Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/27

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23
GEOGRAPHY IN RUSSIAN HISTORY

mileage as 46,839, of which 60 per cent, belongs to the state. Russia stands next to the United States in mileage. And added to this is the enormous extent of her navigable waterways aggregating 102,600 miles. On the whole Russia combines a most marvellous system of transportation, almost bewildering in its variety of medieval and modern traffic methods; caravans, motor-vans, barges, vessels with internal combustion engines and up-to-date steam railroads.

The center of the system is not Petersburg but Moscow, the city also most intimately identified historically with the rise and growth of the nation. There are only two important economic areas of Russia that Petersburg can reach without passing through Moscow, and even these are more closely allied to Moscow than to the northern capital. Geography, and by this I mean location as well as resources, has not only kept Moscow on a level with her rival, but guarantees without gainsay to raise her far above the city of Peter in the future. The ecnonomic progress of the present and even more so of the Russia of to-morrow lies not in the region of Petersburg but in the center and south, that is nearer Moscow. The industrial areas from Poland to the southeast through Tula, Ekaterinoslav to the mines of the lower Don, the largest coal-producing fields of Europe; the Baku oil fields; the Caspian and lower Volga fisheries; the Transcaspian trade; the commerce of the Black Sea and the Bosphorus; and the proximity of the Moscow government to the great agricultural area of the Black Earth Belt, all afford a sound economic basis for the supremacy of the old capital. Before her the bureaucratic city on the banks of the Neva must sooner or later surrender an ascendancy made by man in defiance of geography. Besides, the movement of population in Russia is southward. Incidentally too it is worthy of note that the development of industrialism and commercialism at Moscow has already transformed the politics of this cradle of autocratic Tsardom; Moscow is no longer reactionary but progressive and liberal.

The progress of Russia has been tremendous in the last decade. The years since the Japanese war have seen the adoption of a constitutional regime, the rapid spread of industrialism, the greatest agrarian reforms since emancipation, and a remarkably intelligent study and handling of the problems of primary education, agriculture and intemperance. Along with this has come a clear appreciation of the richness of her resources. "In the markets of the world there exists to-day a famine in meat, lumber and breadstuffs," say the Russian economists, and Russia can produce all three to an indefinite amount.

Russia has a geographic basis for a great nation such as is possessed by no other people unless it be our own. It is wanting however in one important respect, it lacks an adequate coast line. Its outlet to the commerce of the western world is through waters dominated by