1902 Encyclopedia > Transcaspian Region, Russia

Transcaspian Region
Russia




TRANSCASPIAN REGION (Zakaspiyskaya Oblast), ii. Plate an extensive territory to the east of the Caspian, annexed by Russia within the last fifteen years, is bounded on the S. by the highlands of Khorasan and Afghanistan, on the N. by Uralsk (from which it is divided by a line drawn from the Mortvyi Kultuk Bay of the Caspian to the south extremity of Lake Aral), on the N.E. by Khiva and Bokhara, and on the S.E. (where it penetrates towards Herat on the slopes of the Paropamisus, and includes the Badhyz plateau) by Afghan Turkestan. So defined, it has an area of 220,000 square miles.

Although nine-tenths of this territory consists of uninhabitable desert, an interest attaches to it on account of the great physical changes it has undergone during the Post-Glacial period. Since Pallas visited its borders, and still more since Humboldt discussed its history, it has never ceased to attract the attention of geographers. In fact, some of the most interesting problems of geography, such as those relating to the changes in the course of the Jaxartes and the Oxus, the bifurcation and the oscillation of a great river, and the supposed periodical disappearance of Lake Aral, are connected with the Transcaspian deserts ; and it is here that we must look for a clue to the great physical changes which transformed the Mediterranean of Western Asia - the Aral-Caspian and Pontic basin - into a series of separate seas, and desiccated them, powerfully influencing the distribution of floras and faunas, and compelling the inhabitants of Western and Central Asia to enter upon their great migrations. But down to a very recent date the dry and barren deserts, peopled only by wandering Turcoman bands, remained almost a terra incognita, and only now are we beginning to make the very first steps towards their really scientific exploration.

A mountain chain, in length comparable to the Alps, separates the deserts of the Transcaspian from the highlands of Khorasan. It runs from north-west to south-east, and appears as a continuation of the Caucasus. It begins in the Krasuodovsk peninsula of the Caspian, under the names of Kuryanin-kara and Great Balkans, whose masses of granite and other crystalline rock reach a height of more than 5000 feet. Farther to the south-east these are continued in the much lower Little Balkans and Kyuren-dagh (2000 feet), the Kopepet-dagh, Kosty-dagh, Asilma, and Zaryn-kul,--the name of Kopepet-da,gh or Kopet-dagh being often now used to designate the whole chain which rises steep and wild above the flat deserts from the Caspian to the river Murghab, - a stretch of 600 miles. In structure it is homologous with the Caucasus chain ; it appears as an outer wall of the Khorasan plateau, and is separated from it by a broad valley, which, like the Rion and Kura valley of Transcaucasia, is watered by two rivers flowing in opposite directions, - the Atrek, which flows north-west into the Caspian, and the Kesbefrud, which flows to the south-east, and is a tributary of the Murghab. On the other side of this valley the Allahdagh and the Binalund border-ridges (9000 to 11,000 feet) fringe the edge of the Khorasan plateau. At its south-eastern extremity this outer wall loses its regularity where it meets with the spurs of the Hindu-kush. Descending towards the steppe with steep stony slopes, it rises to heights of 6000 and 9000 feet to the east of Kizil-arvat, while the passes which lead from the Turco-man deserts to the valleys of Khorasan are seldom as low as 3500, usually rising to 5000, 6000, and even 8500 feet, and in most cases being very difficult. This wall is pierced by but one wide opening, that between the Great and Little Balkans, through which the sea which once covered the steppe maintained connexion with the Caspian.

While the Allah-dagh and Binalund border-ridges are chiefly composed of crystalline rocks and metamorphic slates covered with Devonian deposits, a series of more recent formations - Upper and Lower Cretaceous, and Miocene - are shown in the outer wall of the Kopet-dagh. Here again we find that the mountains of Asia which stretch towards the north-west continued to be uplifted at a geologically recent epoch. Quaternary deposits have an extensive development on its slopes, and its hillfoots are bordered by a girdle of loess.

