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Geographical region
Coordinates: 60°0′N105°0′E / 60.000°N 105.000°E / 60.000; 105.000 Coordinates: 60°0′N105°0′E / 60.000°N 105.000°E / 60.000; 105.000
  Total13,100,000 km2 (5,100,000 sq mi)
  Total37.3 million [1]
Demonym Siberians

Siberia ( /sˈbɪəriə/ ; Russian:Сибирь, tr. Sibir',IPA:  [sʲɪˈbʲirʲ] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) is an extensive geographical region, constituting all of North Asia, from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. [2] It has been a part of Russia since the latter half of the 16th century, after the Russians conquered lands east of the Ural Mountains. Siberia is vast and sparsely populated, covering an area of over 13.1 million square kilometres (5,100,000 sq mi), but home to merely one-fifth of Russia's population. Novosibirsk and Omsk are the largest cities in the region.

Because Siberia is a geographic and historic region and not a political entity, there is no single precise definition of its territorial borders. Traditionally, Siberia extends eastwards from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, and includes most of the drainage basin of the Arctic Ocean. The river Yenisey divides Siberia into two parts, Western and Eastern. Siberia stretches southwards from the Arctic Ocean to the hills of north-central Kazakhstan and to the northern parts of Mongolia and China. [2] [3] The central part of Siberia (West and East Siberian economic regions) was considered the core part of the region in the Soviet Union. Beyond the core, Siberia's western part includes some territories of the Ural region, and the far eastern part has been historically called the Russian Far East. [2]

Siberia is known worldwide primarily for its long, harsh winters, with a January average of −25 °C (−13 °F). [4] It is geographically situated in Asia; however, due to it being colonized and incorporated into Russia, it is culturally and politically a part of Europe. [5] European cultural influences, specifically Russian, predominate throughout the region, due to it having had Russian emigration from Europe since the 16th century, forming the Siberian Russian sub-ethnic group. [5] Over 85% of the region's population is of European descent. [6] [7]


The origin of the name is unknown. Some sources say that "Siberia" originates from the Siberian Tatar word for "sleeping land" (Sib ir). [8] The modern usage of the name was recorded in the Russian language after the Russian conquest of the Siberian Khanate. A further variant claims that the region was named after the Sibe people. [9] The Polish historian Chyliczkowski has proposed that the name derives from the proto-Slavic word for "north" (север, sever), [10] same as Severia. Anatole Baikaloff has dismissed this explanation. He said that the neighbouring Chinese, Turks, and Mongolians, who have similar names for the region, would not have known Russian. He suggests that the name might be a combination of two words with Turkic origin, "su" (water) and "bir" (wild land). [11] Another account sees the name as the ancient tribal ethnonym of the Sirtya  [ ru ] (also "Syopyr" (sʲɵpᵻr)), a Paleoasiatic ethnic group assimilated by the Nenets.



Horseman hunting, with characteristic Xiongnu horse trappings, Southern Siberia, 280-180 BCE. Hermitage Museum. Steppes horseman hunting.jpg
Horseman hunting, with characteristic Xiongnu horse trappings, Southern Siberia, 280–180 BCE. Hermitage Museum.

The region has paleontological significance, as it contains bodies of prehistoric animals from the Pleistocene Epoch, preserved in ice or in permafrost. Specimens of Goldfuss cave lion cubs, Yuka the mammoth and another woolly mammoth from Oymyakon, a woolly rhinoceros from the Kolyma, and bison and horses from Yukagir have been found. [15]

The Siberian Traps were formed by one of the largest-known volcanic events of the last 251 million years of Earth's geological history. Their activity continued for a million years and some scientists consider it a possible cause of the "Great Dying" about 250 million years ago, [16] – estimated to have killed 90% of species existing at the time. [17]

At least three species of human lived in Southern Siberia around 40,000 years ago: H. sapiens , H. neanderthalensis , and the Denisovans. [18] In 2010 DNA evidence identified the last as a separate species. [19]

Late Paleolithic southern Siberians appear to be related to paleolithic Europeans and the paleolithic Jōmon people of Japan. [20] Genetic data suggests that the Ancient North Eurasians (ANE) formed during the Upper-Paleolithic (36+-1,5ka) period from a deeply European-related population, which was once widespread in Northern Eurasia, and from an early East Asian-related group, which migrated northwards into Central Asia and Siberia, merging with this deeply European-related population. These population dynamics and constant northwards geneflow of East Asian-related ancestry would later gave rise to the "Ancestral Native Americans" and Paleosiberians, which replaced the ANE as dominant population of Siberia. Further northwards geneflow from Northeast Asia resulted in the modern distribution of "Neo-Siberians. [21]

Early history

Chukchi, one of many indigenous peoples of Siberia. Representation of a Chukchi family by Louis Choris (1816) Choris, Tschuktschen.jpg
Chukchi, one of many indigenous peoples of Siberia. Representation of a Chukchi family by Louis Choris (1816)

During past millennia different groups of nomads – such as the Enets, the Nenets, the Huns, the Xiongnu, the Scythians, and the Yugur inhabited various parts of Siberia. The Afanasievo and Tashtyk cultures of the Yenisey valley and Altay Mountains are associated with the Indo-European migrations across Eurasia. The proto-Mongol Khitan people also occupied parts of the region. In the 13th century, during the period of the Mongol Empire, the Mongols conquered a large part of this area. [22]

With the breakup of the Golden Horde, the autonomous Khanate of Sibir formed in the late-15th century. Turkic-speaking Yakut migrated north from the Lake Baikal region under pressure from the Mongol tribes during the 13th to 15th century. [23] Siberia remained a sparsely populated area. Historian John F. Richards wrote: "... it is doubtful that the total early modern Siberian population exceeded 300,000 persons". [24]

