This period covers the last years of the Russian Empire. From the point of view of economic development, the pre-war period presents a continuation of the process of reform in Russian society which started with the abolition of serfdom in 1861. The process of the modernization of the country was at times held up by more conservative moves. An unprecedented growth in the population and a shortage of land in the central regions made reform very urgent. In 1904 and 1905 there were numerous incidents of peasant unrest in many provinces in European Russia. From 1906, more radical reforms were launched in order to transform the country from an agrarian society based on patriarchal peasant communes into a capitalist society with a class of free farmers. By the early 1910s, the market economy was already affecting the lives of millions of Russian peasants. However, the main characteristic of the period as a whole is that Russia remained a poor country in which the majority of the population relied on small plots of land for food. This period ends with World War I and the two revolutions that followed in February and October 1917.
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