The loess terrace, called "Atok" ("mountain base "), is but narrow, ranging in width from 10 to 20 miles ; still its chain of settlements have rendered it possible to lay down a railway which now connects the Caspian with Sarakhs. It is very fertile, but could produce nothing without irrigation, and the streams flowing from the Kopet-dagh are few and meagre. The winds which reach the northern slope of the mountains have been deprived of all their moisture in crossing the Kara-kum - the Black Sands of the Turcoman desert ; and even such rain as falls on the Kopet-dagh (10i inches at Kizil-arvat) too often reaches the soil in the shape of showers which do not saturate it, so that the average relative humidity is but 56 and the average nebulosity only 3.9, as against 62 and 41 at even so dry a place as Krasnovodsk. Still, at those places where the mountain streams are closer to one another, as at Geok-tepe, Askabad, Lutfabad, and Kahka, the villages are more populous, and the houses are surrounded by gardens, every square yard and every tree of which is fed by irrigation.

Beyond this narrow strip of irrigated land begins the desert, - the Kara-kum, - which extends from the mountains of Khorasan to Lake Aral and the Ust-Urt, and from the Caspian to the Amu, interrupted only by the oases of Mery and Tejen. It appears, however, that the terrible shifting sands blown into barkhans, or elongated hills, sometimes 50 and 60 feet in height, are grouped chiefly in the west, where the country has more recently emerged from the sea. Farther to the east the barkhans are more stable, their slopes being covered with bushes (for the most part leafless); the caravans sometimes follow their crests, and the shifting sands occupy restricted spaces. Large areas amidst the sands are occupied by takyrs, or flat surfaces covered with clay which is hard as a rule, but becomes almost impassable after heavy rains. In these takyrs the Turcomans dig ditches, draining into a kind of cistern - the kak - where the water of the spring rains keeps for a few months. Wells are sunk also along the routes of the caravans, and water is found in them at depths of 10 to 50 or occasionally 100 feet and more. All is not desert in the strict sense ; in spring there is for the most part a covering of grass, which allows of journeys across the desert. There are footpaths in several directions, especially from the irrigated and cultivated Atok towards Khiva.





