Siberia,a part of the Russian dominions occupying the whole of northern Asia, bounded N. by the Arctic ocean, E. and S. E. by Behring strait, Behring sea or the sea of Kam-tchatka, and the seas of Okhotsk and Japan (inlets of the North Pacific), S. by China and the Russian provinces of central Asia, and W. by European Russia, from which it is separated by the Ural mountains. As officially bounded, it extends from lat. 41° 30' to 77° 50' N., and from lon. 59° 30' to 190° E.; length about 3,600 m., breadth 2,000 m.; area, 4,826,-329 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 3,428,867. It is divided for administrative purposes into the four governments of Tobolsk, Tomsk, Yeniseisk, and Irkutsk, and the four provinces of Trans-baikal, Yakutsk, Amoor, and the Littoral or Primorsk. In a geographical sense, however, the four northern provinces of Russian Central Asia, Semipolatinsk, Akmolinsk, Turgai, and Uralsk, and portions of the governments of Perm and Orenburg, also belong to Siberia, and will be included in parts of this description.
Tobolsk comprises the western end of Siberia, as officially constituted, and extends from the Arctic ocean to the Central Asian province of Akmolinsk. Tomsk lies E. of it on the borders of the Central Asian province of Semirietchensk. Yeniseisk includes the Arctic coast from the gulf of Obi to the river Anabara, and extends S. to the borders of Mongolia. Irkutsk lies between Yeniseisk and Lake Baikal, and the Transbaikal province east of Lake Baikal. Yakutsk comprises the Arctic coast from the Anabara river to Cape Shelag-ski, extending S. to the Amoor province, which includes the country on the left bank of the Amoor from the Stanovoi mountains to the N. E. extremity of Mantchooria; The Littoral province covers the entire E. coast from Cape Shelagski in the Arctic ocean to the sea of Japan, including the Tehuktchi peninsula, Kam-tchatka, the district of Okhotsk, the lower course of the Amoor, and the island of Sagha-lien. - The coasts of Siberia, both along the Arctic ocean and the seas on the east and south, are indented by many bays and inlets.
On the N. coast the first large inlet, beginning at the W. extremity, is Kara bay, an offshoot of the Kara sea lying between Siberia and Nova Zembla. Next is the gulf of Obi, an inlet of the same sea, which forms between it and Kara bay the Yelmert or Samoyed peninsula. It receives the Obi or Ob at its S. W. extremity. A branch on its E. side is called the Taz gulf. The gulf of Yenisei, the outlet of the river of the same name, forms with Khatanga gulf, the outlet of the Khatanga river, the Taimyr peninsula. On the W. side of Taimyr bay is Cape Taimyr or Northwest cape, and on its E. side, at the extremity of a long peninsula, is Teheliuskin or Northeast cape, the northernmost point of Asia, in lat. 77° 50' N. Between Khatanga gulf and Behring strait are many smaller bays, most of which are the outlets of some of the numerous rivers which empty into the Arctic ocean. The principal islands off the N. coast are the Liakhoff or New Siberia group, extending 205 m. opposite the shore between the mouths of the Yana and the Indigirka; the largest, Kotelnoi, is 100 m. long by 60 m. broad; the next in size is called Fadeyeff, and the next New Siberia. Between the main group and the coast are smaller islands called Liakhoff and Maloi. The surface of the islands is covered with alternate layers of sand and ice, and in their hills are immense alluvial deposits filled with wood and the fossil bones of animals.
