FREE Catholic Classes
Russia ( Rossiiskaia Imperiia; Russkoe Gosudarstvo ) comprises the greater part of Eastern Europe, and a third of Asia ; its area is one-sixth of the land surface of the globe. In the reign of Alexander II the total area of the empire was 8,689,945 sq. miles, of which only 2,156,000 were in Europe. The greatest length of Russia from east to west is 6666 miles, and its greatest breadth is 2666 miles; it lies between 35º 45' and 79º N. lat., and 17º 40' and 191º E. long. (i.e., 169 W. long.). The boundaries of Russia are: on the north, the Arctic Ocean; on the west, Sweden, Norway, the Baltic Sea, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Rumania ; on the south, the Black Sea, Turkey, Persia, the Caspian Sea; Afghanistan, and China ; on the east, the Pacific Ocean. Russia forms a vast, compact territory, the area of its islands being only 107,262 sq. miles, which was greatly reduced by the cession of the southern part of Sakhalin to Japan. Geographers usually divide Russia into European and Asiatic Russia, regarding the natural boundary to be the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Don, and the Volga; this division is based neither on natural nor on political grounds. The Ural Mountains form a chain of wooded highlands, which may be compared to the central axis of the empire rather than to a dividing barrier; moreover there is no natural boundary line between the southern extremity of these mountains and the Caspian Sea. The division between European and Asiatic Russia can best be established ethnologically, and this method is frequently used in Russian geographies.
The coasts of Russia are washed by many seas; the Arctic Ocean, the White Sea, the Bay of Tcheskaya, the Bay of Kara, the Gulf of Obi, the Baltic Sea, the Gulfs of Bothnia, Finland, and Riga, the Black Sea, the Sea of Azof, the Caspian Sea, the Pacific Ocean, Behring Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, and the Sea of Japan. But Russia is not destined to become a great maritime power, because for the most part the seas of Russia are in regions where navigation is impossible in winter; for periods of six months in the Arctic Ocean, and from fifteen days to one month at some points in the Black Sea. And the future of Russia as a maritime power is moreover obstructed by political difficulties; the way from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean is closed by the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles; the way from the Baltic to the Atlantic is closed by Sweden, Germany, Norway, and Denmark. The Arctic Ocean washes the extreme northern coasts of Russia, sterile, uninhabited regions, over which there hangs a winter of nine months, paralyzing the activities of life. The ice, whether fixed or floating, blocks the way of ships; these ply however in the White Sea, which is free of ice for three months of the year, and the waters of which form the Gulfs of Mezen, the Dwina, Onega, and Kandalak, the latter being the most frequented. There are but few islands in this immense extent of ice; the more important ones are the islands of Kolguet, Vaigatch, Nova Zembla, New Siberia, and the islands of Solovka, on one of which is a famous monastery founded in the fifteenth century by St. Sabbatius and the Blessed Germanus. Among the most important peninsulas may be cited that of Kola or Russian Lapland. Russia shares the possession of the Baltic Sea with Sweden, Germany, and Denmark, and its waters have been the highway of Russian commerce since the time of Peter the Great, although their shores are rugged and reefs numerous. The Gulfs of Bothnia, Finland and Riga are frozen for several months of the year, while the Gulf of Livadia is frozen for six weeks, although it sometimes remains free of ice through the whole year. Notwithstanding these natural obstacles, Russian commerce has been developed on the Baltic, the shortest route for the exportation of Russian products to European countries and America. The Baltic Sea is studded with islands, of which the following belong to Russia: the numerous Aland group, eighty of which are inhabited; the Islands of Dago, Oesel, Mohn, Wornes, and Kotlin; on the last is built the formidable fortress of Kronstadt.
Help Now >
In European Russia the climate is severe, both in winter and summer, the rains are scanty, and the temperature is not as mild as in Western Europe. The coasts of the Baltic and the shores of the Vistula have a climate similar to that of Western Europe. European Russia presents graduated variations of climate between 40º and 70º N. lat., and also from east to west. At Nova Zembla the lowest winter temperature is 16º F., while at the south of the Crimea it rises to 56.3º in summer. The isothermal lines of European Russia are not coincident with the parallels of latitude, but diverge towards the southeast. There are places situated on the same parallel presenting considerable differences in mean temperature, e.g. Libau, 49.1º; Moscow, 39.2º; Kazan, 37.4º; Yekaterinburg, 32.9º. In the valley of the Rion in the Caucasus, cotton and sugar-cane are grown, while the tundras of the Kola Peninsula are sparsely covered with moss. In Western Russia, the cold of winter is never greater than 31º below zero, while the heat of summer is never in excess of 86º; but in Eastern Russia the thermometer falls to 40º below zero in winter, and rises to 109º in summer. European Russia may be divided into four climatic zones: the cold zone, which includes the coasts of the Arctic Ocean and their adjacent islands, and extends beyond the Arctic Circle; its winter lasts nine months, and its summer three; the cold-temperate zone, from the Arctic Circle to 61º N. lat.; its winter Lasts six months, and each of the other seasons two months; the temperate zone, extending from 61º to 48º N. lat.; each season lasts three months, the winter being longer towards the north, and summer longer towards the south; the warm zone, between 48º N. lat. and the southern frontier of Russia; the summer lasts six months, and the other three seasons two months each. European Russia is not unhealthy, although in the cold zone scurvy is frequent, and near the Gulf of Finland ailments of the throat and the respiratory organs ; plica polonica infects the marshy regions of Lithuania and Russian Poland ; and there is the so-called Crimean fever in the neighbourhood of the Sivash and in a region on the coast of the Black Sea.
