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Facts about Siberia for Kids

  • Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, Siberia was part of the Soviet Union (USSR) from its beginning, as of its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire since the 16th century.
  • The territory of Siberia extends eastward from the Ural Mountains to the watershed between the Pacific and Arctic drainage basins.
  • Siberia makes up about 77% of Russia’s territory, but is home to only 28% (40 million people) of Russia’s population.
  • Some sources say that “Siberia” originates from the Tatar/Bashkirs word for “sleeping land”(Sib Ir) or “beautiful” (Siber).
  • The other group that was sent to Siberia consisted of prisoners exiled from Western Russia or territories held by Russia, like Poland.
  • In times when the Soviet Union still existed, the earlier katorga system of penal labour camps was replaced by a new one that was controlled by the GULAG state agency.
  • Many Gulag camps were positioned in extremely remote areas of north-eastern Siberia.
    The best known clusters are Sevvostlag (The North-East Camps) along the Kolyma River and Norillag near Norilsk, where 69,000 prisoners were kept in 1952.
  • These mountains extend up to almost three thousand meters in elevation, but above a few hundred meters they are almost completely devoid of vegetation.
  • The Verkhoyansk Range was extensively glaciated in the Pleistocene, but the climate was too dry for glaciation to extend to low elevations.
  • At these low elevations are numerous valleys, many of them deep, and covered with larch forest, except in the extreme North, where the tundra dominates.
  • The highest point in Siberia is the active volcano Klyuchevskaya Sopka, on the Kamchatka Peninsula.
  • The Central Siberian Plateau is an extremely ancient craton.
  • With a reliable growing season, an abundance of sunshine and exceedingly fertile chernozem soils, Southern Siberia is good enough for profitable agriculture, as was proven in the early twentieth century.
  • According to this definition, Siberia extended eastward from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific coast, and southward from the Arctic Ocean to the border of Russian Central Asia and the national borders of both Mongolia and China.
  • The most populous city of Siberia, as well as the third most populous city of Russia, is the city of Novosibirsk.