Great quantities of fossil ivory have been obtained from them and the neighboring coasts of the mainland. N. of the coast, about the 180th meridian, and separated from it by Long strait, is Wrangel's, Plover, or Kellett land, of unknown extent. Along the whole Arctic coast of Siberia the sea is frozen for more than half the year; and in the warmer seasons the ice floats in such masses as to render navigation always dangerous and often impossible. A large part of the coast is unexplored, and all efforts to double Cape Tcheliuskin have been unsuccessful; but Lieut. Tcheliuskin, from whom it is named, reached its northernmost point in 1742 in a sledge. The easternmost point of Siberia is Cape East at the end of the Tchuktchi peninsula, which juts into Behring strait, opposite Cape Prince of Wales in Alaska, the westernmost point of the American continent. On the S. side of this peninsula is the bay of Anadyr, an inlet of Behring sea. The coast follows thence a general southwesterly direction to the end of the peninsula of Kamtchatka, W. of which lies the Okhotsk sea, separated from the Pacific by the chain of the Kurile islands stretching from Kamtchatka to Yezo. Of the islands of Behring sea, only Behring and Copper islands and those lying close to the coast belong to Russia. - The surface of Siberia is in its general form a vast diluvial plain, slightly undulating, and sloping gradually from the Altai mountains on the south to the Arctic ocean.
In the W. part are the steppes of Ishim and Baraba, broad tracts of lowland in which grassy prairies alternate with reed marshes, fresh lakes with salt, and tracts of rich arable land with extensive forests. Parts of this region present in summer fine park scenery, in which beautiful wooded hills rise from grassy plains covered with flowers. Here the birches often attain a diameter of 4 ft. and a height of 150 ft., and the pines much greater dimensions. S. and E. of the steppes the spurs of the Altai mountains jut into the plain like the headlands of a seacoast. Many of the great rivers rise here, the upper part of their courses being through dense forests. In eastern Siberia the plain is more broken by hills, and has but little land fit for agriculture. In the S. part of Irkutsk and in Yakutsk the hills and mountains are covered for most of the year with good pasture, and in favorable places all the grains of temperate climates are grown. The greater part of the country is covered with open forests, in which there is tolerable pasturage at certain seasons. Between the Kolyma river and Behring sea the country is traversed by several mountain ranges having a general elevation of 2,000 to 3,000 ft. above the sea.
The entire N. coast of Siberia is a dreary region of salt steppes and frozen swamps, called the tundra, where the soil is perpetually frozen to the depth of hundreds of feet. The surface is never thawed before the end of June, and is again ice-bound by the middle of September, and deep snow covers the ground nine or ten months in the year. The banks of the rivers are lined with vast numbers of uprooted trees brought down by floods, which eventually find their way into the Arctic ocean, to be drifted away by the current flowing from E. to W. along the Siberian coast. - The principal mountain range of Siberia is that which forms in the west its S. boundary with China, and which is called by various names in different parts. Its E. extremity is at East cape in Behring strait, whence it extends in a general S. W. direction, forming the boundary between the Littoral, the Amoor, and Yakutsk provinces, until it reaches the Chinese frontier, when its course is first S., then W., and then N. W. to the boundary between Irkutsk and Yeniseisk, from which it again runs S. W. to the borders of Turkistan. In the east and along the shores of the sea of Okhotsk this range is called the Stanovoi mountains, W. of the Amoor province the Ya-blonnoi, further W. the Daurian and Sayanian mountains, and finally the Altai mountains in the narrower sense.
The general height of the chain (the Altai in its widest sense) is about 3,000 ft., but the highest summits of the Altai proper reach an elevation of upward of 10,000 ft., and the Yablonnoi mountains are little more than an undulating plateau. There are many spurs from the main range, as well as several smaller ranges in the interior. (See Altai, Amoor Country, and Kamtchatka.) - With the exception of the Amoor and a few streams of less importance, the rivers of Siberia all flow into the Arctic ocean. The Obi ranks among the largest rivers in the world, and many of its tributaries are of great size; the most important of these are the Irtish, Ishim, Tobol, and Tom. The Yenisei is by some authorities said to drain a greater extent of surface and to have a longer course than the Obi; its chief affluents are the Lower Tunguska, Stony Tunguska, and Upper Tun-guska or Angara. The Lena is nearly as large, and the principal streams which join it are the Viliui, Vitim, Olekma, and Aldan. The other rivers of most importance which flow into the Arctic ocean are the Nadym, Pur, Taz, Piasina, Khatanga, Anabara, Olem, Ole-nek, Yana, Indigirka, Alazeya, Kolyma, and Tchaun. The chief rivers flowing into the seas which bound Siberia S. E. are the Amoor or Saghalien, which forms part of the southern boundary and receives several considerable tributaries from the north; the Anadyr, flowing into the gulf of the same name; and the Okhota, which has its mouth on the W. shore of the sea of Okhotsk. Few of these rivers present any obstacles to navigation except ice.
