Disproportion between the Urban and Rural Populations--Relatively Small
Number of Towns and Cities in Russia and all Slavic Countries--
Explanation of this Phenomenon--Reasons which Hinder the Agglom-
eration of the Population--The Towns and their Inhabitants before
Peter the Great--Efforts of Peter and Catherine to Create a Middle Class.
THE first thing that strikes one about the distribution of the classes of the Russian population is the proportion--or rather the disproportion--in their numerical force, and especially between the population of cities and that of the country. This latter rubric alone comprises the vast majority of Russian subjects. In European Russia, not including the Kingdom of Poland, the Grand Duchy of Finland, and the Caucasus, the latest census ( 1867) gave for the "rural class," comprising the Cosacks, the figure of about 55,000,000; for the "urban classes" proper-- tradesmen, merchants, mechanics, townspeople,--less than 6,000,000. The nobility and clergy are omitted in this valuation, the former numbering from 800,000 to 900,000 souls, the latter about 600,000. The clergy mostly live in the country, while the nobility are divided about evenly between town and country. Notwithstanding the fact that the urban population has been increasing rapidly for the last twenty years, the peasantry--"the rurals"--still represent an immense majority. This is a notable fact, of vital importance to the social, economic, and political status of Russia.
The disproportion between the two chief elements of the population becomes more conspicuous if we realize what goes by the name of town in Russian statistics. It is not only by their scarcity, their dispersion over a vast territory, that Russian towns