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A History of the Peoples of Siberia: Russia’s North Asian Colony Essay

Siberia for many years has been known as a continent by its own because of its sustainability. But things changed when Russia started to expand its territory eastwards. Siberia was one of the victims of this expansion. It became a colonist of Russia where it was denied most of the rights it enjoyed before. Siberia is strategically located and it is also rich in minerals and agricultural products. All this advantages led to its colonization. Siberia has a big area which cannot be seen in full by the satellites. Many people do not know about Siberia because it is under Russia, it is the stronghold of Russia. The paper will discuss the history, people, climate and geography of Siberia. Last but not least the paper will explore how Siberia affects Russia and why it is important.

History of Siberia

           Siberia was founded more than300, 000 years ago and its first capital was in Tobolsk. Siberia was strategically located a long the river which served as a departure point for traders and nomads groups. The traders were trading fur with Russians. Tatar of Sibil was the ruler of Siberia before the colonization by Russia. The Tatar ruled as a prince though there were many native groups which had their own small empires. Colonization of Siberia started allowed 1552 though there was trade that was going on between the Russians and the native groups of Siberia around thirteen century where the main trading item was fur. The colonization took place after Russia started expanding its territory eastwards (Lincoln et al, 190). Their main aim was to conquer Siberia because it had many advantages. In 1581, Russia invaded the city of sibils and overthrew the prince Tatar. The attack was a surprise to Tatar and his empire because he was not prepared for a fight. By seventieth century, Russia had taken control of the whole of west Siberia. In 1640 Russian troops led by Cossacks penetrated through the Siberia territory through the river but they collided by Chinese troops who had also come to find a territory to colonize, they made a treaty where china was allowed to take that east part of Siberia. In 1860, China gave Russia the eastern territory of Siberia and thus Russia became in full control of Siberia (Heywood et al, 106). Siberia was now under a colonel who was based in Moscow but later was transferred to St.petersburg. Russians did not interfere with the lives of the native groups of Siberia but they were supposed to pay tribute to the colonel. The larger communities benefited a lot from the Russian government through the fur trade which was the main source of wealth to Russians. In eighteenth century the fur trade went down drastically, this brought economy crisis in Russia but the crisis did nit rust for wrong (Heywood et al, 111). Siberians started mining minerals which now became the main source of wealth for the Russians and the big communities of Siberia were the beneficiaries. The small natives groups were mostly involved in hunting and other small activities.

Urban towns of Russia were being overpopulated and to solve that problem, Nicholas who was by then the foreign affairs minister of Russia ordered the colonization of Siberia. That is another reason why Russia colonized Siberia. In between 1894-1905 many people migrated to Siberia because of construction of a railway line which was known as trans-Siberian railway. The railway enhanced the transportation of goods from Siberian to European countries. Also mining was enhanced by the railway construction (Lincoln et al, 190). Up to now Siberians are under Russia. Lastly, Siberia was the main stronghold of Russia during the revolution war; it provided Russia with both the natural resources and human personnel’s.

Siberian people

           According to Forsyth (89), Siberia consists of forty native groups who are mostly from Russia or Ukraine. There are only two natives group that are from Turkey, they include the Tuva and khakass. They are small and large tribes in Siberia where the smallest group has a minimum of 50,000 while the large groups like Komi and Yakut have minimum of 400,000 (Lincoln et al, 163). The indigenous groups include Saami, Dolgan, mansi and delskup plus many other minor groups. Most of the minor groups are hunters and raiders. This is openly shown by the fur trade which was the main trading item before it went down in 1890s. Other groups are involved in the art of work and design. The first stony house was built in 1587 in Siberia this shows how work of craft and art started long time ago. The big communities are mostly involved in trade or mining of gold, silver and diamond. Agriculture is also part of the lives of the Siberian people. Most of the people inhibit the area near the big rivers where they do farming for domestic use and for export.

Industrialization is the main challenge of the indigenous people of Siberian. The most affected area is the north where industrialization is growing at a higher rate and those communities are not in a position of getting employment opportunities in those industries. This is because most of them are illiterate and the manual work that they can do it is being done by machines. This affects also their way of lives of those communities where their land has been taken for expansion of industries purposes. Environmental pollution by industries and mostly mining companies is another problem that those people are facing. Despite all this changes, hunting, nomadic, fishing and mining remains to be the main activities of Siberia residents.

