Siberia is an extensive geographical region spanning much of Northern Asia.
All but the extreme southwestern area of Siberia lies in Russia.
With an area of 13.1 million square kilometres (5.1 million square miles), Siberia makes up roughly 77% of Russia’s total territory and almost 9% of Earth’s land surface.
It is home to only 23% of the country’s population – approximately 33 million people.
If it were a country by itself, it would still be the largest country by area, but in population it would be the world’s 35th-largest and Asia’s 14th-largest.
While Siberia falls entirely within Asia, it is culturally and politically considered a part of Europe, since Russia is considered a European country.
The largest plain in the world is the West Siberian Plain. It is a large plain that occupies the western portion of Siberia, between the Ural Mountains in the west and the Yenisei River in the east, and by the Altay Mountains on the southeast. It covers an area of about 2.6 to 2.7 million square
kilometres (1 million square miles) which is about one third of Siberia.
The highest point in Siberia is the active volcano Klyuchevskaya Sopka, on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Its peak is at 4,750 metres (15,580 ft).
Novosibirsk is the largest city in Siberia, with a population more than 1.5 million. It is located in the southwestern part of Siberia on the banks of the Ob River.
The origin of the name is unknown. Some sources say that “Siberia” originates from the Siberian Tatar Sib Ir meaning sleeping land. Another account sees the name as the ancient tribal ethnonym of the Sirtya, an ethnic group which spoke a Paleosiberian language. The Sirtya people were later assimilated into the Siberian Tatars.
Worldwide, Siberia is well-known primarily for its long, harsh winters, with a January average of −25 °C (−13 °F), as well as its extensive history of use by Russian and Soviet governments as a place for prisons, labor camps, and internal exile.
Most Siberians, if not living in a major city, live in insulated log cabins or houses, huddled in small villages strung out near rivers. They traditionally survive on hunting, fishing, herding and trapping animals in the wilderness. The climate and geographical features limit the amount of agriculture that can be grown. Siberians traditionally thick, many layered clothing made with animal hides and fur.
The predominant religious group in Siberia is the Russian Orthodox Church.
The early history of Siberia was greatly influenced by the sophisticated nomadic civilizations of the Scythians (Pazyryk) on the west of the Ural Mountains and Xiongnu (Noin-Ula) on the east of the Urals, both flourishing before the Christian era.
The steppes of Siberia were occupied by a succession of nomadic peoples, including the Khitan people, various Turkic peoples, and the Mongol Empire.
In the late Middle Ages, Tibetan Buddhism spread into the areas south of Lake Baikal.
During the Russian Empire, Siberia was chiefly developed as an agricultural province.
The government also used it as a place of exile, sending Avvakum, Dostoevsky, and the Decemberists, among others, to work camps in the region.
During the 19th century, the Trans-Siberian Railway was constructed, supporting industrialization.
Since the USSR’s collapse in 1991, certain settlements built with Soviet disregard for economic logic have withered into gloomy virtual ghost towns. In contrast, discoveries of vast oil and gas deposits in the frozen north have proven Russia’s greatest economic asset.
Today petroleum as well as timber and minerals provide the wealth that is visibly transforming the region’s most prosperous cities, notably Tyumen and Krasnoyarsk.
The Trans–Siberian Railway (TSR) is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East. With a length of 9,289 kilometres (5,772 miles) from Moscow to Vladivostok, it is the longest railway-line in the world. Russian Empire government ministers personally appointed by the Emperor Alexander III of Russia and by his son, the Tsarevich Nicholas (later Emperor Nicholas II from 1894), supervised the building of the railway between 1891 and 1916. Even before its completion, the line
attracted travelers who wrote of their adventures. The Trans-Siberian Railway has directly connected Moscow with Vladivostok since 1916.
Lake Baikal is located in south-central Siberia. It is the world’s largest freshwater lake in terms of volume. It is about 640 km (397 miles) long, and 80 km (50 miles) wide. It is also the deepest lake in the world, at 1,620 meters (5,314 feet) and contains 20% of the world’s total unfrozen freshwater reserve.
The Siberian tiger, also known as the Amur tiger, is a tiger subspecies. It is the largest tiger subspecies and the largest wild cat in the world. There are around 600 Siberian tigers left in the wild.
The Siberian cat is a breed of domestic cat. It has occurred naturally in the region of Siberia for over two thousand years.
The Siberian Husky is a medium-sized working dog breed. It was originally developed by the Chukchi people of the Chukchi Peninsula in eastern Siberia. A beautiful breed of dog, Huskies are independent, athletic, and intelligent. They show a balance of power, speed and endurance.
The Samoyed is a breed of medium-sized herding dogs. It takes its name from the Samoyedic peoples of Siberia. The nomadic Samoyed people, came to northwestern Siberia from central Asia. They depended upon herds of reindeer for food, and had to keep on the move in order that the reindeer could find sufficient food for themselves.
An asteroid about 0.15 kilometers (0.1 miles) in width is believed to have exploded over Siberia, causing damage within a radius of hundreds of kilometers (miles).
The earliest surviving carpet is the “Pazyryk carpet”, which dates from the 5th-4th century BC. It was excavated by Sergei Ivanovich Rudenko in 1949 from a Pazyryk burial mound in the Altai Mountains in Siberia. This richly colored carpet is 200 x 183 cm (6’6″ x 6’0″) and framed by a border of griffins. Although claimed by many cultures, this square tufted carpet, almost perfectly intact, is considered by many experts to be of Caucasian, specifically Armenian, origin.
Teachers in part of Siberia were paid in vodka in September 1998, as the authorities had no money to meet their wages bill. More than 8,000 teachers were given 15 bottles each, as they reportedly had not been paid their salaries since February or March.
Stroganina is a raw fish dish of the indigenous people of northern Arctic Siberia made from raw, thin, long-sliced frozen fish. It is a popular dish with native Siberians.