- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
357

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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Full resolution (JPEG) - On this page / på denna sida - XVI. Russia in the east. The yellow question

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RUSSIA IN THE EAST
357
the centre of all Russian administration, and Vladi
vostok, the future focus of Russian power in the East,
there is a railway journey of over 6000 miles, which
even by the most rapid express trains takes nine days
and nights. In the next place, the actual colonization
of these distant provinces involves great difficulties
of various kinds.
The beginning of Russia’s colonization of the Amiir
territories was that in the spring of 1857, a regiment
of three sotnias of Transbaikal Cossacks, chosen by lot,
received orders to settle with their wives and children
along the Amiir. It was with sorrow that they left
for this new, unknown and wild country. They were
conveyed down the Amiir on rafts. They were divided
among small villages or stanitsas (Cossack posts),
usually twelve to eighteen miles apart, along the river,
where they were to till the land and provide themselves
with means of subsistence. Their task was to defend
the frontier towards China and to provide postal com
munication between the Amiir District and Trans
baikalia. The land they were thus ordered to clear
and cultivate was for the most part a perfect wilderness ;
a great deal of it was swampy jungle, and it was only
on the plains where the Séya joins the Amiir that there
was any considerable population of Chinese Manchus.
With admirable courage the Cossacks took in hand
their difficult work of colonists, cleared the forests,
drained the marshes and provided arable and pasture
land. In this way the anny of Cossacks of the Amiir
was formed ; then in the course of years a gradual
immigration of Russian peasants took place.
After these territories had been formally ceded to
Russia by the treaty of Aigiin, some battalions of
Cossacks from Transbaikalia were also given orders
to settle in the valley of the Ussuri, along the Chinese

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