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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 14 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIBERIA. This name (Russ. Sibir) in the 16th century indicated the chief settlement of the Tatar khan Kuchum—Isker on the Irtysh. Subsequently the name was extended to include the whole of the Russian dominions in Asia. Name and extent. Geographically, Siberia is now limited by the Ural Mountains on the W., by the Arctic and North Pacific Oceans on the N. and E. respectively, and on the S. by a line running from the sources of the river Ural to the Tarbagatai range (thus separating the steppes of the Irtysh basin from those of the Aral and Balkash basins), thence along the Chinese frontier as far as the S.E. corner of Transbaikalia, and then along the rivers Argun, Amur and Usuri to the frontier of Korea. This wide area is naturally subdivided into West Siberia (basins of the Ob and the Irtysh) and East Siberia (the remainder of the region). The irhabited districts are well laid down on the best maps; but the immense areas between and beyond them are mapped only along a few routes hundreds of miles apart. The inter- Orograp!{y. mediate spaces are filled in according to information derived from various hunters. With regard to a great many rivers we know only the position of their mouths and their approximate lengths estimated by natives in terms of a day's march. Even the hydrographical network is very imperfectly known, especially in the uninhabited hilly tracts.' Like other plateaus, the great plateau of the centre of Asia, stretching from the Himalayas to Bering Strait,' has on its surface a number of gentle eminences (angehaufte Gebirge of K. Ritter), which, although reaching great absolute altitudes, are relatively low.' These heights for the most part follow a north-easterly direction in Siberia. On the margins of the plateau there are several gaps or indentations, which can best be likened to gigantic trenches, like railway cuttings, as with an insensible gradient they climb to a higher level. These trenches have for successive geological periods been the drainage valleys of immense lakes (probably also of glaciers) which formerly extended over the plateau or fiords of the seas which surrounded it. And it is along these trenches that the principal commercial routes have been made for reaching the higher levels of the plateau itself. In the plateau there are in reality two terraces—a higher and a lower, both very well defined in Transbaikalia and in Mongolia. The Yablonoi range and its south-western continuation the Kentei are border-ridges of the upper terrace. Both rise very gently above it, but have steep slopes towards the lower terrace, which is occupied by the Nerchinsk steppes in Transbaikalia and by the great desert of Gobi in Mongolia (2000 to 2500 ft. above the sea). They rise 5000 to 7000 ft. above the sea; the peak of Sokhondo in Transbaikalia (t i 1 ° E.) reaches nearly 8050 ft. Several low chains of mountains have their base on the lower terrace and run from south-west to north-east; they are known as the Nerchinsk Mountains in Transbaikalia, and their continuations reach the northern parts of the Gobi.' The great plateau is fringed on the north-west by a series of lofty border-ranges, which have their southern base on the plateau and their northern at a much lower level. They may be traced from the Tian-shan to the Arctic Circle, and have an east-north-easterly direction in lower latitudes and a north-easterly direction farther north. The Alai range of the Pamir, continued by the Kokshaltau range and the Khan-tengri group of the Tian-shan, and the Sailughem range of the Altai, which is continued in the unnamed border-range of West Sayan (between the Bei-kem and the Us), belong to this category. There are, however, among these border-ranges several breaches of continuity—broad depressions or trenches leading from Lake Balkash and Lake Zaisan to the upper parts of the plateau. On the other hand, there are on the western outskirts of the plateau a few mountain chains which take a direction at right angles to the above (that is, from north-west to south-east), and parallel to the great line of upheavals in south-west Asia. The Tarbagatai Mountains, on the borders of Siberia, as well as several chains in Turkestan, are instances. The border-ridges of the Alai Mountains, the Khantengri group, the Sailughem range and the West Sayan contain the highest peaks of their respective regions. Beyond toe° E. the configuration is complicated by the great lateral indentation of Lake Baikal. But around and north-east of this lake the same well-marked ranges fringe the plateau and turn their steep north-western slope towards the valleys of the Irkut, the Barguzin, the Muya and the Chara, while their southern base lies on the plateaus of the Selenga (nearly 400o ft. high) and the Vitim. The peaks of the Sailughem range reach 9000 to 11,000 ft. above the sea, those of West Sayan about 10,000. In East Sayan is Munku-Sardyk, a peak 11,450 ft. high, together with many others from 8000 to 9000 ft. Farther east, on the southern shore of Lake Baikal, Khamar-daban rises to 6900 ft., and the bald dome-shaped summits of the Barguzin and southern Muya Mountains attain elevations of 6000 to 7000 ft. above sea-level. The orography of the Aldan region is little known; but travellers who journey from the Aldan (tributary of the Lena) to the Amur or to the Sea of Okhotsk have to cross the same plateau and its border-range. The _former becomes narrower and barely attains an average altitude of 3200 ft. A typical feature of the north-eastern border of the high plateau is a succession of broad longitudinal' valleys along its outer base, 'The wide area between the middle Lena and the Amur, as well as the hilly tracts west of Lake Baikal, and the Yeniseisk mining region are in this condition. 