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all Asia and become the autocrat of the world. It will be ob-
served that Russia's expansion has been chiefly toward the
east into thinly settled countries where the conflict was more
with nature than with man, and that it has been between
parallels of latitude where the conditions of life are closely
similar to those in the home land. A study of the history of
the occupation which has so far taken place shows, also, that
the territory acquired has been obtained by much less war and
bloodshed than is usually the case in territorial conquests.

Expansion in Asia Logical and Natural

After the first sharp contest of Yermak with the Tartars of
the Tobol, there was little occasion for warfare until reaching
Central Siberia, when the Buriats and others put up a vigorous
opposition for a while, but soon were able to live side by side
with their conquerors in peace and mutual respect. In some

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FOREIGN RELATIONS 473

of the northeastern portions, especially among the Koriaks,
there were scenes of indescribable bloodshed and horror; but
when these are compared with those connected with the occupa-
tion by other nations, of the United States, of Africa, and of
India, they seem relatively insignificant; while the possession
of the entire valley of the Amur and the Usuri was obtained
from Qiina by a peaceable treaty won by the persistence of
Muravieff in a policy that was continually discouraged by the
ministry at St. Petersburg.

At the same time, possession of Transcaucasia was obtained
by the abdication of the King of Georgia in favor of the Tsar,
because, under the pressure of the Mohammedan powers, he
was unable to maintain his independence. The conquest of
the entire Caucasus came as a natural and necessary result
from this heritage. The occupation of Turkestan has, also,
come about largely through the voluntary submission of the
Kirghiz Tartars when they needed the aid of Russia to pro-
tect them against the violence of their Usbeg and Turkoman
neighbors. The advance of Russia to the mountain border of
the great central Asiatic Plateau therefore became necessary
both for the protection of her own citizens and for the general
preservation of peace.

The occupation of Manchuria, likewise, has come about
through natural causes which were imperative, and which need
not endanger the relations of the empire to other nations. The
general good required that the increasing population m Eastern
Siberia should have ready access to a port upon the Pacific
Ocean. This China granted to the Russians by the treaty of



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474 ASIATIC RUSSIA

Peking, permitting the building of the Chinese Eastern railway
to connect Siberia with Vladivostok and Port Arthur. Un-
fortunately the revolution in China of 1900 led to the violation
of these treaty rights on the part of the Chinese, who allowed,
and even commanded, their troops to destroy the very prop-
erty which they had pledged themselves to protect, and made
it necessary for the Russians to resort to temporary military
occupation. If, as seems probable, the Chinese shall be so
slow in recovering themselves that Russia shall have to retain
the country permanently under her protection, even that will
not be a calamity of great magnitude to the rest of the world ;
while it would probably be of as great advantage to Manchuria
itself (which is but thmly settled) as the occupation of Tur-
kestan has been to that fertile but disorganized r^on.

Additional Railroads Needed

Nor is the railroad across Manchuria the only one which
the interests of mankind demand in that r^on. A saving of
about 900 miles for the cc»nmerce between Siberia and China
would be effected by a railroad extending from Kiakhta across
the Mongolian Desert to Peking on the seacoast by way of
Kalgan. This has long been the favorite caravan route be-
tween China and Russia, and presents no serious engineering
difficulties. As far as Urga, the country is fertile and well-
watered and capable of sustaining a much larger population
than is possible under the present nomadic conditions; while
even across the so-called Desert of Gobi, there is everywhere
sufficient pasturage for camels and horses, and wells are more



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FOREIGN RELATIONS 475

frequent than they are in many places in the Transcaspian
region. At Kalgan the raih-oad would reach the most impor-
tant point of traffic and commerce in Northwestern China.

A glance at the map will also show that the Russian posses-
sions in Central Asia are likewise in great need of direct rail-
road connection across Persia to the Indian Ocean. There can
be no question that the general good requires that such a vast
and growing population as there is in Turkestan should have
free access for its surplus products to the markets of the world.
If the interests of the United States demand a canal across the
Isthmus of Panama, much more is Asiatic Russia in need of
free channels of communication with the whole outside world.
But it is not likely, if we judge the future by the past, that the
opening of these lines of traffic will lead to extensive Russian
colonization or military occupation.