The climate of the Caucasus is not of a uniform character ; it belongs in the north to the cold-temperate zone, and in Transcaucasia to the warm zone. In the north, summer lasts six months, and the other seasons two months each. In Transcaucasia the summer lasts nine months, and the other three months of the year are like spring. Nevertheless the irregularity of the mountain system of the Caucasus produces differences of temperature in places separated by short distances. On the coast of the Black Sea between Batum and Sukhum, the temperature seldom falls below 32º; in January the temperature rises as high as 43º. Western Transcaucasia receives warm and humid winds, while the eastern part is exposed to dry winds from the north-east.
The part of Siberia that borders on the Arctic Ocean lies entirely within the cold zone; the winter lasts nine months, and the summer is like the beginning of spring in European Russia. The portion of Siberia between the Arctic Circle and 60º N. lat. has a winter that lasts six months; the region below the parallel of 60º N. lat. has a winter a little longer than the summer. In proportion to the distance from the Ural Mountains the climate of Western Siberia experiences greater extremes of temperature, the winter and the heat of summer becoming more severe; and the same is true of Eastern Siberia in relation to the Pacific Ocean. The greatest variations of temperature in Eastern Siberia are observed at Irkutsk, Yakutsk, and Verkhoyansk, where the thermometer registers at times 59.6º below zero in winter, and 49.46º in summer. In midwinter the northern extremity of Siberia resembles the polar regions; during several days the sun does not rise, and the vast plain of snow is lit up by the Aurora Borealis, while at times the region of the tundras is swept by violent snowstorms. The climate of Turkestan is similar to Siberia. Those regions are far from the sea, and have cold winters and very warm summers, a sky that is always clear, a dry atmosphere, and strong northerly and north-easterly winds. The north winds develop violent snowstorms. The summer is unbearable; in the shade, the thermometer rises to 104º, and even to 117.5º, while the ground becomes heated to 158º.MEAN TEMPERATURE OF CERTAIN RUSSIAN CITIES: — January July St. Petersburg 15.26 63.86 Moscow 12.20 66.10 Kieff 20.84 66.56 Kazan 07.16 67.46 Yekaterinburg 02.30 63.50 Reval 42.80 53.96 Libau 36.14 62.00 Astrakhan 44.96 77.90 Verhoyansk -59.44 49.46
The mean yearly rainfall is estimated at from 8 to 24 inches. In general, those parts of Russia that are exposed to the North, and are covered with snow during the winter, abound in forests that preserve the humidity, in which they have an advantage over the southern part of the country. In the former, the rains are not violent, but are lasting, and moisten the earth to a considerable depth; in the South they are resolved into severe tempests, which pour down great quantities of water that are dispersed in torrents and rivers, and do not sink deep into the ground. The greatest rainfall of Russia is around the Baltic Sea (20 to 28 inches); and the least is in the Caucasus (4 to 8 inches). The advantages of the western over the eastern part of Russia are due to its greater proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, the vapours of which are carried over Europe into Russia. The mean rainfall of Western Russia is calculated at 18.3 inches; that of the north-east, 15 inches; that of the east, from 12 to 15 inches; and that of the south is still less. The months of greatest rainfall are June, July, and August. The yearly rainfall at St. Petersburg is 20 inches, there being rain on 150 days of the year. The number of days upon which rain falls diminishes considerably towards the East and South.
The mineral riches of Russia consist principally of salt, coal, and iron. Salt is found in the mineral state in the Governments of Orenburg, Astrakhan, Kharkoff, and Yekaterinoslaff; and as a sediment, deposited by salt waters, in the Government of Astrakhan, and in the Crimean lakes of Sakskoe, Sasyk, and Sivash. The river basin that most abounds in coal is that of the Donetz; it is 233 miles in length, and 100 in breadth, and produces every known species of fossil coal. This basin also furnishes great quantities of peat, naphtha, gold, silver, platinum, copper, tin, mercury, iron, emeralds, topazes, rubies, sapphires, amethysts, porphyry, marble, granite, graphite, asphalt, and phosphorus. The Central Ural Mountains yield malachite and jasper. There are abundant petroleum springs in the Caucasus Mountains, especially in the vicinity of Baku. In the Kolivan Mountains, which is a ramification of the Altai system, deposits of malachite are found.