The vegetation of the Kara-kum cannot be described as poor ; the typical representative of the sand deserts of Asia, the saksaul (Anabasis Ammodendron), has been almost destroyed within the last hundred years, and never appears in forests, but the borders of the spaces covered with salted clay are brightened by forests of tamarisk, which are inhabited by great numbers of the desert warbler (iftraphornis uralensis) - a typical inhabitant of the sands, - sparrows, and ground-choughs (Podoces); the Haubara macgaennii, Gray, though not frequent, is characteristic of the region. Hares and foxes, jackals and wolves, marmots, moles, hedgehogs, and one species of marten live in the steppe, especially in spring. As a whole, the fauna is richer than might be supposed, while in the Atok it contains representatives of all the The Uzboi. - A feature distinctive of the Turcoman desert is seen by the deposits of its shells described by the Russian engineers. in the very numerous shors, or elongated depressions, the lower Kelif-Uzboi. - There is also no doubt that, instead of flowing portions of which are occupied mostly with sand impregnated with north-westward of Kelif, the Amu once flowed to join the Murghab brackish water. They are obviously the remains of brackish lakes, and Tejefi ; the succession of depressions described by the Russian and, like the lakes of the Kirghiz steppes, they often follow one engineers as the Kelif-Uzboi 6 supports this hypothesis, which a another in close succession, thus closely resembling river-beds. geographer cannot avoid making when studying a map of the As the direction of these shors is generally from the higher terraces Transcaspian region ; but the date at which the Oxus followed watered by the Amu-Daria towards the lowlands of the Caspian, such a course, and the extension which the Caspian basin then had they were usually regarded as old beds of the Amu-Daria, and were towards the east, remain unsettled. Much, however, has still to held to support the idea of its once having flowed across the Turco- be done before we can fully reconstruct the geological history of man desert towards what is now the Caspian Sea. A few years that region since the Pliocene epoch, or show how far the data of ago it seemed almost settled, not only that that river (see Oxus) Pliny, Strabo, and Ptolemy were descriptions of actual facts.7 flowed into the Caspian during historical times, but that, after Population. - With the exception of some 35,000 Kirghiz en-having ceased to do so in the 7th century, its waters were again camped with their herds on the Ust-Urt plateau (a swelling some diverted to the Caspian about 1221. A succession of elongated 600 to 1000 feet in height and nearly 92,000 square miles in extent, depressions, having a faint resemblance to old river-beds, was which, owing to its dryness and cold winter, can be inhabited only traced from Urgenj to the gap between the Great and the Little by nomad cattle-breeders) and a few Persians in the Lutfabad and Balkans, marked on the maps as the Uzboi, or old bed of the Shilghyan villages of the Atok, the whole of the population of the Oxus.° The idea of again diverting the Amu into the Caspian Transcaspian region consists of Turcomans. Until pa very recent was thus set afloat, and expeditions were sent out for explora- date their chief occupation was cattle-rearing and robbery. Even tions with this view. The result of these investigations by Russian those Turcomans who had settled abodes on the oases of the Atok, engineers, especially Hedroitz, Konshin, Mushketoff, Lessar, and Tejefi, and Mery were in the habit of encamping during spring in Svintsoff,3 was, however, to show that the Uzboi is no river-bed the steppes, and there practising robbery. Robber bands were at all, and that no river has ever discharged its waters in that easily formed, and on their powerful horses they extended their direction. The existence of an extensive lacustrine depression, where excursions to distances of 200 and 300 miles from their abodes. They the small Sary-kamysh lakes are now the only remains of a wide infested the Astrabad province ; and the villages of the khanates basin, was proved, and it became evident that this depression, having of Afghan Turkestan, from Balkh to Meshhed, were periodically a length of more than 130 miles, a width of 70 miles, and a depth devastated by them. The aspect of the steppe has, however, of 280 feet below the present level of Lake Aral, would have to be greatly changed since the Russian advance, the fall of the Turco-filled by the Amu, before its waters could advance farther to the man stronghold of Geok-tepe, and the massacres which ensued ; south-west. The sill of this basin being only 28 feet below the the Persians are already beginning to avenge themselves ou the present level of Lake Aral, this latter could not be made to dis- inhabitants of the Atok by disputing with them the supplies of appear, nor even be notably reduced iu size by the Amu flowing water coming from the Kopet-dagh.

from Urgenj to the south-west. A more careful exploration of the The chief oasis of the Turcoman desert is the Atok, which Uzboi has shown moreover that, while the deposits in the Sary- extends along the base of the Kopet-da,„,,h, and is now traversed kamysh depression, and the Aral shells they contain, bear unmis- by the Transcaspian railway. The Akha'i and the Arakadj oases, takable testimony as to the fact of the basin having once been fed collectively called Atok, now have a population of about 42,000 by the Amu-Daria, no such traces are found along the Uzboi below Tekke-Turcomans, who have recently settled there, and live for the the Sary-kamysh depression ; 4 on the contrary, shells of molluscs most part in miserable clay huts or in felt tents (kibitkas). They still inhabiting the Caspian are found in numbers all along it, and raise wheat, barley, and lucerne ; and the Persians have excellent the supposed old bed has all the characters of a series of lakes which gardens. Some cotton is also grown, and the culture of the silk-continued to subsist at the hillfoots of the Ust-Urt plateau, while worm is beginning to spread. The chief settlements are Askabad, the Caspian was slowly receding westwards during the Post-Pliocene Kizil-arvat, and Geok-tepe.