The Russian colonist has not heretofore readily entered into
competition with those who were in acttial occupation of their
own country. The Russian emigrant finds himself most at
home when called upon to subdue the wild forces of nature,
and has never ventured where he would become a dose com-
petitor of densely populated regions. Nothing would be more
out of its element than a Russian colonist in India, or a Rus-
sian agriculturist in China. As it is, the Siberian peasant is
jealous of the new emigrants from his own country who are
restricting by their presence the free occupation of waste land
to which the pioneers were accustomed. Much less could the
Russian peasant with his habits of agriculture, compete side
by side with the agricultural methods of the Chinese.



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476 ASIATIC RUSSIA

Irrepressible Factors in the Eastern Question
And this brings us face to face with the great problem of
the Orient, and the irrepressible conflict already b^^inning
there, which is to tax to the utmost the wisdom of the states-
men of three great nations. In China the Russian glacier meets
an obstacle similar to that which confronts it on its western
border. Russia's expansion toward the east has been largely
due to the fact that there was no room to expand on the west,
since that territory was fully occupied by a dense and well-
organized population. In China she meets a still more dense,
though less thoroughly organized population; so that in the
advance of Russia in that direction we seem to have a repeti-
tion of the old problem concerning the results which would
follow when an irresistible meets an immovable.

To be sure there is in Manchuria, and to some extent in
Mongolia, much land still to be possessed, but not enough to
postpone the conflict for any great length of time. China is
irresistible by reason both of her vast numbers and of the fru-
gality, industry, and remarkable virility of her people. The Chi-
nese cannot be displaced by immigrants, as the inhabitants of the
thinly populated and barbarous regi<Mis of Siberia, America, and
Africa have been. Indeed, all bordering nations are taxed to the
utmost to prevent being overwhelmed by Chinese emigrants
who are seeking relief from the crowded conditions and sharp
competition which everywhere prevail in the Celestial Empire.
In the very nature of thmgs, China must be for the Chinese,
and Russia must adjust herself to live, in the future, side by
side with a powerful nation bounding ker upon the southeast,



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FOREIGN RELATIONS 477

as she now lives side by side with the powerful nations of
Central Europe.

With Japan, also, will she be compelled to make permanent
terms of peace. With this enterprising island empire controll-
ing the sea and compelled by the rapid increase of her popula-
tion and the limitations of her own territory to seek foreign
trade and colonial expansion, the competition between the two
countries must be sharp in the extreme; while the hazard of
international complications will always be imminent. Indeed,
when one reflects upon the capacity of these three great nations
to increase in population to twice their present number by the
middle of the century, and to four times the number at the
close of the century, it is enough to make him stand aghast at
the difficulty and the imperiousness of the problem which con-
fronts their statesmen.

It were in vain to hope that in this case more than in the
case of other nations in other periods of history, Russia, China,
and Japan should each be as much interested in the welfare of
others as she is in her own. All that can be hoped is that each
nation shall follow a policy of enlightened self-interest, which
would certainly lead each to be strong in its own defense, so
that it shall not invite by its weakness attack from foreign
powers ; and further than this to develop to the utmost the re-
sources peculiar to each country, and to encourage those re-
ligious and social ideas and conditions, which shall secure the
high development of the individual units of society rather than
the mere multiplication of numbers. Under the present social
conditions in China in which every woman is expected to marry