ETHNOGRAPHY AND STATISTICS OF POPULATION
The ethnographical history of primitive Russia is obscure. There is record of the Anti, a people who in the fourth century inhabited the regions about the mouths of the Danube and Don, but their name is lost after that date. Constantine Porphyrogenitus and the Russian chroniclers refer to twelve tribes, collected under the general name of Russians; they are the Slovenes, Krivitches, Dregovitches, Drevilans, Polians, Duliebys, Buzhans, Tivercys, Ulitches, Radimitches, Viatics, and the Sieverians. The political cradle of Russia is the region of Kieff, where the Varangian princes formed the first Russian state. The invasions of the Tatars exercised a great influence upon the Russians; but it is a mistake to say that the Russians disappeared entirely before the Tatars and that, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the regions evacuated by the Tatars were peopled by Little Russians from Galicia. The population of Russia has steadily increased in numbers during the last two centuries, its rapid development being partly due to the birth-rate, and partly to the conquest of vast foreign territories. In 1724 Russia had a population of 14,000,000, which had increased to 36,000,000 in 1793, to 69,000,000 in 1851, and to 128,967,694 in 1897. The census of 1897 was the first official census of Russia. Its data, however, are only relatively correct, partly on account of the great extension of the Russian Empire, partly on account of the continuous emigration within the frontiers of that country, partly because of the lack of information concerning some of the centres of population in Siberia, and partly because of the resistance of some tribes to submit to the control of European civilization. In view of the enormous excess of births over deaths, the progressive increase of the population is calculated to be 2,000,000 each year. In 1904, basing the calculation on the statistics of births, the population of Russia was 146,000,000; in 1908, 154,000,000; and in 1910, 158,000,000. The greatest increase in the population is given by the region of New Russia, that of the Baltic, and the Province of Moscow. In general, the number of births in Russia is calculated at 48 per 1000, and that of the deaths at 34 per 1000. Compared with other European states, Russia is very thinly peopled, except in a few regions; for the whole empire, it is 17.325 per sq. mile; for European Russia 65; for Poland, 214; and for Siberia, 1.35. The government in which the population appears to be most dense is that of Piotrkow, where the corresponding figures are 295 inhabitants per sq. mile; after which follow in order the Governments of Moscow (187), Podolia (184.5), and Kieff (180). In the Government of Archangel, there are 2.25 inhabitants per sq. mile, and in Yakutsk .225.
Help Now >
The great mass of the population consists of peasants; they form 84 per cent of the population of European Russia, a percentage greatly in excess of that of Rumania, Hungary, and Switzerland, nations that are essentially agricultural. The nobles and their servants constitute 1.5 per cent of the population; the clergy, 0.5 per cent; the citizens or merchants, 0.6 per cent; the burgesses ( mieshanstvo ), 10.6 per cent. The proportion of working men shows a notable increase: from 1885 to 1897 the increase in the mining centres was 91 per cent, and in the manufacturing centres 73 per cent; the population of the cities also is continually increasing. Some of these cities, as Kazan, Astrakhan, Tiflis, and Bakhtchisarai, are semi-Asiatic in character, as are also the cities of Turkestan. The cities of ancient Livonia, e.g., Riga and Reval, have the appearance of medieval German towns. The villages of Great Russia have a commercial character, and stretch along the principal roads and waterways. On the other hand the villages of Little Russia are agricultural in character. The White Russian villages are noticeable for the small number of houses they contain. With relation to sex, according to the statistics of 1905, the population of Russia has 103.2 women for each 100 men. In the villages, the corresponding proportion of women is 106.1; in the cities, it is 85.9. In 13 out of 50 of the governments of European Russia, the number of men is greater than that of the women ; in 3 the numbers are equal, and in 34 the number of women is in excess of that of the men; in 12 governments the proportion is 100 men to 110 women.
With regard to religion, Christianity in various denominations is the religion of the great majority of the people. There are 123,000,000 Christians (84.3 per cent of the entire population). The majority are of the Orthodox Church, which has 102,600,000 adherents (69.9 per cent of the population, the corresponding figures for European Russia being 91,000,000 (75 per cent). Consequently among the Russians Orthodox and Russian are synonymous terms. Since the Ukase of 17 April, 1905, which proclaimed freedom of conscience, Russian orthodoxy has lost 1,000,000 of followers, through conversions to Catholicism, to Protestantism, and to Mohammedanism. The Catholics of Russia number 13,000,000 (8.9 per cent); the Protestants, 7,200,000 (4.9 per cent); other Christian denominations, 1,400,000 (1 per cent); Mohammedans, 15,900,000 (10 per cent); pagans, 700,000 (0.4 per cent). Pagans, to the number of 300,000, are to be found, not only in Siberia, but also in European Russia (Kalmucks and Samogitians). The Catholics are chiefly in Poland, where, according to the census of 1897, they constituted 74.8 per cent of the population. On the other hand, one-half of the Jews who are scattered over the earth are in Russia, the number of them in that country being estimated at from 6,000,000 to 7,000,000, all concentrated within the boundaries of fifteen governments.
From the standpoint of education, Russia does not occupy even a secondary position in Europe. In European Russia the percentage of those who know how to read and write is 22.9. The regions in which there are the least numbers of the educated are as follows: Esthonia (79 per cent); Livonia (77.7 per cent); Courland (70.9 per cent); the cities of St. Petersburg (55.1 per cent) and Moscow (40.2 per cent), and Poland (41 per cent).
