Siberia

Сибирь
Geographical region
       Siberian Federal District        Geographic Russian Siberia        North Asia, greatest extent of Siberia
       Siberian Federal District

       Geographic Russian Siberia

       North Asia, greatest extent of Siberia
Coordinates: 60°0′N 105°0′E / 60.000°N 105.000°E / 60.000; 105.000Coordinates: 60°0′N 105°0′E / 60.000°N 105.000°E / 60.000; 105.000
CountryRussia
RegionNorthern Asia, Eurasia
PartsWest Siberian Plain
Central Siberian Plateau
others...
Area
 • Total13,100,000 km2 (5,100,000 sq mi)
Population
 (2017)
 • Total33,765,005
 • Density2.6/km2 (6.7/sq mi)
Coat of arms of Siberia, which was a part of the Russian Imperial Coat of Arms until 1917.

Siberia (/sˈbɪəriə/; Russian: Сибирь, tr. Sibír', IPA: [sʲɪˈbʲirʲ] (About this soundlisten)) is an extensive geographical region spanning much of Eurasia and Northern Asia. Siberia has been part of modern Russia since the latter half of the 16th century.[1]

The territory of Siberia extends eastwards from the Ural Mountains to the watershed between the Pacific and Arctic drainage basins. The river Yenisey conditionally divides Siberia into two parts, Western and Eastern. Siberia stretches southwards from the Arctic Ocean to the hills of north-central Kazakhstan and to the national borders of Mongolia and China.[2]

With an area of 13.1 million square kilometres (5,100,000 sq mi), Siberia accounts for 77% of Russia's land area, but it is home to approximately 33 million people—23% of the country's population. This is equivalent to an average population density of about 3 inhabitants per square kilometre (7.8/sq mi) (approximately equal to that of Australia), making Siberia one of the most sparsely populated regions on Earth. If it were a country by itself, it would still be the largest country by area, but in population it would be the world's 35th-largest and Asia's 14th-largest.

Worldwide, Siberia is well-known primarily for its long, harsh winters, with a January average of −25 °C (−13 °F),[3] as well as its extensive history of use by Russian and Soviet governments as a place for prisons, labor camps, and internal exile.

European influences, especially Russian, are strong in the southwestern and central part of the region, due to its high Russian population from Eastern Europe, which began to settle the area in the 18th-century CE.[4]

Etymology

The origin of the name is unknown. Some sources say that "Siberia" originates from the Siberian Tatar word for "sleeping land" (Sib Ir).[5] Another account sees the name as the ancient tribal ethnonym of the Sirtya [ru] (also "Syopyr" (sʲɵpᵻr)), an ethnic group which spoke a Paleosiberian language. The Sirtya people were later assimilated into the Siberian Tatars.[citation needed]

The modern usage of the name was recorded in the Russian language after the Empire's conquest of the Siberian Khanate. A further variant claims that the region was named after the Xibe people.[6] The Polish historian Chyliczkowski has proposed that the name derives from the proto-Slavic word for "north" (север, sever),[7] same as Severia.

Anatole Baikaloff has dismissed this explanation. He said that the neighbouring Chinese, Turks, and Mongolians, who have similar names for the region, would not have known Russian. He suggests that the name might be a combination of two words with Turkic origin, "su" (water) and "bir" (wild land).[8]

Prehistory

The region has paleontological significance, as it contains bodies of prehistoric animals from the Pleistocene Epoch, preserved in ice or in permafrost. Specimens of Goldfuss cave lion cubs, Yuka the mammoth and another woolly mammoth from Oymyakon, a woolly rhinoceros from the Kolyma, and bison and horses from Yukagir have been found.[9]

The Siberian Traps were formed by one of the largest-known volcanic events of the last 500 million years of Earth's geological history. Their activity continued for a million years and some scientists consider it a possible cause of the "Great Dying" about 250 million years ago,[10] – estimated to have killed 90% of species existing at the time.[11]

At least three species of human lived in Southern Siberia around 40,000 years ago: H. sapiens, H. neanderthalensis, and the Denisovans.[12] In 2010 DNA evidence identified the last as a separate species.

History

Chukchi, one of many indigenous peoples of Siberia. Representation of a Chukchi family by Louis Choris (1816)

During past millennia different groups of nomads – such as the Enets, the Nenets, the Huns, the Xiongnu, the Scythians and the Uyghurs inhabited various parts of Siberia. The proto-Mongol Khitan people also occupied parts of the region. In 630 the Khan of Sibir in the vicinity of modern Tobolsk was known as a prominent figure[citation needed] who endorsed Kubrat as Khagan of Old Great Bulgaria. In the 13th century, during the period of the Mongol Empire, the Mongols conquered a large part of this area.[13]

Map of the Siberian Route in the 18th century (green) and the early 19th century (red).