period. On rare occasions only did the waters of the Sary-kamysh, The oasis of MEnv (q.v.) is inhabited by Akhal-tekkes (about alternately into Lake Aral and into the Sary-kamysh. Russian occupation of Sarakhs on the Tejeil (see AFGHANISTAN and As for the ancient texts with regard to the Jaxartes and Oxus, PERSIA) and Penjdeh on the Murghab. It has the characters of a it becomes more and more probable that their interpretation, if plateau reaching about 2000 feet above the sea, with hills 500 and possible at all, is only so when it is admitted that, since the epoch 600 feet high covered with sand, the spaces between being filled to which these relate, the outlines of the Caspian Sea and Lake with loess. The Borkhut Mountains which connect the Kopet-dagli Aral have undergone notable changes, commensurate with those with the Sefid-kub, reach 3000 to 4000 feet, and are crossed in a gorge which are supposed to have occurred in the courses of the Central by the Heri-rud. Thickets of poplar and willow follow the courses Asian rivers. The desiccation of the Aral-Caspian basin proceeded of both the Murghab and Heri-rud, and the treesreach a considerable with such rapidity that the shores of the Caspian could not possibly size. Pistachio and mulberry trees grow in isolated groups on the maintain for some twenty centuries the outlines which they have hills ; but there are few places available for culture, and the Saryks at present. When studied in detail, the general configuration of (some 60,000 in number) congregate in only two oases at Yot-otan the Transcaspian region leaves no doubt that both the Jaxartes and Penjdeh. Cattle-breeding is their chief occupation, and enables and the Oxus, with its former tributaries, the Murghab and the them to live in a certain degree of affluence. Brigandage, formerly Tejefi, once flowed towards the west ; but the Caspian of that time a notable source of income, is now being suppressed. The Sarakhs oasis is now occupied by the Salors, hereditary enemies of the drawn immediately after the survey of the Uzboi had been completed, the Uzboi Great modifications in the life of the steppe have of course been has not the continuity which is given to it on subsequent maps. brought about by the Russian conquest, which was followed with a Their original papers are printed in the krestia of the Russian Geogr. Soc., munications. s In connexion with this southern "old bed," it is worthy of notice that the red clays with these fossils extend for 130 miles to the east of the Caspian 7 Such an intermingling of modern data with older traditions is not unknown (fires t ia of Russ. Gcog. Soc., 1883 and 1886). to geographers. A striking instance of it is given In the supposed connexion of s As by Jenkinson, who mentions a sweet-water gulf of the Caspian within sex Lake Aral with the Arctic Ocean during historical times ; physical changes are days' march from Khwarezm, by which gulf he could mean nothing but the Sary- proceeding so rapidly in Asia that we find traces of like survivals of traditions kamysh depression. even in this age of accurate surveys.

" No Russian sea shows so rapid a growth of navigation as the Caspian Sea during the last fifteen years. In 1884 no less than 1945 steamers (611,000 tons), engaged in foreign trade, entered the Russian ports of the Caspian, as against 409 (113,000 tons) in 1876.

mouth of the Rion) occur in the coast region. The popuCaucasians (see vol. x. p. 433), with a few Ossetians, Jews, Armenians, and Tartars. Russians are not numerous.

The pass of Suram, by which the Transcaucasian railway now crosses the Mesques Mountains, leads from the valley of the Rion to that of the Kura. Spurs from the Caucasus and the Anticaucasus fill up the broad longitudinal depression between these, so that above Tiflis the bottom of the valley is but a narrow strip. But below that city it suddenly widens, and stretches for nearly 350 miles eastward towards the Caspian with a steadily increasing breadth, until it becomes nearly 100 miles wide in the steppe of Mngali on the Caspian littoral. The snow-clad peaks of the main Caucasus, descending by short steep slopes, fringe the valley on the north-east ; while a huge wall, much lower, and having the characters of a border-ridge of the Armenian plateau, bounds the valley on the south-west.' The floor of the valley gently slopes from 1200 feet at Tiflis to 500 feet in its middle, and to 85 feet below the level of the ocean on the Caspian shore ; but a plateau ranging from 2000 to 3000 feet in height, very fertile along the Atizah, a left-hand tributary of the Kura, stretches along the southern hill-foots of the main ridge. In its lower course the Kura is joined by the Araxes, a river nearly as large as itself, which brings to it the waters of the Armenian plateau.

