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the nature of the soil, and the proximity of both regions to other
natural resources are strikingly similar; coal and copper and
iron being found in convenient localities in both regions. In
both cases, also, vast forests and outlying pasture lands sur-
round the margins, and great river systems facilitate all kinds
of internal commerce. Even with the present methods of ex-
tensive, and consequently low-grade cultivation, this portion
of the United States sustains a population of 26,000,000 or
forty-five to the square mile of arable land; while the corre-
sponding portion of Siberia now has a population of only about
5,000,000, or about ten to the square mile. Even, therefore,
when this portion of Siberia attains the stage of progress
already reached in the Mississippi Valley, it will have a popu-
lation of about 25,000,000; while, upon reaching the stage of
development already attained in the most highly cultivated por-
tions of European Russia, it will easily sustain a population of

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Two Market Scenes at Omsk.

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Wasted Water Power

The utilization of the water-power of Siberia is likewise one
of the most feasible means of promoting the internal welfare.
The line of mining and agricultural interests in Central Siberia
is bordered on the south by a lofty mountain ridge ; which con-
denses the vapors from the skies, and sends floods of water
down through innumerable river channels where there is
power enough wasted to provide, when properly used, for all
the transportation and lighting of the region, and possibly to
a considerable extent to furnish the homes with warmth, thus
dispelling the two elements of discomfort and gloom which
now characterize the long winter nights. The Angara River
is as large and as constant as the Niagara, and its fall be-
tween Lake Baikal and Irkutsk is half as great as that
between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. There is no rea-
son why it should not be utilized in the interests of all
the region about Irkutsk as the Niagara is for that about Buf-

One can, also, easily see, upon no distant look into the future,
that the enormous forest belt in Siberia will be a source of
untold wealth to the country. Railroads will in due time
penetrate all that r^on as they have penetrated the similar
but smaller areas in Michigan and Wisconsin, and put within
reach of the people in the agricultural district cheap lumber
for their houses, thus enabling them by an easy exchange of
their produce to maintain the high standard of comfort to
which they have become used in the early settlement of the
country, by reason of close proximity of the forests to their

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farms. By improving the means of transportation, a practical
proximity can be indefinitely maintained.

Summer Resorts

Another attractive element throughout the whole of the
Asiatic dominions is to be found in the accessibility everywhere
of summer resorts. This great advantage arises from the fact
that the more thickly settled portion of country is always to
be along the agricultural belt threaded by the Trans-Siberian
railroad, where the main centers of population must continue
to be. But over comparatively short distances up the rivers,
and over branch railroads which are sure to be built, the
crowded population can easily reach those attractive mountain
heights which can never be utilized by a permanent population,
but where pleasure and health resorts will find every provision
of nature for their requirements. A celebrated mineral spring
in the Minusinsk district already attracts invalids from all over
Western Siberia. The picturesque valleys and the glacier-clad
summits of the Altai and Sayan Mountains present scenery
as attractive as that of the Alps. Lake Baikal, also, is so
completely surrounded by mountains that it must ever retain
the grandest solitudes of the world where the weary can find
rest, thus amply compensating for the lack of seaside resorts
which is incident to a country so far in the interior.

In view of the prospective development of the mining in-
terests and fisheries, the utilization of the forest products,
as well as of the enlargement of the arable area and the in-
creased fertility effected by scientific processes, it is within

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the limits of reason to expect that there will be in Siberia
alone a population of 50,000,000 at the close of the twentieth
century, and of 100,000,000 by the middle of the twenty-first.

The agricultural resources of the other portions of Russia's
Asiatic dominion have been more fully developed, вАФ ^Turkestan
and the Caucasus being the seats of some of the oldest civiliza-
tions of the world where agriculture has at times attained its
highest perfection. Indeed it would seem from the reports of
the historians recounting the triiunphal march of Jenghiz Khan
in the thirteenth century, and later Tamerlane, that Central
Asia was then much more densely populated than now; sev-
eral cities like Samarkand, Balkh, and Merv having popula-
tions of several hundred thousands each; while everywhere
throughout the agricultural belt bordering the mountains there
is abundant evidence of much more extensive irrigation than is
practiced at the present day.


Although there is much reason to suppose that formerly the
rainfall throughout this region was greater than it is at the
present time, it is not probable that the diminution has taken
place to any appreciable extent during the last few hundred
years, so that there would seem no difficulty, from lack of
water, of restoring again the agricultural prosperity which char-
acterized the country in the time of Tamerlane and Jenghiz
Khan. The belt of fertile loess which borders the high moun-
tains is by no means all brought under cultivation, nor is the
water of the mountain streams all utilized for purposes of

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irrigation. It needs only a wise central government, with power
to carry out comprehensive plans to secure astonishmg results
in enlarging the area of cultivation.