'The great plateau of North America, also turning its narrower point towards Bering Strait, naturally suggests the idea that there was a period in the history of our planet when the continents turned their narrow extremities towards the northern pole, as now they turn them towards the southern. 'See " General Sketch of the Orography of Siberia," with map and " Sketch of the Orography of Minusinsk,&c.," by Prince P. A. Kropotkin, in Mem. Russ. Geogr. Soc., General Geography (vol. v., 1875)• "The lower terrace is obviously continued in the Tarim basin of East Turkestan; but in the present state of our knowledge we cannot determine whether the further continuations of the border-ridge of the higher terrace (Yablonoi, Kentei) must be looked for in the Great Altai or in some other range situated farther south. There may be also a breach of continuity in some depression towards Barkal. 'The word " longitudinal " is here used in an orographical, not a geological sense. These valleys are not synclinal foldings of rocks; they seem to be erosion-valleys.shut in on the outer side by rugged mountains having a very steep slope towards them. Formerly filled with alpine lakes, these valleys are now sheeted with flat alluvial soil and occupied by human settlements, and are drained by rivers which flow along them before they make their way to the north through narrow gorges pierced in the mountain-walls. This conformation is seen in the valley of the Us in West Sayan, in that of the upper Oka and Irkut in East Sayan, in the valley of the Barguzin, the upper Tsipa, the Muya and the Chara, at the foot of the Vitim plateau, as also, probably, in the Aldan.' The chains of mountains which border these valleys on the north-west contain the wildest parts of Siberia. They are named the Usinsk Mountains in West Sayan and the Tunka Alps in East Sayan; the latter, pierced by the Angara at Irkutsk, are in all probability continued north-east in the Baikal Mountains, which stretch from Irkutsk to Olkhon Island and the Svyatoi Nos peninsula of Lake Baikal, thus dividing the lake into two parts.? An alpine region, too to 150 m. in breadth, fringes the plateau on the N. W., outside of the ranges just mentioned. This constitutes what is called- in East Siberia the taiga: it consists of Alpine separate chains of mountains whose peaks rise 4800 to regton. 65oo ft. above the sea, beyond the upper limits of forest vegetation; while the narrow valleys afford difficult means of communication, their floors being thickly strewn with boulders, or else swampy. The whole is clothed with impenetrable forest. The orography of this alpine region is very imperfectly known; but the chains have a predominant direction from south-west to north-east. They are described under different names in Siberia—the Altai Mountains in West Siberia, the Kuznetskiy Ala-tau and the Us and Oya Mountains in West Sayan, the Nizhne-Udinsk taiga or gold-mine district, several chains pierced by the Oka river, the Kitoi Alps in East Sayan, the mountains of the upper Lena and Kirenga, the Olekminsk gold-mine district, and the unnamed mountains which project north-east between the Lena ,and the Aldan. Outside of these alpine regions comes a broad belt of elevated plains, ranging between 1200 and 1700 ft. above the sea. These plains, which are entered by the great Siberian highway Elevated about Tomsk and extend south-west to the Altai Moun- plais. tains, are for the most part fertile, though sometimes dry, and are rapidly being covered with the villages of the Russian immigrants. About Kansk in East Siberia they penetrate in the form of a broad gulf south-eastwards as far as Irkutsk. Those on the upper Lena, having a somewhat greater altitude and being situated in higher latitudes, are almost wholly unfitted for agriculture. The north-western border of these elevated plains cannot be deter-mined with exactitude. In the region between Viluisk (on the Vilui) and Yeniseisk a broad belt of alpine tracts, reaching their greatest elevation in the northern Yeniseisk taiga (between the Upper Tunguzka and the Podkamennaya Tunguzka) and continued to the south-west in lower upheavals, separates the elevated plains from the lowlands which extend towards the Arctic Ocean. In West Siberia these high plains seem to form a narrower belt towards Barnaul and Semipalatinsk, and are bordered by the Aral-Caspian depression. Farther to the north-west, beyond these high plains, comes a broad belt of lowlands. This vast tract, which is only a few dozen feet above the sea, and most probably was covered by the Northern sea during the Post-Pliocene period, stretches from the lowlands. Aral-Caspian depression to the lowlands of the Tobol, Irtysh and Ob, and thence towards the lower parts of the Yenisei and the Lena. Only a few detached mountain ranges, like the Byrranga on the Taymyr peninsula, the Syverma Mountains, the Verkhoyansk and the Kharaulakh (E. of the Lena) ranges, diversify these monotonous lowlands, which are covered with a thick sheet of black earth in the south and assume the character of barren tundras in the north. The south-eastern slope of the great plateau of Asia cannot properly be reckoned to Siberia, although parts of the province of Amur and the Maritime Province are situated on it; South- they have quite a different