- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
312

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
birch, and along the rivers balsam, poplar, alder, etc.
Among the bushes are wild raspberry and wild currant.
There is a rich and varied flora in these regions.
But it was now getting on towards evening, and we
came into Mysovåya station on the south-eastern
shore, immediately opposite Baikål station ; here
it was that after our long and pleasant companion
ship I was to separate from my two fellow travellers,
Vostrotin and Loris-Melikov, who were going back by
the ferry to take the train to Irkutsk and on to
Krasnoyarsk. And as from our windows we had
a last glimpse of them going down to the quay in
the fading daylight, Wourtzel and I went on our way to
the east. The railway still follows the shore of Baikål
for a short distance, until it reaches the delta of the
Selengå, after which it runs up the valley by the side
of this great river.
We had now reached Transbaikalia, which is looked
upon as the most beautiful province in Siberia, with its
mountains and valleys, its great rivers among the moun
tains and its forests everywhere. It lies between Lake
Baikål on the west and the Amur District and Manchuria
on the east ; on the south it has Mongolia. It is a
country rich in gold and other metals, and in minerals
and precious stones, but it is little developed. It
appears also to possess numerous and valuable mineral
springs. It was long one of the most dreaded places
of banishment in Siberia, and many an exile has dragged
out his days in its mines. The country is thinly popu
lated by native tribes, the most numerous being the
Mongolian Buriats, and on the north there are some
Tunguses. On account of the bad nåme the province
has acquired as a place of exile, it has been very difficult
to get it colonized by Russians. Its area is 236,711 square
miles, and in 1911 it had a population of about 869,000, of
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