Emigration, as a rule, takes place only within the boundaries of the empire. From the most remote times, the inhabitants of Novgorod founded colonies as far away as the shores of the White Sea and the Ural Mountains. Emigration to Siberia began in 1582; the first colonists of that country were the exiles, the Cossacks, fishermen, and prospectors in search of gold; and this emigration was considerably increased after the liberation of the serfs in 1861. In 1891 the Siberian Railway Company undertook the colonization of Siberia, and by opportune measures gave a great impulse to Siberian immigration. In 1889 the number of Russian emigrants to that region was between 25,000 and 40,000; in 1900 it had increased to 220,000. These emigrants, who came from Central Russia and from Little Russia, spread at first over Western Siberia, and then over Central Siberia ; but later they went farther and farther towards the extreme east, a movement to which the war with Japan put a stop, but which was again taken up with greater activity when that war ended. In 1906, 200,790 emigrants passed through Cheliabinsk to Siberia, and 400,000 in 1907. A part of the emigration is directed towards the southeast of Turkestan. The first colonists arrived in the Province of Semiryetchensk in 1848, and in the Province of Sir-Daria in 1876. Emigration beyond the frontiers of Russia is very limited, amounting in numbers at the present time to from 75,000 to 100,000, who for the greater part pass through the ports of Bremen and Hamburg. From 1891 to 1906, out of every 1000 Russian emigrants, 900 went to the United States, and the majority of the others to Brazil and the Argentine Republic.
The population of Russia is very much divided linguistically, it being calculated that a hundred languages are spoken within the empire, of which forty-two are in use in the city of Tiflis alone. Russian is the official language of eighty-nine governments and provinces, but it is the predominant language in only forty-one of them. Among the dialects, Great Russian is the one that is most extensively used. The tongues of the Mongolian tribes that are subject to Russia are little developed, and are generally without a literature. The population of Russia presents a great variety of races, united by a political rule, by the community of the Russian language, and to a great extent by the Orthodox religion; it is characterized also by a great preponderance of the rural over the urban population, and by the presence of a high percentage of peoples or tribes with little culture of their own, and little aptitude for the assimilation of the culture of Europe.
Ethnographically the population of the Russian Empire is divided into two races, the Caucasian, which predominates, and the Mongolian. Of the total population 121,000,000, or 82.6 per cent, are Caucasians; while the Mongolian races in all Russia constitute 17 per cent of the whole population. Russians, properly so-called, constitute 87.7 per cent of the population in Western Siberia, 80 per cent in European Russia, 53.9 per cent in eastern Siberia, 8.9 per cent in central Asia, 6.7 per cent in the region of the Vistula, and 0.2 per cent in Finland. Notwithstanding the difference in types, the Russians constitute a single people, ethnographically divided into three classes, Great Russians, Little Russians, and White Russians. These three ethnographical branches are differentiated from each other by dialectical differences, domestic traditions and customs, character, and historical tradition. It is difficult to determine the zones of the three branches, or the numbers of individuals of which they consist. According to the census of 1897, there were 55,667,469 Great Russians ( Velikorussi ), 22,380,350 Little Russians ( Malorussi ), and 5,885,547 White Russians ( Bielorussi ). At present, there are 65,000,000 Great Russians. They occupy the central and northern parts of European Russia, their centres of population extending from the White Sea to the Caspian Sea and the Sea of Azoff, and are to be found also in Siberia and in the Caucasus. They have emigrated to Little Russia in considerable numbers; at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Kharkoff was inhabited almost entirely by Little Russians, but in 1897 Great Russians constituted 58 per cent of the population, and the Little Russians only 25 per cent. The Great Russians are active and energetic, and have great aptitude for commerce and work in general. They are regarded as the essentially Russian race, which has not only preserved its known ethnical characteristics under difficult conditions, but has assimilated with itself other races, especially of the Finnish stock. Their language is the predominant tongue of the Russian Empire. The small commerce of the cities is in their hands, as is also the commerce of the wines and fruit that come from Bessarabia, the Crimea and the Don, and the fish from the Black Sea and the Ural River.
The Little Russians inhabit the south of Russia and the basin of the middle and lower course of the Dnieper, and constitute 26.6 per cent of the total population of the empire. Their greatest masses are to be found in the Governments of Pultowa (93 per cent), Tchernigoff (85.6 per cent), Podolia (80.9 per cent), Kharkoff (80.6 per cent), Stavropol (80 per cent), Kieff (79.2 per cent), Volhynia (70.1 per cent), and Yekaterinoslaff (68.9 per cent). The Little Russians are an agricultural people, and remain in their native districts. Their emigrations extend only to the steppes of New Russia, and to the territories of the Don and of the Kuban rivers. Of recent times they have furnished a large contingent to the agricultural colonization of Siberia. From the standpoint of culture that of the Great Russians is superior to that of the Little Russians, although the intellectual level of Little Russia was much higher than that of Great Russia during the Polish domination. The musical and poetical talents of this people are very much developed and their popular literature abounds in beautiful songs. The difference between Great and Little Russians is not only anthropological, but is also one of temperament and character, the Little Russians protesting that they are not Muscovites; and to emphasize their antipathy for the other race, in the nineteenth century they attempted to give a literary development to their dialect.
The White Russians inhabit the forest and marsh region that is comprised between the Rivers Düna, Dnieper, Pripet, and Bug. They represent 7 per cent of the total population, and are scattered through the Governments of Vilna, Vitebsk, Grodno, Kovno, Minsk, Mohileff, Suwalki, and Yelisavetpol. Both physically and intellectually they are less developed Great and Little Russians. According to the Russians, the intellectual inferiority of that people is due to the despotism of Polish masters, under which they lived for several centuries to the loss of their nobility, which became Polish, and to the economic supremacy of the Jews. Accordingly, the White Russians are poor, ignorant, and superstitious. There is a great admixture of Polish and Lithuanian terms in their dialect. At the present time, however, national sentiment is awakening in the White Russians, who publish newspapers in their own language, and aspire to better their economic conditions.
