Geographical location and ethnic composition of the region Siberia and far East


Siberia's expanses, which account for 67 per cent of Russian territo­ry, are home to 34 nationalities distinguished not only by their appearance and language, but also by their culture. The Far North-East (Chukotka and Kamchatka) is popu­lated by the Asian Eskimo, the Aleut and the Maritime Chukchi, who hunt marine life, by the Tundra Chukchi and the Koryak, who are reindeer herders, and by the Itelmen, who are fishermen. The big river valleys in the south of the Far East (Primorye, or the Maritime Territory, the Amur valley and Sakhalin) are inhabited by fishers the Nivkh, the Nanai, the Ulchi, the Oroch, the Orok and the Negidal, and also by hunters, the Udeghe.

South Siberia is the land of herdsmen and crop farmers: the Altai, the Tuvan, the Khakas, the Shor, the Tofalar and the Buriat.

Southern Siberia was inhabited as early as the Paleolithic Age. The first inhabitants of the area were engaged in fishing, hunting and gathering. They knew how to handle fire and used stone, bones and horns for making implements. Among the archaeological finds dating from a later period (the third to second millennium B.C.), bones of domestic animals have been uncovered, such as sheep, oxen and horses. The ancient livestock breeders had permanent homes and were familiar with agriculture. In the seventh to second century B.C. a transition from settled pastoral to semi-nomadic livestock rearing took place, which made it possible to open up the Minusinsk steppes.

Western Siberia, rich in oil and gas, is home to the Khanty and Mansi fishers, the Selkup hunters, and the Nenets reindeer herdsmen. The Nganasan deer-hunters, together with the Dolgan and Entsy reindeer herdsmen, inhabit the Taimyr Peninsula in the north of Eastern Siberia. Hunting communities of the Evenk are scattered all over Eastern Siberia, whereas the Yukaghir hunters and fishermen and the Even reindeer herdsmen live on the boundary between that territory and the North-East. The central part of Eastern Siberia and the western part of North-Eastern Siberia are inhabited by the Yakut, the second largest group in that region and the world's northernmost community of horse-breeders.