National Geographic : 1896 Jan
RUSSIA IN EUROPE a height of 6 inches. A little farther north the rainfall exceeds the evaporation and river-flow and forms a woodless plain of small lakes and morasses, called tundra, on which neither man nor beast could set foot if the ground were not frozen to the depth of very many feet; in summer melting a little more than one foot. Into this treeless region in summer come innumer able birds of different kinds to build their nests and hatch their young. In autumn they fly south-some to the Crimea, some to Asia, others into Africa. So level is the country that in their flight they rarely reach a height of 500 feet above sea-level. This is the land of the Samoyeds, where agriculture is impossi ble, and the natives live by fishing and hunting. Still farther north, yet in Russia, is Nova Zembla, 750 north latitude, where no animal life exists; but even here, in this land of ice and snow, several hundred species of lichen have been found. Though the surface of the water is frozen for about nine months in the year, yet fish and animalculse abound, the temperature of the fish varying with the water in which they live, here only a little above the freezing-point. Returning to the black zone, near the latitude of Moscow, and traveling south, first the hardwood gives place to the rich prairie land; then we reach the agricultural steppe, a treeless land, susceptible of cultivation, though lacking in the rich, deep loam of the black zone. Farther south lie the vast barren steppes, in the west a sandy desert, in the east a vast saline plain, for merly the bed of a great lake, of which the Caspian and Aral seas formed a small part. This is the genuine steppe, a country level as the sea, without even a gentle undulation or a particle of cultivation-neither tree nor bush, nor even a stone, to diversify the monotonous expanse. The inhabitants lead a nomadic life, like those of the Arctic region. The very diversity of the country and the occupations of the people of Russia tend to unity, for the north needs the grain of the south, and the south requires the wood of the north. Middle Russia, that great center of manufactures, without the north and south would lack markets for its manufactures. MOUNTAINS. The greatest extent of upland in Russia is near Great Nov gorod, southwest of St. Petersburg, where the Valdai hills rise from 800 to 1,000 feet.
1895 Oct 31