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478 ASIATIC RUSSIA

at a very early age, infanticide, pestilence, and famine are the
only relief to the overcrowded population, except it be in emi*
gration, and this is being more and more curtailed by the
restrictive legislation of other countries. To be sure, the de-
velopment of the mines of the empire may to somt extent en-
large her capacity to support the increasing population, and
thus defer the catastrophe for a brief period ; but it is scarcely
possible for China greatly to increase her agricultural products.
A somewhat similar story is to be told concerning Japan,
where there is already a population of about 3,000 to every
square mile of arable land on the main island of the empire
with but little opportunity for extending the area of cultiva-
tion in the northern island, or for promoting emigration to
Formosa or to any other territory of which she may obtain
possession. To a considerable extent Japan is burdened with
the same social conditions as those which are weighing down
Oiina. There, as in Oiina, early marriages are regarded as
almost essential, but the prevalence of Christian ideas is check-
ing infanticide, and the progress of sanitary science and medi-
cal skill is banishing pestilence and prolonging the average of
human life, so that the pressure of population is even greater
than it was under former conditions. Whether there will be in
the empire the complete triumph of the pure ideals in family life
which characterize the more advanced Christian communities,
before the forces now in operation shall end in their natural
catastrophe, and plunge the statesmen of Japan into some ill-
considered form of war, or provoke some still more fatal in-
ternal conflict, is yet to be seen.



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FOREIGN RELATIONS 479

The Armenian Border

It remains to speak of the condition existing on the south-
western border oi Asiatic Russia where the Transcaucasian
Province joins upon Persia and Turkey, and where some of the
most recent additions have been made to the Russian territory.
The conditions here are peculiar on account of the religious
complications. For a long time the adherents of the Greek
Church in southeastern Europe and in Asia Minor together
with the allied Armenian and Georgian Churches have lcx>ked
to Russia for protection against the encroachments of Moham-
medan powers. As we have already seen, in the beginning of
the nineteenth century the Georgian Christians in Transcau-
casia sought and secured the protection of Russia from the en-
croachments of the Mohammedan power in Persia. At a later
period Armenians to the number of one million have been in-
corporated into the Russian Empire, being allowed to maintain
their independent church organization. After the war with
Turkey in 1877, the Russian lines were extended to a consider-
able distance farther south on the Armenian Plateau until it
now reaches Mt. Ararat and includes the important military
center of Kars. But there is here only an artificial boundary
line.

Naturally the Armenians in northern Persia and in the east-
em part of Turkey in Asia together with their numerous Greek
and Nestorian co-religionists would be glad to be freed from
their anomalous position as subjects of Mohammedan powers;
and Russia, by virtue both of religious faith and geographical



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48o ASIATIC RUSSIA

position, is the natural power to which they would look for
relief and protection.

The jealousies of Europe, however, prevent Russia from tak-
ing active steps towards affording this protection. By the
Crimean War she was temporarily dethroned from her oldtime
position as the protector of Christians in the East, while the
ncmnal results of the war with Turkey in 1877 and 1878 were
not allowed to accrue largely to her benefit. But at the present
time the relations all along the southwestern border of Trans-
Caucasia are in a very strained conditi<m. In times past Armen-
ians in great numbers have crossed from Turkish to Russian
territory, where they could find freer scope for their religious
development. But recently the relations of the governments have
become sudi that Russia is compelled to discourage to the ut-
most this immigration, and Turkey has interposed all possible
difficulties in the way of emigration. To such an extent have
these jealousies increased that there are now large numbers of
Armenians in Russia whose families are still in Turkey, and
they cannot get permission either to go back and join their fam-
ilies in Asia Minor or to have their families come to join them
in Russia.

The question of the extension of Russian territory mto Asia
Minor is therefore the whole " eastern question " in a nutshell,
which relates to that of the persistence of the Turkish Empire
and to the adjustment of the European balance of power as
affected by the possession of the ancient centers of civilization
about the iEgean Sea and the Bosphorus. Naturally it would
seem to be for the highest good that Russian influence should



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FOREIGN RELATIONS 48 1

extend over the whole Armenian Plateau so as to give protec-
tion to the Christian population and avoid the recurrence of
such horrible massacres as have recently taken place in that ill-
fated region. But into the rights and wrongs of the great
political controversies which are raging around the relation of
the Christian powers to Mohammedan rule in Constantinople
it is not worth our while to enter, nor could we hope for success
were we to endeavor to forecast the outcome of events in that
troubled r^on.

