1902 Encyclopedia > Samara, Russia


SAMARA, a government of south-eastern Russia, on the left bank of the lower Volga, bounded on the north by Kazan, on the west by Simbirsk and Saratoff, on the east by Ufa and Orenburg, and on the south by Astrakhan, the Kirghiz Steppes, and the territory of the Ural Cossacks. The area is 58,320 square miles, and the population in 1882 was 2,224,093. A line drawn eastwards from the great bend of the Volga—the Samarskaya Luka—would divide the province into two parts, differing in orographical character. In the north flat hills and plateaus, deeply intersected by rivers, cover the surface. Some of these are spurs of the Urals; the others are continuations of the flat swelling which traverses middle Russia from the Carpathians to the Urals and compels the Volga to make its characteristic bend before entering the Aral-Caspian lowlands. The Samara Hills, on the right bank of the river Samara ; the Kinel Hills ; the Falcon (Sokolii) Hills, to the north of the Buzuluk; the Sok Hills, with the Tsareff Kurgan at the junction of the Sok with the Volga; and the Zheguleff "Mountains" on the Volga opposite Samara are so many names given to separate elevations or parts of plateaus between the deep-cut river valleys. In their highest parts they rise about 1000 feet above the sea, while the level of the Volga at Samara is but 43 feet, and the broad valleys of the Volga affluents sink to a cor-respondingly low level. South of the Samarskaya Luka the country assumes the characters of a low and flat steppe, recently emerged from the great Post-Pliocene Aral-Caspian basin. Only two ranges of gentle swellings, spurs of the Obshchiy Syrt, enter the south-east corner of the province.
The geology of Samara is not yet fully known. Carboniferous limestones (Upper ?) occupy large tracts in the north-east and east. When approaching the Volga the zechstein appears in wide islands surrounded by the (probably Triassic) variegated marls and sands. Some Jurassic deposits are mentioned about the Samarsk-aya Luka. Cretaceous deposits, which cover large tracts on the right bank of the Volga, appear on the left bank only in the south-east of Samara. Older Tertiary deposits appear also in the very south of Samara ; while Pliocene limestones and sandy clays, which cover the Obshchiy Syrt and Ust-Urt, protrude north as a narrow strip, reaching the bend of the Volga. The Glacial boulder-clay of middle Russia does not extend as far south-east as Samara, and the Post-Glacial deposits, not yet fully investigated, are represented by loess, black earth, and lacustrine formations. It is now established that during Post-Glacial times the Aral-Caspian sea extended in a wide gulf occupying the broad depression of the Volga as far north as the Samarskaya Luka, Caspian mussels having been traced as far as Samara. The soil is on the whole very fertile. All the northern part of the government is covered with a thick sheet of black earth; this becomes thinner towards the south, clays—mostly fertile—appearing from beneath; salt clays appear in the south-east.

Samara is inadequately watered, especially in the south. The Volga flows for 550 miles along its western border. Its tributaries the Great Tcheremshan (220 miles), the Sok (195 miles), the Samara (340 miles), with its sub-tributaries, and the smaller tributaries the Motcha, Elan-Irghiz or Tchagra, and Little Irghiz are not navigable, partly on account of their shallowness, and partly because of water-mills. When the water is high, boats can enter some of them to a distance of 15 to 30 miles. The Great Irghiz alone, which has an exceedingly winding course of 835 miles, is navigated to Kutchum, and rafts are floated from Nikolaevsk. The banks of both Karamans are densely peopled. The Great and Little Uzeii water south-eastern Samara and lose themselves in the Kamysh sands before reaching the Caspian. A few lakes and marshes occur in the river-valleys, and salt marshes in the south-east.

The whole of the region is rapidly drying up. The forests, which are disappearing, are extensive only in the north. Altogether they still cover an area of 3,043,000 acres, or 8 per cent, of the whole surface ; prairie and grazing land occupies 11,495,000 acres, and only 4,193,000 acres are uncultivable.

The climate is one of extremes, especially in the steppes, where the depressing heat and drought of summer are followed in the winter by severe frosts, often accompanied by snow-storms. The average temperature at Samara (53° 11' N. lat.) is only 39°'2 (January, 9°'3 ; July, 70°'4).