character, climate and vege- eastern tation, and ought properly to be reckoned to the Man- slope o, churian region. To the east of the Yablonoi border-range plateau. lies the lower terrace of the high plateau, reaching 2000 to 2500 ft. in Transbaikalia and extending farther south-west through the Gobi to East Turkestan. The south-eastern edge of this lower terrace is fringed by a massive border-range—the Khinganwhich runs in a north-easterly direction from the Great Wall of China to the sources of the Nonni-ula. A narrow alpine region (40 to 50 m.), consisting of a series of short secondary chains parallel to the border-range, fringes this latter on its eastern face. Two such folds may be distinguished, corresponding on a smaller scale to the belt of alpine tracts which fringe the plateau on the north-west. The resemblance is further sustained by a broad belt of elevated plains, ranging from 1200 to 1700 ft., which 6 The upper Bukhtarma valley in the Sailughem range of the Altai system appears to belong to the same type. 7The deep fissure occupied by Lake Baikal would thus appear to consist of two longitudinal valleys connected together by the passage between Olkhon and Svyatoi Nos. accompany the eastern edge of the plateau. The eastern Gobi, the occasionally fertile and occasionally sandy plains between the Nonni and the Sungari, and the rich plains of the Bureya and Silinji in the Amur province belong to this belt, 400 M. in breadth, the surface of which is diversified by the low hills of Ilkhuri-alin, Khulun and Turana. These high plains are bordered on the south-east by a picturesque chain—the Bureya Mountains, which are to be identified with the Little Khingan. It extends, with unaltered character, from Mukden and Kirin to Ulban Bay in the Sea of Okhotsk (close by the Shantar Islands), its peaks clothed from top to bottom with luxuriant forest vegetation, ascending 4500 to 6000 ft. A lowland belt about 200 m. broad runs in the same direction along the outer margin of the above chain. The lower Amur occupies the northern part of this broad valley. These lowlands, dotted over with numberless marshes and lakes, seem to have emerged from the sea at a quite recent geological period; the rivers that meander across them are still excavating their valleys. Volcanic formations, so far as is known, occur chiefly along the north-western border-range of the great plateau. Ejections of Volcanoes. basaltic lava have been observed on the southern slope of this range, extending over wide areas on the plateau itself, over a stretch of more than 600 m.—namely, in East Sayan about Lake Kosso-gol and in the valley of the Tunka (river Irkut), in the vicinity of Selenginsk, and widely distributed on the Vitim plateau (rivers Vitim and Tsipa). Deposits of trap stretch for more than 1200 M. along the Tunguzka; they appear also in the Noril Mountains on the Yenisei, whence they extend towards the Arctic Ocean. Basaltic lavas are reported to have been found in the Aldan region. On the Pacific slope extinct volcanoes (mentioned in Chinese annals) have been reported in the Ilkhuri-alin mountains in northern Manchuria. The mineral wealth of Siberia is considerable. Gold-dust is found in almost all the alpine regions fringing the great plateau. The minerals. Altai, the upperl(orgNizhne-Ud nsk)eand thesloware the er (or Yeniseisk) taigas, and the Olekma region. Gold is found on the high plateau in the basin of the upper Vitim, on the lower plateau in the Nerchinsk district, and on the upper tributaries of the Amur (especially the Oldoi) and the Zeya, in the north-east continuation of the Nerchinsk Mountains. It has been discovered also in the Bureya range, and in its north-east continuation in the Amgun region, Auriferous sands, but not very rich, have been discovered in the feeders of Lake Hanka and the Suifong river, as also on the smaller islands of the Gulf of Peter the Great. Mining is the next most important industry after agriculture. In East Siberia gold is obtained almost exclusively from gravel-washings, quartz mining being confined to three localities, one near Vladivostok and two in Transbaikalia. In West Siberia, however, quartz-mining is steadily increasing in importance: whereas in 1900 the output of gold from this source was less than 10,000 oz., in 1904 it amounted to close upon 5o,00c oz. On the other hand gravel-washing gives a declining yield in West Siberia, for while in 1900 the output from this source was approximately 172,000 oz., in 1904 it was only 81,000 oz. The districts of Mariinsk and Achinsk are the most successful quartz-mining localities. Altogether West Siberia yields annually 130,000 oz. of gold. The gold-bearing gravels of East Siberia, especially those of the Lena and the Amur, are relatively more prolific than those of West Siberia. The total yield annually amounts to some 700,000 oz., the largest quantity coming from the Olekminsk district in the province of Yakutsk, and this district is followed by the Amur region, the Maritime province, and Nerchinsk and Transbaikalia. Silver and lead ores exist in the Altai and the Nerchinsk Mountains, as well as copper, cinnabar and tin. Iron-ores are known at several places on the outskirts of the alpine tracts (as about Irkutsk), as well as in the Selenginsk region and in the Altai. The more :mportant iron-works of the Urals are situated on the Siberian slope of the range. Coal occurs in many Jurassic fresh-water basins, namely, on the outskirts of the Altai, in south Yeniseisk, about Irkutsk, in the Nerchinsk district, at many places in the Maritime province, and on the island of