Russia's Unique Position

Russia alone has in her Asiatic provinces the undeveloped
resources which may well provide for all the necessities of a
growmg population in the century to come. Meanwhile she
has the advantage of being in possession of those high ideals
of life which are furnished by the Christian religion, and which
may be depended upon gradually so to modify the social con-
ditions that the life of the people shall become adjusted to
the more permanent order of things which will prevail when
the limit of its possible population shall be approximately
reached. Except in the case of the United States, no other
nation of the world has before it the clear field for expansion
that Russia has m her Asiatic possessions, and no other nation
has more completely at her command the material and moral
resources of modem science and Christian civilization than she
has, if she but continues to use them rightly.



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PART V

Natural History



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XXVI

THE GEOLOGICAL HISTORY
General View

THOUGH large areas of Asiatic Russia are still but par-
tially explored, enough is already known to give a
fairly comprehensive view of its geological history.
In general, it may be said that the mountain border of the Cen-
tral Asiatic Plateau, extending from the southern end of the
Caspian Sea through the Hindu Kush, the Tian-Shan, the Altai,
the Sayan, the Yablonoi, and the Stanovoi ranges, to the ex-
treme east of Siberia, where it is interrupted by Bering Strait,
is composed of archaean or Paleozoic rocks, though its ele-
vation to the present lofty altitudes has taken place principally
in Tertiary times. According to Mushketoff, the Pamir con-
sists of a central mass of granite and other crystalline rocks,
which form the highest elevations, reachm? m some instances
a height of 25,000 feet.

But intervening between these higher elevations, there are
vast expanses of sedimentary strata of Silurian, Devonian, and
Cart)oniferous ages. For the most part these are from 10,000
to 15,000 feet above the sea-level, and, though deeply eroded

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486 ASIATIC RUSSIA

by the river channels, they do not often disclose the older for-
mation. In almost all instances the river channels in the Pamir
Plateau flow in valleys of the above-named sedimentary rocks.

At somewhat lower levels, around the margin of the plateau,
the river valleys are occupied by coal-bearing strata of the
Triassic, Jurassic, and Tertiary ages. This is especially notice-
able in the valley of the Bakshu, which penetrates from the
Amu Daria near Balkh, eastward for nearly four hundred
miles, where its headwaters interlock with those of the Tarim,
flowing to the east. This entire valley, which extends com-
pletely across the north end of the Pamir, is everywhere filled
with stratified rocks of these later ages.

But the main southwesterly extension of the Tian-Shan
Mountains north of the valley of the Bakshu, is composed for
a length of three hundred miles and a breadth of about cme
hundred miles, of crystalline and Paleozoic rocks similar to
those which constitute the plateau of the Pamir. This moun-
tain complex everywhere rises to an elevation of from 10,000
to 14,500 feet.

Passing still northward and eastward, we find that the broad
valley occupied by the upper part of the Syr Daria also lies,
for the most part, in strata of these later formations; while
the vast complex of mountains constituting the western spur
of the Tian-Shan range, which extends from the vicinity of
Tashkent, northeastward to the south side of Lake Issyk-kul,
with a length of six hundred and an average width of one hun-
dred miles, is again composed of central ridges and domes of
crystalline rocks flanked by those of Paleozoic and coal-bearing



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THE GEOLOGICAL HISTORY 487

strata of later age, — the Tertiary strata of the upper Syr Daria
Valley, sometimes rising to a height of 10,000 feet.

To these older series of elevations belong the Alexandrov-
skii Mountains, and both the Western and Eastern Ala-tau
ranges ; but here, as in all the other cases, the parallel valleys
penetrating them are occupied by later strata. Again, after
crossing the Sungarian depression south of Lake Balkash, the
Tarbagatai Mountains, while still maintaining the general
parallelism of the continental uplift, are composed of crystal-
line and archaean rocks running nearly east and west, which,
in their projection to the westward, form the water-shed be-
tween the Aral-Caspian basin and that of the Obi River, ex-
tending till they join the southern projection of the Ural Moun-
tains, which also belong to the earliest geological era.

