Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Tamboff (1.)
TAMBOFF, one of the largest and most fertile governments of central Russia, extends from north to south between the basins of the Oka and the Don, and has
Vladimir and Nijni-Novgorod on the N., Penza and Saratoff on the E., the Don Cossacks and Voronezh on the S., Tula and Ryazañ on the W. It consists of an undulating plain intersected by deep ravines and broad valleys, ranging between 450 and 800 feet above sea-level. Chalk and Jurassic deposits, thickly covered by boulder-clay and loess, are widely spread over its surface, concealing the underlying Devonian and Carboniferous deposits. These last appear only 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 for building and manufacturing purposes; traces of naphtha have been discovered at Tamboff. 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. Tamboff is watered by the tributaries of the Oka and the Don. The Oka itself only touches the north-west corner of the government, but its tributaries, the Moksha and the Tsna, are important channels of traffic. The Don also only touches Tamboff, and of its affluents only the Voronezh and the Khoper and its tributary the Vorona are at all navigable. As a whole, it is only in the north that Tamboff is well watered; in its southern part, which is exposed to the influence of the dry south-eastern winds, the want of moisture is much felt, especially in the district of Borisoglyebsk, which belongs to the dry steppes of the lower Volga.
The climate is continental, and, although the average temperature at Tamboff is 42° F., the winter is comparatively cold (January, 13°; July, 68°). The rivers remain frozen for four months and a half. Forests occupy less than one-sixth of the total area, and occur chiefly in the west; in the south-east wood is scarce, and straw is resorted to for fuel. The soil is fertile throughout; in the north, indeed, it is clayey and sometimes sandy, but the rest of the government is covered with a sheet, 2 to 3 feet in thickness, of the most fertile tchernozem, of such richness, indeed, that in Borisoglyebsk corn-fields which have not been manured for eighty years still yield good crops.
Tamboff is one of the densely peopled provinces of Russia, Its population in 1883 reached 2,519,660, and in several districts (Kozloff, Lebedyañ, Lipetsk) there are from 110 to 130 inhabitants per square mile. It is Great Russian in the central portion, but has a notable admixture of Mordvinians) (q.v.) and Mescheriaks in the west and north-west, as also of Tartars: the Mordvinians (who are rapidly becoming Russified) constitute 4 per cent. of the aggregate population of Tamboff; the Tartars number about 20,000, and the Mescheriaks about 4000. Nonconformity is widely spread, although the official figures disclose only 14,300 Raskolniks. 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, and in 1883 only 168,200 persons had their residence in towns, which are mostly themselves nothing but large villages of agriculturalists living together, with a few merchants. More than two-thirds of the area is arable, and of this proportion 53 per cent. belongs to peasant communities, 36 per cent. to private individuals, and 11 per cent. to the crown. The crops of the years 1883 to 1885 yielded on the average 8,885,000 quarters of grain (half being rye, and one-third oats). Corn is exported to a considerable extent from the south, although it is deficient in the north. Hemp and linseed are also cultivated for exportation. The cultivation of tobacco is yearly increasing: 5220 acres were under this crop in 1886, and yielded nearly 50,000 cwts. In the same year 15,950 acres were under beetroot, and yielded 1,660,000 cwts. Cattle-breeding, though less extensively carried on than formerly, is still important (656,300 horses, 399,500 horned cattle, and 1,326,600 sheep in 1883). 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. Manufactures are represented chiefly by distilleries, tallow-melting works, sugar-works, and a few woollen-cloth mills. The petty trades are not very extensively carried on in the villages. Commerce is very brisk, owing to the large amounts of corn exported,—Kozloff, Morshansk, Tamboff, and Borisoglyebsk being the chief centres for this traffic, and Lebedyafi for the trade in horses and cattle. Tamboff is rather backward educationally: in 1883 there were only 629 schools, attended by 34,739 boys and 6680 girls. The government is divided into twelve districts, the chief towns of which, with their populations in 1884, are Tamboff (34,000 inhabitants), Borisoglyebsk (13,000), Elatma (7560), Kirsanoff (7770), Kozloff (27,900), Lebedyañ (6250), Lipetsk (15,860), Morshansk (21,200), Shatsk (7260), Spassk (5010), Temnikoff (13,700), and Usmañ (8110 in 1880). A distinctive feature of Tamboff is its very large villages of crown-peasants, a dozen of which have from 5000 to 7000 inhabitants each. Several of them—like Raskazovo (a great centre of Nonconformity), Ałabukhi, Sasovo, Izberdei, and Arkhangelskoye—are important commercial centres.
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 to 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 as gifts of the czars began to bring their serfs from central Russia. The population has very rapidly increased within the present century.