The growing power of Russia in the West began to undermine the Siberian Khanate in the 16th century. First, groups of traders and Cossacks began to enter the area. The Russian Army was directed to establish forts farther and farther east to protect new Russian settlers who migrated from Europe. Towns such as Mangazeya, Tara, Yeniseysk, and Tobolsk developed, the last becoming the de facto capital of Siberia from 1590. At this time, Sibir was the name of a fortress at Qashliq, near Tobolsk. Gerardus Mercator, in a map published in 1595, marks Sibier both as the name of a settlement and of the surrounding territory along a left tributary of the Ob. [25] Other sources[ which? ] contend that the Sibe, an indigenous Tungusic people, offered fierce resistance to Russian expansion beyond the Urals. Some suggest that the term "Siberia" is a russification of their ethnonym. [9]

Russian Empire

Coat of arms of Siberia, which was a part of the Russian Imperial Coat of Arms until 1917 Coat of Arms of Siberian Tsarstvo 1882.svg
Coat of arms of Siberia, which was a part of the Russian Imperial Coat of Arms until 1917
Map of the Siberian Route in the 18th century (green) and the early 19th century (red) Map Siberian route.svg
Map of the Siberian Route in the 18th century (green) and the early 19th century (red)

By the mid-17th century, Russia had established areas of control that extended to the Pacific Ocean. Some 230,000 Russians had settled in Siberia by 1709. [26] Siberia became one of the destinations for sending internal exiles. Exile was the main Russian punitive practice with more than 800,000 people exiled during the nineteenth century. [27] [28]

The first great modern change in Siberia was the Trans-Siberian Railway, constructed during 1891–1916. It linked Siberia more closely to the rapidly industrialising Russia of Nicholas II (r. 1894–1917). Around seven million Russians moved to Siberia from Europe between 1801 and 1914. [29] Between 1859 and 1917 more than half a million people migrated to the Russian Far East. [30] Siberia has extensive natural resources: during the 20th century, large-scale exploitation of these took place, and industrial towns cropped up throughout the region. [31]

At 7:15 a.m. on 30 June 1908 the Tunguska Event felled millions of trees near the Podkamennaya Tunguska (Stony Tunguska) in central Siberia. Most scientists believe this resulted from the air burst of a meteor or a comet. Even though no crater has ever been found, the landscape in the (sparsely inhabited) area still bears the scars of this event. [32]

Soviet Union

Siberian Cossack family in Novosibirsk Novosibirsk-Karimov.jpg
Siberian Cossack family in Novosibirsk

In the early decades of the Soviet Union (especially in the 1930s and 1940s), the government used the Gulag state agency to administer a system of penal labour camps, replacing the previous katorga system. [33] According to semi-official Soviet estimates, which did not become public until after the fall of the Soviet government in 1991, from 1929 to 1953 more than 14 million people passed through these camps and prisons, many of them in Siberia. Another seven to eight million people were internally deported to remote areas of the Soviet Union (including entire nationalities or ethnicities in several cases). [34]

Half a million (516,841) prisoners died in camps from 1941 to 1943 [35] during World War II.[ citation needed ] At other periods, mortality was comparatively lower. [36] The size, scope, and scale of the Gulag slave-labour camps remain subjects of much research and debate. Many Gulag camps operated in extremely remote areas of northeastern Siberia. The best-known clusters included Sevvostlag (the North-East Camps) along the Kolyma and Norillag near Norilsk, where 69,000 prisoners lived in 1952. [37] Major industrial cities of Northern Siberia, such as Norilsk and Magadan, developed from camps built by prisoners and run by former prisoners. [38]


Physical map of Northern Asia (the map also contains parts of Central and East Asia).
View from Haiyrakan mountain, Tuva Khaiyrakandan baryyn talazhe korush.jpg
View from Haiyrakan mountain, Tuva
Altai, Lake Kutsherla in the Altai Mountains Volshebnoe Kucherlinskoe ozero.jpg
Altai, Lake Kutsherla in the Altai Mountains
The peninsula of Svyatoy Nos, Lake Baikal Respublika Buriatiia, Barguzinskii zaliv.jpg
The peninsula of Svyatoy Nos, Lake Baikal
The river Vasyugan in the southern West Siberian Plain Vasyugan.jpg
The river Vasyugan in the southern West Siberian Plain
Koryaksky volcano towering over Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the Kamchatka Peninsula Kamchatka Volcano Koryaksky (24231533812).jpg
Koryaksky volcano towering over Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the Kamchatka Peninsula

Siberia spans an area of 13.1 million square kilometres (5,100,000 sq mi), covering the vast majority of Russia's total territory, and almost 9% of Earth's land surface (148,940,000 km2, 57,510,000 sq mi). It geographically falls in Asia, but is culturally and politically considered European, since it is a part of Russia. [5] Major geographical zones within Siberia include the West Siberian Plain and the Central Siberian Plateau.

Eastern and central Sakha comprises numerous north–south mountain ranges of various ages. These mountains extend up to almost 3,000 metres (9,800 ft), but above a few hundred metres they are almost completely devoid of vegetation. The Verkhoyansk Range was extensively glaciated in the Pleistocene, but the climate was too dry for glaciation to extend to low elevations. At these low elevations are numerous valleys, many of them deep and covered with larch forest, except in the extreme north where the tundra dominates. Soils are mainly turbels (a type of gelisol). The active layer tends to be less than one metre deep, except near rivers.