Ethnographically, the Caucasians are Great and Little Russians. They are a race of warrior-merchants and agriculturists, who developed the characteristic traits of their social and domestic life in struggles with the Tatars and Turks. According to the statistics of 1905, there were 3,370,000 Cossacks in all Russia, or 2.3 per cent of the population of the empire. Those of the Don are Great Russians. They are famous for their military qualities in general, and in particular for the part that they took in the liberation of Moscow from Polish occupation in 1612, in the conquest of Siberia, and in the war of 1812. At present they devote themselves to agriculture, raising cattle, commerce, and military service, and they enjoy many exemptions and privileges. The Cossacks of the Urals are noted for their religious fanaticism. Those of the Kuban and of the Black Sea are of Little Russian origin. They are called Cossacks of "the Line", because, after the Russian conquest of the Caucasus, they built a line of fortified villages on the shores of the Kuban, to defend their new possessions against incursions of the so-called mountaineers of the Caucasus, the Tcherkesy, Tchetchency, Abkhazy, Osetiny, and Lezginy. In their life they have preserved the Little Russian customs and traditions.
Besides the Russian, properly so-called, there are a great many other races that belong politically to Russia. Among the Slav races within the Russian frontiers, the most numerous are the Poles, of whom there are 12,000,000, and who chiefly inhabit the region of the Vistula. The Bulgarians and Servians have emigrated to the region of New Russia since 1752, forming colonies of peasants. The Servians allowed themselves to be easily russianized; but the Bulgarians showed reluctance to this, and still preserve their national character. The Lithuanians live along the Vilia River and the lower course of the Niemen, at the Prussian frontier. Their number is given as 3,500,000. They come in succession under Russian, Polish, Finnish, and Jewish influence. They are fervent Catholics, and their economic conditions are prosperous. Their national sentiment, depressed for several centuries, has awakened in recent times, and nationalist Lithuanians seek to throw off Russian and Polish influence and to form a national literature. Related to the Lithuanians are the Letts ( Latyshi ); they are a hard-working race and have a high moral standard. Their religion is chiefly Lutheranism ; a few of them are of the Orthodox Church.
To the Germanic race belong the Germans and Swedes. The Germans of Russia live on the Baltic Sea and on the western frontier, while colonies of them are to be found in European Russia and in the region of the Volga. In the Baltic region they constitute the higher classes of the population, being for the most part merchants and artisans. They own the greater portion of the land, because, after the imperial manifesto of 19 February, 1861, they freed their serfs (Letts and Esthonians), but did not divide their lands among them. There are over 100,000 of them in this region; in that of the Vistula, there are German colonists, some of whom descend from those who were called by the Polish nobility to occupy the free lands. At the present time, the Germans are devoted chiefly to industry, and have established a great many factories, especially at Lodz. There are German colonies on the steppes, which, having the authorization of the Government and special privileges, are prosperous, but which oppose effective resistance to all attempts to russianize them. The Swedes, about 400,000 in number, are concentrated in Finland, especially in the Governments of Nyland (45 per cent) and Vasa (28.8 per cent). They constitute the aristocratic and intellectual classes of Finland ; but their political and literary influence, which was considerable, tends to diminish before the development of Finnish national sentiment.
The Romanic races are represented by about 1,000,000 Moldavians, and by the Wallachians, who inhabit Bessarabia and the western part of the Government of Kherson. They are all of the Orthodox religion, and as a rule are employed in wine production and gardening. They resemble the Little Russians both physically and morally. The Iranian races are represented by about 1,000,000 Armenians, part of whom inhabit the Little Caucasus; the rest are scattered about the Various cities of the Caucasus and in European Russia. They are famous for the beauty of their type and for their patriarchal habits. Families are to be found among them numbering as many as fifty individuals, who are ruled by the eldest of them. They devote themselves to agriculture and commerce, for the latter of which pursuits they have a special aptitude. They are Monophysites, and reject the Council of Chalcedon (Armenian-Gregorians), being under the jurisdiction of a katolicos who resides at Etchmiadzin. They have the greatest attachment to their language and the traditions of their mother-country. Among those who live in the Caucasus, there is a considerable literary culture. Several thousands of them are Catholics.
On the shores of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azoff there are several colonies of Greeks who devote themselves to agriculture, and especially to the production of tobacco. There are Greek colonies also in the chief centres of population of Russia, especially at Odessa and St. Petersburg.
The Jews are a scattered population, principally in the Governments of Western and Southern Russia. Their presence in Russia is due to emigrations of German Jews from Poland, and they still preserve their dialect of Hebrew German, which is the language of their Press. As elsewhere, they evince the greatest aptitude for commercial matters and the commerce and industry of Western Russia is in their hands. The severe laws that limit the civil rights of the Jews in Russia have concentrated the members of that race in the cities, and the number of workmen and of artisans among them is very great, making their struggle for existence very difficult. Large fortunes are to be found among the Russian Jews, but their masses constitute a proletariat that on various occasions has been the victim of cruel massacres. Among these Russian Jews there is the greatest devotion to the Jewish religion and the greatest racial brotherhood. The Government admits only a limited number of them to the establishments of higher education ; nevertheless, in the large cities, there is a great number of Jews who exercise the liberal professions, and especially that of medicine. The number of those who devote themselves to industrial pursuits increases each year.