Sakhalin. Beds of excellent graphite have been found in the Kitoi Alps (Mount Alibert) and in the Turukhansk district in Yenisei. Rock-salt occurs at several places on the Lena and in Transbaikalia, and salt-springs are numerous—those of Ust-kutsk on the Lena and of Usolie near Irkutsk being the most noteworthy. A large number of lakes, especially in Transbaikalia and in Tomsk, yield salt. Lastly, from the Altai region, as well as from the Nerchinsk Mountains, precious stones, such as jasper, malachite, beryl, dark quartz, and the like, are exported. The Ekaterinburg stone-polishing works in the Urals and those of Kolyvan in the Altai are well known. The orography sketched above explains the great development of the river-systems of Siberia and the uniformity of their course. Rivers. The three principal rivers—the Ob, the Yenisei, and the Lena—take their rise on the high plateau or in the alpine regions fringing it, and, after descending from the plateau and piercing the alpine regions, flow for many hundreds of miles across the high plains and lowlands before they reach the Arctic Ocean. The three rivers of north-eastern Siberia—the Yana, lndigirka and Kolyma—have the same general character, their courses being, however, much shorter, as in these latitudes the plateau approachesnearer to the Arctic Ocean. The Amur, the upper tributaries of which rise on the eastern border-range of the high plateau, is similar. The Shilka and the Argun, which form it, flow first towards the north-east along the windings of the lower terrace of the great plateau; from this the Amur descends, cutting through the Great Khingan and flowing down the terraces of the eastern versant towards the Pacific. A noteworthy feature of the principal Siberian rivers is that each is formed by the confluence of a pair of rivers. Examples are the Ob and the Irtysh, the Yenisei and the Angara (itself a double river formed by the Angara and the Lower Tunguzka), the Lena and the Vitim, the Argun and the Shilka, while the Amur in its turn receives a tributary as large as itself—the Sungari. Owing to this twinning and the general direction of their courses, the rivers of Siberia offer immense advantages for inland navigation, not only from north to south but also from west to east. It is this Water circumstance that facilitated the rapid invasion of Siberia Water by the Russian Cossacks and hunters; they followed the comma courses of the twin rivers in their advance towards the east, and discovered short portages which permitted them to transfer their boats from the system of the Ob to that of the Yenisei, and from the latter to that of the Lena, a tributary of which—the Aldan—brought them close to the Sea of Okhotsk. At the present day steamers ply from Tyumen: at the foot of the Urals, to Semipalatinsk on the border of the Kirghiz steppe and to Tomsk in the very heart of West Siberia. Uninterrupted water communication could readily be established from Tyumen to Yakutsk, Aldansk, and the gold-mines of the Vitim. Owing to the fact that the great plateau separates the Lena from the Amur, no easy water communication can be established between the latter and the other Siberian rivers. The tributaries of the Amur (the Shilka with its affluent the Ingoda) become navigable only on the lower terrace of the plateau. But the trench of the Uda, to the east of Lake Baikal, offers easy access for the Great Siberian railway up to and across the high plateau. Unfortunately all the rivers are frozen for many months every year. Even in lower latitudes (520 to 55° N.) they are ice-bound from the beginning of November to the beginning of May;1 while in 65° N. they are open only for 90 to 120 days, and only for loo days (the Yenisei) or even 70 days (the Lena) in 700 N. During the winter the smaller tributaries freeze to the bottom, and about 1st January Lake Baikal becomes covered with a solid crust of ice capable of bearing files of loaded sledges. Numberless lakes occur in both East and West Siberia. There are wide areas on the plains of West Siberia and on the high plateau of East Siberia, which, virtually, are still passing through Lakes. the Lacustrine period ; but the total area now under water bears but a trifling proportion to the vast surface which the lakes covered even at a very recent period, when Neolithic man inhabited Siberia. All the valleys and depressions bear traces of immense post-Pliocene lakes. Even within historical times and during the 19th century the desiccation of the lakes has gone on at a very rapid rate .2 The principal lake is Lake Baikal, more than 400 m. long, and 20 to 50 broad. Another great lake, Lake Kossogol, on the Mongolian frontier, is 120 M. long and 5o broad. Vast numbers of small lakes stud the Vitim and upper Selenga plateaus; the lower valley of the latter river contains the Goose Lake (Gusinoye). In the basin of the Amur are Lake Hanka (1700 sq. m.), connected with the Usuri; Lakes Kada and Kidzi, by which the lower Amur once flowed to the Pacific; and very many smaller ones on the left side of the lower Amur. Numerous lakes and extensive marshes diversify the low plains of West Siberia ; the Baraba steppe is dotted with lakes and ponds—Lake Chany (1400 sq. m.) and the innumerable smaller lakes which surround it being but relatively insignificant remains of the former lacustrine basins; while at the confluence of the Irtysh and the Ob impassable marshes stretch over many thousands of square miles. Several alpine lakes, of which the picturesque Teletskoye may be specially mentioned, occupy the deeper parts of the valleys of the Altai. The coast-line of Siberia