Siberia


Siberia

Region, north-central Asia, largely in Russia. It extends from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and from the Arctic Ocean to central Kazakhstan and the boundaries of China and Mongolia; it covers more than 5,000,000 sq mi (13,000,000 sq km). It is notorious for the length and severity of its almost snowless winters. Temperatures of 90 °F (68 °C) have been recorded. The first settlers probably arrived in southern Siberia in the Paleolithic Period. The area was under Chinese influence from c. 1000 BC, followed by the Turkic-Mongols in the 3rd century BC. Russian trappers and Cossack explorers (see Cossacks) colonized it in the late 16th century, and by the mid-18th century most of Siberia was under Russian rule. It was connected to other parts of Russia by the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Eastern Siberia was the scene of the anti-Bolshevik government of Aleksandr Kolchak (1918–20). It was made part of the Russian S.F.S.R. in 1922. Russia exiled criminals and political prisoners there, and in the 1930s Joseph Stalin set up forced-labour camps that fueled industrial growth. When Russian factories were relocated there during World War II, it played an important role in the war effort. It has deposits of coal, petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, iron ore, and gold; its chief industrial products include steel, aluminum, and machinery. Southern Siberia produces wheat, rye, oats, and sunflowers. Its main cities include Novosibirsk, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Irkutsk.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on Siberia, visit Britannica.com.

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