1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kiev (government)

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32984151911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 15 — Kiev (government)

KIEV, Kieff, or Kiyeff, a government of south-western Russia, conterminous with those of Minsk, Poltava, Chernigov, Podolia, Kherson and Volhynia; area 19,686 sq. m. It represents a deeply trenched plateau, 600 to 800 ft. in altitude, reaching 950 to 1050 ft. in the west, assuming a steep character in the middle, and sloping gently northwards to the marshy regions of the Pripet, while on the east it falls abruptly to the valley of the Dnieper, which lies only 250 to 300 ft. above the sea. General A. Tillo has shown that neither geologically nor tectonically can “spurs of the Carpathians” penetrate into Kiev. Many useful minerals are extracted, such as granites, gabbro, labradorites of a rare beauty, syenites and gneiss, marble, grinding stones, pottery clay, phosphorites, iron ore and mineral colours. Towards the southern and central parts the surface is covered by deep rich “black earth.” Nearly the whole of the government belongs to the basin of the Dnieper, that river forming part of its eastern boundary. In the south-west are a few small tributaries of the Bug. Besides the Dnieper the only navigable stream is its confluent the Pripet. The climate is more moderate than in middle Russia, the average temperatures at the city of Kiev being—year, 44.5°; January, 21°; July, 68°; yearly rainfall, 22 inches. The lowlands of the north are covered with woods; they have the flora of the Polyesie, or marshy woodlands of Minsk, and are peopled with animals belonging to higher latitudes.[1] The population, which was 2,017,262 in 1863, reached 3,575,457 in 1897, of whom 1,791,503 were women, and 147,878 lived in towns; and in 1904 it reached 4,042,526, of whom 2,030,744 were women. The estimated population in 1906 was 4,206,100. In 1897 there were 2,738,977 Orthodox Greeks, 14,888 Nonconformists, 91,821 Roman Catholics, 423,875 Jews, and 6820 Protestants.

No less than 41% of the land is in large holdings, and 45% belongs to the peasants. Out of an area of 12,600,000 acres, 11,100,000 acres are available for cultivation, 4,758,000 acres are under crops, 650,000 acres under meadows, and 1,880,000 acres under woods. About 290,000 acres are under beetroot, for sugar. The crops principally grown are wheat, rye, oats, millet, barley and buckwheat, with, in smaller quantities, hemp, flax, vegetables, fruit and tobacco. Camels have been used for agricultural work. Bee-keeping and gardening are general. The chief factories are sugar works and distilleries. The former produce 850,000 to 1,150,000 tons of sugar and over 50,000 tons of molasses annually. The factories include machinery works and iron foundries, tanneries, steam flour-mills, petroleum refineries and tobacco factories. Two main railways, starting from Kiev and Cherkasy respectively, cross the government from N.E. to S.W., and two lines traverse its southern part from N.W. to S.E., parallel to the Dnieper. Steamers ply on the Dnieper and some of its tributaries. Wheat, rye, oats, barley and flour are exported. There are two great fairs, at Kiev and Berdichev respectively, and many of minor importance. Trade is very brisk, the river traffic alone being valued at over one million sterling annually. The government is divided into twelve districts. The chief town is Kiev (q.v.) and the district towns, with their populations in 1897, Berdichev (53,728), Cherkasy (29,619), Chigirin (9870), Kanev (8892), Lipovets (6068), Radomysl (11,154), Skvira (16,265), Tarashcha (11,452), Umañ (28,628), Vasilkov (17,824) and Zvenigorodka (16,972).

The plains on the Dnieper have been inhabited since probably the Palaeolithic period, and the burial-grounds used since the Stone Age. The burial mounds (kurgans) of both the Scythians and the Slavs, traces of old forts (gorodishche), stone statues, and more recent caves offer abundant material for anthropological and ethnographical study.

  1. Schmahlhausen’s Flora of South-West Russia (Kiev, 1886) contains a good description of the flora of the province.