With the breakup of the Golden Horde, the autonomous Khanate of Sibir formed in the late-15th century. Turkic-speaking Yakut migrated north from the Lake Baikal region under pressure from the Mongol tribes during the 13th to 15th century.[14] Siberia remained a sparsely populated area. Historian John F. Richards wrote: "... it is doubtful that the total early modern Siberian population exceeded 300,000 persons".[15]

The growing power of Russia in the West began to undermine the Siberian Khanate in the 16th century. First, groups of traders and Cossacks began to enter the area. The Russian Army was directed to establish forts farther and farther east to protect new settlers who migrated from European Russia. Towns such as Mangazeya, Tara, Yeniseysk and Tobolsk developed, the last becoming the de facto capital of Siberia from 1590. At this time, Sibir was the name of a fortress at Qashlik, near Tobolsk. Gerardus Mercator, in a map published in 1595, marks Sibier both as the name of a settlement and of the surrounding territory along a left tributary of the Ob.[16] Other sources[which?] contend that the Xibe, an indigenous Tungusic people, offered fierce resistance to Russian expansion beyond the Urals. Some suggest that the term "Siberia" is a russification of their ethnonym.[6]

By the mid-17th century Russia had established areas of control that extended to the Pacific. Some 230,000 Russians had settled in Siberia by 1709.[17] Siberia became one of the destinations for sending internal exiles.[18][19][need quotation to verify][20]

The first great modern change in Siberia was the Trans-Siberian Railway, constructed during 1891–1916. It linked Siberia more closely to the rapidly industrialising Russia of Nicholas II (r. 1894–1917). Around seven million people moved to Siberia from European Russia between 1801 and 1914.[21] Between 1859 and 1917 more than half a million people migrated to the Russian Far East.[22] Siberia has extensive natural resources: during the 20th century, large-scale exploitation of these took place, and industrial towns cropped up throughout the region.[23]

At 7:15 a.m. on 30 June 1908 the Tunguska Event felled millions of trees near the Podkamennaya Tunguska (Stony Tunguska) in central Siberia. Most scientists believe this resulted from the air burst of a meteor or a comet. Even though no crater has ever been found, the landscape in the (sparsely inhabited) area still bears the scars of this event.[24]

Siberian Cossack family in Novosibirsk

In the early decades of the Soviet Union (especially in the 1930s and 1940s), the government used the Gulag state agency to administer a system of penal labour camps, replacing the previous katorga system.[25] According to semi-official Soviet estimates, which did not become public until after the fall of the Soviet government in 1991, from 1929 to 1953 more than 14 million people passed through these camps and prisons, many of them in Siberia. Another seven to eight million people were internally deported to remote areas of the Soviet Union (including entire nationalities or ethnicities in several cases).[26]

Half a million (516,841) prisoners died in camps from 1941 to 1943[27] due to food shortages caused by World War II.[citation needed] At other periods, mortality was comparatively lower.[28] The size, scope, and scale of the Gulag slave-labour camps remain subjects of much research and debate. Many Gulag camps operated in extremely remote areas of northeastern Siberia. The best-known clusters included Sevvostlag (the North-East Camps) along the Kolyma and Norillag near Norilsk, where 69,000 prisoners lived in 1952.[29] Major industrial cities of Northern Siberia, such as Norilsk and Magadan, developed from camps built by prisoners and run by former prisoners.[30]

From the era of Imperial Russia, to Soviet Russia, to modern Russia, all forms of extradition to Siberia have used a brutal system of prisoner transport called Road Prisons (étapes).

Geography

Altai, Lake Kutsherla in the Altai Mountains
The peninsula of Svyatoy Nos, Lake Baikal
The river Vasyugan in the southern West Siberian Plain
Siberian taiga

With an area of 13.1 million square kilometres (5,100,000 sq mi), Siberia makes up roughly 77% of Russia's total territory and almost 9% of Earth's land surface (148,940,000 km2, 57,510,000 sq mi). While Siberia falls entirely within Asia, many authorities such as the UN geoscheme will not subdivide countries and will place all of Russia as part of Europe and/or Eastern Europe. Major geographical zones include the West Siberian Plain and the Central Siberian Plateau.