The highest point in Siberia is the active volcano Klyuchevskaya Sopka, on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Its peak reaches 4,750 metres (15,580 ft).

Mountain ranges

Geomorphological regions

Lakes and rivers



The West Siberian Plain, consisting mostly of Cenozoic alluvial deposits, is somewhat flat. In the mid-Pleistocene, many deposits on this plain resulted from ice dams which produced a large glacial lake. This mid- to late-Pleistocene lake blocked the northward flow of the Ob and Yenisey rivers, resulting in a redirection southwest into the Caspian and Aral seas via the Turgai Valley. [40] The area is very swampy, and soils are mostly peaty histosols and, in the treeless northern part, histels. In the south of the plain, where permafrost is largely absent, rich grasslands that are an extension of the Kazakh Steppe formed the original vegetation, most of which is no longer visible.[ why? ]

Belukha Mountain 2006-07 altaj belucha.jpg
Belukha Mountain
Verkhoyansk Range Yakutia - DSC 6164.jpg
Verkhoyansk Range

The Central Siberian Plateau is an ancient craton (sometimes named Angaraland) that formed an independent continent before the Permian (see the Siberian continent). It is exceptionally rich in minerals, containing large deposits of gold, diamonds, and ores of manganese, lead, zinc, nickel, cobalt, and molybdenum. Much of the area includes the Siberian Traps—a large igneous province. A massive eruptive period approximately coincided with the Permian–Triassic extinction event. The volcanic event is said[ by whom? ] to be the largest known volcanic eruption in Earth's history. Only the extreme northwest was glaciated during the Quaternary, but almost all is under exceptionally deep permafrost, and the only tree that can thrive, despite the warm summers, is the deciduous Siberian Larch (Larix sibirica) with its very shallow roots. Outside the extreme northwest, the taiga is dominant, covering a significant fraction of the entirety of Siberia. [41] Soils here are mainly turbels, giving way to spodosols where the active layer becomes thicker and the ice-content lower.

The Lena-Tunguska petroleum province includes the Central Siberian platform (some authors refer to it as the "Eastern Siberian platform"), bounded on the northeast and east by the Late Carboniferous through Jurassic Verkhoyansk foldbelt, on the northwest by the Paleozoic Taymr foldbelt, and on the southeast, south and southwest by the Middle Silurian to Middle Devonian Baykalian foldbelt. [42] :228 A regional geologic reconnaissance study begun in 1932 and followed by surface and subsurface mapping revealed the Markova-Angara Arch (anticline). This led to the discovery of the Markovo Oil Field in 1962 with the Markovo—1 well, which produced from the Early Cambrian Osa Horizon bar-sandstone at a depth of 2,156 metres (7,073 ft). [42] :243 The Sredne-Botuobin Gas Field was discovered in 1970, producing from the Osa and the Proterozoic Parfenovo Horizon. [42] :244 The Yaraktin Oil Field was discovered in 1971, producing from the Vendian Yaraktin Horizon at depths of up to 1,750 metres (5,740 ft), which lies below Permian to Lower Jurassic basalt traps. [42] :244


Siberian taiga Kuysumy mountains and Torgashinsky range. View from viewing platform on Kashtakovskaya path (Stolby reserve, Krasnoyarsk city) 4Y1A8757 (28363120875).jpg
Siberian taiga
Russia vegetation.png

     polar desert     tundra     alpine tundra     taiga     montane forest
     temperate broadleaf forest     temperate steppe     dry steppe

Vegetation in Siberia mostly consists of taiga, with a tundra belt on the northern fringe, and a temperate forest zone in the south.

The climate of Siberia varies dramatically, but it typically has short summers and long, brutally cold winters. On the north coast, north of the Arctic Circle, there is a very short (about one month long) summer.

Almost all the population lives in the south, along the route of the Trans-Siberian Railway. The climate in this southernmost part is humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb) with cold winters but fairly warm summers lasting at least four months. The annual average temperature is about 0.5 °C (32.9 °F). January averages about −20 °C (−4 °F) and July about +19 °C (66 °F), while daytime temperatures in summer typically exceed 20 °C (68 °F). [43] [44] With a reliable growing season, an abundance of sunshine and exceedingly fertile chernozem soils, southern Siberia is good enough for profitable agriculture, as was demonstrated in the early 20th century.

By far the most commonly occurring climate in Siberia is continental subarctic (Koppen Dfc or Dwc), with the annual average temperature about −5 °C (23 °F) and an average for January of −25 °C (−13 °F) and an average for July of +17 °C (63 °F), [45] although this varies considerably, with a July average about 10 °C (50 °F) in the taiga–tundra ecotone. The business-oriented website and blog Business Insider lists Verkhoyansk and Oymyakon, in Siberia's Sakha Republic, as being in competition for the title of the Northern Hemisphere's Pole of Cold . Oymyakon is a village which recorded a temperature of −67.7 °C (−89.9 °F) on 6 February 1933. Verkhoyansk, a town further north and further inland, recorded a temperature of −69.8 °C (−93.6 °F) for three consecutive nights: 5, 6 and 7 February 1933. Each town is alternately considered the Northern Hemisphere's Pole of Cold – the coldest inhabited point in the Northern hemisphere. Each town also frequently reaches 30 °C (86 °F) in the summer, giving them, and much of the rest of Russian Siberia, the world's greatest temperature-variation between summer's highs and winter's lows, often well over 94–100+ °C (169–180+ °F) between the seasons. [46] [ failed verification ]

Southwesterly winds bring warm air from Central Asia and the Middle East. The climate in West Siberia (Omsk, or Novosibirsk) is several degrees warmer than in the East (Irkutsk, or Chita) where in the north an extreme winter subarctic climate (Köppen Dfd or Dwd) prevails. But summer temperatures in other regions can reach +38 °C (100 °F). In general, Sakha is the coldest Siberian region, and the basin of the Yana has the lowest temperatures of all, with permafrost reaching 1,493 metres (4,898 ft). Nevertheless, Imperial Russian plans of settlement never viewed cold as an impediment. In the winter, southern Siberia sits near the center of the semi-permanent Siberian High, so winds are usually light in the winter.