The Finns inhabit the regions of the Baltic Sea, the Volga, and the Ural Mountains. The Finns, properly so-called, who inhabit Finland are 2,500,000 in number. For several centuries they were under the domination of Sweden, by which country they were barred from western civilization. They are famous for their honesty, love of their country and traditions (they are Lutherans ), their high intellectual level (there are scarcely any illiterate among them), the status of their women (the University of Helsingfors has six hundred women students, and the Parliament of Helsingfors has twenty-two women members), and their tenacity of character, by which they have transformed the poor soil of Finland. The progress of the Finns during the last fifty years has been considerable, but in 1910 the Government suppressed the liberty and autonomy of Finland, and possibly thereby has placed a barrier to the development of Finnish culture. The Korely, who live to the north of Lakes Ladoga and Onega, and of whom there are 210,000, are Baltic Finns ; there are also small groups of them between Lake Ilmen and the Volga. They have been more amenable to russianization, and have embraced the Orthodox faith. The Esthonians occupy the southern part of the plain of the Baltic. There are 1,300,000 of them, who constitute a class of poor peasants, among whom remain many traditions and customs of paganism. They are mostly Lutherans.
The Finns of the Volga comprise the Tcheremisy, the Mordva, and the Tchuvashi. The first, to the number of 400,000, live on the banks of the Volga, in the Governments of Kazan and of Vyatka. They were converted to Christianity by the Russian missionaries, but they remain pagans at heart, and in their customs. They devote themselves to agriculture, the chase, lumber commerce, and fishing. Their villages are small, having each not more than thirty houses. They are poor but honest, theft being regarded among them as a grave offence. The Tchuvashi are 800,000 in number; they live on the right bank of the Volga, and their chief centres of population are in the Governments of Kazan, Orenburg, Simbirsk, and Saratoff. Although they are Finns, they have adopted Russian customs, and tend more and more to become russianized. From the eighteenth century the Russian missionaries have attempted to convert them to orthodoxy, and have baptized a great number of them; but the Tchuvashi preserve a basis of paganism that is revealed in their rite and in their creed. Agriculture is their favourite pursuit, but they devote themselves also to the culture of bees, and they supply the markets of St. Petersburg with poultry and eggs.
Other less important races are mentioned by Russian geographers. The total number of the various nationalities that constitute the Russian Empire is about one hundred. Their multiplicity, which transforms Russia into a true ethnographical museum, is an obstacle in the way of civilization, to the dissemination of instruction, and to the stability of the representative system.
For the purposes of administration Russia is divided into six great territorial regions:
- (1) European Russia, properly so-called;
- (2) the Governments of the Vistula (Privislanskila gubernii);
- (3) the Grand duchy of Finland ;
- (4) the Caucasus;
- (5) Siberia ;
- (6) Central Asia.
These territories are divided into governments ( gubernii ) and provinces ( oblasti ). The governments are ruled with laws that are called "Statutes of the Governments" ( Polozhenie o guberniiazh ); the provinces, besides the general laws have special laws that are made necessary by the great number of non-Russians and of the non-Orthodox who inhabit those regions. The governments are divided into districts called uiezdy , and the provinces into districts called okrugi . The number of these districts, both in the governments and provinces, varies from four to fifteen. The districts are divided into volosti, selskiia obshestva , etc. The okrugi are divided into military, judicial, scholastic, postal, etc. In European Russia there are seven gradonatchalstva , i.e., cities that have administrations independent of the governments and provinces in which they are situated: these are St. Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa, Rostoff-on-the-Don, Sebastopol, Kertch-Yenikale, and Nikolaieff. Kronstadt constitutes a separate military government.
European Russia contains fifty-nine governments and two provinces. The governments of the Vistula, consisting of the territory of the former Kingdom of Poland that was annexed to Russia ( carstvo polskoe ), belong to European Russia. They enjoyed a certain autonomy until the revolution of 1863 led the Russian Government to suppress all their privileges and to employ every means for their russianization. After the liberal edicts of 1905 it was hoped that autonomy would be restored to the Russian Poles; but these hopes are far from being realized. The Grand duchy of Finland, which was united to Russia in 1809 as an integral part of the empire, enjoyed a special autonomy that gave an admirable development to the culture and prosperity of that land. The Finns had a code of special laws a diet, senate, bank, coinage, and postal service. After 1905 there was universal suffrage, and the new chamber of deputies admitted women also to its membership. In 1910, however, the Duma approved a bill relating to Finland, which, if carried into effect, would bring Finnish autonomy to an end. Finland is divided into eight governments. In the Caucasus, where the Russian population is in a minority, besides the various governments, there are provinces where special laws are in force. Siberia is divided into governments and provinces. Among the latter the Island of Sakhalin, with an area of 14,836 sq. miles, has a population of 17,900. The southern portion of this island, however, was ceded to Japan by the treaty of Portsmouth, 16-29 August, 1905. The governments and provinces of Siberia are eight in number. Asiatic Russia has provinces ( oblasti ) only, because the Russians constitute only a small minority of the population.
AGRICULTURE, AND CONDITION OF THE PEASANTS.
