National Geographic : 1967 Mar
Fast-changing Siberia Dominates New Atlas Map Yesteryear and today: Sea of mud served as a street for a Siberian town that was called Verkhne Udinsk when the picture below appeared in the May, 1921, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. Present maps show it as Ulan Ude, capital of the Buryat Autonomous S.S.R. In Novosibirsk (right), as in other Siberian cities, trolleys and buses now bear residents along broad, paved avenues between ranks of apartment buildings. TO GENERATIONS OF RUSSIANS, the word "Sibir" had a dreadful ring. Under tsar and Bolshevik alike, Rus sia's vast eastern territory became synony mous with exile and death. A grim parade of convicts and political prisoners disappeared without trace in its frozen reaches. Although it still has labor camps, a vastly different Siberia emerges today-a rapidly developing land of incalculable wealth. Fur thermore, this 4,403,100-square-mile titan shares a border with the Soviet Union's es tranged ally-Red China. Thus a vital area of promise and conflict becomes a focal point of your Society's newest World Atlas Map, Eastern Soviet Union, a supplement to this issue of the GEOGRAPHIC.* Secret Chinese and Russian Test Centers Spanning northern Europe and Asia from the Baltic to the Bering Sea, the map in cludes the entire Russian Arctic and extends south beyond the Mongolian Republic, a buf fer on the 4,150-mile-long Sino-Soviet border. Somewhere near Lop Nor, a lake in Sin 346 kiang (map square J19), Chinese scientists last fall test-launched their first nuclear mis sile. The new base lies only about 500 miles from Soviet soil. Northwestward across the frontier, small red rocket symbols indicate Soviet space and missile test centers at Ka pustin Yar (H10) and Tyuratam (H13). A rocket also marks Plesetsk (E8-9), 500 miles north of Moscow. This site, like Vanden berg Air Force Base, can launch satellites into polar orbit. Its existence was an intelligence secret until last October, when a group of British schoolboys detected it by tracking Soviet satellites. Their equipment: a second hand radio and a borrowed globe. The vastness of Siberia-all that part of the Soviet Union east of the Urals and north of the Kazakh Republic-challenges Russian energy and vision. It covers an area nearly half again as large as the contiguous United States. Within its borders flow four of the *Additional copies of the 19-by-25-inch World Atlas Map, Eastern Soviet Union, may be ordered postpaid for 50 cents each from Department 382, National Geo graphic Society, Washington, D. C. 20036.