Continuing to the northeast, we find in the Altai Mountains
another westerly projection from the main plateau, whose cen-
tral core consists of crystalline and archaean rocks; while in
their northern part Jurassic deposits with numerous rich beds
of coal are found in the valleys up to a considerable height.
This region is also one of the richest in minerals of all kinds, —
silver, copper, lead, and zinc abounding in the southern por-
tion ; while gold, iron, and coal abound in other portions.

Substantially the same geological characteristics are presented
in the Sayan Mountains, which extend along the Mongolian
border for a distance of about eight hundred miles between
the Yenisei River and the south end of Lake Baikal. Here
the main axis of older elevation bears a little to the south of
east, and consists for the most part of granitic and archaean



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488 ASIATIC RUSSIA

rocks. But it is bordered on the north, like that of the Altai
Mountains, with coal-bearing sedimentary rocks of later age,
rising in elevations to a height of 4,000 or 5,000 feet, and
deeply intersected by valleys of erosicm.

The south end of Lake Baikal is likewise encompassed with
crystalline and archaean rocks, which, spreading out towards
the northeast, form the great mass of the Vitim Plateau, 00
whose broad swampy surface is found the watershed between
the Lena, Yenisei, and Amur rivers. But here again rocks of
Tertiary age are found in the local valleys very nearly up to
the summit of the plateau ; an area of Tertiary rocks of con-
siderable size being exposed near the head of the Khilok River,
at the summit of the pass where the railroad crosses from the
watershed of the Amur to that of the Yenisei. The northern
part of this area in the upper basin of the Lena is covered,
according to Kropotkin, with horizontal sheets of red sand-
stone, probably of Devonian age.

Passing eastward into the valley of the Amur, we find this
crossed nearly at right angles by the Great Kingfaan and the
Bureya Mountains, both of which maintain a general parallel-
ism with the northwestern border line of the Mongolian Plateau,
and extend from the Chinese Sea to the Sea of Okhotsk, a dis-
tance of one thousand miles, dividing the country into two
broad parallel valleys, the one of which may be described in
general as a plateau about 2,500 feet high bordered on the west
by the Yablonoi and cm the east by the Great Kinghan
Mountains. For a breadth of about 150 miles this so-called
Daurian Plateau contains numerous granitic uplifts parallel



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THE GEOLOGICAL HISTORY 489

with the main Yablonoi range ; but large areas are covered with
eruptive and volcanic rocks, such as rhyolite, diabase, and
basalt. Interspersed with these are many metamorphic and
paleozoic rocks, and the whole area abounds with minerals, of
which gold, silver, and iron are prominent, with small areas
of coal.

The eastern portion of the Daurian Plateau as it slopes into
the valley towards the Bureya Mountains contains extensive
deposits of Jurassic and Tertiary age, which occupy nearly
the whole area between the Zeya and Amur rivers. Granitic
rocks, however, with much diorite and diabase, appear upon
the north bank of the Amur for a distance of about two hundred
miles above Blagovestchensk, and along the middle portion of
the Zeya River.

About 250 miles farther east the Amur makes a fine section
of the Bureya range, having cut a gorge, running from north-
west to southeast nearly at right angles across the upturned
strata for a distance of about one hundred miles, and shows the
main axis to consist of granitic rocks, including, in a S3mclinal
trough, a broad belt of Devonian strata. On the west it is
bordered by extensive deposits of porph3rry and basalt, and on
the east by rocks of Jurassic age, which are also partly included
in the S3mclinal trough.

Another parallel mountain range running northeast and
southwest is found in the Sikhota Alin, which forms the eastern
border of Usuri, extending from the vicinity of Vladivostok
to the mouth of the Amur River. It is between this range
and the Bureyan that the fong broad valley occurs occupied by



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490 ASIATIC RUSSIA

the Lower Amur, the Usuri, and the lower portion of the Sun-
gari River. The sections across the range which have been
made, also show a core of granitic rocks and archaean strata,
bordered by extensive deposits of eruptive rocks like diabase
and andesite and porphyry. Jurassic strata also appear on
both sides of the main chain.

From this comprehensive survey, it will be seen, that, while
the main line of earliest elevation has been {rem southwest


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Online LibraryH[enry] Justin RoddyComplete geography → online text (page 13 of 22)