The population, which was only 1,388,500 in 1853, has almost doubled since then, mostly in consequence of immigration ; it reached 2,224,093 iul882, and must now (1886) be about 2,250,000. Only 139,300 of these live in towns, the remainder being distri-buted over 4,470 villages, which are often very large, no fewer than 150 ranging in population from 2000 to 6000. The Great Russians, who have immigrated in compact masses, now constitute 65 per cent, of the population ; the Little Russians, who were settled by the Government about the salt lakes, number about 30,000; and the White Russians, also sent to Samara from West Russia, may number about 15,000. A special feature of Samara is its popula-tion of German colonists, from Wtirtemberg, Baden, Switzerland, and partly also from Holland and the Palatinate, whose immigration, dates from the invitation of Catherine II. in 1762. Protected as they were by free and extensive grants of land, by exemption from military service, and by self-government, they have developed rich coloniesof Catholics, Protestants, Unitarians, Anabaptists, Moravians,, and Mennonites, most of which have adopted the Russian village-community system, slowly modified by the existence of a special capital reserved for the purchase of land for the increasing popula-tion. They now constitute 40 per cent, of the population of the-district of Novo-Uzen, and 9 per cent, of that of Nikolaevsk, their aggregate number reaching 150,000. The Moksha and Erzya Mord-vinians, now nearly quite Russified, gathered in Samara during the reign of Peter I., when they abandoned in great numbers the left bank of the Volga; they constitute about 10 per cent, of the popu-lation. Some 70,000 Tchuvashes and 1500 Votyaks may be added to the above. The Turkish stem is represented by some 100,000 Tartars, 70,000 Bashkirs, and a few Kirghizes. Some baptized Kal-mucks were settled in 1730 at Stavropol; and about 600 Adyghe Circassians, settled at Novo-Uzen, may still be found there. All. these varied elements, living in close juxtaposition, nevertheless continue to maintain their own ethnographical features; the Mord-vinians alone have lost their ethnological individuality and rapidly undergo a modification of type as they adopt the life of Russian peasants. As regards religion, the great bulk of the population are Orthodox Greeks; the Nonconformists, who still retain their numerous and widely celebrated communities and monasteries on both the rivers Uzeii, number several hundred thousands (ofiicially 100,000); next come Mohammedans, 12 per cent.; a variety of Protestant sects, 5 per cent.; Roman Catholics, about 2 per cent.;. and, lastly, some 4000 pagans.

The chief occupation is agriculture,—summer wheat, rye, oats, millet, oil-yielding plants, and tobacco being the principal crops. Owing to its great fertility, Samara usually has a surplus of grain, for export, varying from 1J to 4 million quarters (exclusive of oats). annually. In 1883, which was an average year for summer wheat, but under the average for winter rye, the total crops were—wheat, 3,219,600 quarters; rye, 717,800; oats, 1,800,000; barley, 127,300;. and other grains, 1,310,000. Notwithstanding this production, varying from 5,000,000 to 9,000,000 quarters of grain (exclusive of oats) for a population of only 2\ millions, Samara is periodi-cally liable to famine to such an extent that men die by thousands of hunger-typhus, are compelled to send (as in 1879) to adjoining provinces to purchase orach as food, or are forced to go by hundreds of thousands in search of employment on the Volga, while millions of quarters of corn are nevertheless exported. The population have no store of corn, or reserve capital for years of scarcity (there were in 1882 only 245,100 quarters of corn in the public granaries, and 503,022 roubles of capital for that purpose), and some 210,000 males have in all only 845,000 acres of arable and pasture land. But even this soil, although all taxed as arable, is often of such quality that only 50 to 55 per cent, of it is under crops, while the peasants are compelled to rent from two to two and a half million acres for tillage from large proprietors. At present 8,549,000 acres, or about one-quarter of the total area of Samara, purchased from the crown or from- the Bashkirs at nomi-nal prices—very often a few copecks per acre—are in the hands of no more than 1704 persons. The aggregate taxes exacted from the peasants amounting to 5,782,870 roubles (1879), that is to say, from 8 to 10 roubles per male, they are, when account is taken of the advances received during scarcity, reduced to absolute destitu-tion whenever the crops are short, so as to be compelled to sell their last horse and cow. In 1880 the arrears reached 7,000,000 roubles, to which must be added about 8,000,000 roubles of advances, and in 1882, out of the 1,196,646 roubles proposed to be levied by the zemstvos, 376,643 remained in arrears. The general impoverish-ment may be judged from the death-rate, which for several years has ranged from 46 to 48 per thousand. In 1879 61,488 families were compelled to abandon their homes and disperse throughout Russia in search of employment; while 100,000 families were left wholly destitute of cattle in 1880. Notwithstanding an increase of population by nearly one-third during the last twenty years the numbers of sheep and cattle decreased by about one-half from 1863 to 1882.