The highest mountains of the Caucasus enclose the upper parts of the valley (now the government of Tiflis). An unbroken series of peaks, from 10,000 to 12,600 feet in height, mostly snow-clad and separated by but slight depressions, is seen in profile as one looks from some height of the Anticaucasus towards the main chain and the broad valley of the Kura. Deep short gorges and valleys indent the steep slopes which are inhabited by Ossetians, Tushes, Pshays, and Khevsurs in the west, and by the various tribes of the Lesghians in the east. Every available patch is used in these high and stony valleys for the culture of barley, even at heights of 7000 and 8000 feet above the sea ; but cattle-breeding is the chief resource of the mountaineers, whose little communities are separated from one another by passes in few cases lower than 10,000 feet. The steppes which cover the bottom of the valley are for the most part too dry to be cultivated without irrigation. It is only nearer the hillfoots in Kahetia, where multitudinous streams supply the fields and the gardens of the plateau of the Atazan, that wheat, millet, and maize are grown, and orchards, vineyards, and mulberry-tree plantations are possible. Lower down the valley cattle-rearing becomes the chief source of wealth, while in the small towns and villages of the former Georgian kingdom (see GEORGIA) various petty trades, testifying to a high development of artistic taste and technical skill, are widely diffused. Further down the Kura, in the government of Elizabethpol, and especially on the right bank of the river, a population of Russian agriculturists - chiefly Nonconformists - is rapidly springing up, so that corn is exported from the villages on the Ganja. The slopes of the Anticaucasus are covered with beautiful forests, and the vine is grown at their base, while in the broad and wide steppes the Tartars rear cattle, horses, and sheep. The lower part of the Kura valley, which belongs mainly to the province of Baku, assumes the character of a dry steppe where the rainfall hardly reaches 13/ inches at Baku, and is still less in the Ungar steppe (in most striking contrast with the moistness of the Lenkorafi region close by). The steep slopes of the Great Caucasus are still covered with thriving forests ; but forests and meadows disappear in the steppe, whose scanty vegetation has a Central-Asian character. Only tugais, or thickets of poplar, dwarf oak, tamarisk, and so ou, follow the actual course of the Knra, whose delta is covered with impenetrable growths of rushes. The ?Angell steppe, however, does not deserve its ancient evil reputation ; the serpents with which it was said to abound are entirely fabulous, and in the winter it is full of life ; herds of antelopes roam over it, and its southern irrigated parts promise to become the granary of Cancasus,3 although its unirrigated parts will probably never recover their former richness, the Kura having-excavated its bed to a much greater depth. The Apsheron peninsula, in which the Great Caucasus terminates at Baku, to be continued farther south-east by a submarine plateau of the Caspian, is the seat of those remarkable naphtha springs which have recently given rise to an important industry and now supply most of the Volga steamers with fuel ; while the western shores of the wide Kizil-agatch Bay - the Tatysh, or Lenkoraa district on the slopes of the Armenian plateau - on account of their rich vegetation, fertile soil, and moist climate, are one of the most beautiful possessions of Russia in Asia.

For this valley and the contrasts between the Caucasus and Anticancasus, see Radde s Ornis Caucasica, Cassel, 1884.





great rapidity by the construction of a railway from Mikhailovsk on the Caspian to Kizil-arvat and Sarakhs, and thence to Mery and north-eastward to Tchardjui on the Amu, from which point it is now being continued across Bokhara towards Samarkand. Attempts at growing cotton and tea are being made, and land has been rented at Mery for cotton plantations. Cotton is to be pressed by steam at Bokbara and Tchardjui, to be sent to Russia by the Transcaspian railway.' Caspian Littoral. - The Caspian littoral is divided into two districts, Krasnovodsk and Manghishtak. The former has about 15,500 settled inhabitants and 3056 Turcoman kibitkas (partly shifted in summer to Persian territory). The chief settlements of the district are Krasnovodsk on the Krasnovodsk Gull; Mikhailovsk, the terminus of the Transcaspian railway, in regular communication by steamer with Baku ; and Tchikis]ilyar, close to the mouth of the Atrek. The Manghishtak district, which includes the Ust-Urt plateau, has a population of about 34,500 Kirghiz. Its chief settlement is Alexandrovsk.