Frozen inundations are frequent. As the rivers flow from warm to cold latitudes, their lower and middle courses freeze while their head waters are still open. Near their mouths they freeze to the bottom, while above for hundreds of miles only the surface is frozen. The waters accumulating under the ice finally burst from confinement and flood the valleys with many thicknesses of ice. At the close of winter these accumulations are sometimes 20 ft. in depth. There are many lakes, but they are all small, with the exception of Baikal, between the Transbaikal province and the government of Irkutsk. (See Baikal.) - The geology of Siberia is but little known, excepting in a few parts. Granite and crystalline schists are found in the Ural mountains, and also in the Altai and its E. continuations, between lon. 85° and 120° and as far N. as lat. 57°, and again in the E. extremity of the country between lon. 165° and Behring strait. Volcanic rocks occur chiefly in the south, and are found along with the granite and crystalline schists; and there are a few active volcanoes. Other rocks, belonging to the Silurian, Devonian, and carboniferous systems, are found in the south and extending toward the interior of the country.
The tertiary formation is the most extensively developed, and is found throughout the whole of Siberia. The shores of the Arctic ocean are covered for a considerable distance inland, and for a great part of their extent, by a deep alluvial deposit which contains immense numbers of fossil remains of extinct species of elephants and other animals, from which large quantities of ivory are procured. (See Mammoth.) Mining operations in Siberia are confined to three parts of the country. The westernmost district is on the E. face of the Ural mountains, and occupies a tract about 40 m. broad, extending between lat. 56° and 60°; gold, silver, platinum, copper and iron ores, and precious stones, are all found in this territory. This region is, however, not officially included in Siberia. (See Yekaterinburg.) The second district lies on the N. side of the Altai mountains, in the neighborhood of the head streams of the river Irtish; silver and copper are found here, and gold and lead in smaller quantities. The third district lies in the Yablonnoi mountains, E. of lon. 120°; in this gold, silver, lead, zinc, antimony, iron, and arsenic are all found, and there are emerald and topaz mines of great value. Diamonds are occasionally found on the E. slopes of the Ural mountains.
Porphyry, jasper, and malachite, for ornamental uses, and mica, used as a substitute for window glass, are common. Salt is found in great abundance on the steppes, and on the surface of some of the lakes, where the summer heat rapidly evaporates the water and leaves masses of crystallized salt, sometimes 8 or 9 in. thick, and so solid that beasts of burden pass over in safety. - The climate of Siberia is much colder than in corresponding latitudes in Europe. At Ustyansk, at the mouth of the river Yana, in lat. 70° 55', the mean annual temperature is 4.39° F., while at North cape in Europe, a few minutes further north, it is 32°. At Irkutsk, in lat. 52° 17', 1,240 ft. above the sea, the mean temperature is 31°; in winter quicksilver freezes, and remains so for about two months. In 1864 Pumpelly saw the thermometer indicate 70° below zero at a station near Irkutsk. The severity of the climate increases toward the east. At Nizhni Kolymsk, at the mouth of the Kolyma, in lat. 68° 31', lon. 160° 56', and nearly on a level with the sea, the river freezes over in the beginning of September, and is not again free from ice till the beginning of June. The sea begins to freeze in October, but the cold at this time is somewhat diminished by vapors which rise from it before the ice forms.
