What do you call the area of Russia that stretches between the Ural Mountains and the Pacific Ocean from east to west? It reaches as far south as northern Kazakhstan and as far north as the Arctic Ocean. It also borders with Mongolia and China and makes up about 77 percent of Russia’s total landmass. Ironically, with regards to Russia’s total population, this part only accounts for about 40 million people or 27 percent of the total. Bandy, which is Russia’s national sport, is even more popular here than in European Russia. In case you haven’t guessed yet, I am talking about Siberia. What follows are some facts about this great Russian “Outback” that I hope you’ll find entertaining.
Siberia has a few negative stigmas attached to it that may make it unappealing to some. The most obvious being that it is a very cold, desolate place, one where the Communists used to send “bad people” or those they deemed to be.
The Trans-Siberian Railway actually takes people from Moscow across Siberia to Vladivostok. Wild dogs, bears, and wolves rule the land and mankind has yet to establish total domination like elsewhere in the world. There is much more to this beautiful land than many of us know. It contains some of the world’s largest deposits of gold, coal, nickel, lead, silver, and diamonds. A plethora of oil and natural gas has also been helping the local and national economy for years.
Here is a short video about some cool facts about a part of Siberia made by a native:
Siberia also contains Lake Baikal which has been reported to be the oldest and cleanest lake in the world. This lake is about the size of the Netherlands and contains about twenty percent of the world’s freshwater.
The Tunguska event happened near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River on 30 June, 1908. Nearly 800 miles of forest were flattened by a meteorite that is believed to have exploded 3-6 miles above the Earth’s surface. The size of the meteorite has been estimated at between 200-600 feet and this event has been considered the largest impact event on or near Earth in recent years. Unfortunately, Russian dashboard cameras were not around to capture it:-(
Apparently, there isn’t an exact location called Siberia. Sure you can find it on a map and in an atlas, but according to Ian Frazier, author of the book Travels in Siberia, “Officially, there is no such place as Siberia.” It is labeled as a region, but you cannot find it connected to any specific place name. He suggests that it is more a state of mind than the name of a specific place. Some believe that the word “Siberia” comes from a Tatar word for “sleeping land.”
It is true that some of Russia’s least desirables and political prisoners have seen their last sunrise in gulags found scattered throughout Siberia – mainly toward the north east. These gulags even date back to before Stalin and the Soviets. If you think about it, it is so cold and desolate in Siberia that even if prisoners were to escape, where would they go? Surely, they’d freeze to death before they reached their first town. This made Siberia a natural choice for building these camps.
The coldest city on the planet, Yakutsk, can be found in eastern Siberia. Yakutsk is built upon permafrost – this means that the ground never thaws. In January, the average high temperatures reach a balmy -40 degrees centigrade. According to some, this is a great place to send your mother-in-law on vacation.
Hope you enjoyed these few facts about Siberia. If any of you have ever visited there, I would love to hear about your trip :-).