Precipitation in Siberia is generally low, exceeding 500 millimetres (20 in) only in Kamchatka, where moist winds flow from the Sea of Okhotsk onto high mountains – producing the region's only major glaciers, though volcanic eruptions and low summer temperatures allow only limited forests to grow. Precipitation is high also in most of Primorye in the extreme south, where monsoonal influences can produce quite heavy summer rainfall.

Climate data for Novosibirsk, Siberia's largest city
Average high °C (°F)−12.2
Daily mean °C (°F)−16.2
Average low °C (°F)−20.1
Average precipitation mm (inches)19
Source: [47]

Global warming

Researchers, including Sergei Kirpotin at Tomsk State University and Judith Marquand at Oxford University, warn that Western Siberia has begun to thaw as a result of global warming. The frozen peat bogs in this region may hold billions of tons of methane gas, which may be released into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas 22 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. [48] In 2008 a research expedition for the American Geophysical Union detected levels of methane up to 100 times above normal in the atmosphere above the Siberian Arctic, likely the result of methane clathrates being released through holes in a frozen "lid" of seabed permafrost around the outfall of the Lena and the area between the Laptev Sea and East Siberian Sea. [49] [50]

Since 1988, experimentation at Pleistocene Park has proposed to restore the grasslands of prehistoric times by conducting research on the effects of large herbivores on permafrost, suggesting that animals, rather than climate, maintained the past ecosystem. The nature reserve park also conducts climatic research on the changes expected from the reintroduction of grazing animals or large herbivores, hypothesizing that a transition from tundra to grassland would lead to a net change in energy emission to absorption ratios. [51]

According to Vasily Kryuchkov, approximately 31,000 square kilometers of the Russian Arctic has subjected to severe environmental disturbance.



Capercaillies occupy much of the Siberian taiga. Obyknovennyi glukhar'.JPG
Capercaillies occupy much of the Siberian taiga.

Order Galliformes

Family Tetraonidae

A Daurian partridge covey feeding. Kuropatki, 2019-046 27815.jpeg
A Daurian partridge covey feeding.

Family Phasianidae

Two saddled Bactrian camels shedding their coat in the Altai mountain range. Camel1111111 01.jpg
Two saddled Bactrian camels shedding their coat in the Altai mountain range.


A Siberian tigress and cub Panthera tigris altaica 13 - Buffalo Zoo.jpg
A Siberian tigress and cub
Kamchatka brown bear at Kamchatka Peninsula Kamchatka Brown Bear near Dvuhyurtochnoe on 2015-07-23.jpg
Kamchatka brown bear at Kamchatka Peninsula
Polar bear on Wrangel Island Beloe otrazhenie.jpg
Polar bear on Wrangel Island

Order Artiodactyla

Order Carnivora

Family Canidae

Family Felidae

Family Mustelidae

Family Ursidae


Siberian larch Larix sibirica trees in summer. Kuznetsk Alatau Nature Reserve, Kemerovo Oblast Kem-004.jpg
Siberian larch Larix sibirica trees in summer. Kuznetsk Alatau Nature Reserve, Kemerovo Oblast


Notable sovereign states in Siberia

Borders and administrative division

Map of the most populated area of Siberia with clickable city names (SVG) Siberian Cities Map.svg
Map of the most populated area of Siberia with clickable city names (SVG)
Comparison of the nine biggest Siberian cities' growth in the 20th century Siberian Cities Graph.svg
Comparison of the nine biggest Siberian cities' growth in the 20th century

The term "Siberia" has both a long history and wide significance, and association. The understanding, and association of "Siberia" have gradually changed during the ages. Historically, Siberia was defined as the whole part of Russia and North Kazakhstan to the east of Ural Mountains, including the Russian Far East. According to this definition, Siberia extended eastward from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific coast, and southward from the Arctic Ocean to the border of Central Asia and the national borders of both Mongolia and China. [67]

Soviet-era sources ( Great Soviet Encyclopedia and others) [3] and modern Russian ones [68] usually define Siberia as a region extending eastward from the Ural Mountains to the watershed between Pacific and Arctic drainage basins, and southward from the Arctic Ocean to the hills of north-central Kazakhstan and the national borders of both Mongolia and China. By this definition, Siberia includes the federal subjects of the Siberian Federal District, and some of the Ural Federal District, as well as Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, which is a part of the Far Eastern Federal District. Geographically, this definition includes subdivisions of several other subjects of Urals and Far Eastern federal districts, but they are not included administratively. This definition excludes Sverdlovsk Oblast and Chelyabinsk Oblast, both of which are included in some wider definitions of Siberia.

Other sources may use either a somewhat wider definition that states the Pacific coast, not the watershed, is the eastern boundary (thus including the whole Russian Far East), as well as all Northern Kazakhstan is its subregion in the south-west [2] or a somewhat narrower one that limits Siberia to the Siberian Federal District (thus excluding all subjects of other districts). [69] In Russian, 'Siberia' is commonly used as a substitute for the name of the federal district by those who live in the district itself, but less commonly used to denote the federal district by people residing outside of it. Due to the different interpretations of Siberia, starting from Tyumen, to Chita, the territory generally defined as 'Siberia', some people will define themselves as 'Siberian', while others not.