In January the thermometer falls to 60° below zero, and respiration becomes difficult. The cold is almost as great in February, but in March it begins to decrease perceptibly; the wind blows from E. S. E., and the temperature rises to 29°. In June it is sometimes 72° at noon; and in July the heat is very great, and the atmosphere is filled with swarms of gnats, which compel the reindeer to migrate from the forests to the open country on the shores of the sea. In August frosts begin at night and the temperature rapidly decreases. - Forests cover a large part of southern and central Siberia, but the tundra on the N. coast is bare of trees. The birch, larch, fir, pine, willow, poplar, elm, and Tartar maple are the principal trees. The silver poplar is found as far north as lat. 60°; the silver fir ceases at about 60° 50'; the polar limit of birch is about 63°, although dwarf specimens are sometimes seen further north; the pine is found on arid slopes and heights in lat. 64°, and the red fir (pinus abies) disappears about the same parallel. Larch trees with twisted trunks and many branches are found in the southern part of the tundra.
On the most desolate steppes and mountain sides, from the Okhotsk sea to the Arctic ocean, grows the trailing cedar, called kedre-vnik by the Russians. It has needles and cones like the common white pine; it never stands erect, but covers the ground under the snow with a network of gnarled, twisted, and interlocking trunks. It furnishes almost the only firewood of the wandering natives, and without it N. E. Siberia would be nearly uninhabitable. With the opening of summer the melting snows are rapidly followed by foliage and flowers, and the whole region is converted for a short time into a blooming garden. The flora of Irkutsk is richer than that of Berlin, exhibiting the plants of warmer countries beside those of the arctic regions. Turtchaninoff discovered 1,000 phanerogamous plants in its neighborhood, many of them of unknown species. - Along the banks of the rivers, particularly in S. W. Siberia, is much land well suited for agricultural purposes. Wheat, barley, rye, buckwheat, oats, and hemp are grown, and some inferior tobacco. Grain is cultivated as far north as lat. 61°, and turnips and other vegetables of temperate climates thrive in favorable places.
Reindeer and wild sheep are found on the mountains which separate Siberia from Mongolia, and the former roam in vast herds throughout the N. part of the country. The Bengal tiger and a species of panther (fells irbis) also inhabit these mountains, and are sometimes seen much further north. The Caspian antelope is found in the southwest, and the black and arctic or stone fox in the north. Sables, ermines, marmots, martens, and squirrels abound in the south. The white bear, the lynx, the wolf, the wild hog, and the glutton are common everywhere. The dog of the country, which bears a strong resemblance to the wolf, is used to drag sledges. The animals belonging to central Asia are nearly all found in the S. part of Siberia. Camels are kept by the Cal mucks and some other tribes, but do not live N. of lat. 55°. The domestic sheep are of two species, the Russian and the broad-tailed Kirghiz; the latter are chiefly kept by the nomadic tribes, single herdsmen of whom sometimes possess flocks of 10,000 head. The horned cattle of Russia degenerate in size in Siberia. The horses are good, and generally white, but sometimes they are singularly marked. Fish are very numerous.
Ducks, geese, swans, woodcocks, partridges, and other fowl abound in the S. part of the country. - The population of Siberia is composed of various tribes and races. More than half are Russians or their descendants, some of whom came to the country as volunteer immigrants, but the greater part were sent as exiles. These exiles consist of three classes, criminals and political and religious offenders. The worst class are condemned to the mines, and those whose offences have not been so great are employed at less laborious work, while the rest are formed into settlements under the supervision of the police, and receive grants of land for cultivation. None except the worst criminals are sent to Siberia without their families. In 1874, from May to October, 16,889 persons were banished to Siberia. Of these 1,700 were sentenced to hard labor, and 1,624 were drunkards and vagrants. They were accompanied voluntarily by 1,080 women and children over 15 years of age, and 1,269 younger children. Among the native tribes are the Samoyeds in the N. W., and the Ostiaks, who occupy the country S. of them as far E. as the river Yenisei; these people live by fishing and hunting, and but few of them have been converted to Christianity. In the S. W., besides some hordes of Bashkirs, are the Kirghiz, occupying the steppes of the Ishim and Irtish, commonly called from them the Kirghiz steppes; they are still in a barbarous state.