The manufactures of Samara are unimportant, the aggregate production (chiefly from tanneries, flour-mills, tallow-melting houses, and distilleries) in 1882 reaching only 7,671,000 roubles (£767,100). Petty trades, especially the weaving of woollen cloth, are making progress in the south. The culture of oil-yielding plants is developed in several districts, as is also that of tobacco (10,690 acres, yielding 101,980 cwts., in'1884). Trade is very active—corn, tallow, potash, salt, and some woollen cloth being exported; the imports of raw cotton from Central Asia by the Orenburg railway to be forwarded to the interior of Russia are increasing. The aggregate value of merchandise shipped on the Volga and its tributaries within the government reached 27,025,000 roubles in 1882 ; while 9,100,000 cwts. of merchandise were carried in both directions on the Orenburg railway. The chief loading places are Samara, Stavropol, Batakova, and Pokrovsk on the Volga, Staro-Mainsk on the Maina, and Ekaterininsk on the Bezentchuk.

The government is divided into seven districts, the chief towns of which, with population as estimated in 1879, are—Samara (63,400 inhabitants), Bugulma (13,000), Bugurusfan (18,000), Buzuluk (10,500), Nikolaevsk (9,900), Novo-Uzeii (9700), and Stavropol (4265). Serghievsk (1000) also has municipal institutions ; its mineral waters are becoming more and more frequented. Pokrov-skaya Sloboda (20,000), Ekaterinenstadt, Giushitza, and Alexan-droff Gay, each with more than 5000 inhabitants, the loading place of Balakova (2500), and several others, although still but villages, have more importance than most of the above towns.

The territory now occupied by Samara was until last century the abode of nomads. The Bulgarians who occupied it until the 13th century were followed by Mongols of the Golden Horde. The Russians penetrated thus far in the 16th century, after the defeat of the principalities of Kazan and Astrakhan. To secure com-munication between these two cities, the fort of Samara was erected in 1586, as well as Saratoff, Tsaritsyn, and the first line of Russian forts, which extended from Byeiyi Yar to the neighbour-hood of Menzelinsk near the Kama. A few settlers began to gather under its protection. In 1670 it was taken by the insur-gent leader Stenka Razin, whose name is still remembered in the province. In 1732 the line of forts was removed a little farther east, so as to include Krasnyi Yar and parts of what is now the district of Bugurusfan. The Russian colonists also advanced eastwards as the forts were pushed forwards and increased in number. The southern part of the territory, however, remained still exposed to the raids of the nomads. In 1762 Catherine II. invited foreigners, especially Germans, and Nonconformists who had left Russia, to settle within the newly-annexed territory. Emigrants from various parts of Germany responded to the call, as also did the Raskolniks, whose communities on the Irghiz soon became the centre of a formidable insurrection of the peasantry which broke out in 1775 under Pugatcheff and was supported by the Kalmucks and the Bashkirs. After the insurrection, in 1787, a new line of forts from tlzen to the Volga and the Urals was erected to protect the southern part of the territory. At the end of the 18th century Samara became an important centre for trade. As soon as the southern part of the territory became quiet, great numbers of Great and Little Russians began to settle there—the latter by order of Government for the transport of salt obtained in the salt lakes. In the first half of the present century the region was rapidly colonized. In 1847-50 the Government introduced about 120 Polish families ; in 1857-59 Mennonites from Dantzic also founded settlements ; and in 1859 a few Circassians were brought hither by Government; while an influx of Great Russian peasants continued ami still goes on. The territory of Samara remained long under Kazan, or Astrakhan, or Simbirsk and Oren-burg. The separate government dates from 1851. (P. A. K.)

SAMARA, capital of the above government, is situated on the slopes of the left bank of the Volga, 743 miles to the south-east of Moscow, at the mouth of the Samara and opposite the hills of Zheguleff. It is one of the most important towns of the lower Volga for its trade, and its importance cannot fail to increase as the railway to Central Asia advances eastwards. Its population rose from 34,500 in 1869 to 63,400 in 1879. Samara is built mostly of wood, and large spaces remain vacant on both sides of its broad unpaved streets. Its few public buildings are insignificant. A number of the inhabitants support themselves by agriculture and gardening, for which they rent large areas in the vicinity of the town. The remainder are engaged at the harbour, one of the most important on the Volga. Three fairs are held annually, with aggregate returns exceeding 2,000,000 roubles. Samara is becoming more and more a resort for consumptives on account of its koumiss establishments (see vol. xvi. pp. 305-6).

The above article was written by: P. A. Kropotkine.

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