1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kiakhta

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KIAKHTA, a town of Siberia, one of the chief centres of trade between Russia and China, on the Kiakhta, an affluent of the Selenga, and on an elevated plain surrounded by mountains, in the Russian government of Transbaikalia, 320 m. S.W. of Chita, the capital, and close to the Chinese frontier, in 50° 20′ N., 106° 40′ E. Besides the lower town or Kiakhta proper, the municipal jurisdiction comprises the fortified upper town of Troitskosavsk, about 2 m. N., and the settlement of Ust-Kiakhta, 10 m. farther distant. The lower town stands directly opposite to the Chinese emporium of Maimachin, is surrounded by walls, and consists principally of one broad street and a large exchange courtyard. From 1689 to 1727 the trade of Kiakhta was a government monopoly, but in the latter year it was thrown open to private merchants, and continued to improve until 1860, when the right of commercial intercourse was extended along the whole Russian-Chinese frontier. The annual December fairs for which Kiakhta was formerly famous, and also the regular traffic passing through the town, have considerably fallen off since that date. The Russians exchange here leather, sheepskins, furs, horns, woollen cloths, coarse linens and cattle for teas (in value 95% of the entire imports), porcelain, rhubarb, manufactured silks, nankeens and other Chinese produce. The population, including Ust-Kiakhta (5000) and Troitskosavsk (9213 in 1897), is nearly 20,000.