Russia is a great agricultural nation; three-quarters of its population derive their support from the soil, which furnishes the most important resources of the country. The statistics concerning agriculture date from 1877-78, and were collected by the Central Committee of Statistics. More precise information was gathered by the same committee in 1886-88, and in 1905. According to the latest of these statistics, there were in European Russia, exclusive of the Kingdom of Poland, 1,067,019,596 acres of cultivated land, besides 17,609,124 acres in the Kalmuck steppes, and 19,133,296 in the steppes of the Kirghiz. The cultivated lands are divided into three classes:
- (1) private property (274,685,426 acres);
- (2) lands granted by the government to the peasants or nadiel'nyja zemli (374,672,484 acres);
- (3) lands belonging to the treasury, the churches, monasteries, cities, and institutions (417,661,685).
A comparison of these statistics with those of 1877 shows that in 1905 the lands owned by the nobles had diminished in area by 53,851,008 acres, and those of foreign subjects by 341,679 acres. On the other hand the landed property of the peasants had increased by 20,051,428 acres, and that of the other social classes had increased proportionately. In Siberia all the land, except the southern part of the Government of Tomsk which belongs to the imperial family, is the property of the Government, for as yet only a small portion has been granted to public and private institutions.
The state lands of European Russia are distributed very irregularly. In the Governments of Archangel, Olonetz, and Vologda, the State owns from 83 to 90 per cent of the land; in the region of Tchernozom, 5 per cent, and in the Governments of Pultowa, Bessarabia, and in Esthonia less than 1 per cent. The lands granted to the peasants occupy more than half of the Governments of Orenburg, Vyatka, Ufa, Kazan, Penza, Voronezh, Samara, the Province of the Don, Vladimir, Ryazan, Kursk, Moscow, Kaluga, Kharkoff, Tchernigoff, and Pultowa. Of the lands that are private property, 52 per cent belong to the nobility, 24 per cent to the peasants, 16 per cent to the merchants, and the remainder is divided among other classes. The possessions of the nobility are chiefly in the Baltic region, Lithuania, and the Governments of Minsk, Perm, Podolia, and Kieff. In the period between 1860 and 1905 the rural property of the nobility, which had reached 213,300,000 acres, was reduced to 143,100,000 acres. The great landowners, possessing more than 2700 acres each, are chiefly in the eastern governments and in those of the Baltic. The arable lands of the Kingdom of Poland occupy an area of 30,312,168 acres of which 44.56 per cent belong to private owners, 45.58 per cent to the peasants through government concessions, 4.02 per cent to the cities, and 5.84 per cent to the churches and other institutions. The land belonging to the churches and monasteries in the whole of European Russia, including Poland, is estimated at 0.6 per cent of all the arable land of that division of the empire.
There are 591,788 rural villages in European Russia, with a total population of 81,050,300, of whom 84.5 per cent are peasants. According to statistics, 38.8 per cent of the total surface is forest; 26.2 per cent is arabic land; 19.1 per cent is land not available for cultivation; and 15.9 per cent is prairies and pasture lands. The lands unavailable for cultivation are the salt steppes, the marshes, and the tundras . In Finland these lands occupy 35.6 per cent of the country, and the proportion is still greater in Siberia and Turkestan, where the arable land is only 2 per cent.
The "extensive" and the "intensive" systems of cultivation are variously applied in Russia, according to the region. In the governments of Northern Russia (Archangel, Olonetz, Vologda, Novgorod, and in parts of Yaroslaff, Kostroma, Vyatka, and Perm) the system called podsietchnaja obtains, consisting in stripping and uprooting the forests, planting wheat on their sites for intervals of from three to nine years, and then allowing the forests to grow up again when the fertility of the soil has been exhausted. In the Governments of Kherson, Yekaterinoslaff, Taurida, Stavropol, Orenburg, the Province of the Urals, and the Province of the Don Cossacks is practised the method called zalezhnaia (Fr. jachère ). This consists in cultivating the land while its productive power endures; then it is transformed into pasture, and its cultivation is not resumed for an interval of ten, twelve, or fifteen years, as occasion may require. The intensive method of agriculture obtains in the central governments of Russia, in the zone of Tchernozom, and in other governments. A field is divided into three sections; in the first, winter grain (rye, corn) is sown; in the second, a crop of summer grain is put in (wheat, barley, oats); and in the third, grass for pasture is allowed to grow; each year the crop of each section is changed for one of the other two, thus allowing each section to rest once in three years. In the regions of the Vistula and the Baltic and in the south-western part of Finland the intensive system of agriculture obtains; no portion of the land remains untilled, but the peasants sow seed and plant vegetables in alternate years, so as not to exhaust the productiveness of the soil. In several regions, especially in the Caucasus, in Daghestan, Transcaucasia, and Turkestan, a remedy is found for the aridity of the soil in irrigation by means of canals. In other regions of a marshy character the work of draining the swamps is carried on, at times by the Government, and at times by private parties. In Podlachia alone, from 1874 to 1892, there were reclaimed 6,210,000 acres of swamp lands. The same kind of work was accomplished in Siberia.
