Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/32

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17
SIBERIA

the preparation of felt boots and sheepskins; and the manufacture of dairy utensils and machinery. Weaving is engaged in for domestic purposes. But all these trades are sporadic, and are confined to limited areas, and often only to a few separate villages.

Commerce.—There are no figures from which even an approximate idea can be gained as to the value of the internal trade of Siberia, but it is certainly considerable. The great fair at Irbit retains its importance, and there are, besides, over 500 fairs in Tobolsk and over 100 in other parts of the region. The aggregate returns of all these are estimated at £2,643,000 annually. The trade with the natives continues to be mainly the sale of spirits.

In the external trade the exports to Russia consist chiefly of grain, cattle, sheep, butter and other animal products, furs, game, feathers and down. The production of butter for export began only in 1894, but grew with great rapidity. In 1902 some 1800 dairies were at work, the greater number in West Siberia, and 40,000 tons of butter were exported. The total trade between Russia and China amounts to about £5,500,000 annually, of which 87% stands for imports into Russia and 13% for exports to China. Tea makes up nearly one-half of the imports, the other commodities being silks, cottons, hides and wool; while cottons and other manufactured wares constitute considerably oyer 50% of the exports. Part of this Commerce (textiles, sugar, tobacco, steel goods) is conveyed by sea to the Pacific ports. The principal centre for the remainder (textiles and petroleum), conveyed by land, is Kiakhta on the Mongolian frontier. Prior to the building of the trans-Siberian railway a fairly active trade was carried on between China and the Amur region; but since the opening of that railway (in 1902–1905) the Amur region has seriously and rapidly declined in all that concerns trade, industry, general prosperity and civilization. There is further an import trade amounting to between two and three-quarters and three millions sterling annually with Manchuria, to over one million sterling with the United States, and to a quarter to half a million sterling with Japan. As nearly as can be estimated, the total imports into Siberia amount approximately to £5,000,000, the amount having practically doubled between 1890 and 1902; the total exports average about £9,000,000. In the Far East the chief trade centres are Vladivostok and Nikolayevsk on the Amur, with Khabarovsk and Blagovyeshchensk, both on the same river. For some years a small trade was carried on by the British Captain Wiggins with the mouth of the river Yenisei through the Kara Sea, and after his death . in 1905 the Russians themselves endeavoured to carry farther the pioneer work which he had begun.

Communications.—Navigation on the Siberian rivers has developed both as regards the number of steamers plying and the number of branch rivers traversed. In 1900, one hundred and thirty private and several crown steamers plied on the Ob-Irtysh river system as far as Semipalatinsk on the Irtysh, Biysk on the Ob, and Achinsk on the Chulym. The Ob-Yenisei canal is ready for use, but its actual usefulness is impaired by the scarcity of water in the smaller streams forming part of the system. On the Yenisei steamers ply from Minusinsk to Yeniseisk, and to Ghilghila at its mouth; on its tributary, the Angara, of which some rapids have been cleared, though the Padun rapids have still to be rounded by land; and on the Selenga. On the Lena and the Vitim there are steamers, and a small railway connects the Bodoibo river port with the Olekma gold-washings. In the Amur system, the Zeya, the Bureya and the Arguñ are navigated.

The main line of communication is the great Moscow road. It starts from Perm on the Kama, and, crossing the Urals, reaches Ekaterinburg—the centre of mining industry—and Tyumen on the Tura, whence steamers ply via Tobolsk to Tomsk. From Tyumen the road proceeds to Omsk, Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk, sending off from Kolyvan a branch south to Barnaul in the Altai and to Turkestan. From Irkutsk it proceeds to Transbaikalia, Lake Baikal being crossed either by steamer or (when frozen) on sledges, in either case from Listvinichnoe to Misovaya. A route was laid out about 1868 round the south shore of Lake Baikal in order to maintain communication with Transbaikalia during the spring and autumn, and in 1905 the great Siberian railway was completed round the same extremity of the lake. From Lake Baikal the road proceeds to Verkhne-udinsk, Chita and Stryetensk on the Shilka, whence steamers ply to the mouth of the Amur and up the Usuri and Sungacha to Lake Khangka. When the rivers are frozen communication is maintained by sledges on the Amur; but in spring and autumn the only continuous route down the Shilka and the Amur, to its mouth, is on horseback along a mountain path (very difficult across the Bureya range). On the lower Amur and on the Usuri the journey is also difficult even on horseback. When the water in the upper Amur is low, vessels are sometimes unable to reach the Shilka. Another route of importance before the conquest of the Amur is that which connects Yakutsk with Okhotsk or Ayan. Regular postal communication is maintained by the Russians between Kiakhta and Kalgan (close by Peking) across the desert of Gobi.