is very extensive both on the Arctic Ocean and on the Pacific. The former ocean is ice-bound for at least ten months out of twelve; and, though Nordensk- Coasis jeld and Captain Wiggins demonstrated (1874–1900) the possibility of navigation along its shores, it is exceedingly dnds. doubtful whether it can ever become a commercial route of any importance. The coast-line has few indentations, the chief being the double gulf of the Ob and the Taz, separated from the Sea of Kara by an elongated peninsula (Samoyede), and from the bay of the Yenisei by another. The immense peninsula of Taymyr—a barren tundra intersected by the wild Byrranga Hills–projects in Cape Chelyuskin as far north as 77° 46' N. The bay of the Yana, east of the delta of the Lena, is a wide indentation sheltered on the north by the islands of New Siberia. The bays of the Kolyma, the Chaun and Kolyuchin are of little importance. The New Siberia islands are occasionally visited by hunters, as is also the small group of the Bear Islands opposite the mouth of the Kolyma. Wrangel or Kellett Island is still quite unknown. Bering Strait, at i The Lena at Verkholensk is navigable for 170 days, at Yakutsk for 153 days: the Yenisei at Krasnoyarsk for 196 days. 2 See Yadrintsev, in Izvestia of the Russian Geogr. Soc, (1886, No. 1, with maps). the north-east extremity of Siberia, and Bering Sea between the land of the Chukchis and Alaska, with the Gulf of Anadyr, are often visited by seal-hunters, and the Commander Islands off Kamchatka are valuable stations for this pursuit. The Sea of Okhotsk, separated from the Pacific by the Kurile Archipelago and from the Sea of Japan by the islands of Sakhalin and Yezo, is notorious as one of the worst seas of the world, owing to its dense fogs and its masses of floating ice. The Shantar Islands in the bay of the Uda possess geological interest. The double bay of Gizhiga and Penzhina, as well as that of Tani, would be useful as harbours were they not frozen seven or eight months in the year and persistently shrouded in dense fogs in summer. The northern part of the Sea of Japan, which washes the Usuri region, has, besides the smaller bays of Olga and Vladimir, the beautiful Gulf of Peter the Great, on which stands Vladivostok, the Russian naval station on the Pacific. Okhotsk and Ayan on the Sea of Okhotsk, Petropavlovsk on the east shore of Kamchatka, Nikolayevsk, and Vladivostok on the Sea of Japan, and Dui on Sakhalin are the only ports of Siberia. Climate.—The climate is extremely severe, even in the southern parts. This arises chiefly from the orographical structure; the vast plateau of Central Asia prevents the moderating influence of the sea from being felt. The extensive lowlands which stretch over more than one half of the area, as well as the elevated plains, lie open to the Arctic Ocean. Although attaining altitudes of 6000 to io,000 ft., the mountain peaks of East Siberia do not reach the snow-line, which is found only on the Munku-Sardyk in East Sayan, above io,000 ft. Patches of perpetual snow occur in East Siberia only on the mountains of the far north. On the Altai Mountains the snow-line runs at about 7000 ft. The air, after being chilled on the plateaus during the winter, drifts, owing to its greater density, down upon the lowlands; hence in the region of the lower Lena there obtains an exceedingly low temperature throughout the winter, and Verkhoyansk, in 67°N., is the pole of cold of the eastern hemisphere. The average temperature of winter (December to February) at Yakutsk is -40.2 ° F., at Verkhoyansk -53•1°. At the polar meteorological station of Sagastyr, in the delta of the Lena (73° 23' N.), the following average temperatures have been observed: January -34.3° F. (February -43.61, July 40.8°, year 2.1°. The lowest average temperature of a day is -61.6° F. Nevertheless owing to the dryness of the climate, the unclouded sun fully warms the earth during the long summer days in those high latitudes, and gives a short period of warm and even hot weather in the immediate neighbourhood of the pole of cold. Frosts of -13° to -18° F. are not uncommon at Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk and Nerchinsk; even in the warmer southern regions of West Siberia and of the Amur the average winter temperature is 2.4° F. and -10.2° respectively; while at Yakutsk and Verkhoyansk the thermometer occasionally falls as low as -75° and -85° F. The minimum temperatures recorded at these two stations are -84° F. and -90° respectively; the minimum at Krasnoyarsk is -67° F., at Irkutsk -51° at Omsk -56°, and at Tobolsk -58° F. The soil freezes many feet deep over immense areas even in southern Siberia. More dreaded than the frosts are the terrible burans or snowstorms, which occur in early spring and destroy thousands of horses and cattle that have been grazing on the steppes throughout the winter. Although very heavy falls of snow take place in the alpine tracts—especially about Lake Baikal—on the other side, in the steppe regions of the Altai and Transbaikalia and in the neighbourhood of Krasnoyarsk, the amount of snow is so small that travellers use wheeled vehicles, and cattle are able to find food in the steppe. Spring sets in with remarkable rapidity and charm at the end of April; but in the second half of May come the " icy saints' days," so blighting that it is impossible to cultivate the apple or pear. After this short period of frost and snow summer comes in its full beauty; the days are very hot, and, although they are always followed by cold nights, vegetation advances at an astonishing rate. Corn sown about Yakutsk