- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
292

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
present almost valueless. But there are many places,
especially in Eastern Siberia near the Pacific, where
the timber can already be turned to good account.
That the great Siberian rivers have valuable fisheries
has also been mentioned, and these are capable of
further development.
In spite of all this, Siberia’s greatest wealth, beyond
comparison, consists in its immense areas of arable,
and to some extent fertile land, by far the greater part
of which is still lying idle or is turned to poor account.
As has been truly said, the real gold of Siberia is its
black soil ; but until the most recent times one of the
most serious obstacles to the development of agriculture
has been the lack of communications. Before the
Siberian railway, of course, everything had to be carried
by road or river ; the importation of heavy things like
agricultural machinery was practically impossible, and
it was equally difficult to provide for the export of
agricultural produce, so that the farmer might easily
be left with a surplus on his hands. Nor has the Siberian
railway removed all the difficulties. Even if the railway
freights are put fairly low, they are nevertheless too
high for such products as corn, when it has to be carried
from such distances as Central Siberia. Therefore, as
has been said, the inhabitants, especially of the provinces
of Yeniseisk and Irkutsk, look to the sea route through
the Kara Sea to the Yenisei estuary as the great hope
of this part of Siberia.
The Siberians themselves take a lively interest in the
development of their country and clearly see its great
possibilities. But it cannot be denied that, on account
of the views of Siberia which prevailed for centuries,
this country has been sadJy neglected and its develop
ment has been fettered. It is therefore still a long way
behind the times. But Western Siberia is a good
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