Siberia – land of superlatives!
Siberia is an amazing land of contrasts and makes up a huge portion of modern-day Russia. Here are a few facts by way of illustration…
Siberia covers 9 734 000 square kilometres – that’s 57% of the whole of Russia. In terms of surface area, Siberia is only comparable with Canada, which is the second largest country in the world.
Siberia contains Lake Baikal, which covers an area roughly equal to that of the Netherlands. It’s the deepest freshwater lake in the world, as well as the oldest. And it’s the cleanest, too. Only one river flows from the lake – the Angara River. The water in Lake Baikal is very clear – you can see down to a depth of up to 50 m. Over 20% of the world’s fresh water is contained in Lake Baikal. The surrounding area experiences more than 2000 earthquakes a year.
The Tunguska meteorite fell in Siberia in 1908. At the site of the explosion, no crater was found or fragments of the meteorite. There were no human casualties, either. The explosion is generally attributed to the air burst of a meteoroid, which is thought to have disintegrated at an altitude of 5 to 10 kilometres rather than actually hitting the surface of the Earth.
The Great Vasyugan swamp is the largest swamp system in the northern hemisphere. It is located in the heart of the West Siberian Plain and stretches from west to east for 550 km, and from north to south for 270 km, making it much larger than Switzerland, for example. It also contains the world’s largest reserves of peat.
Permafrost is when the land never thaws out. About 65% of Russian territory is occupied by permafrost, and most of it is located in Siberia. Negative temperatures penetrate the earth’s crust to a depth of up to 1300-1500 m. Their minimal average values reach around -15 degrees Celsius.
Climate warming is reducing the size of Siberia’s permafrost. The permafrost contains the most potent of all greenhouse gases – methane. Thawing of the permafrost will release the gas and accelerate warming, starting a self-accelerating process which can have catastrophic consequences for the whole of humanity.
Four Siberian rivers are on the list of the top 10 world’s largest rivers – Ob, Lena, Amur and Yenisei.
One of the most popular dog breeds is the Siberian husky, which comes from the breed of dogs raised by the natives of the Russian North.
Siberia witnessed the birth of its own utopian city – the Autonomous Industrial Colony of Kuzbass. Leaders of the international trade union movement were delighted when the first socialist state was established in 1917, and asked Soviet Russia to allocate industrial facilities and space for the colony. This finally came to fruition, and in 1921, an international colony was established in Kemerovo (Siberia). The first colonists arrived in 1922, about 750 people in total from 23 nationalities. Initially, the working language in the colony was English, later changing to Russian. The colony contained several mines, a power plant, a coke-chemical plant and a very advanced farm. By 1926, 21 700 people lived in the colony, dedicated to improving the organisation of labour, increasing self-interest, and developing the technical level of production. However, the international colony was not supported by the Soviet government, and in 1928, most of the colonists had to return to their home countries.