- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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and the southern districts of the Kirghiz Steppes,
which are partly desert. The land in the Altai which
belongs to the Imperial Cabinet, and which the Em
peror gave up to colonization, is already all parcelled out.
Formerly there was also a good deal of land that was
tåken from older colonists who had too much, and which
was fit for immediate cultivation ; but there is now little
of this left, and the struggle during the first few years
of a settler’s life has become harder. The great wave
of immigration to Siberia, which culminated in 1908,
could not be kept up ; as already stated, it was due in
part to the long stagnation during the war and the
revolution, as well as to the encouragement and aid
of the Government. There was then a greater influx
of settlers than the country was prepared to receive,
and a reaction was bound to come. In 1911, with
226,000 persons, immigration was not much greater
than in 1898-1900, when it was between 203,000 and
223,000 persons a year, but then, as we have seen, it
has risen steadily in the last two years.
It is easy to understand that its great distance from
the seat of government has not been a fortunate thing
for the development of Siberia. According to the
Russian system all the long threads of administration
are collected in Petersburg and the distances to the
various parts of Siberia, especially in former days when
there were only roads and rivers for transit, made it
impossible to obtain a complete view of Siberian affairs
and requirements. Apart from anything else, the mail
there and back took many months, and even now it
is not rapid. There must also be great difficulties in
directing and regulating so extensive a colonization
in such a widespread country, especially when this
has to be done from Petersburg, so far away from the
districts where settlement and clearing are taking place.

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