Among the inhabitants of the W. parts of the Altai mountains the most numerous are the Calmucks, who have, become partially civilized and have laid aside many of their national peculiarities; they manufacture iron and gunpowder, and cultivate some grain and tobacco, but their chief subsistence is drawn from their flocks and herds. Their religion is made up of various superstitions. On the slopes of the E. part of the Altai chain are several tribes known as Beruisses, Beltirs, Sagai, and Katchins. The Buriats are of Mongol origin, bear a strong resemblance to the people of N. China, and are the most numerous native tribe in Siberia; they are found chiefly about Lake Baikal and E. to the river Onon, a tributary of the Amoor. Most of the nations of N. E. Siberia may be referred to one or the other of three classes, the Yakuts, the Tunguses, and the Tchuktchis and Koriaks. The Yakuts, settled chiefly along the Lena, from its source to its mouth, are of Tartar origin, speaking a language said to resemble closely the Turkish. They are all more or less civilized by Russian contact, many having adopted the Greek faith, and are the most thrifty and industrious of the nations of N. Asia. The Tunguses, and the allied tribes, the Lamuts, the Monzhurs, and the Gilyaks of the Amoor river, all of Mongol origin, are found as far W. as the Yenisei and as far E. as Ana-dyrsk in lon. 169°. They are amiable, and easily governed and influenced.
Their original religion was Shamanism, but they now profess almost universally the Greek faith. They train reindeer for riding and pack-carrying (the other nations using them only in sledges), and pay a regular tribute in furs to the government. The Tchuktchis and Koriaks, inhabiting the extreme E. part of Siberia, between the 160th meridian and Behring strait, strongly resemble the North American Indians in general appearance, and are tall, vigorous, and athletic. A part of them are settled along the seashore, but most are nomadic. The latter own large herds of reindeer, numbering frequently several thousand, and their wandering life is a necessity to provide food for them. The Tchuktchis and Koriaks are independent of civilization, impatient of restraint, and bold and self-reliant. They are the only Siberian tribes that ever made a successful stand against Russian invasion. Nearly all the Siberian nations eat a species of toadstool, called by them muk-a-mur, which in small doses produces all the effects of alcoholic liquor, but when eaten in large quantities is a violent narcotic poison. Its habitual use shatters the nervous system, and its sale to the natives by traders is made a penal offence by Russian law.
In respect to religious belief the inhabitants are divided as follows: Orthodox Greeks, 2,875,533; Ras-kolniks, 65,505; Armenian Greeks, 9; Roman Catholics, 24,754; Protestants, 5,722; Jews, 11,400; Mohammedans, 61,083; pagans, 283,621. The population in towns numbers 113,236. - Although the manufactures of Siberia are not extensive, a remarkable spirit of enterprise among the people is rapidly developing the industrial resources of the country. In most of the chief towns there are manufactories of cotton and woollen cloths, linen, glass, iron, earthenware, and leather; and others are springing up all over the country. The internal commerce is of great importance, consisting principally of skins, furs, cattle, fish, both dry and salted, caviare, soap, and tallow. The transit trade between China and European Russia is also largely carried on across Siberia. The sole entrepot of this commerce was formerly at Kiakhta, S. E. of Lake Baikal, but trade is not now restricted to it. The principal exports to China are cotton and woollen cloths, linen, furs, gold and silver articles, and leather; the imports, tea, both leaf and compressed in cakes, sugar, silks, cottons, wool, cattle, leather, furs, grain, dried fruit, and colors.
