KHERSON, a government of south Russia, on the N. coast of the Black Sea, bounded W. by the governments of Bessarabia and Podolia, N. by Kiev and Poltava, S. by Ekaterinoslav and Taurida. The area is 27,497 sq. m. The aspect of the country, especially in the south, is that of an open steppe, and almost the whole government is destitute of forest. The Dniester marks the western and the Dnieper the south-eastern boundary; the Bug, the Ingul and several minor streams drain the intermediate territory. Along the shore stretch extensive lagoons. Iron, kaolin and salt are the principal minerals. Nearly 45% of the land is owned by the peasants, 31% by the nobility, 12% by other classes, and 12% by the crown, municipalities and public institutions. The peasants rent 1,730,000 acres more from the landlords. Agriculture is well developed and 9,000,000 acres (51.1%) are under crops. Agricultural machinery is extensively used. The vine is widely grown, and yields 1,220,000 gallons of wine annually. Some tobacco is grown and manufactured. Besides the ordinary cereals, maize, hemp, flax, tobacco and mustard are commonly grown; the fruit trees in general cultivation include the cherry, plum, peach, apricot and mulberry; and gardening receives considerable attention. Agriculture has been greatly improved by some seventy German colonies. Cattle-breeding, horse-breeding and sheep-farming are pursued on a large scale. Some sheep farmers own 30,000 or 40,000 merinos each. Fishing is an important occupation. There are manufactures of wool, hemp and leather; also iron-works, machinery and especially agricultural machinery works, sugar factories, steam flour-mills and chemical works. The ports of Kherson, Ochakov, Nikolayev, and especially Odessa, are among the principal outlets of Russian commerce; Berislav, Alexandriya Elisavetgrad, Voznesenask, Olviopol and Tiraspol play an important part in the inland traffic. In 1871 the total population was 1,661,892, and in 1897 2,744,040, of whom 1,332,175 were women and 785,094 lived in towns. The estimated pop. in 1906 was 3,257,600. Besides Great and Little Russians, it comprises Rumanians, Greeks, Germans (123,453), Bulgarians, Bohemians, Swedes, and Jews (30% of the total), and some Gypsies. About 84% belong to the Orthodox Greek Church; there are also numerous Stundists. The government is divided into six districts, the chief towns of which are: Kherson (q.v.), Alexandriya (14,0021n1897),Ananiev (16,713), Elisavetgrad (66,182 in 1900), Odessa (449,673 in 1900), and Tiraspol (29,323 in 1900). This region was long subject to the sway of the Tatar khans of the Crimea, and owes its rapid growth to the colonizing activity of Catherine II., who between 1778 and 1792 founded the cities of Kherson, Odessa and Nikolayev. Down to 1803 this government was called Nikolayev.
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