The first railway to reach Siberia was built in 1878, when a line was constructed between Perm, at which point travellers for Siberia used to strike off from the Kama eastwards, and Ekaterinurg, Railways.on the eastern slope of the Urals. In 1884 this line was continued as far as Tyumefi, the head of navigation on the Siberian rivers. It was supposed at that time that this line would form part of the projected trans-Siberian railway; but it was finally decided, in 1885, to give a more southerly direction to the railway and to continue the Moscow-Samara line to Ufa, Zlatoust in the Urals, and Chelyabinsk on the west Siberian prairies, at the head of one of the tributaries of the Ob. Thence the line was continued across the prairies to Kurgan and Omsk, and from there it followed the great Siberian highway to Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk, and on round Lake Baikal to Chita and Stryetensk on the Shilka. From that place it was intended to push it down the Amur to Khabarovsk, and finally to proceed up the Usuri to Vladivostok. The building of the railway was begun at several points at once in 1892; it had, indeed, been started a year before that in the Usuri section. For reasons indicated elsewhere (see Russia : Railways) it was found inadvisable to continue the railroad along the Shilka and the Amur to Khabarovsk, and arrangements were made in 1896 with the Chinese government for the construction of a trans- Manchurian railway. This line connects Kaidalovo, 20 m. below Chita, with Vladivostok, and sends off a branch from Kharbin, on the Sungari, to Dalny and Port Arthur. Those parts of it which run through Russian territory (in Transbaikalia 230 m.; in the neighbourhood of Vladivostok 67 m.) were opened in 1902, and also the trans-Manchurian line (1000 m.), although not quite completed. A line was constructed from Vladivostok to the Amur before it became known that the idea of following the latter part of the route originally laid down would have to be abandoned. This line, which has been in working order since 1898, is 479 m. long, and proceeds first to Grafskaya, across the fertile and populous south Usuri region, then down the Usuri to Khabarovsk at the confluence of that river with the Amur.

Returning westwards, Chelyabinsk has been connected with Ekaterinburg (153 m.); and a branch line has been built from the main Siberian line to Tomsk (54 m.). Altogether the entire railway system, including the cost of the Usuri line, the unfinished Amur line, the circum-Baikal line and the eastern Chinese railway, is put down at a total of £87,555,760, and the total distance, all branches included, is 5413 m., of which 1070 m. are in Chinese territory.

History.—The shores of all the lakes which filled the depressions during the Lacustrine period abound in remains dating from the Neolithic Stone period; and numberless kurgans (tumuli), furnaces and so on bear witness to a much denser population than the present. During the great migrations in Asia from east to west many populations were probably driven to the northern borders of the great plateau and thence compelled to descend into Siberia; succeeding waves of immigration forced them still farther towards the barren grounds of the north, where they melted away. According to Radlov, the earliest inhabitants of Siberia were the Yeniseians, who spoke a language different from the Ural-Altaic; some few traces of them (Yeniseians, Sayan-Ostiaks, and Kottes) exist among the Sayan Mountains. The Yeniseians were followed by the Ugro-Samoyedes, who also came originally from the high plateau and were compelled, probably during the great migration of the Huns in the 3rd century B.C., to cross the Altai and Sayan ranges and to enter Siberia. To them must be assigned the very numerous remains dating from the Bronze period which are scattered all over southern Siberia. Iron was unknown to them; but they excelled in bronze, silver and gold work. Their bronze ornaments and implements, often polished, evince considerable artistic taste; and their irrigated fields covered wide areas in the fertile tracts. On the whole, their civilization stood much higher than that of their more recent successors. Eight centuries later the Turkish stocks of “Tukiu” (the Chinese spelling for “Turks”), Khagases and Uigurs—also compelled to migrate north-westwards from their former seats—subdued the Ugro-Samoyedes. These new invaders likewise left numerous traces of their sojourn,. and two different periods may be easily distinguished in their remains. They were acquainted with iron, and learned from their subjects the art of bronze-casting, which they used for decorative purposes only, and to which they gave a still higher artistic stamp. Their pottery is much more perfect and more artistic than that of the Bronze period, and their ornaments are accounted among the finest of the collections at the St Petersburg museum of the Hermitage. This Turkish empire of the Khagases must have lasted until the 13th century, when the Mongols, under Jenghiz Khan, subdued them and destroyed their civilization. A decided decline is shown by the graves which have been discovered, until the country reached the low level at which it was found by the Russians on their arrival towards the close of the 16th century. In the beginning of the 16th century Tatar fugitives from Turkestan subdued the loosely associated tribes inhabiting the lowlands to the east of the Urals. Agriculturists, tanners, merchants and mollahs (priests) were called from Turkestan, and small principalities sprang up on the Irtysh and the Ob. These were united by Khan Ediger, and conflicts with the Russians who were then colonizing the Urals brought him into collision with Moscow; his envoys came to Moscow in 1555 and consented to a yearly tribute of a thousand sables. As early as the 11th century the Novgorodians had occasionally penetrated into Siberia; but the fall of the republic and the loss of it's north-eastern dependencies checked the advance of the Russians across the Urals. On the defeat of the adventurer Stenka Razin (1667–1671) many who were unwilling to submit to the iron rule of Moscow made their way to the settlements of Stroganov in Perm,