Geography of Siberia

           Siberia has four administrative unites which includes Altai, Tuva, Khakass, and Buryat republics and it bonders arctic oceans where it has two islands in that ocean. Siberia is divided into north and south by vegetation. Forest makes forty percent of the vegetation in Siberia. It has three rivers that drain water into the oceans. They offer transport from south to north. Transport between east and west is facilitated by the railway line. Siberia can also be divided into four phases, one of them is west Siberian this is the part that greatly favors agriculture where the major crops grown here is wheat, potatoes, sun flower and flax (Lincoln et al, 178). The second is the central, the third one is the mountain of the south and the last but not the least is the north. South west part of Siberia contains the important cities, industries and also it holds sixty percent of Siberia population. The southern part of uplands has a deep lake and many tourist attraction sights but the place is sparsely populated by because of cold climates and poor communication. East Siberia is the leading producer of gold, diamond, silver and many other minerals. Hydro-electric power is also found in this area.

Climate in Siberia

           Siberia is the coolest town in the world. The situation becomes worse during the winter season because the temperatures are always below the freezing level. The temperatures in the southern part during the month of January rise above 37 degrees Celsius while in the northern part they rise above 47 degrees Celsius. This shows the massive climate difference between different parts of Siberia (Rasputin et al, 65). During winters, snow falls in large quantities and it takes a period of six months for the snow to melt and that is the reason why many people avoid this town during winter season. The town is very near to the ocean that is why the town experiences the harsh climate conditions.

Development of Siberia

           After the colonization, Russia called Siberia a secret economic weapon. The reason behind this is because of the resources they saw that could be of importance if exploited. That is why the Russian government started to invest heavily in Siberia. They started by building the trans-Siberia railway which ensure efficient transport of goods and people to and from Siberia. The railway brought a big boost in the economy of Siberia. The second step was the migration of many Russians citizens to Siberia. Most of the people free from congestion in Russia where they settled in Siberia. They came up with different skills and with minds of business where they started business, others started training institutes (Rasputin et al, 74). The last step of development was the efforts of government. The government started many industries because the place had a lot of resources, more mining companies and equipments were brought to Siberia and within a short period of time Siberia was a developed town. The efforts of leaders can also be recognized because all this programs were monitored by the leaders of Siberia and of Russia in general.

The development of Siberia affected Russia positively (Wood et al, 214). Siberia was the main exporter region of minerals; this boosted the economy of the country. The agricultural goods from Siberia served the whole nation. The importance of Siberia development was seen during the revolution. Russia emerged as a super power because it had resources to produce weapons and money to sustain is soldiers. Siberia helped Russia to conquer mare territories because it was located in a strategic position. Congestion in Russian major towns was reduced because of many people migrated to Siberia for settlement and business. The Russians proved what they meant that Siberia was their secret weapon.


           In conclusion, Siberia was a real unknown continent; it took many years for the Russians to recognize the treasure in Siberia although they were trading together in the thirteenth century. Russians decision to colonize Siberia cannot be criticized because Siberia had no ability to fully exploit the resources that were lying underground without any use. Siberia is now one of the major towns in the world. The town became popular in everything despite that town being of no meaning at first. The benefits of development is today enjoyed by many, however, some people are still suffering because of development. Indigenous people are in the front line of suffering where this development came to destroy their way of life. They do not enjoy the fruits because they had no chance of participating in this development because of their illiteracy. There are many similar towns in the world with resources but they have not been noticed. Research should be done in order to recognize those towns or areas.


Forsyth, James. A History of the Peoples of Siberia: Russia’s North Asian Colony, 1581 – 1990. Cambridge [u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998. Print.

Haywood, A J. Siberia: A Cultural History. Oxford: Signal, 2010. Internet resource.

Lincoln, W B. The Conquest of a Continent: Siberia and the Russians. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 2004. Print.

Rasputin, Valentin. Siberia, Siberia. Evanston, Ill: Northwestern University Press, 1996. Print.

Wood, Alan. Siberia: Problems and Prospects for Regional Development. London: Croom Helm, 1987. Print.

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