Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Tobolsk(1.)
Apart from the Urals, there are no traces of hard rock anywhere in Tobolsk. Down to its southern borders it is covered with Post-Pliocene deposits, which are met with as far as the waterparting between the Irtish and the Aral-Caspian depression. This range of flat hills rises a few hundred feet above the sea-level, and it seems to mark the limit of extension of the Post-Glacial gulf of the Arctic Ocean which covered western Tobolsk during the Glacial period. Contrary to Humboldt's hypothesis, it remains, however, doubtful whether it was connected in Post-Glacial times with the Aral-Caspian Sea otherwise than by means of narrow straits, which disappeared at any rate at an early stage in that geological period.
The climate of Tobolsk is one of great extremes, the differences between the averages for the hottest and coldest months reaching as much as 70 F. The average temperatures at Berezoff, Narym, Tobolsk, and Ishim respectively are 24, 28, 31 8, and 32 (January, - 8 3, - 8, - 2, and - 4; July from 62 to 67). Only 194 days at Ishim and 153 at Berezoff have a temperature above 32; and the Ob at Obdorsk continues ice-bound for 219 days (the Irtish 176 days at Tobolsk).
The government is watered by the Ob, which traverses it for more than 1300 miles, and is navigable throughout. It receives many tributaries, some of which are 200 to 350 miles long, but flow through quite uninhabited regions. The Irtish, a left-hand tribu tary of the Ob, covers all the southern part of Tobolsk with its numerous tributaries. It waters Tobolsk for 760 miles, and is navigable for the whole of its length; it receives the great Tobot, about 420 miles long, also navigable, the Ishim, and a number of less important streams; while the Tura, a tributary of the Tobot, is also a channel for navigation. The navigation lasts for nearly six months in the south. The first steamer on the Ob system was launched in 1845 and the second in 1860; since the latter date steam navigation has steadily developed.
Lakes, some of them salt, occur in great numbers on the waterparting between the Irtish and the Aral-Caspian, and everywhere in South Tobolsk. Lake Tchany, the largest, covers 1265 square miles. All are being rapidly dried up, and even within the last hundred years they have undergone great changes. Thus, in the group of lakes of Tchany, in the Baraba steppe, whole villages have arisen on ground that was under water in the earlier years of this century. Immense marshes cover Tobolsk beyond 57° N. lat., the Vasyugan marshes in the east, the Kondinsk and Berezovsk marshes in the west, both joining farther north the tundras of the Arctic shores.
The population reached 1,283,000 in 1882. Although recent immigrants, the Russians already constitute 94 per cent, of the aggregate population, and their numbers are steadily increasing by immigration, and partly also by the arrival of exiles. No fewer than 43,750 immigrants from Russia settled at Tobolsk between 1846 and 1878, but of late this figure has greatly increased. In 1879 as many as 59,134 exiles were on the registers, but of these more than 20,000 had left their abodes and disappeared. As a rule the exiles belong to the poorest class of population. According to M. Yadrintseff, the native population of Tobolsk was represented in 1879 by 29,150 Tartars and 8730 other Turkish inhabit ants, chiefly in the south, 22,350 Ostiaks, chiefly on the Ob, 6920 Samoyedes in the north, and 6100 Voguls in the north-west; the total amounted to 74,220,—that is, 6·1 per cent, of the aggregate population (1,206,000 in 1879). The Ostiaks (q.v.) are in a very miserable condition, having come under heavy obligations to the Russian merchants, and being compelled to hand over to them nearly all the produce of their hunting and fishing. The Tartar settlements in the south are prosperous, but not in the Tobolsk district, where their lauds have been appropriated for the Russian settlers. Of the Russians nearly 35,000 are Nonconformists, according to official figures, but the number is greatly understated. Many of the Samoyedes, Ostiaks, and Voguls are nominally Christians. The Russians and the Tartars, who chiefly inhabit South Tobolsk, mostly live by agriculture. Of the total area of land regarded as suitable for cultivation (28,400,000 acres), 15,600,000 are owned by the peasant communities. Summer wheat, rye, oats, barley, and some buckwheat are raised. Flax and hemp and tobacco are cultivated in the south, where cattle-breeding also is extensively carried on. The ravages of anthrax, however (see Murrain, vol. xvii. p. 58), are very severe, especially in the marshy parts of the province. The indigenous inhabitants of the north had, in the same year, more than 100,000 reindeer. Dogs are used in sledges in the far north. In the forest region the chief means of existence are found in the forests. The pursuit of bears, wolves, foxes, squirrels, ermines, stags, elks, as also of sables and beavers (rapidly disappearing), is a regular occupation with the Russian peasants as well as with the indigenous inhabitants; sledges and cars, mats, sieves, wooden vessels, and pitch and tar are also manufactured to a considerable extent in the villages (valued at about £150,000). Cedar-nuts (from 5000 to 8000 cwts. every year) are gathered, partly for the sake of their oil. The fisheries of the Ob and the southern lakes are important; no fewer than 1700 Ostiaks are engaged in them on the Ob. No less than 200,000 cwts. of fish are annually caught in the district of Tara alone, and Surgut exports it to the value of £10,000, while in the Narym region 10,000 cwts. of salt are used for preserving the fish.
The industries are insignificant (chiefly tanning, distilling, and tallow-melting); iron-works and woollen-cloth mills are still in their infancy. The export of cattle, hides, tallow, corn, flour, fish, and furs to Russia, both from Tobolsk and from the Kirghiz steppe, is of some importance. Spirits are sent farther east, to Tomsk; while all kinds of manufactured wares are imported from Russia. The fairs of Irbit and Ishim are the chief centres for trade.
The educational institutions are few. It is worthy of remark that of "secondary schools" (gymnasia and pro-gymnasia) there were in 1883 eight for girls, with 1065 scholars, and only four for boys, with 711 scholars; of primary schools there were 250, with 5844 boys and 1403 girls.
Tobolsk is divided into ten districts (‘’okrugs’’), the chief towns (with populations in 1883) being Tobolsk (20,130), Berezoff (1990), Ishim (7100), Kurgan (8570), Surgut (1460), Tara (8640), Turinsk (4650), Tyukatinsk (3900), Tyumeñ (14,300), and Yalutorovsk (4500). Of these towns, only Tobolsk and Tyumeñ (q.v.) are really entitled to the designation, the others being mere villages, of less importance than many others on the great Siberian highway which crosses the government from Tyumeñ to Tomsk. (P. A. K.)
- See Yadrintseff in Izveslia Russ. Geogr. Soc., 1886.
- Siberia as a Colony (Russian).