People began to explore Western Siberia some 15 or 20 thousand years ago at the end of the Early Stone Age. On a wider scale, people were settling over the territory of Tyumen region at the time of the Mesolithic (8 to 10 thousand years ago). Archeological excavations show that such activities as hunting and fishing were widely spread at that time. People learned to make more complex implements of labor (such as bows, arrows, spears, cutters, axes, drills, etc.). During the New Stone Age, the Lower Ob Area and the Circumpolar Area were reclaimed. Up to the 13th century A.D., pottery was widely developing; metallurgical production and metal works appeared. By the 16th century, the forming of the peoples that further lived in the territory of Tyumen region had mostly been completed.
Western Siberia was inhabited by such tribes as Khanty, Mansi (Voguls), Nentsy (Samoyeds), and the Selkups (Ostyak-Samoyeds). At the end of the first millennium A.D., Turkic people appeared in the south of Tyumen region. Later, they formed the ethnos of Siberian Tatars.
In the 14th through 15th century, the Siberia Khanate emerged. The Khanate’s capital was Sibir (Isker). Siberian Khans waged multifarious wars with the Astrakhan Khanate and Nogai Horde. Also, raids on Russian territories were made. In 1563, Kuchum became the Khan. He managed to unite the previously hostile Tatar uluses (settlements) and to bring Vogul and Samoyed tribes under his control. Kuchum intended to oust Russian population from the Cisurals.
To protect their territories from Tatars, the Ural merchants and manufacturers Stroganovs recruited Cossack fighters led by Yermak. In 1582, the Cossack set out against the Siberia Khanate. On October 23, 1582, the decisive battle with Kuchum’s forces took place. Near the Chuvashian Cape, the Khan’s troops were defeated. The Tatar’s principal forces were depleted. Even after Yermak’s death in 1585, the Khanate failed to regain its strength. Yermak’s campaign cleared the way for penetration of the Russians into Siberia.
In 1586, voivodes V. Sukin and I Myasnoy began to construct a fort on the River of Tura. Later, the fort became the first Russian town in Siberia under the name of Tyumen. In 1587, state official D. Chulkov founded Tobolsk Fort. In 1593 – 94, Berezov and Surgut were founded. The expansion of ground routes to Eastern Siberia resulted in the growth in the number of Russian population centers (in 1630, Yalutorovsk was founded; in 1633, the settlement of Vagay; in 1650, the settlement of Isetskoye; in 1680, the settlement of Abatskoye).
In 1590, Tobolsk became the principal center in Siberia. Agricultural production grew; industries related to the processing of agricultural products were developing. Craftsmen appeared; those were concentrated in towns. In the 17th century, Tobolsk and Tyumen as trade and craft centers rose to the level of cities which were situated in the European part of Russia. In the late 17th century, stone construction emerged. The first stone buildings beyond the Urals appeared in Tobolsk. The only kremlin in the eastern part of Russia was built in Tobolsk as well.
Political exile was a peculiar kind of a life factor in Western Siberia. Beginning from the early 17th century, ‘state criminals’ were exiled to the territory of Tyumen region. Among them were:
- Abram Petrov (Hannibal) – to Tobolsk
- A.D. Menshikov – to Berezovo;
- Avvakum Petrov (the protopope) - to Tobolsk;
In the second quarter of the 19th century, the Decembrists were exiled to the Tobolsk Province:
- I.A. Annenkov;
- A.P. Baryatinsky;
- M.A. Fonvizin – to Tobolsk;
- M.I. Muravyov-Apostol;
- I.I. Pushin;
- I.D. Yakushkin – to Yalutorovsk;
- In total, 36 Decembrist were exiled to the province.
The exiled made a considerable contribution to the spiritual life in this territory. The Decembrists established a school for children of all social classes in Yalutorovsk, the first female school in Tobolsk, etc.
Other representatives of Russian liberation movements (such as A.N. Radishchev, F.M. Dostoyevsky, I.V. Petrashevsky, and many others) also passed through the Tobolsk Gaol.
In the 18th through to 19th century, Tobolsk was an administrative, cultural, and spiritual center of Siberia. Along with secular establishments, a network of religious educational institutions was growing. The Episcopal School and the Ecclesiastical Seminary for a long time remained the only educational institutions of such kind beyond the Urals. In Tobolsk, the first Siberian literary magazine entitled The Irtysh began to be published in 1789. A theater was opened as well.
Tyumen was a trade and industrial center. Located at the crossing of trade routes between West and East, Tyumen became ‘the gates of Siberia’. Through this city, the route of migrant from European portion of Russia passed after the abolishment of serfdom and at the time of Stolypin’s agrarian reforms. Before the end of the 19th century, the province demonstrated the development of agriproduct processing industries (mostly butter-making, shipbuilding, leather-making, glass-making, and timber processing). A further impetus to industrial development was given after the beginning of construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Some outstanding people in the history of Russia were born in the Tobolsk Province. Those are, for example, D.I. Mendeleev (born in Tobolsk; the great chemist and author of the periodic system of elements); P.P. Yershov (born in Tobolsk; a poet and a writer of fairy tales; author of The Humpbacked Horse); G.Y. Rasputin (born in the village of Pokrovskoye; the trusted family friend of the last Russian Emperor).