in the end of May is ripe in the end of August. Still, at many places night frosts set in as early as the second half of July. They become quite common in August and September. Nevertheless September is much warmer than May; and October than April, even in the most continental parts of Siberia. The isotherms are exceedingly interesting. That of 32° F. crosses the middle parts of West Siberia and the southern parts of East Siberia. The summer isotherm of 68° F., which in Europe passes through Cracow and Kaluga, traverses Omsk, Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk, whence it turns north to Yakutsk, and then south again to Vladivostok. Even the mouths of the Ob, Yenisei, Lena and Kolyma in 70° N. have in July an average temperature of 40° to 50°.Q suite contrary is the course of the January isotherms. That of 14 F., which passes in Europe through Uleaborg in Finland only touches the southern part of West Siberia in the Altai Mountains. That of F., which crosses Novaya Zemlya in Europe, passes through Tobolsk, Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk, and touches 45°.N. at Urga in Mongolia, turning north in the Amur region and reaching the Pacific at Nikolayevsk. The isotherm of -22° F., which touches the north point of Novaya Zemlya, passes in Siberia through Turukhansk (at the confluence of the Lena and the Lower Tunguzka) and descends as low as 55° N. in Transbaikalia, whence it turns north to the Arctic Ocean. Most rain falls in summer, especially in July and August. During the summer an average of 8 in. falls on a zone that stretches from Moscow and St Petersburg through Perm to Tobolsk and, after a dry belt as far as Tomsk, continues in a narrower strip as far as the S. end of Lake Baikal, then it broadens out so as to include the whole of the Amur basin, the total summer precipitation there being about 12 in. North of this zone the rainfall decreases towards the Arctic. Flora.—The flora of Siberia presents very great local varieties, not only on account of the diversity of physical characteristics, but also in consequence of the intrusion of new species from the neighbouring regions, as widely different as the arctic littoral, the arid steppes of Central Asia, and the wet monsoon regions of the Pacific littoral. Siberia is situated for the most part in what Grisebach describes as the " forest region of the Eastern continent."' The northern limit of this region, must, however, be drawn nearer to the Arctic Ocean. A strip 6o to 200 M. wide is totally devoid of tree vegetation. The last trees which struggle for existence on the verge of the tundras are crippled dwarfs and almost without branches, and trees a hundred years old are only a few feet high and a few inches through and thickly encrusted with lichens.' The following species, none of which are found in European Russia, are characteristic of the tundras —arbutus (Arctostaphilus alpina), heaths or andomedas (Cassiope tetragona and C. hypnoides), Phyllodoce taxifolia, Loiseleuria procumbers, a species of Latifolium, a Polar azalea (Osmothamnus fragrans) and a Polar willow (Salix arctica). In Yakutsk the tundra vegetation consists principally of mosses of the genera Polytrichum, Bryum and Hypnum. Some two hundred species of flowering plants struggle for a precarious existence in the tundra region, the frozen ground and the want of humus militating against them more than the want of warmth.' From this northern limit to the Aral-Caspian and Mongolian steppes stretches all over Siberia the forest region; the forests are, however, very unequally distributed, covering from 50 to 99% of the area in different districts. In the hill tracts and the marshy depression of the Ob they are unbroken, except by the bald summits of the loftier mountains (goltsy) ; they have the aspect of agreeable bosquets in the Baraba steppe, and they are thinly scattered through south-eastern Transbaikalia, where the dryness of the Gobi steppe makes its influence appreciably felt. Immense marshy plains covered with the dwarf birch take their place in the north as the tundras are approached. Over this immense area the trees are for the most part the same as we are familiar with in Europe. The larch becomes predominant chiefly in two new species (Larix sibirica and L. dahurica). The fir appears in the Siberian varieties Picea obovata and P. ayanensis. The silver fir (Abies sibirica, Pinus pectinate) and the stone-pine (P. Cembra) are quite common; they reach the higher summits, where the last-named is represented by a recumbent species (Cembra pumila). The birch in the loftier alpine tracts and plateaus becomes a shrub (Betula nana, B. fruticosa), and in Transbaikalia assumes a new and very elegant aspect with a dark bark (B. daurica). In the deeper valleys and on the lowlands of West Siberia the larches, pines and silver firs, inter-mingled with birches and aspens, attain a great size, and the streams are fringed with thickets of poplar and willow. The alpine rose (Rhododendron dauricum) clusters in masses on the higher mountains; juniper, spiraea, sorbus, the pseudo-acacia (Caragana sibirica and C. arborescens, C. jubata in some of the higher tracts), various Rosaceae—Potentilla fruticosa and Cotoneaster uniflora—the wild cherry (Prunus Padus), and many other shrubs occupy the spaces between the trees. Berry-yielding plants are found everywhere, even on the goltsy, at the upper limit of tree vegetation; on the lower grounds they are an article of diet. The red whortleberry or cow-berry (Vaccinium Vitis idaea), the bog whortleberry (V. uliginosum, the bilberry (V. myrtillus) and the