A number of factors in recent years, including the fomenting of 'Siberian separatism' have made the definition of the territory of Siberia a potentially controversial subject. [70] In the eastern extent of Siberia there are territories which are not clearly defined as either Siberia or the Far East, making the question of 'what is Siberia?' one with no clear answer, and what is a 'Siberian', one of self-identification. [71]

Novosibirsk is the largest city in Siberia Opernyi teatr4.jpg
Novosibirsk is the largest city in Siberia
Federal subjects of Siberia (GSE)
SubjectAdministrative center
Ural Federal District
Flag of Yugra.svg  Khanty–Mansi Autonomous Okrug Khanty-Mansiysk
Flag of Kurgan Oblast.svg  Kurgan Oblast Kurgan
Flag of Tyumen Oblast.svg  Tyumen Oblast Tyumen
Flag of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District.svg  Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug Salekhard
Siberian Federal District
Flag of Altai Krai.svg  Altai Krai Barnaul
Flag of Altai Republic.svg  Altai Republic Gorno-Altaysk
Flag of Irkutsk Oblast.svg  Irkutsk Oblast Irkutsk
Flag of Khakassia.svg  Khakassia Abakan
Flag of Kemerovo oblast.svg  Kemerovo Oblast Kemerovo
Flag of Krasnoyarsk Krai.svg  Krasnoyarsk Krai Krasnoyarsk
Flag of Novosibirsk oblast.svg  Novosibirsk Oblast Novosibirsk
Flag of Omsk Oblast.svg  Omsk Oblast Omsk
Flag of Tomsk Oblast.svg  Tomsk Oblast Tomsk
Flag of Tuva.svg  Tuva Kyzyl
Far Eastern Federal District
Flag of Buryatia.svg  Buryatia Ulan-Ude
Flag of Sakha.svg  Sakha (Yakutia) Yakutsk
Flag of Zabaykalsky Krai.svg  Zabaykalsky Krai Chita
Amur waterfront in Khabarovsk Khabarovsk, letom na naberezhnoi Amura.JPG
Amur waterfront in Khabarovsk
Vladivostok, Primorsky Krai VladivostokGoldenHorn.jpg
Vladivostok, Primorsky Krai
Yakutsk is the capital of the Sakha Republic Iakutsk. Vid na tsentral'nuiu chast' goroda (2).JPG
Yakutsk is the capital of the Sakha Republic
Federal subjects of Siberia (in wide sense)
SubjectAdministrative center
Far Eastern Federal District
Flag of Amur Oblast.svg  Amur Oblast Blagoveshchensk
Flag of Chukotka.svg  Chukotka Autonomous Okrug Anadyr
Flag of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast.svg  Jewish Autonomous Oblast Birobidzhan
Flag of Kamchatka Krai.svg  Kamchatka Krai Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
Flag of Khabarovsk Krai.svg  Khabarovsk Krai Khabarovsk
Flag of Magadan Oblast.svg  Magadan Oblast Magadan
Flag of Primorsky Krai.svg  Primorsky Krai Vladivostok
Flag of Sakhalin Oblast.svg  Sakhalin Oblast Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk
Ural Federal District
Flag of Chelyabinsk Oblast.svg  Chelyabinsk Oblast Chelyabinsk
Flag of Sverdlovsk Oblast.svg  Sverdlovsk Oblast Yekaterinburg

Major cities

The most populous city of Siberia, as well as the third most populous city of Russia, is the city of Novosibirsk. Present-day Novosibirsk is an important business, science, manufacturing and cultural center of the Asian part of Russia.

Omsk played an important role in the Russian Civil War serving as a provisional Russian capital, as well in the expansion into and governing of Central Asia. In addition to its cultural status, it has become a major oil-refining, education, transport and agriculture hub.

Other historic cities of Siberia include Tobolsk (the first capital and the only kremlin in Siberia), Tomsk (formerly a wealthy merchant's town) and Irkutsk (former seat of Eastern Siberia's governor general, near lake Baikal).

Other major cities include: Barnaul, Kemerovo, Krasnoyarsk, Novokuznetsk, Tyumen.

Wider definitions of geographic Siberia also include the cities of: Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg in the Urals, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok in the Russian Far East, and even Petropavlovsk in Kazakhstan and Harbin in China.


Russian oil and gas pipelines in use before international sanctions and boycotts following Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine. RF NG pipestoEU.gif
Russian oil and gas pipelines in use before international sanctions and boycotts following Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Novosibirsk is the largest by population and the most important city for the Siberian economy; with an extra boost since 2000 when it was designated a regional center for the executive bureaucracy (Siberian Federal District). Omsk is a historic and currently the second largest city in the region, and since 1950s hosting Russia's largest oil refinery.

