1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tambov (government)

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TAMBOV, one of the largest and most fertile governments of central Russia, extending from N. to S. between the basins of the Oka and the Don, and having the governments of Vladimir and Nizhniy-Novgorod on the N., Penza and Saratov on the E., Voronezh on the S., and Orel, Tula and Ryazan on the W. It has an area of 25,703 sq. m., and consists of an undulating plain intersected by deep ravines and broad valleys, ranging 450 to 800 ft. above sea-level. Cretaceous and Jurassic deposits, thickly covered with boulder-clay and loess, are widely spread over its surface, concealing the underlying Devonian and Carboniferous strata. These last crop out in the deeper ravines, and seams of coal have been noticed at several places. Iron ore (in the north-west), limestone, clay and gypsum are obtained, and traces of petroleum have been discovered. The mineral waters of Lipetsk, similar to those of Franzensbad in their alkaline elements, and chalybeate like those of Pyrmont and Spa, are well known in Russia. The Oka touches the north-west corner of the government, but its tributaries, the Moksha and the Tsna, are important channels of traffic. The Don also merely touches Tambov, and of its affluents none except the Voronezh and the Khoper and the Vorona, a tributary of the Khoper, are at all navigable. As a whole, it is only in the north that Tambov is well drained; in the south, which is exposed to the dry south-east winds, the want of moisture is much felt, especially in the district of Borisoglyebsk. The climate is continental, and, although the average temperature at Tambov is 42° F., the winter is comparatively cold (January, 13°; July, 68°). The rivers remain frozen for four months and a half. Forests occupy about 7½ per cent, of the total area, and occur chiefly in the west; in the south-east wood is scarce, and straw is used for fuel. The soil is fertile throughout; in the north it is clayey and sometimes sandy, but the rest of the government is covered with a sheet, 2 to 3 feet thick, of black earth, of such richness that in Borisoglyebsk cornfields which have not been manured for eighty years still yield good crops.

The estimated population in 1906 was 3,205,200. The government is divided into twelve districts, the chief towns of which are Tambov, Borisoglyebsk, Yelatma, Kirsanov, Kozlov, Lebedyan, Lipetsk, Morshansk, Shatsk, Spask, Temnikov and Usman. The inhabitants are Great Russians in the centre, but there is a notable admixture of Mordvinians and Meshcheryaks in the west and north-west, as also of Tatars. The Mordvinians are rapidly becoming Russified. Nonconformity has a relatively strong hold in the government. Notwithstanding a high birth-rate (45 in the thousand), the annual increase of population is but slow (0-5 per cent, annually). The prevailing occupation is agriculture, modern machinery being used on the steppe farms. More than two-thirds of the area is arable, and of this proportion 53 per cent. belongs to the peasant communities, 36 per cent. to private individuals, and 11 per cent. to the crown. The principal crops are rye, wheat, oats, barley and potatoes. Grain is exported to a considerable extent from the south, although the yield is deficient in the north. Hemp and linseed are also cultivated, and the production of tobacco is yearly increasing. Beetroot is extensively grown for sugar. Livestock breeding, though less extensively carried on than formerly, is still important. Excellent breeds of horses are met with, not only on the larger estates, but also in the hands of the wealthier peasants, those of the Bityug river being most esteemed. Manufacturers are represented chiefly by distilleries, tallow-melting works, sugar factories, flour-mills and woollen-cloth mills. Commerce is brisk, owing to the large grain export — Kozlov, Morshansk, Tambov and Borisoglyebsk being the chief centres for this traffic, and Lebedyan for the trade in horses and cattle. This government is backward educationally. A distinctive feature is its large villages of crown peasants.

The region now included in the north of the government was settled by Russians during the earliest centuries of the principality of Moscow, but until the end of the 17th century the fertile tracts in the south remained too insecure for settlers. In the following century a few immigrants began to come in from the steppe, and landowners who had received large grants of land from the tsars began to bring their serfs from central Russia. (P. A. K.; J. T. Be.)