arctic bramble (Rubus arcticus) extend very far northward; raspberries and red and black currants form a luxuriant undergrowth in the forests, together with Ribes dikusha in East Siberia. The oak, elm, hazel, ash, apple, lime and maple disappear to the east of the Urals, but reappear in new varieties on the eastern slope of the border-ridge of the great plateau.' There we encounter the oak (Q. mongolica), maple (Acerginala, Max.), ash (Fraxinus manchurica), elm (Ulmus montana), hazel (Corylus heterophylla) and several other European acquaintances. Farther east, in the Amur region, a great number of new species of European ' According to A. Engler's Versuch einer Entwickelungsgeschichte der Pflanzenwelt (Leipzig, 1879-1882), we should have in Siberia (a) the arctic region; (b) the sub-arctic or coniferous region—north Siberian province; (c) the Central-Asian domain—Altai and Daurian mountainous regions; and (d) the east Chinese, intruding into the basin of the Amur. See Middendorff's observations on vegetable and animal life in the tundras, attractively told in vol. iv. of his Sibirische Reise. Kjellmann, Vega Expeditionens Vetenskepliga Iakttagelser (Stock- holm, 1872-1887) reckons their number at 182; 124 species were found by Middendorff on the Taymyr peninsula, 219 along the borders of the forest region of Olenek, and 344 species within the forest region of the same; 470 species were colected by Maack in the Vilui region. 4 Nowhere, perhaps, is the change better seen than on crossing the Great Khingan. trees, and even new genera, such as the cork-tree (Phellodendron admixture of Mongolian species, such as Canis corsac, Felis manul, amurense, walnut (Juglans manchurica), acacia (Maackia amurensis), the graceful climber Maximowiczia amurensis, the Japanese Trochostigma and many others—all unknown to Siberia proper—are met with. On the high plateau the larch predominates over all other species of conifers or deciduous trees; the wide, open valleys are thickly planted with Betula nana and B. fruticosa in the north and with thick grasses (poor in species) in the southern and drier parts. The Siberian larch predominates also in the alpine tracts fringing the plateau on the north, intermingled with the fir, stone-pine, aspen and birch. In the drier parts the Scotch fir (Pinus sylvestris) makes its appearance. In the alpine tracts of the north the narrowness of the valleys and the steep stony slopes strewn with debris, on which only lichens and mosses are able to grow, make every plot of green grass (even if it be only of Carex) valuable. For days consecutively the horse of the explorer can get no other food than the dwarf birch. But even in these districts the botanist and the geographer can easily distinguish between the chern or thick forest of the Altai and the taiga of East Siberia. The lower plateau exhibits, of course, new characteristics. Its open spaces are lovely prairies, on which the Daurian flora flourishes in full beauty. In spring the traveller crosses a sea of grass above which the flowers of the paeony, aconite, Orobus, Carallia, Saussurea and the like wave 4 or 5 ft. high. As the Gobi desert is approached the forests disappear, the ground becomes covered chiefly with dry Gramineae, and Salsolaceae make their appearance. The high plains of the west slope of the plateau are also rich prairies diversified with woods. Nearly all the species of plants which grow on these prairies are common to Europe (paeonies, Hemerocallis, asters, pinks, gentians, violets, Cypripedium, Aquilegia, Delphinium, aconites, irises and so on) ; but here the plants attain a much greater size; a man standing erect is often hidden by the grasses. The flora of Minusinsk—the Italy of Siberia—is well known; the prairies on the Ishim and of the Baraba steppe are adorned with the same rich vegetation, so graphically described by Middendorff and O. Finsch. Farther north we come to the urmans of West Siberia, dense thickets of trees often rising from a treacherous carpet of thickly interlaced grasses, which conceals deep marshes, where even the bear has learnt to tread circumspectly. Fauna.—The fauna of Siberia is closely akin to that of central Europe; and the Ural Mountains, although the habitat of a few species which warrant the naturalist in regarding the southern Urals as a separate region, are not so important a boundary zoologically as they are botanically. As in European Russia, so in Siberia, three principal zones—the arctic, the boreal and the middle—may be distinguished, and these may be subdivided into several sub-regions. The Amur region shares the characteristics of the north Chinese fauna. On the whole, we may say that the arctic and boreal faunas of Europe extend over Siberia, with a few additional species in the Ural and Baraba region—a number of new species also appearing in East Siberia, some spreading along the high plateau and others along the lower plateau from the steppes of the Gobi. The arctic fauna is very poor. According to Nordenskjold' it numbers only twenty-nine species of mammals, of which seven are marine and seventeen or eighteen may be safely considered as living beyond the forest limit. Of these, again, four are characteristic of the land of the Chukchis. The reindeer, arctic fox (Canis lagopus), hare, wolf, lemming (Myodes obensis), collar lemming (Cuniculus torquatus) and two species of voles (Arvicolae) are the most common on land. The avifauna is very rich in migratory water and marsh fowl (Grallatores and Natatores), which come to breed in the coast region; but only five land birds—the ptarmigan (Lagopus alpinus), snow-bunting, Iceland