest theater of World War II. Although the Wehrmacht had considerable early success, their attack was halted in the Battle of Moscow. Subsequently, the Germans were dealt major defeats first at the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942–43, and then in the Battle of Kursk in the summer of 1943. Under Stalin's administration and the leadership of such commanders as Georgy Zhukov and Konstantin Rokossovsky, Soviet forces steamrolled through Eastern and Central Europe in 1944–45 and captured Berlin in May 1945. In August 1945, the Soviet Army ousted the Japanese from China's Manchukuo and North Korea, contributing to the Allied victory over Japan.
After World War II, Eastern and Central Europe, including East Germany and eastern parts of Austria were occupied by Red Army according to the Potsdam Conference. Dependent socialist governments were installed in the Eastern Bloc satellite states.
After becoming the world's second nuclear power, the Soviet Union established the Warsaw Pact alliance, and entered into a struggle for global dominance, known as the Cold War, with the rivaling United States and NATO.

After Stalin's death in 1953 and a short period of collective rule, the new leader Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin and launched the policy of de-Stalinization. The penal labor system was reformed and many prisoners were released and rehabilitated (many of them posthumously).
Following the ousting of Khrushchev in 1964, another period of collective rule ensued, until Leonid Brezhnev became the leader. The era of the 1970s and the early 1980s was later designated as the Era of Stagnation, a period when economic growth slowed and social policies became static.
From 1985 onwards, the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who sought to enact liberal reforms in the Soviet system, introduced the policies of "glasnost" (openness) and "perestroika" (restructuring).
By 1991, economic and political turmoil began to boil over as the Baltic States chose to secede from the Soviet Union. On 17 March, a referendum was held, in which the vast majority of participating citizens voted in favour of changing the Soviet Union into a renewed federation. In August 1991, a coup d'état attempt by members of Gorbachev's government, directed against Gorbachev and aimed at preserving the Soviet Union, instead led to the end of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
On 25 December 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, along with comtemporary Russia, fourteen other post-Soviet states emerged.

In June 1991, Boris Yeltsin became the first directly elected president in Russian history when he was elected President of the Russian SFSR, which became the independent Russian Federation in December of that year.
In late 1993, tensions between Yeltsin and the Russian parliament culminated in a constitutional crisis which ended after military force. During the crisis, Yeltsin was backed by Western governments, and over 100 people were killed. In December, a referendum was held and approved, which introduced a new constitution, giving the president enormous powers.
On 31 December 1999, President Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned, handing the post to the recently appointed Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin. Putin then won the 2000 presidential election and wnt on to win a second presidential term in 2004.
On 2 March 2008, Dmitry Medvedev was elected President of Russia while Putin became Prime Minister. The constitution prohibited Putin from serving a third consecutive presidential term. Putin returned to the presidency following the 2012 presidential elections, and Medvedev was appointed Prime Minister.
In 2014, after President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine fled as a result of a revolution, Putin requested and received authorisation from the Russian parliament to deploy Russian troops to Ukraine, leading to the takeover of Crimea. Following a Crimean Referendum in which separation was favoured by a large majority of voters, the Russian leadership announced the accession of Crimea into Russia, though this and the referendum that preceded it were not accepted internationally. The annexation of Crimea led to sanctions by Western countries, after which the Russian government responded with counter-sanctions against a number of countries.

I have visited Moscow in july 1994.

My first visit to Siberia was in july 2008

These are the places i have seen on that trip

Lake Baikal
Trans Siberian Railway
Altai mountains

My second visit to the Altai-mountains was in july 2010

These are the places i have seen in the Altai-mountains

Lake Teletskoye
Chuysky Trakt
Chuyskaya Steppe

My visit to the Russin Far East was in june 2012

These are the places i have seen in the Far East

Commander Islands
Kuril Islands

Please let me know when you're having questions.
i would be pleased to help you.

Things to do and other tips

This illustrate's my memories of Russia:

A sunset at the Lake Baikal

See my "Things to do" pages for more pictures.
These are divided in:

"Russia (European part)"
"Russian Far East"

When i'am visiting a country i like to be prepared;
So i know something about the Country and i can plan the things to visit.
That's why i 'm reading books;looking at travel maps etc.

See my "Things to read" pages for Books/Maps about Russia