1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Suwalki (government)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

SUWALKI, a government of Russian Poland, of which it occupies the N.E. corner, extending to the N. between East Prussia and the Russian governments of Vilna and Grodno, with the government of Kovno on the N. Its area is 4846 sq. m. It includes the east of the low Baltic swelling (800 to 1000 ft. above the sea) and is studded with lakes. Its northern slopes descend to the valley of the Niemen, while in the south it falls away gently to the marshy tract of the Biebrz. The rivers flow there in deep-cut gorges and hollows, diversifying the surface. The Niemen forms its eastern and northern boundary and has many affluents from both slopes of the swelling. The Augustowo canal connects the navigable Hancza, a tributary of the Niemen, with a tributary of the Biebrz, which belongs to the basin of the Vistula, and an active traffic is carried on by this canal. Forests cover about one-fourth of the area. Tertiary and cretaceous strata occupy large areas, and the entire surface is covered with Post-Tertiary deposits. The bottom moraine of the great ice-sheet of north Germany, containing scratched boulders and furrowed by depressions having a direction N.N.E. and S.S.W., extended over immense tracts of the ridge of the lake-districts and its slopes, while limited spaces are covered with well- washed glacial sands and gravel. On the northern slopes of the coast-ridge, the boulder-clay being covered with lacustrine deposits, there are in many places areas of fertile soil; and in the southern parts of the province the boulder-clay is stony, and sometimes covered with gravel. Still, nearly nine-tenths of the surface are suitable for cultivation.

The population in 1906 was estimated at 633,900. The majority (52-2%) are Lithuanians, mostly in the north;there are 21.5% Poles (and Mazurs), chiefly in the towns; 16.7% Jews; 5.3% Germans and 4-2% Russians. The chief towns of the seven districts into which the government is divided are » Suwalki, Augustowo, Kalwarya, Mariampol, Seiny, Wilkowiszki (or Volkovyshki) and Wladislawow. The principal crops are rye, wheat, oats, barley and potatoes, which are largely exported to Prussia for use in the distilleries. Bee-keeping is widely spread, and about 40,000 lb of honey are obtained every year. The weaving of linen, woollen cloth and fishing-nets is extensively carried on in the villages as a domestic industry, and in small factories. A large number of the inhabitants are compelled to seek work in winter in other parts of the empire. The felling of timber, which is floated down the Niemen, gives occupation to many.