In the province of Semirechensk a large part of the water
of its seven streams is permitted to pass through the loess belt
in deep-cut channels, leaving the soil unfertilized, and the water
to waste itself in the pestilential lagoons surrounding Lake
Balkash. The Aral Sea likewise still receives the larger part of
the life-giving streams coming down from the lofty heightis of
the western part of the Tian-Shan range, through the channels
of the Syr Daria and the Amu Daria. While protecting all
the interests of the lower part of these rivers, an immense
amoimt of water now wasted might easily be diverted to the
rich loess-covered areas near the mountains which are now
barren from lack of moisture. Of course, to secure these ad-
vantages in the upper portions of the river valleys without in-
terfering with the interests of the population depending upon
the water in the lower part of their courses is a problem of
the greatest delicacy and difficulty, and will tax to the utmost
both the political wisdom and the scientific skill of the gov-
erning race. But no doubt it can be done, and the pressure
of the increasing population which is sure to follow, and is
already following, the settled condition of things under Rus-
sian occupation, will compel attention to these natural means
for the increase of the agricultural resources. We may there-
fore look forward to the abolition at no distant day of both
Lake Balkash and the Aral Sea ; for all the water which now
reaches them may as well be evaporated from fertile irrigated

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fields as from these useless lake basins. Whereas the present
population of these central Asiatic provinces amounts to only
a little over 5,000,000, it may, like that in Egypt under English
rule, be easily doubled before the middle of the twentieth cen-
tury and without much difficulty quadrupled by the end of the

Western Turkestan, now occupied by the Russian provinces
in Central Asia, has always maintained a remarkable degree of
self-dependence, being shut off from conunerce with the out-
side world, except by the expensive methods of camel transpor-
tation. It has exported little but products of the most costly
character, and imported only delicacies so expensive as to be
within the reach of none but the rich, and objects of taste
appreciated only by the few. The natural products of the
coxmtry, however, have been sufficiently varied to provide for
all the legitimate wants of a large and self-respecting popula-
tion. With the advent of modem science and political sta-
bility, one can easily foresee an immense development of in-
ternal resources, and such an enlarged use of forces now going
to waste, that the whole aspect of the country will be trans-
formed in the course of two or three generations.

Improvements in Transportation

It is hardly possible to overestimate the waste of power ex-
pended in the traditional mode of transportation throughout all
Central Asia. The camel and the horse constm[ie for trans-
portation the food that otherwise would sustain herds of cattle
and flocks of sheep which provide sustenance and clothing and

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shelter for a nomadic people, and furnish them with means of
valuable commercial exchange. As it is, these millions of
beasts of burden are wasting both the natural forces stored
up in their own muscles and the lives of an innumerable num-
ber of attendants in doing what the direct forces of nature
could accomplish without consuming the natural resources,
upon which all are dependent for their very life.

The Transcaspian railroad has already displaced the long
camd trains between the Caspian Sea and Tashkent, while the
fires of their engines are fed by crude petroleum, which is now,
for the most part, brought from Baku, but which will doubtless
in due time be obtained in large quantities in many other places.
Indeed, Alexander the Great " struck oil " in the vicinity of
Samarkand 2,200 years ago ; but, as oil was not what he then
most wanted, and its value was not recognized, the incident
has simply come down to us as an incredible story of early
legendary history. It is, however, related in all the standard
histories, that, when suffering from a lack of water in the
desert near Samarkand, he ordered a well to be sunk in the
sand, and finding oil at the bottom of it instead of water, be
turned away in disgust. Thus narrowly did he escape being
the Oil King of Asia rather than the conqueror of India. In
recent years the indications of petroleum which have been
found in various portions of Turkestan are such as justly to
warrant great expectations for the future. Coal, also, is found
in abundance in the mountains east of Samarkand and Kokand,
and all along the base of the mountains extending from Tash-
kent to Clumkent, and Auleata ; also farther east, in the vici^ .y

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of Kuldja, about the headwaters of the Chu. Doubtless, also,
it exists in great quantities throughout much of the intervening
unexplored r^on.

Iron, also, is found throughout the entire district in close
proximity to the coal. So that the future traveler will not be
likely to meet, as he now does in this region, long caravans of
camels carrying iron upon their backs 500 miles from any line
of steam transportation. The country itself is able from its
own resources to supply all these coarser necessities of ad-
vanced civilization.

