The vast expanses of Siberia still hold many mysteries. There are lots any forests and swamps, rivers and lakes, but not so many people.
Geography and Climate of Siberia
- Siberia is a vast region in Russia and Kazakhstan, covering over 5 million square miles (13 million square kilometers), which is approximately 77% of the total area of Russia. In comparison, the United Kingdom has a land area of ~94,058 square miles (243,610 square kilometers). This means that Siberia is ~53 times larger than the UK!
- This region is known for its severe and long-lasting winters, with temperatures often dropping below –40 °F (that’s also –40 °C). The record negative temperature here is -96 °F (-71,2 °C). Despite the harsh climate, agriculture is an important industry in parts of Siberia, with crops including wheat, barley, and potatoes.
- The Ural Mountains in Siberia are often considered the geographical boundary that separates Europe and Asia. The range runs approximately 1,555 miles (2,500 km) from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the border of Kazakhstan in the south, dividing the two continents along a north-south axis.
Natural Wonders of Siberia
- Siberia is home to the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal, which contains 20% of the world’s total unfrozen freshwater. The total volume of water in Lake Baikal is estimated to be around 551 cubic miles (23,000 cubic kilometers). The Great Lakes in North America, on the other hand, contain a combined volume of around 327,5 cubic miles (1140 cubic kilometers) of water. This means that the volume of water in Lake Baikal is approximately 20 times greater than the combined volume of the Great Lakes.
- The area is also known for its beautiful natural landscapes, including the Kolyma Mountains and the Stanovoy Range. The Altai Mountains, located in southern Siberia, are considered the birthplace of the Turkic people and have a rich cultural history.
- Siberia is also home to many national parks and nature reserves, including the Barguzin Nature Reserve, which is known for its population of the endangered Siberian lynx.
- The Lena Pillars Nature Park in Siberia is a UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring towering rock formations and unique ecosystems.
History and Culture
- The region is home to many indigenous peoples, including the Evenki, Yakuts, Buryats, and Chukchi, who have lived there for thousands of years. The total population of Siberia is about 40 million people only, and most of them are Russians.
- In the late 19th century, American and European fur traders began commercial fur hunting in Siberia, leading to the decline of several species of fur-bearing animals.
- During the Soviet era, Siberian cities such as Novosibirsk and Tomsk became major centers of science and technology.
- The Trans-Siberian Railway, completed in 1916, runs for 9,289 km from Moscow to Vladivostok and is the longest railway line in the world.
Wildlife and Biodiversity
- The Siberian Tiger, also known as the Amur Tiger, is one of the largest cats in the world and is native to the region.
- Taiga is the largest forest biome in the world. It is located right there and occupies most of Siberia.
- The winter sports industry is an important part of the local economy in some parts of Siberia, with popular destinations including the ski resorts of Sheregesh and Baikalsk. However, poor transport infrastructure is a problem for tourism in Siberia.
- In recent years, there has been growing interest in ecotourism in Siberia, with travelers visiting to see the region’s unique landscapes and wildlife, such as the bears in the Kamchatka Peninsula.
Economic and Technological Developments
- Despite its remote location, Siberia has a growing technology sector, with companies specializing in fields such as renewable energy and nanotechnology.
- The Baikonur Cosmodrome, located in Kazakhstan, but leased by Russia, is the world’s first and largest operational space launch facility.
- Many Siberian rivers, including the Yenisei, Ob, and Lena, are major transportation routes and have been important for trade and commerce for centuries.
Art and Culture
- The city of Krasnoyarsk, located in central Siberia, is known for its stunning Stolby Nature Sanctuary, featuring towering rock formations and diverse wildlife. However, Krasnoyarsk is one of the most polluted cities in the world, air pollution there is really terrible.
- The city of Irkutsk, located near Lake Baikal, was an important center of trade and commerce in the 19th century and has a rich history and culture. Most tourists go to Lake Baikal through Irkutsk.
- The region has a rich cultural heritage, including music, dance, and storytelling traditions passed down from generation to generation.