Eastern and central Sakha comprises numerous north–south mountain ranges of various ages. These mountains extend up to almost 3,000 metres (9,800 ft), but above a few hundred metres they are almost completely devoid of vegetation. The Verkhoyansk Range was extensively glaciated in the Pleistocene, but the climate was too dry for glaciation to extend to low elevations. At these low elevations are numerous valleys, many of them deep and covered with larch forest, except in the extreme north where the tundra dominates. Soils are mainly turbels (a type of gelisol). The active layer tends to be less than one metre deep, except near rivers.

The highest point in Siberia is the active volcano Klyuchevskaya Sopka, on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Its peak is at 4,750 metres (15,580 ft).

Mountain ranges

Geomorphological regions

Lakes and rivers

Grasslands

  • The West Siberian Plain consists mostly of Cenozoic alluvial deposits and is somewhat flat. Many deposits on this plain result from ice dams which produced a large glacial lake. This mid- to late-Pleistocene lake blocked the northward flow of the Ob and Yenisey rivers, resulting in a redirection southwest into the Caspian and Aral seas via the Turgai Valley.[32] The area is very swampy, and soils are mostly peaty histosols and, in the treeless northern part, histels. In the south of the plain, where permafrost is largely absent, rich grasslands that are an extension of the Kazakh Steppe formed the original vegetation, most of which is no longer visible.[why?]

    The Central Siberian Plateau is an ancient craton (sometimes named Angaraland) that formed an independent continent before the Permian (see the Siberian continent). It is exceptionally rich in minerals, containing large deposits of gold, diamonds, and ores of manganese, lead, zinc, nickel, cobalt and molybdenum. Much of the area includes the Siberian Traps—a large igneous province. This massive eruptive period was approximately coincident with the Permian–Triassic extinction event. The volcanic event is said to be the largest known volcanic eruption in Earth's history. Only the extreme northwest was glaciated during the Quaternary, but almost all is under exceptionally deep permafrost, and the only tree that can thrive, despite the warm summers, is the deciduous Siberian Larch (Larix sibirica) with its very shallow roots. Outside the extreme northwest, the taiga is dominant, covering a significant fraction of the entirety of Siberia.[33] Soils here are mainly turbels, giving way to spodosols where the active layer becomes thicker and the ice content lower.

    The Lena-Tunguska petroleum province includes the Central Siberian platform (some authors refer to it as the Eastern Siberian platform), bounded on the northeast and east by the Late Carboniferous through Jurassic Verkhoyansk foldbelt, on the northwest by the Paleozoic Taymr foldbelt, and on the southeast, south and southwest by the Middle Silurian to Middle Devonian Baykalian foldbelt.[34]:228 A regional geologic reconnaissance study begun in 1932, followed by surface and subsurface mapping, revealed the Markova-Angara Arch (anticline). This led to the discovery of the Markovo Oil Field in 1962 with the Markovo 1 well, which produced from the Early Cambrian Osa Horizon bar-sandstone at a depth of 2,156 metres (7,073 ft).[34]:243 The Sredne-Botuobin Gas Field was discovered in 1970, producing from the Osa and the Proterozoic Parfenovo Horizon.[34]:244 The Yaraktin Oil Field was discovered in 1971, producing from the Vendian Yaraktin Horizon at depths of up to 1,750 metres (5,740 ft), which lies below Permian to Lower Jurassic basalt traps.[34]:244

    Climate

    Russia vegetation.png

         polar desert      tundra      alpine tundra      taiga      montane forest
         temperate broadleaf forest      temperate steppe      dry steppe

    Vegetation in Siberia is mostly taiga, with a tundra belt on the northern fringe, and a temperate forest zone in the south.

    The climate of Siberia varies dramatically, but it typically has short summers and long, brutally cold winters. On the north coast, north of the Arctic Circle, there is a very short (about one month long) summer.

    Almost all the population lives in the south, along the Trans-Siberian Railway. The climate in this southernmost part is Humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb) with cold winters but fairly warm summers lasting at least four months. The annual average is about 0.5 °C (32.9 °F). January averages about −20 °C (−4 °F) and July about +19 °C (66 °F) while daytime temperatures in summer typically are above 20 °C (68 °F).[35][36] With a reliable growing season, an abundance of sunshine and exceedingly fertile chernozem soils, southern Siberia is good enough for profitable agriculture, as was proven in the early 20th century.