This trade has been chiefly carried on by means of the rivers which flow into Lake Baikal, thence through the Upper Tunguska to Yeniseisk, thence after a land carriage of about 40 m. passing through the Ket, the Obi, and the Irtish to Tobolsk, whence there is again a land conveyance of about 500 m. across the Ural mountains to Perm. In winter it is maintained by means of sledges. But recently the tendency of the trade has appeared to be to take the sea route by the coast of China to Nikolayevsk, and thence up the Amoor by steamboat. There is also a considerable caravan trade with lli, Tashkend, Khokan, etc. A great deal of the trade of the country is transacted at fairs held at stated periods. The most important fairs are at Obdorsk near the mouth of the Obi, Tu-rukhansk on the Yenisei, Ustyansk on the Ya-na, Ostrovnoye on a tributary of the Kolyma, Tiumen on a W. tributary of the Irtish, and Ir-bit in the E. part of the government of Perm. During the summer steamers ply on all the large streams of central and southern Siberia and on Lake Baikal, so that there is less than 1,000 m. of wagon transit between St. Petersburg and the mouth of the Amoor. A great railway across the continent is projected, to connect European Russia with Peking. The proposed western terminus is Yekaterinburg on the E. slope of the Ural mountains, whence the line will pass through Shadrinsk, Omsk, Tomsk, and Krasnoyarsk to Irkutsk. - Siberia is divided into two military circumscriptions, East and West Siberia: the former comprises the governments of Irkutsk and Yeniseisk, and the provinces of Transbaikal, Yakutsk, Amoor, and the Littoral; the latter the governments of Tobolsk and Tomsk, together with the Kirghiz territories of central Asia. The respective capitals are Irkutsk and Omsk. Each of these two great divisions, which were formed on the present basis in 1865, has a military governor general, who is also commander-in-chief of the troops, and has control of all affairs, civil and military.
Each of the governments and provinces has also a civil governor, subordinate to the governor general, who is assisted by a council of regency. A vice governor fills his place in case of his absence or sickness. - Genghis Khan conquered a part of Siberia, and his successors reduced the country lying on both sides of the Irtish. About 1580 the 'Russian family of Stroganoff, to whom the czar had granted lands on both sides of the Ural mountains, applied to a Cossack chief, Yermak Timofeyeff, for assistance against the khan Kutchum, who ruled the country on the Tobol and Irtish rivers. Yermak invaded the country and made extensive conquests. Other adventurers followed up his successes, which resulted in 1587 in the subjection to Russia of the khanate of Sibir (called after a town of that name, whence the name Siberia). Tobolsk, Tiumen, Pelymsk, and Be-rezov were soon after founded and settled by Europeans. In 1604 Tomsk was founded, and the Cossacks, pushing eastward, founded successively Kuznetsk, Yeniseisk, Irkutsk, Selen-ginsk, and Nertchinsk, and at last reached the shores of Behring strait. The conquest of the entire country was effected in about 80 years.
The Amoor region was soon after visited by a Pole and some other exiles escaped from Yeniseisk, who built a small fort on the river; but having quarrelled with the Tunguses, they offered the conquest to the emperor of Russia, and begged forgiveness for their former offences, while the Tunguses about the same time applied to the emperor of China for assistance. This led to disputes between the two governments, but war was prevented, and the boundary between China and Siberia established, by a treaty concluded at Peking in 1689. A second treaty was made in 1727, confirming the former and confining commercial intercourse to Kiakhta and Maimatchin. The Amoor country was finally ceded to Russia in 1858, and in 1860 a treaty was concluded by which the whole line of the frontier was thrown, open for traffic. The transportation of criminals to Siberia was begun by Peter the Great in 1710. A well organized insurrection of Polish exiles was promptly suppressed in 1866. In 1871 the Russians took possession of the whole of the island of Saghalien, which by a treaty concluded in 1867 had been divided between Russia and Japan, and in 1875 the Japanese government resigned all claims to it. - See Atkinson, "Oriental and Western Siberia" (London, 1858); Pumpelly, "Across America and Asia" (New York, 1870); and Kennan, "Tent Life in Siberia" (New York, 1870).