Siberia is a large landscape in northern Asia. It covers most of the Asian territory of Russia, as well as the north of Kazakhstan. It lies between the Urals in the west and the Pacific in the east, between the Arctic Ocean in the north and the Kazakh threshold as well as the mountain range on the borders with Mongolia and China in the south. Siberia is around 16 million km² and therefore larger than Europe. However, it only has about 33 million residents. Its north-south extension is around 3500 km, the extension from west to east about 7000 km. The relief of Siberia is divided into the large units of West Siberian Lowlands, Central Siberian Mountains, North Siberian Lowlands and North Siberian Mountains. The climate is continental with extremely cold winters and little rainfall. The vegetation zones run almost parallel to the latitudes. From north to south, polar desert, tundra, taiga, forest steppe and steppe follow one another. The population distribution is extremely uneven. The settlement is mainly limited to a belt on both sides of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Two thirds of the population live in cities. Only the south of Siberia offers agriculture favorable conditions for arable farming. Siberia is rich in ore deposits. The extraction and use of fossil fuels form the basis for the iron, non-ferrous and light metal industries as well as for mechanical engineering.
The most important traffic routes are the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM). Oil and gas are transported in pipelines to processing and consumption centers in Russia, Kazakhstan and Europe.
Siberia is divided into four different large landscapes. The West Siberian Tableland extends between the Ural Mountains and the Yenisei. To the east, between Yenisei and Lena, joins the Central Siberian mountains. The North Siberian Lowland lies between the Central Siberian Mountains and the Byrran Mountains on the Taimyr Peninsula.
The North Siberian mountainous region rises to 3,147 meters above sea level. on. It extends east of the Lena. In the north, close to moors and lakes interspersed alluvial plains such as the Jana Indigirka Plain and the Kolyma Plain. Siberia is separated from Central Asia by a high mountain barrier. It includes the mountains of southern Siberia with Altai, Sajagebirge, Tannu-Ola, Tuwaberland and the mountainous regions of Baikal and Transbaikal.
The largest rivers in Siberia are Ob with Irtysh, Yenisei with Angara, Lena, Aldan, Kolyma and Indigirka. They flow into the Arctic Ocean. The rivers are frozen for five months in the south and eight months of the year in the north. Numerous lakes shape the area. The largest lake is Lake Baikal, which is the largest freshwater reservoir on earth.
The climate of Siberia is continental with extremely cold winters and little rainfall. It contributes to the temperate and subpolar climatic zone. Continentality increases from west to east. In almost all of Siberia, the mean annual temperature is below 0 °C. In the northeast it is even at –18 °C. The mean temperature of the warmest and coldest months differ by 35–68 °C. In Oymyakon, the cold pole of the northern hemisphere, the extreme low is -71 °C, the temperature maximum is 33 °C. Permafrost soils about 300 m thick are widespread throughout Siberia and in western Siberia north of the 62nd parallel. They take up about 60% of the area of Siberia (Fig. 2).
The vegetation zones run almost parallel to the latitudes. From north to south the polar desert, tundra, taiga, forest steppe and steppe follow one another. To the east of the Altai, forest steppe and steppe are now only islands.
The population is extremely unevenly distributed. 90% concentrate on 10% of the area. A belt on both sides of the Trans-Siberian Railway is most densely populated. People have also settled along the rivers. Individual settlements can be found in connection with the timber industry and mining. Two thirds of the population live in cities. The largest are Novosibirsk, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Barnaul and Novokuznetsk.
The population consists mainly of Russians. There are also a large number of other peoples, such as Samoyed, Buryats, Yakuts, Tungus, Chukchi, Koryaks and Kazakhs.
Siberia was developed intensively after 1945, but especially after 1971. The large-scale exploitation of natural resources has led to significant environmental damage. The main industry is the production of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and hard coal. These are processed in the petrochemical industry and used in thermal power plants to generate electrical energy. Siberia is rich in ore deposits. Gold and diamond deposits are also of great importance. The electrical energy from numerous hydropower plants forms the basis for iron, non-ferrous and light metallurgy as well as for mechanical engineering. Other branches of the economy are the timber industry and the food and consumer goods industries in metropolitan areas.
The unfavorable natural conditions only offer conditions for arable and dairy farming on a large scale in the south of Siberia. Wheat, corn and sunflowers are grown. Reindeer herding and fur farming and hunting are widespread in Northern Siberia.
Important traffic routes are the Baikal-Amur Main Line, the Trans-Siberian Railway and the South, Central and North Siberian Railway. Large areas can only be reached by air. Some economic areas of southern Siberia are connected to sea traffic on the Northeast Passage through shipping. Shipping traffic is severely hindered by the long ice drift.
Pipelines lead from the oil and gas production sites to the processing and consumption centers in the Urals, in Kazakhstan, in the European part of Russia in several European countries.
The Siberian region played an important role for the country throughout Russian history. Equestrian peoples came from the steppes and invaded the European regions of Russia. In the 13th and 14th centuries it was the Mongols. With the rise of Moscow, Mongol rule ended in the 15th century. In the 16th century, it was the Russians who explored Siberia, took possession of it and exploited its treasures. Under Tsar IWAN the Terrible, the Cossack leader JERMAK was sent to explore the country beyond the Urals. He penetrated as far as Central Siberia and took possession of the country with its abundance of fur animals for the Tsar.
Later exploratory trips recognized Siberia as a transit country for trade with the Far East, especially with China. Siberian territory was also used as a starting point for trips to America. After crossing the North Pacific, the Dane Bering was the first European to reach Alaska in 1741 on behalf of Russia. This part of North America remained in Russian ownership until 1867. With the industrialization of Russia and later the Soviet Union in the 19th and 20th centuries, interest in Siberia’s rich mineral resources grew. The Trans-Siberian Railway was completed in 1916 and is still the most important land connection today. Numerous industrial cities have sprung up along the route. The Baikal-Amur Mainline, a railway line that runs from Lake Baikal north of the Transsib to the Pacific, has been in operation since 1985.
Under the rule of the Soviet leader STALIN (until 1953) forced labor and internment camps were set up in Siberia, in 1947, according to former prisoners, there were between 4 and 6 million exiles and prisoners of war there.