At the present time the termination of the Transcaspian Rail-
road is at Tashkent, but there is every reason for it to extend
along the whole length of the thickly settled irrigated border
to Semipalatinsk, on the Irtysh River, a distance of one thou-
sand two hundred miles, where it would meet the vast internal
system of water communication connected with the Irtysh
River. More likely, however, it will be extended farther on,
around the border of the Altai Mountains, through Barnaul and
Kusnetsk, to join the main Trans-Siberian line at Mariinsk
or Achinsk, on the watershed between the Qiu and the Yenisei
about one hundred miles west of Krasnoyarsk. Another line of
railroad very likely soon to be demanded would extend from
Tashkent down the valley of the Syr Daria to the north end
of the Aral Sea, and thence along the old caravan route to
Orenburg, a distance of about one thousand miles, where it
would be directly connected with the great railroad system of
European Russia.

All this is along lines already projected for the accommoda-

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tion of internal commerce. At the same time an outlet to the
external world already provided for in treaties between Russia
and Persia will reach the Persian Gulf somewhere near Ben-
derabas. Indeed, the Russian end of this line has been for
some time completed from Merv to the border of Afghanistan
near Herat, a distance of about 250 miles. An extension of
700 or 800 miles would carry this road through some of the
most populous portions of Afghanistan and Persia to a com-
modious harbor upon the Persian Gtdf, where an easy exchange
of the more valuable products could be made with the rest of
the world.

Importance of Home Manufactures

But it is not to foreign commerce that we are to look for
the promotion of the largest interests in Siberia. This is
rather to be found in the development of her own rich re-
sources which so abundantly fit her to maintain an independent
civilization. What Siberia needs, and is in the way of speedily
securing, is the enlargement of her internal commerce through
the development of her mines and manufactories and the utiliza-
tion of her forests and her water-power. Her ag^culturalists
most of all need a home market where the profits will not be
all absorbed in transportation of coarse material. For the
securing of this she has every facility at hand. Her coal de*
posits throughout much of the steppe region of Akmolinsk and
Semipalatinsk, and in the provinces of Tomsk, Irkutsk, Trans-
baikalia, and in the lower part of the valley of the Amur, as
well as in the vicinity of Vladivostok and the Island of Sak-

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halin, are sufficient to supply the wants of a great nation for
a long time to come ; while iron abounds in close proximity in
the Altai Mountains near Minusinsk, and in the provinces of
Irkutsk and Transbaikalia. Even though the production of
iron and other manufactured products necessarily should be
more expensive than in the more favored localities in other
parts of the world, the advantage to the agriculturalist of
having a market near at hand where he can save the cost of
long transportation, would be the diflFerence between comfort
and penury

As already suggested with reference to Siberia, a possible,
and in view of recent scientific developments a by no means
improbable, source of power for a large part of these railroad
lines, and for other industries, is the electricity which can easily
be developed from the innumerable waterfalls of the region.
Through the entire length of the Transcaspian line and its
suggested projection to Central Siberia, it runs near the base
of one of the loftiest mountain chains in the world. Through
much of this way glacier-clad summits provide the perennial
streams which serve for irrigation, and in that service trans-
form the margin of the desert into a blooming garden. But
in the descent of these streams from the summits of the Hindu
Kush, the Alai Tagh, the Tian-Shan, the Ala-tau, and the
Altai ranges, and from the high plateaus of Afghanistan and
the Pamir, there now must be waste power enough to meet the
needs both of the transportation of the entire country, and of
its manufacturing interests.

Or, if the power now wasted in the water which is permitted

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to descend from these lofty summits to the plains without use,
is not sufficient for both these purposes, there is at hand
through all Central Asia the unlimited resource of the fierce
direct rays of sunlight reaching the earth through a cloudless
sky. Here in sight of the grand scenery of glacier-clad moun-
tains, and amid the rich verdure of irrigated fields where there
is everything that the earth produces to supply the bodily wants
of man, Ericsson with his perfected machines for transform-
ing the direct heat of the sun into mechanical action would
have had his source of power almost always available. In Bok-
hara and Samarkand, one half the days in the year are cloud-
less, while only sixty days in the year are sufficiently clouded
materially to shield the earth from the sun's heat.

Trans-Caucasia has been so long the meeting-place for the
most enterprising races of the world, and has had such ready
means of communicating with outside nations through the
Caspian and the Black seas, that it has more nearly reached
the limit of its development, having, in its 94,000 square miles
of territory, a population of more than five and one half mil-
lions, averaging sixty-four to the square mile, or nearly twice
that of the northern central division of the United States and
three times that of the United States considered as a whole.
When we consider that much of this territory lies in the moun-
tainous districts of the Caucasus and of Armenia, it would
seem that the limit of population had been nearly reached.
Nevertheless, it is true that a large portion of the lower valley
of the Kur remains a desert because of a deficiency of rainfall
and the lack of a comprehensive system of irrigation; while