falcon, snow-owl and raven—are permanent inhabitants of the region. The boreal fauna is, of course, much more abundant; but here also the great bulk of the species, both mammals and birds, are common to Europe and Asia. The bear, badger, wolverine, pole-cat, ermine, common weasel, otter, wolf, fox, lynx, mole, hedgehog, common shrew, water-shrew and lesser shrew (Sorex vulgaris, S. fodiens and S. pygmaeus), two bats (the long-eared and the boreal), three species of Vespertilio (V. daubentoni, V. nattereri and V. mystacinus), the flying and the common squirrel (Tamias striatus), the brown, common, field and harvest mouse (Mus decumanus, M. musculus, M. sylvaticus, M. agrarius and M. minutus), four voles (Arvicola amphibius, A. rufocanus, A. rutilus and A. schistocolor), the beaver, variable hare, wild boar, roebuck, stag, reindeer, elk and Phoca annelata of Lake Baikal—all these are common alike to Europe and to Siberia; while the bear, musk-deer (Moschus moschi- ferus), ermine, sable, pouched marmot or souslik (Spermophilus eversmani), Arvicola obscurus and Lagomys hyperboraeus, distributed over Siberia, may be considered as belonging to the arctic fauna. In addition to the above we find in East Siberia Mustela alpina, Canis alpinus, the sable antelope (Aegocerus sibiricus), several species of mouse (Mus gregatus, M. oeconomus and M. saxatilus), two voles (Arvicola russatus and A. macrotus), Syphneus aspalax and the alpine Lagomys from the Central Asian plateaus; while the tiger makes incursions not only into the Amur region but occasionally as far as Lake Baikal. On the lower terrace of the great plateau we find an 1 In Vega Exped. Vetensk. Iakttagelser., vol. ii. Spermophilus dauricus, the jerboa (Dipus jaculus), two hamsters (Cricetus songarus and C. furunculus), three new voles (Arvicolae), the Tolai hare, Ogotona hare (Lagomys ogotona), Aegocerus argali, Antilope gutturosa and Equus hemionus (jighitai). Of birds no less than 285 species have been observed in Siberia, but of these forty-five only are absent from Europe. In south-east Siberia there are forty-three new species belonging to the north Manchurian or Amur fauna; and in south-east Transbaikalia, on the borders of the Gobi steppe, only 103 species were found by G. F. R. Radde, among which the most numerous are migratory birds and the birds of prey which pursue them. The rivers and lakes of Siberia abound in fish; but little is known of their relations with the species of neighbouring regions? The insect fauna is very similar to that of Russia; but a few genera, as the Tentyria, do not penetrate into the steppe region of West Siberia, while the tropical Colasposoma, Popilia and Languria are found only in south-eastern Transbaikalia, or are confined to the southern Amur. On the other hand, several American genera (Cephalaon, Ophryastes) extend into the north-eastern parts of Siberia.' As in all uncultivated countries, the forests and prairies of Siberia become almost uninhabitable in summer because of the mosquitoes. East Siberia suffers less from this plague than the marshy Baraba steppe; but on the Amur and the Sungari large gnats are an intolerable plague. The dredgings of the " Vega " expedition in the Arctic Ocean disclosed an unexpected wealth of marine fauna, and those of L. Schrenck in the north of the Japanese Sea led to the discovery of no fewer than 256 species (Gasteropods, Brachiopods and Conchifers). Even in Lake Baikal Dybowski and Godlewski discovered no fewer than ninety-three species of Gammarides and twenty-five of Gasteropods.' The Sea of Okhotsk is very interesting, owing to its local species and the general composition of its fauna (7o species of Molluscs and 21 of Gasteropods). The land Molluscs, notwithstanding the unfavourable conditions of climate, number about seventy species—Siberia in this respect being not far behind north Europe. The increase of many animals in size (becoming twice as large as in Europe) ; the appearance of white varieties among both mammals and birds, and their great prevalence among domesticated animals (Yakut horses) ; the migrations of birds and mammals over immense regions, from the Central Asian steppes to the arctic coast, not only in the usual rotation of the seasons but also as a result of occasional climacteric conditions are not yet fully understood (e.g. the migration of thousands and thousands of roe-buck from Manchuria across the Amur to the left bank of the river, or the migration of reindeer related by Baron F von Wrangel) ; the various coloration of many animals according to the composition of the forests they inhabit (the sable and the squirrel are well-known instances) ; the intermingling northern and southern faunas in the Amur region and the remarkable consequences of that intermixture in the struggle for existence;—all these render the study of the Siberian fauna most interesting. Finally, the laws of distribution of animals over Siberia cannot be made out until the changes under-gone by its surface during the Glacial and Lacustrine periods are well established and the Post-Tertiary fauna is better known. The remarkable finds of Quaternary mammals about Omsk and their importance for the history of the Equidae are merely a slight indication of what may be expected in this field. Population.—In 1906 the estimated population was 6,740,600. In 1897 the distribution was as follows. Geographically, though not administratively, the steppe provinces of Akmolinsk and Semipalatinsk belong to Siberia. They are described under
End of Article: SIBERIA

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