The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Finland, Gulf of

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FINLAND, Gulf of, the eastern arm of the Baltic sea, extending from the S. W. extremity of Finland and Dagö island eastwardly to the bay of Cronstadt and St. Petersburg, between lon. 22° and 30° 18′ E., and intersected by the 60th parallel of north latitude. It is 250 m. long, with a mean breadth of 60 or 70 m. Its coasts are entirely Russian possessions; namely, Finland on the north, and the governments of Esthonia and St. Petersburg on the south. Its E. extremity is the bay of Cronstadt, which is almost encircled by the shores of the last named government. The waters of the great lakes Onega and Ladoga, N. E. of St. Petersburg, flow into the gulf of Finland, the first by the river Svir into Lake Ladoga, and the latter by the Neva into the bay of Cronstadt. The bed of the gulf is of calcareous rock, in some parts compact and naked, in others covered and filled with shells. Occasional points of granite are intermingled with this general character. The depth of water is nowhere great, and is least along the southern coast, of which the submerged descent is gradual. The northern shore is much hemmed in with islands and granite rocks. In its eastern parts, particularly between Cronstadt and St. Petersburg, are numerous sand banks and shallows. In addition to these the huge masses of ice which in spring and autumn block up the mouths of the rivers present a serious impediment to navigation. The water is very slightly salt, and is readily drunk by cattle. The harbors of the gulf of Finland are closed by ice every year from early in December to the middle or end of April. It has several times happened that the waters of the gulf, driven by westerly gales, have submerged whole streets in St. Petersburg, even up to the first floor of houses; an event against which no provision for the future has appeared possible.