The arrival of the tsarist empire in what would become Turkmenistan led to profound and long-lasting changes for the country and its people. Russian colonial domination was relatively short, less than half a century, but effectively brought the local populations face to face with modernizing European culture. It was further reinforced during the seventy years of the Soviet Union, which, although denounced today by the authorities of independent Turkmenistan, enabled the country to form a modern nation. Despite its historical, linguistic, and cultural ties with the Turkic-Persian world, modern Turkmenistan experienced 110 years of Russian and Soviet domination that gave the country its current features: the demarcation of its borders, economic development and agricultural specialization, the creation of modern state structures, the introduction of mass literacy, and the birth of a Turkmen national sentiment. All of these elements enabled the country to emerge as an independent state in 1991.