Novgorod, Russia (Government) - Encyclopedia

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NOVGOROD, a government of N.W. Russia, bounded W. and N. by the governments of St Petersburg and Olonets, S.E. by Vologda, Yaroslav and Tver, 4,nnd S.W. by Pskov, stretching from S.W. to N.E. 450 M. Area, 47,223 sq. M. Pop. (1906) 1 ,555,7 00. The S. is occupied by the Valdai plateau, in which are the highest elevations of middle Russia (600 to over 1000 ft.), as well as the sources of nearly all the great rivers of the country. The plateau is deeply furrowed by valleys with abrupt slopes, and descends rapidly towards the basin of Lake Ilmen in the W. (only 60 ft. above the sea-level). The N.E. of the government belongs to the lacustrine region of N.W. Russia. This tract is dotted over with innumerable sheets of water, of which Byelo-ozero (White Lake) and Vozhe are the largest of more than 3000. Immense marshes, overgrown with thin forests of birch and elm, occupy more than one-seventh of the entire area of the government; several of them have an area of 3,00 to 450 sq. m. each. They admit of being crossed only when frozen. Six centuries ago they were even less accessible, but the slow upheaval of N.W. Russia, going on at the rate of 3 or more feet per century, has exercised a powerful influence upon the drainage of the country. Of recent years artificial drainage has been carried out on a large scale. The forests still occupy 55% of the total area of the government.

Geologically, Novgorod exhibits in the W. vast beds of Devonian limestones and sandstones; these are elsewhere overlaid with Carboniferous limestone, dolomite, sandstones and marls. The Devonian gives rise to salt-springs, especially at Staraya Russa (S. of Lake Ilmen), and contains iron-ores, while the more recent formation has coal strata of inferior quality. The whole is covered with a thick sheet of boulder-clay, very often arranged in ridges or eskers, the bottom moraine of the N. European ice-sheet of the Glacial period. Numerous remains of the neolithic Stone Age are found, especially round the extinct lakes. The Baltic and Caspian Sea basins are connected by the Mariinsk, Tikhvin and Vyshniy-Volochok canals, while the Alexander-von-Wurttemberg canal connects the tributaries of the White Sea with those of the Baltic. The chief river is-the Volkhov, which flows from Lake Ilmen into Lake Ladoga.

Other navigable rivers are the Syas, also flowing into Lake Ladoga, and the Sheksna and the Mologa, tributaries of the Volga. The Msta and the Lovat are the principal streams in the basin of Lake Ilmen. All boats from the Volga to St Petersburg pass through this government.

The yearly average temperature at Novgorod is only 40° Fahr. (14.5° in January, 62.5° in July). The severe climate, the marshy or stony soil, and the want of grazing grounds render agriculture unprofitable, though it is carried on everywhere. The yield of rye and other cereals is insufficient for the wants of the inhabitants. Fireclay, coal and turf are extracted in commercial quantities. Building, smith-work, fishing, shipbuilding, distilleries, glass and match factories, sawmills and a variety of domestic industries give occupation to about 40,000 families. Hunting is still profitable. But most of the inhabitants are dependent on the river-boat traffic; and nearly one-fourth of the able-bodied males are annually driven to other parts of Russia in search of work. The Novgorod carpenters and masons have long been renowned. Trade is chiefly in grain and timber, and in manufactures and grocery wares from St Petersburg. The fairs are numerous, and several of them (Kirilovsk monastery, Staraya Russa and Cherepovets) show considerable returns.

The inhabitants are almost exclusively Great-Russians, but they are discriminated by some historians from the GreatRussians of the basin of the Oka, as showing remote affinities with the Little-Russians. They belong mostly (964%) to the Orthodox Greek Church, but there are many Nonconformists. There are 10,000 Karelians and 9000 Chudes, with some Jews and some Germans. Novgorod is well provided with educational institutions, and primary education is widely diffused in the villages. (P. A. K.; J. T. BE.)

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