Siberia is extraordinarily rich in minerals, containing ores of almost all economically valuable metals. It has some of the world's largest deposits of nickel, gold, lead, coal, molybdenum, gypsum, diamonds, diopside, silver and zinc, as well as extensive unexploited resources of oil and natural gas. [72] Around 70% of Russia's developed oil fields are in the Khanty-Mansiysk region. [73] Russia contains about 40% of the world's known resources of nickel at the Norilsk deposit in Siberia. Norilsk Nickel is the world's biggest nickel and palladium producer. [74]

Siberian agriculture is severely restricted by the short growing season of most of the region. However, in the southwest where soils consist of exceedingly fertile black earths and the climate is a little more moderate, there is extensive cropping of wheat, barley, rye and potatoes, along with the grazing of large numbers of sheep and cattle. Elsewhere food production, owing to the poor fertility of the podzolic soils and the extremely short growing seasons, is restricted to the herding of reindeer in the tundra—which has been practiced by natives for over 10,000 years.[ citation needed ] Siberia has the world's largest forests. Timber remains an important source of revenue, even though many forests in the east have been logged much more rapidly than they are able to recover. The Sea of Okhotsk is one of the two or three richest fisheries in the world owing to its cold currents and very large tidal ranges, and thus Siberia produces over 10% of the world's annual fish catch, although fishing has declined somewhat since the collapse of the USSR in 1991. [75]

Reported in 2009, the development of renewable energy in Russia is held back by the lack of a conducive government policy framework, [76] [ needs update ]As of 2011, Siberia still offers special opportunities for off-grid renewable energy developments. Remote parts of Siberia are too costly to connect to central electricity and gas grids, and have therefore historically been supplied with costly diesel, sometimes flown in by helicopter. In such cases renewable energy is often cheaper. [77]

In 2020 the gross regional product of Siberia was 26.7 trillion  or around US$400 billion. [78]


KHL game HC Sibir Novosibirsk vs Amur Khabarovsk Pujacs and Safronov 2011-12-04 Amur-Sibir KHL-game.jpeg
KHL game HC Sibir Novosibirsk vs Amur Khabarovsk
Opening Ceremony of the 2019 Winter Universiade Otkrytie XXIX Vsemirnoi zimnei universiady v Krasnoiarske 05.jpg
Opening Ceremony of the 2019 Winter Universiade

Professional football teams include FC Tom Tomsk, FC Novosibirsk, and FK Yenisey Krasnoyarsk.

The Yenisey Krasnoyarsk basketball team has played in the VTB United League since 2011–12.

Russia's third most popular sport, bandy, [79] is important in Siberia. In the 2015–16 Russian Bandy Super League season Yenisey from Krasnoyarsk became champions for the third year in a row by beating Baykal-Energiya from Irkutsk in the final. [80] [81] Two or three more teams (depending on the definition of Siberia) play in the Super League, the 2016–17 champions SKA-Neftyanik from Khabarovsk as well as Kuzbass from Kemerovo and Sibselmash from Novosibirsk. In 2007 Kemerovo got Russia's first indoor arena specifically built for bandy. [82] Now Khabarovsk has the world's largest indoor arena specifically built for bandy, Arena Yerofey. [83] It was venue for Division A of the 2018 World Championship. In time for the 2020 World Championship, an indoor arena will be ready for use in Irkutsk. That one will also have a speed skating oval. [84]

The 2019 Winter Universiade was hosted by Krasnoyarsk.


Tomsk, one of the oldest Siberian cities, was founded in 1604. Street Scene in Tomsk - Russia.JPG
Tomsk, one of the oldest Siberian cities, was founded in 1604.

According to the Russian Census of 2010, the Siberian and Far Eastern Federal Districts, located entirely east of the Ural Mountains, together have a population of about 25.6 million. Tyumen and Kurgan Oblasts, which are geographically in Siberia but administratively part of the Urals Federal District, together have a population of about 4.3 million. Thus, the whole region of Siberia (in the broadest usage of the term) is home to approximately 30 million people. [85] It has a population density of about three people per square kilometre.

The largest ethnic group in Siberia is Slavic-origin Russians, including their sub-ethnic group Siberians, and russified Ukrainians. [86] There are also other groups of indigenous Siberian and non-indigenous ethnic origin. A minority of the current population are descendants of Mongol or Turkic people (Buryats, Yakuts) or northern indigenous people.

The largest non-Slavic groups are the Volga Germans [87] and Russified Romanians with ancestral origins in Bessarabia (present-day Moldova). The original indigenous groups of Siberia, including Mongol and Turkic groups such as Buryats, Tuvinians and Siberian Tatars, are minorities outnumbered by all other non-indigenous Siberians. Indeed, Slavic-origin Russians by themselves outnumber all of the indigenous peoples combined, both in Siberia as a whole and its cities, except in the Republics of Tuva and Sakha.

Slavic-origin Russians make up the majority in the Buryat and Altai Republics, outnumbering indigenous Buryats and Altai. The Buryat make up only 30% of their own republic, and the Altai each are only one-third, and the Chukchi, Evenk, Khanty, Mansi, and Nenets are outnumbered by non-indigenous peoples by 90% of the population. [88]

According to the 2002 census there are 500,000 Tatars in Siberia, but of these, 300,000 are Volga Tatars who also settled in Siberia during periods of colonization and are thus also non-indigenous Siberians, in contrast to the 200,000 Siberian Tatars which are indigenous to Siberia. [89]

Of the indigenous Siberians, the Mongol-speaking Buryats, numbering approximately 500,000, are the most numerous group in Siberia, and they are mainly concentrated in their homeland, the Buryat Republic. [90] According to the 2010 census there were 478,085 indigenous Turkic-speaking Yakuts. [91] Other ethnic groups indigenous to Siberia include Kets, Evenks, Chukchis, Koryaks, Yupiks, and Yukaghirs.

About seventy percent of Siberia's people live in cities, mainly in apartments. [92] Many people also live in rural areas, in simple, spacious, log houses. Novosibirsk [93] is the largest city in Siberia, with a population of about 1.6 million. Tobolsk, Tomsk, Tyumen, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, and Omsk are the older, historical centers.