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the mineral resources of the mountain regions are far from
being developed to their full extent. Under stable govern-
ment and the wise application of modem improvements there
is still large opportunity for an increasing population to find
comfortable subsistence and profitable means of employment.
Looking at Asiatic Russia as a whole and with its present
limits, it is therefore easily within the bounds of possibility,
and even of probability, to expect that before the close of the
twentieth century it will have a population of 100,000,000, pro-
vided a stable government can be maintained and peace be
permitted to reign, so that man shall be unhindered in his
efforts to perfect his conquests over the powers of nature.
With this vision before him it is not surprising that the Tsar
should long for peace, nor that he should be almost alone in
this desire ; for, more than any other country in the world, Rus-
sia is in position to obtain the main objects of national ambition
through the next one hundred years by turning attention to the
development of the internal resources of her own empire. Ap-
parently there are operating within her body politic all the
forces which, if wisely guided, will secure the highest objects
of national ambition, namely, a steady increase of population,
accompanied by a corresponding increase in the material sup-
plies necessary for the comfort of the people, and for that
association with one another and contact with the outer world
which is necessary to foster the highest social and intellectual

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IN considering the possibility that the foregoing ideal shall be
even approximately realized, we shall find that the forces
already in operation seem sufficient and the ccmditions pe-
culiarly favorable for its attainment.

Siberia for the Russians

First, it augurs well for the Siberian part of Russia that
it is not open to indiscriminate immigration, but that it has been
reserved for the natural increase of the indigenous population
and for Russia emigrants. In this way a unity can be pre-
served that would not otherwise be possible. Nor will there
be, on this account, any great delay in the occupation of the
country. With the present birth-rate continuing as it does in
Russia and among the Russian settlers in Siberia, the growth
of the country will be as rapid as any one could reasonably

In many respects the conditions are the same as those which
prevailed in the United States during the first half of the nine-
teenth century, when there was scarcely any immigration, but


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the increase was almost wholly due to the high birth-rate pre-
vailing among the English settlers already in the country.
From this source alone, the population continued to double
every twenty or twenty-one years, the per cent of annual in-
crease in each decennial period averaging 3.30. Whereas in
1800 there were 5,308483, in 1850 there were 23,191,876. But
from that time on, notwithstanding the inmiense immigration,
the rate of increase has diminished ; so that, at the end of the
nineteenth century the population is only 75,620,859. In other
words, the natural increase during the first half of the century
was more than fourfold; while the total increase during the
last half of the century, including the enormous immigration,
was only a little over threefold.

It is therefore entirely possible for Siberia alone, at the end
of the twentieth century, to have a homogeneous population
larger than the United States possessed at the end of the nine-
teenth century. The " sum of being " in Siberia may be as
great if it is kept exclusively for the Russians as it would be
if, like the United States, the doors were flung wide open for
immigration from all parts of the world with the introduction
of the diverse elements of thought and social life which that

Cheapness of Travel

Secondly, the Siberian settlers at the beginning of the twen-
tieth century have at their conmiand all the resources for
maintaining unity and securing development which modern
science can furnish. Through the advent of steamboats upon

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her rivers, the towns along twenty-seven thousand miles of
navigable rivers are all brought within easy communication
with each other; while the construction of one or two short
canals, and of a few locks to avoid rapids in the upper portion
of some of the larger rivers, will greatly increase even this im-
mense extent of internal river navigation. The completion of
the railroad system already planned and largely constructed,
combined with the low rates of passenger tariff secured by the
" zone system," brings the population even of the most distant
parts within easy reach of the main centers of civilization. By
this system, the diminution of rates is such that long distances
can be covered at very little cost. While first-class rates, for
instance, which secure sleeping accommodations, are 2.9 cents
per mile for short distances, they are only 2.25 cents for dis-
tances of from 200 to 300 miles, 1.75 for 500 miles, 1.33 for
1,000 miles, 1.06 for 2,000 miles, .96 for 3,000, and .9 for
5,000. The second-class rates, which also provide for sleeping
accommodations, range from 1.8 cents for short distances, to
1 .33 for 200 miles, i .25 for 300, i .20 for 500, and so on down
to .54 for 4,000; while the third-class range from i.i cents
per mile for the short distances down to .36 for long distances ;
and the fourth class, which provide box cars in which whole
families can ride with their goods in measurable comfort, are
at even lower rates. At the same time the cost of living is
brought down to the lowest point to travelers by the provisions
which are made for securing food at all prominent stations;
boiling water, as already said, being provided without cost, so
that their tea and soup can be made as cheaply as at home.

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Owing to these cheap rates, one is surprised at the vast amount
of travel in every direction along the Siberian roads ; while the
steamboats which intersect the railroad at various points carry
passengers of all grades at still lower rates. All this is a very
important element in maintaining the unity of feeling which
characterizes the Siberian settlements.

The Postal System

Thirdly, the postal system of Siberia has long been a model

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Online LibraryH[enry] Justin RoddyComplete geography → online text (page 11 of 22)