    By far the most commonly occurring climate in Siberia is continental subarctic (Koppen Dfc or Dwc), with the annual average temperature about −5 °C (23 °F) and an average for January of −25 °C (−13 °F) and an average for July of +17 °C (63 °F),[37] although this varies considerably, with a July average about 10 °C (50 °F) in the taiga–tundra ecotone. The Business oriented website and blog Business Insider lists Verkhoyansk and Oymyakon, in Siberia's Sakha Republic, as being in competition for the title of the Northern Hemisphere's Pole of Cold. Oymyakon is a village which recorded a temperature of −67.7 °C (−89.9 °F) on 6 February 1933. Verkhoyansk, a town further north and further inland, recorded a temperature of −69.8 °C (−93.6 °F) for three consecutive nights: 5, 6 and 7 February 1933. Each town is alternately considered the Northern Hemisphere's Pole of Cold, meaning the coldest inhabited point in the Northern hemisphere. Each town also frequently reaches 86 °F (30 °C) in the summer, giving them, and much of the rest of Russian Siberia, the world's greatest temperature variation between summer's highs and winter's lows, often being well over 170–180+ °F (94–100+ °C) between the seasons.[38][failed verification]

    Southwesterly winds bring warm air from Central Asia and the Middle East. The climate in West Siberia (Omsk, Novosibirsk) is several degrees warmer than in the East (Irkutsk, Chita) where in the north an extreme winter subarctic climate (Köppen Dfd or Dwd) prevails. But summer temperatures in other regions can reach +38 °C (100 °F). In general, Sakha is the coldest Siberian region, and the basin of the Yana has the lowest temperatures of all, with permafrost reaching 1,493 metres (4,898 ft). Nevertheless, as far as Imperial Russian plans of settlement were concerned, cold was never viewed as an impediment. In the winter, southern Siberia sits near the center of the semi-permanent Siberian High, so winds are usually light in the winter.

    Precipitation in Siberia is generally low, exceeding 500 millimetres (20 in) only in Kamchatka where moist winds flow from the Sea of Okhotsk onto high mountains – producing the region's only major glaciers, though volcanic eruptions and low summer temperatures allow limited forests to grow. Precipitation is high also in most of Primorye in the extreme south where monsoonal influences can produce quite heavy summer rainfall.

    Climate data for Novosibirsk, Siberia's largest city
    Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
    Average high °C (°F) −12.2
    (10.0)
    −10.3
    (13.5)
    −2.6
    (27.3)
    8.1
    (46.6)
    17.5
    (63.5)
    24.0
    (75.2)
    25.7
    (78.3)
    22.2
    (72.0)
    16.6
    (61.9)
    6.8
    (44.2)
    −2.9
    (26.8)
    −8.9
    (16.0)
    7.0
    (44.6)
    Daily mean °C (°F) −16.2
    (2.8)
    −14.7
    (5.5)
    −7.2
    (19.0)
    3.2
    (37.8)
    11.6
    (52.9)
    18.2
    (64.8)
    20.2
    (68.4)
    17.0
    (62.6)
    11.5
    (52.7)
    3.4
    (38.1)
    −6
    (21)
    −12.7
    (9.1)
    2.4
    (36.3)
    Average low °C (°F) −20.1
    (−4.2)
    −19.1
    (−2.4)
    −11.8
    (10.8)
    −1.7
    (28.9)
    5.6
    (42.1)
    12.3
    (54.1)
    14.7
    (58.5)
    11.7
    (53.1)
    6.4
    (43.5)
    0.0
    (32.0)
    −9.1
    (15.6)
    −16.4
    (2.5)
    −2.3
    (27.9)
    Average precipitation mm (inches) 19
    (0.7)
    14
    (0.6)
    15
    (0.6)
    24
    (0.9)
    36
    (1.4)
    58
    (2.3)
    72
    (2.8)
    66
    (2.6)
    44
    (1.7)
    38
    (1.5)
    32
    (1.3)
    24
    (0.9)
    442
    (17.4)
    Source: [39]

    Global warming

    Researchers, including Sergei Kirpotin at Tomsk State University and Judith Marquand at Oxford University, warn that Western Siberia has begun to thaw as a result of global warming. The frozen peat bogs in this region may hold billions of tons of methane gas, which may be released into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas 22 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.[40] In 2008, a research expedition for the American Geophysical Union detected levels of methane up to 100 times above normal in the atmosphere above the Siberian Arctic, likely the result of methane clathrates being released through holes in a frozen 'lid' of seabed permafrost, around the outfall of the Lena and the area between the Laptev Sea and East Siberian Sea.[41][42]

    Pleistocene Park has been created in Siberia in order to do research in relation Siberia and global warming, including working towards possible solutions to the problem.

Fauna

Birds

Order

Capercaillies occupy much of the Siberian taiga.

Family

Family

Mammals

Order