The revolutionary events of 1917 did not leave the Tobolsk Province unaffected; however, there were neither armed conflicts nor serious political declarations. After October 1917, revolutionary socialists took over control of the province. The Bolsheviks, at that time, did not play any serious role. They came to power only in late February 1918, when five Red Army squads arrived from Yekaterinburg and Omsk in Tyumen, Yalutorovsk, and Ishim, and seized railway stations, post-offices, telegraph stations, banks, etc. Martial law was introduced in the cities, and contributions were taken from local representatives of the bourgeois class. The center of the province was moved from Tobolsk to Tyumen. On 3 April 1918, the Provincial Council was created, with Bolshevik N.M. Nemtsov as its first Chairman.
In 1917–18, the family of Nikolai Romanov was kept under arrest in Tobolsk. From there, the Romanovs were transferred to Yekaterinburg and executed.
Till summer 1919, Tobolsk Tyumen) Province was under control of Kolchak. In August 1919, the 51st Division led by V.K. Blyukher occupied Tyumen, Yaliutorovsk, and Tobolsk. Hostilities in the north of the province were mostly conducted by partisans under command of P.I. Loparev. Battles with military units of the White Army continued in the north until March 1920.
The policy of ‘military communism’ as adopted by the Soviet government was severely opposed by Siberian peasants. In January 1921, the largest in Russia uprising against the Bolsheviks after the end of the civil war broke out in the region. The insurgents cut off railway communications. Tobolsk, Surgut, Berezovo, and Obdorsk (Salekhard) were seized. The insurgents were assaulting Ishim; their forces were at a distance of four kilometers from Tyumen. The struggle was conducted with unusual ferociousness on the part of the opponents. Regular units of the Red Army took part in crushing the uprising; they used armored trains, the navy, etc. The last seats of the uprising were suppressed as late as 1922.
At the time of the Soviet system, the territory of Tyumen region underwent several administrative and territorial reorganizations. In 1930, two national districts (the Ostyako-Voguljky District and the Yamalo-Nenets District) were formed in the Obsky North. In the formation of the districts, the authorities based their decisions on the prevailing share of indigenous populations in their territories (approximately 50 per cent in the Ostyako-Voguljky District, and over 70 per cent in the Yamalo-Nenets District).
Like at the pre-revolutionary time, the region was a place of exile. The GULAG system was developing in the north. The notorious Construction Works No.501 and No.503 were conducted in the territory of Tyumen region.
In the 1920s through to 1940s, the territory remained mostly agricultural. Collectivization became the principal reform in this sphere.
With the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War, the entire economy of the region was militarized. Industrial facilities, scientific institutions, and several ministries and authorities were evacuated to the cities of the Tyumen region. Hospitals were also arranged here. Beginning from summer 1941, the body of V.I. Lenin was kept in Tyumen.
Ninety persons born in Tyumen region became Heroes of the Soviet Union; 90 thousands were awarded the Medal for Labor Merit; 70 thousands became recipients of military decorations.
An important event in the life of the region took place on 14 August 1944. That was the formation of Tyumen region with the city of Tyumen as its center. The Area comprised also the Khanty-Mansi District and the Yamalo-Nenets District.
In 1964, a new page in the history of the Tyumen region was opened. The ‘discovery of the century’, i.e. the discovery of oil and gas fields, provided the basis for creation of the world’s major oil and gas facilities. The development of oil and gas fields radically changed the life in Tyumen region. New cities emerged (such as Novy Urengoy, Nadym, Noyabrsk, and others).
In a record-setting short time, Tyumen region became the principal oil-and-gas energy base of the country. In the late 1980s, the region annually provided the country with 400 million tons of oil and 574.2 billion cubic meters of gas. To support the strong breakthrough, there appeared powerful construction industry; research and design institutes and new universities and schools were raised. The development of natural resources in Tyumen region became a mission for the entire country. Population of the area grew dozens of times. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country, who had come to develop the oil and gas fields, constituted the new population of the area, which became ‘the second home region’ for them and a birth-place for their children.
Currently, Tyumen region is the largest depositary of natural resources in Russia, and one of the major ones in the world.
Residents of the region have perfect knowledge of their past, and remember it well. They believe in themselves, in their strength, and in their Motherland. Having overcome a lot of difficulties throughout the time of development of natural resources, residents of the region know that all difficulties are surmountable, and look to the future with confidence. They love their land, and wish to work faithfully for further welfare of Tyumen region.