Siberian territory spans over 3 million square miles. It stretches West-East for 2.25 thousand miles - from the Eastern mountainside of Urals to the Far East (longitudes 65 and 115 east), and South-North for .2 thousand miles - from Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China borders to the Arctic Ocean shore (latitudes 50 and 80 north). The boundary between Western and Eastern Siberia runs mainly along divide of Ob and Yenisei rivers.

Siberian territory is extremely dissimilar as for both physical-climatic features and economic development. The Far North of Siberia is basically desert tundra and permafrost area, whereas to the south of Siberia there are regions with mild climate (grapes and water-melons ripen there in the open soil) and advanced industry. Population density varies as well: Kemerovo region is comparable in this respect with Moscow region, and Yamal, Taimyr, Evenkia territories are more like Alaska or Canadian North-West. Physical-climatic features of the southern Siberia regions are favorable for intensive agriculture and for development of modern recreational services (the Baikal lake, Sayany Mountains and Mountain Altai).

Oil and Gas

Oil and natural gas deposits, as well as extraction and refinery capacities, are situated mainly in Western Siberia. Tyumen city is considered an unofficial capital of oil- and gas-bearing Siberia. Siberian oil and gas are the main sources of fuel and energy not only for Russia, yet for other countries of CIS as well. About 25 % of oil and gas extracted is intended for export, which gives Russia over 3/4 of its hard currency receipts (see Siberian oil companies).


There are unique deposits of high quality low sulfur coal concentrated in Kuzbas (reserves exceed 600 billion tons). The major part of deposits of most valuable coking coal in Russia is allocated here. Still Kansk-Achinsk brown coal field possesses much greater resources (over 1 200 billion tons). Kansk- Achinsk coal lies in massive seams 80-100, at places 200 and even up to 300 feet thick - comparatively shallow. The field may become the main supplier of inexpensive power coal in Russia.


Forests are the unique wealth of Siberia. Woods cover an area of about 800 thousand square miles; almost 40 billion cubic metres of timber are allocated there - the lion's share of Russia's resources. Over 4/5 of timber reserves are of coniferous kinds.


No territory in Russia bears comparison with Siberia in water supply provision. Baikal lake alone holds 1/5 of the world fresh water reserves. The largest rivers - Ob, Yenisei, Lena with numerous full-flowing tributaries - run over Siberian area, which favors water-intensive industries allocation here. There is no other region in Russia, comparable with Siberia in potential and efficiency of utilization of hydraulic power resources.

Other Natural Resources

Siberia holds considerable share of non-ferrous metal reserves. There are deposits of copper, nikel, zink, aluminium ores, precious metals, deposits with commercial content of mica, fluorite, black lead, asbestos, mercury and many other valuable minerals. Rock salt deposits of Irkutsk salt-bearing basin count by hundreds billion tons. Over half the Russia's reserves of pure limestone is allocated in Siberia. Siberia's share (%) in the Russia's scale of
   territory                      - 45
   population                     - 17
   oil extracion                  - over 70 (300 million tons)
   gas extraction                 - over 80 (550 billion cubic metres)
   coal extraction                - over 60 (220 million tons)
   timber resources               - over 50
   water resources                - over 60
   hydraulic power potential      - over 70
   electricity output             - over 20 (140 billion kW-h)


Extremely dissimilar over Siberian territory population density and economic activity are determined by highly diverse ecological geography. Vast areas remain practically unaffected by human activity, yet in industrial regions air, water and soil are heavily polluted with harmful substances. Obsolete technologies, lack of facilities for rendering and purification of industrial waste are the reasons for large economic centers of Siberia - Angarsk, Bratsk, Kemerovo, Krasnoyarsk, Novokuznetsk, Norilsk - to get on the list of the most ecologically unhappy cities in Russia.

Mark Bandman
Vladimir Malov
Tatiana Esikova