Russia is a great cereal-producing country. According to the statistics of 1908, in 73 governments (63 in Russian Europe, 1 in Transcaucasia, 4 in Siberia, and 5 in Central Asia ), out of 327,642,983 acres of land, 56.2 per cent were devoted to the culture of cereals, 3.2 per cent to the culture of the potato, 13.9 per cent to the oat crop, and 26.7 per cent to artificial meadow lands. In 1908 the grain crop amounted to 48,000,000 tons; the potato crop yielded 29,000,000 tons; oats, 13,000,000 tons, and hay from artificial meadows, 47,000,000 tons. The governments that are the most productive of cereals are those of Bessarabia, Kherson, Taurida, Yekaterinoslaff, and the Province of the Don Cossacks. As a cereal-producing country, Russia is the second in the world, the United States being the first. The development of potato culture, which was introduced into Russia in 1767, is notable. The grain that Russia produces is not only sufficient to supply the home market, but also constitutes one of the chief exports. The amount of it that is exported amounts on an average to 15,000,000 tons a year. It should be noticed, however, that in proportion to the area of the empire, the grain production of Russia is not high: Germany, France, and Austria, the combined area of which countries is only one-third of that of European Russia, produce together more grain than is produced in all Russia.
There are abundant crops of other staples, also, that Russia produces; these are the flax crop, which yields 500,000 tons a year, produced in several of the governments of the north-east, north-west, and south; hemp, 400,000 tons; cotton, raised in Transcaucasia and Turkestan, especially in the Province of Ferghana, annual yield more than 170,000 tons. Tobacco was introduced into Russia in the seventeenth century; its use was prohibited by severe laws but was allowed from the time of Peter the Great; it is cultivated in the Governments of Tchernigoff, Pultowa, Samara, Saratoff, Taurida, Bessarabia, Kuban, etc. Its annual yield is about 100,000 tons, while the lands that are devoted to its cultivation cover an area of 1,755,000 acres. The principal tobacco factories are at St. Petersburg, Moscow, Riga, Kieff, and Odessa. The culture of beets, introduced into Russia about the beginning of the nineteenth century, has been greatly developed during the last thirty years, there being now devoted to it an aggregate area of 1,485,000 acres, the greater portion of which is in the Governments of Kieff and Podolia, the annual crop amounting to 10,000 tons. Wine is not extensively produced in Russia, and is of inferior quality. The best vineyards are in the Crimea, in Kakhetia, and in the Province of the Don Cossacks. There are 729,000 acres devoted to vine culture, and the yearly product amounts to not more than 88 million gallons. The Government seeks to encourage the home production of wine by very high duties on foreign wines. The culture of vegetables and fruit is not greatly developed; market gardens thrive in the neighbourhood of the large cities, especially in the District of Rostoff, and in the Governments of Saratoff and Samara. The production of fruit is abundant in Transcaucasia and the Crimea.
According to the statistics of 1908 there were in Russia 140,656,000 head of cattle, namely, 28,723,000 horses, 42,031,000 horned cattle, 57,466,000 sheep and goats, and 12,436,000 hogs. The horned cattle are scattered over the whole of European Russia: the cattle of Siberia are of a better class, on account of the abundance of forests. There are numerous breeds of horses in Russia, and special establishments are devoted to the improvement of these breeds in the Province of the Don Cossacks and the Governments of Voronezh, Kherson, Tamboff, Pultowa, and Kharkoff. The annual product from the sheep is calculated at 120 000,000 roubles (1 rouble=52 cents U. S. A.). The best wool is produced by the flocks of the Governments of Novgorod and Voronezh, of the Volga, the Vistula, the Baltic, the Caucasus, and Turkestan. The raising of hogs is especially pursued in the Governments of Minsk and Volhynia. The chicken industry flourishes in Western and Central Russia; fowls and eggs are exported and yield an annual income of more than 70,000,000 roubles, of which 61,000,000 are for eggs. The yearly production of honey is nearly 26,000 tons, and wax 5000 tons, yielding an aggregate income of from 15,000,000 to 20,000,000 roubles. The culture of the silk-worm is being developed, chiefly in the Governments of Bessarabia, Kherson, and Taurida, and in Turkestan and the Caucasus. The yearly production of silk amounts to about 1000 tons.
The condition of the peasants, although greatly improved, is far from being prosperous, and the agrarian question is one of the gravest with which Russian statesmen have to deal. Prior to 1861, or since 1592 according to some authorities, 1649 according to others, the peasants were legally reduced to servitude ( kriepostnoe pravo ). They were under serfdom to the landowners, were attached to the soil, and were not allowed to change their place of residence or dispose freely of their property ; they were obliged to cultivate the lands of their employers and pay a tax to the State. The pomieshshiki , or landowners, became so many little tsars, and t
Join the Movement
When you sign up below, you don't just join an email list - you're joining an entire movement for Free world class Catholic education.
Mysteries of the Rosary
Saint of the Day for Saturday, Dec 3rd, 2022
Female / Women Saints
St. Francis Xavier
Saints & Angels
A Guide for Confession
Prayer of the Day for Saturday, Dec 3
Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Daily Readings for Sunday, December 04, 2022
- St. John of Damascus: Saint of the Day for Sunday, December 04, 2022
- Thanks for Family and Friends: Prayer of the Day for Sunday, December 04, 2022
- Daily Readings for Saturday, December 03, 2022
- St. Francis Xavier: Saint of the Day for Saturday, December 03, 2022
- Prayer to Saint Therese De Lisieux for Guidance: Prayer of the Day for Saturday, December 03, 2022
Copyright 2022 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2022 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.