siberian

Trans-Siberian Railroad

[trans-sahy-beer-ee-uhn, trans-]

Longest single rail system in Russia, running from Moscow to Vladivostok, a distance of 5,778 mi (9,198 km). Conceived by Tsar Alexander III, its construction began in 1891 and proceeded simultaneously along its entire length, which traversed a section of Manchuria. It was completed in 1904, but the impending Japanese takeover of Manchuria compelled construction of a parallel section within Russian territory, completed in 1916. The railroad opened large areas of Siberia to settlement and industrialization by means of spur lines linking outlying areas with the main line. The complete trip takes about eight days.

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Breed of dog developed in Siberia by the Chukchi people, who used it as a sled dog, companion, and guard. It was brought to Alaska in 1909 for sled-dog races and became established as a consistent winner. A graceful dog with erect ears and a dense, soft coat, it stands 20–24 in. (51–60 cm) and weighs 35–60 lbs (16–27 kg). It is usually gray, tan, or black and white; head markings may resemble a cap, mask, or spectacles. The breed, kept pure for hundreds of years in Siberia, is noted for intelligence and a gentle temperament.

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or Paleo-Asiatic languages

Group of four unrelated language families spoken in northeastern Asia. Believed to have covered much larger areas of Siberia and perhaps Manchuria in the past, they have lost ground to Uralic and Altaic languages and more recently to Russian (see Siberian peoples). Of the Yeniseian languages, the only survivors are Ket, spoken by fewer than 500 people, and the virtually extinct Yug. The two extant Yukaghir languages (which are believed by some specialists to belong to the Uralic languages), North, or Tundra, Yukaghir and South, or Kolyma, Yukaghir, together have fewer than 100 speakers. The Chukotko-Kamchatkan (Luorawetlan) family includes Chukchi, with about 10,000 speakers in extreme northeastern Siberia; Koryak, with fewer than 5,000 speakers south of Chukchi; and Itelmen, spoken on the Kamchatka Peninsula by fewer than 100 people. The two Nivkh (Gilyak) varieties, Amur Nivkh and Sakhalin Nivkh, together have fewer than 1,000 speakers.

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Island group, Arctic Ocean, northeastern Russia, north of eastern Siberia. The islands divide the Laptev Sea from the East Siberian Sea. They are separated from the Siberian mainland by Dmitry Laptev Strait. With an area of about 14,500 sq mi (38,000 sq km), they are snow-covered for more than nine months of the year. Arctic fox, northern deer, lemming, and many species of birds inhabit the islands.

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