As described by Greek and Roman writers, the vast territory of Russia was sparsely inhabited by nomadic tribes in ancient times. In the north, there were the Slavs. In the Crimean peninsula of the south, known as Scythia, there were Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, and other Asiatic peoples. Many settlements and trade posts were established in the Crimea and other Black Sea areas by the Greek merchants, remains of which exist even today.
Migrations and successive invasions occurred mainly by the Goths of Scandinavia, who established the Ostrogothic Kingdom, the Huns of Mongolia ( fourth century A. D.), the Avars (or Tatar people), the Magyars (a Hungarian people), and the Khazars (until the eleventh century). During that time, the Slavic tribes dwelled in the northeastern Carpathian mountains. The western Slavic groups eventually evolved as Poles and Czechs, those of the south as Serbs and Bulgars, and those of the east as Russians.
The first linkage of Russian city-states occurred in the tenth century around Kiev, which became the capital and the commercial center of the country. The adoption of the Eastern Orthodox religion and the schism from the Catholic Church, as well as the development of new commercial routes of western Europe via Constantinople and Venice, made Kiev a less important trade and cultural center, especially after the Fourth Crusade ( 1204).
On the other hand, the occupation of Russia and the destruction of Kiev and other cities by the Mongols ( 1237-1452) cut ties with the west, forced people back to agriculture, and made them subservient to the autocratic Mongol rulers. As a result, the economic development of the country was held back. With the independence of the country ( 1452), the capital was moved from Kiev to Moscow.