Transfiguration Cathedral, Khabarovsk Khabarovsk, sobor.jpg
Transfiguration Cathedral, Khabarovsk

There are a variety of beliefs throughout Siberia, including Orthodox Christianity, other denominations of Christianity, Tibetan Buddhism and Islam. [94] The Siberian Federal District alone has an estimation of 250,000 Muslims. An estimated 70,000 Jews live in Siberia, [95] some in the Jewish Autonomous Region. [96] The predominant religious group is the Russian Orthodox Church.

Tradition regards Siberia the archetypal home of shamanism, and polytheism is popular. [97] These native sacred practices are considered by the tribes to be very ancient. There are records of Siberian tribal healing practices dating back to the 13th century. [98] The vast territory of Siberia has many different local traditions of gods. These include: Ak Ana, Anapel, Bugady Musun, Kara Khan, Khaltesh-Anki, Kini'je, Ku'urkil, Nga, Nu'tenut, Num-Torum, Pon, Pugu, Todote, Toko'yoto, Tomam, Xaya Iccita and Zonget. Places with sacred areas include Olkhon, an island in Lake Baikal.


Many cities in northern Siberia, such as Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, cannot be reached by road, as there are virtually none connecting from other major cities in Russia or Asia. Siberia can be reached through the Trans-Siberian Railway. The Trans-Siberian Railway operates from Moscow in the west to Vladivostok in the east. Cities that are located far from the railway are reached by air or by the separate Baikal–Amur Railway (BAM).



Stroganina is a raw fish dish of the indigenous people of northern Arctic Siberia made from raw, thin, long-sliced frozen fish. [99] It is a popular dish with native Siberians. [100] Siberia is also known for its pelmeni dumpling; which in the winter are traditionally frozen and stored outdoors. In addition, there are various berry, nut and mushroom dishes making use of the riches of abundant nature.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Geography of Russia</span> Overview of the geography of Russia

Russia is the largest country in the world, covering over 17,125,192 km2, and encompassing more than one-eighth of Earth's inhabited land area. Russia extends across eleven time zones, and has the most borders of any country in the world, with sixteen sovereign nations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ural Mountains</span> Mountain range in Russia

The Ural Mountains or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south through western Russia, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to the river Ural and northwestern Kazakhstan. The mountain range forms part of the conventional boundary between the regions of Europe and Asia. Vaygach Island and the islands of Novaya Zemlya form a further continuation of the chain to the north into the Arctic Ocean.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Angara</span> River in Irkutsk Oblast and Krasnoyarsk Krai, south-east Siberia, Russia

The Angara is a major river in Siberia, which traces a course through Russia's Irkutsk Oblast and Krasnoyarsk Krai. It drains out of Lake Baikal and is the headwater tributary of the Yenisey. It is 1,849 kilometres (1,149 mi) long, and has a drainage basin of 1,039,000 square kilometres (401,000 sq mi). It was formerly known as the Lower or Nizhnyaya Angara. Below its junction with the Ilim, it was formerly known as the Upper Tunguska and, with the names reversed, as the Lower Tunguska.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yenisey</span> River system in Asia; the 5th-longest in the world

The Yenisey, also romanised as Yenisei, Enisei, or Jenisej, is the fifth-longest river system in the world, and the largest to drain into the Arctic Ocean. Rising in Mungaragiyn-gol in Mongolia, it follows a northerly course before draining into the Yenisey Gulf in the Kara Sea. The Yenisey divides the Western Siberian Plain in the west from the Central Siberian Plateau to the east; it drains a large part of central Siberia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Buryats</span> Ethnic group

The Buryats are a Mongolian people numbering at 516,476, comprising one of the two largest indigenous groups in Siberia, the other being the Yakuts. The majority of the Buryat population lives in their titular homeland, the Republic of Buryatia, a federal subject of Russia near Lake Baikal. Buryats also live in Ust-Orda Buryat Okrug to the west of Buryatia and Agin-Buryat Okrug to the east of Buryatia as well as in northeastern Mongolia and in Inner Mongolia, China. They form the major northern subgroup of the Mongols.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Russian Far East</span> Geographical region

The Russian Far East is a region in Northeast Asia. It is the easternmost part of Russia and the Asian continent; and is administered as part of the Far Eastern Federal District, which is located between Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia and the Pacific Ocean. The region's largest city is Khabarovsk, followed by Vladivostok.The region shares land borders with the countries of Mongolia, China, and North Korea to its south, as well as maritime boundaries with Japan to its southeast, and with the United States along the Bering Strait to its northeast. Although the Russian Far East is often considered as a part of Siberia abroad, it has been historically categorized separately from Siberia in Russian regional schemes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">North Asia</span> Subregion of Asia

North Asia or Northern Asia, also referred to as Siberia, is the northern region of Asia, which is defined in geographical terms and is coextensive with the Asian part of Russia, and consists of three Russian regions east of the Ural Mountains: Ural, Siberia, and the Russian Far East. North Asia is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to its north; by Eastern Europe to its west; by Central and East Asia to its south; and by the Pacific Ocean and North America to its east. It covers an area of 13,100,000 square kilometres (5,100,000 sq mi), or 8.8% of Earth's total land area; and is the largest subregion of Asia by area, but is also the least populated, with a population of around 33 million, accounting for merely 0.74% of Asia's population.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Siberia</span> Aspect of Russian history

The early history of Siberia was greatly influenced by the sophisticated nomadic civilizations of the Scythians (Pazyryk) on the west of the Ural Mountains and Xiongnu (Noin-Ula) on the east of the Urals, both flourishing before the Christian era. The steppes of Siberia were occupied by a succession of nomadic peoples, including the Khitan people, various Turkic peoples, and the Mongol Empire. In the Late Middle Ages, Tibetan Buddhism spread into the areas south of Lake Baikal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Geography of the Soviet Union</span> Country in the past

