- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
326

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
especially in the last few years, since 1906, there has
been extensive settlement of Chinese agriculturists,
and a great export trade has resulted, chiefly of the
soya bean, and of corn ; besides which an important
sugar industry has grown up. On the construction of
the railway the Russians acquired from the Chinese
Government a broad strip of land on both sides of the
line ; the Chinese are therefore at liberty to settle
outside this strip. But here they are little by little
bringing the whole country under cultivation, and this
colonization has been greatly encouraged by the Chinese
Government. Between this belt of cultivated land
along the line and the agricultural districts of Manchuria
to the south there are now great expanses of uncultivated
and almost uninhabited steppes. The same is also the
case on the north, until one comes nearer to the rivers
Sungari and Amiir.
Time after time we passed forest fires, the smoke
of which extended for great distances. It is easy to
understand why there is so little forest here ; it is con
stantly being burnt. The grass in the valleys is burnt
off twice a year, in autumn or spring, so that the withered
grass may not check the growth of the fresh, green
grass in spring. But if this sets fire to the woods on
the hillsides, nobody cares very much, and they may
burn for weeks, without anyone being able or wanting
to stop the fire.
We are crossing the broad plain of the Miitan between
the Chang-kwan-tsai-lin on the west and the Kentei-alin
range on the east. We can still see mountains and
peaks behind us to the west ; some of them look fairly
high, but their altitude cannot be so very great, as even
the highest mountain in the whole of Manchuria, the
volcano Peik-to-shan on the border of Korea, is no
more than 8000 feet high. There is a steep ascent
326

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