The Soviet Union was the world's largest country throughout its entire existence, covering an area of over 22,402,200 square kilometres (8,649,500 sq mi), approximately one-seventh of Earth's land surface. It was only slightly smaller in land area than the entire continent of North America, and spanned most of Eurasia. Its largest and most populous republic was the Russian SFSR, which consisted of all the land of contemporary Russia. This republic alone covered roughly three-quarters of the surface area of the union.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yakuts</span> Turkic ethnic group

The Yakuts, or the Sakha, are a Turkic ethnic group who mainly live in the Republic of Sakha in the Russian Federation, with some extending to the Amur, Magadan, Sakhalin regions, and the Taymyr and Evenk Districts of the Krasnoyarsk region. The Yakut language belongs to the Siberian branch of the Turkic languages. The Russian word yakut was taken from Evenk yokō. The Yakuts call themselves Sakha, or Urangai Sakha in some old chronicles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">West Siberian Plain</span> Large plain that occupies the western portion of Siberia

The West Siberian Plain is a large plain that occupies the western portion of Siberia, between the Ural Mountains in the west and the Yenisei River in the east, and by the Altai Mountains on the southeast. Much of the plain is poorly drained and consists of some of the world's largest swamps and floodplains. Important cities include Chelyabinsk, Novosibirsk, Omsk, and Tomsk, as well as Surgut and Nizhnevartovsk.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Buryatia</span> First-level administrative division of Russia

The Republic of Buryatia is a federal subject of Russia, located in Siberia. Formerly part of the Siberian Federal District, it has been a part of the Russian Far East since 2018 and indigenous Buryat Mongolians' historical native land. Its capital is the city of Ulan-Ude, which means Red Gateway in Buryat Mongolian. Its area is 351,300 square kilometers (135,600 sq mi) with a population of 978,588.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Siberian Tatars</span> Indigenous Turkic-speaking ethnic group of South Siberia

Siberian Tatars, the ethnographic and ethnoterritorial group of Tatars of Western Siberia, the indigenous Turkic-speaking population of the forests and steppes of Western Siberia, originate in areas stretching from somewhat east of the Ural Mountains to the Yenisey River in Russia. The Siberian Tatars call themselves Yerle Qalıq, to distinguish themselves from more recent Volga Tatar immigrants to the region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Soyot</span> Turkic ethnic group in Buryatia

The Soyot are ethnic group of Turkic origin live mainly in the Oka region in the Okinsky District in the Buryatia, Russia. According to the 2010 census, there were 3,608 Soyots in Russia. Their extinct language was of a Turkic type and basically similar to the Dukhan and closely related to the Tofa language.

Geographically, Siberia includes the Russian Urals, Siberian, and Far Eastern Federal Districts.

Education in Siberia expanded greatly after the Trans-Siberian Railway was completed in the 19th century. While Siberia became part of Russia in the 17th century it was not until the 20th century under the Soviet Union that education was transformed which in turn brought Siberia to economic importance. This was aimed at uniting people under the Soviet. For example, the Irkutsk State Linguistic University served as "a conduit between Russia and these native people by teaching languages" during the communist era. Imperial Russia began uniting Siberia to Russia by founding Siberia's first university, Tomsk State University, in 1878.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Indigenous peoples of Siberia</span> Ethnic groups native to Siberia, Russia

Siberia, including the Russian Far East, is a vast region spanning the northern part of the Asian continent, and forming the Asiatic portion of Russia. As a result of the Russian conquest of Siberia and of the subsequent population movements during the Soviet era (1917-1991), the modern-day demographics of Siberia is dominated by ethnic Russians (Siberiaks) and other Slavs. However, there remains a slowly increasing number of indigenous groups, between them, accounting for about 10% of the total Siberian population, some of which are closely genetically related to indigenous peoples of the Americas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Siberian River Routes</span> Main ways of communication in the Russian Siberia before the 1730s

Siberian River Routes were the main ways of communication in Russian Siberia before the 1730s, when roads began to be built. The rivers were also of primary importance in the process of Russian conquest and exploration of vast Siberian territories eastwards. Since the three great Siberian rivers, the Ob, the Yenisey, and the Lena all flow into the Arctic Ocean, the aim was to find parts or branches of these rivers that flow approximately east-west and find short portages between them. Since Siberia is relatively flat, portages were usually short. Despite resistance from the Siberian tribes, Russian Cossacks were able to expand from the Urals to the Pacific in only 57 years (1582-1639). These river routes were crucial in the first years of the Siberian fur trade as the furs were easier to transport over water than land. The rivers connected the major fur gathering centers and provided for relatively quick transport between them.

Demid Sofonovich Pyanda or, according to some sources, Panteley Demidovich Pyanda, also spelled Penda (Пенда) was among the first and most important Russian explorers of Siberia. According to few historical documents and later reconstructions based on them, Pyanda, in 1620–1623, while leading a party which was hunting for Siberian furs and buying them from the locals, became the first known Russian to ascend the Lower Tunguska River and reach the proximity of the Lena, one of the world's greatest rivers. According to later legendary accounts, collected a century after his journey, Pyanda allegedly discovered the Lena River, explored much of its length, and via the Angara River returned to the Yenisey, whence he came.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Reindeer in Russia</span>

Reindeer in Russia include tundra and forest reindeer and are subspecies of Rangifer tarandus. Tundra reindeer include the Novaya Zemlya (R.t.pearsoni) and Sápmi subspecies and the Siberian tundra reindeer.


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