The total population of the Transcaspian region was estimated in 1883 - that is, before the annexations in South-West Turcomania - at from 214,000 to 260,000 inhabitants (P. A. K.) See vol. TRANSCAUCASIA, the name given to that portion of xxi. the Russian empire (in Caucasus, Armenia, and Asia Three regions must be distinguished : - (1) the narrow strip of land between the main Caucasus ridge and the Black Sea (TCHERNOMORSK district, q.v.) ; (2) the broad valley, watered by the Rion in the west and the Kura in the east, which separates the main Caucasus ridge from the region next to be mentioned ; (3) the highlands, mountains, and plateaus of Lazistan, Kars, and Armenia.

The valley referred to, which crosses the isthmus from the Black Sea to the Caspian, consists of two widely different sections, - the drainage-area of the Rion, which is Mediterranean in its physical characteristics, and the valley of the Kura and Araxes, which slopes to the Caspian, and in its lower parts becomes purely cis-Caspian. The Mesques or Meshik Mountains (3000-5000 feet), a ridge running south-west to north-east, and probably a continuation of the Black Sea coast ridge (Tchorokh Mountains), separate the two. The drainage area of the Rion, which corresponds approximately to the government of Kutais, includes the former provinces of Imeritia, Mingrelia, Guria, and Swanetia on the upper Ingur and Tshenistshali. With the exception of the valley of the Rion (some 25 miles broad), and the sandy and marshy littoral, it is wholly occupied by spurs of the main Caucasus ridge, the Meshik, and theWakhan Mountains; the last-named rise to 10,000 and 11,000 feet above the sea in their highest summits, and are intersected by deep and fertile valleys. The region is characterized by a heavy rainfall and a moist maritime climate. The vegetation, which is luxuriant, is of a eircum-Mediterranean character : fine forests of deciduous trees clothe the mountain slopes, and the highland villages nestle amid thickets of azalea, almond, and rhododendron. Maize, the mulberry, the vine, and a great variety of fruit trees are cultivated. Mingrelia and Imeritia are the real gardens of Caucasus ; but the high valleys tributary to the Ingur, inhabited by Swanians, are wild and difficult of access ; in some of them, which are narrow and marshy, fevers and scurvy prevail. The Rion is not navigable, and of its tributaries only the TshenisThe population includes only a few Russians (about 16,000); the majority are Tartar shepherds, next to whom come the Iranian Tates and Talyshes (the latter probably aborigines of Baku), who constitute 23.1 per cent. of the population; some 27,000 Armenians, chiefly about Shemakha, and 35,000 Kurins, or Lezghians, on the slope of the Great Caucasus, must be added, as also some Jews and Arabs.

A mining industry of some importance has been growing up of late in this part of Transcaueasia. The copper works of Kedabek in Elizabethpol yield from 10,000 to 15,000 cwts. of copper annually; nearly 300,000 cwts. of manganese are extracted in Kutais, and 30,000 cwts. of sulphur in Daghestan and Baku ; the coal-mines of Kutais, the alum ores of Elizabethpol, and the fire-clay and cement of Tchernomorsk, are but recently opened up.

The highlands of Transcaucasia, which extend from The former of those is an immense plateau separated by the valley of the Araxes from the highlands of Adherbaijan above sea-level. Several summits in the east exceed that height, and the Alaghoz reaches 13,436 feet.

This plateau region is bounded on the south by the valley of the Araxes, the river which forms the frontier with Turkey, except where it is crossed by Russia in the south of Kars and west of Erivaii. There the river flows in a broad valley 4500 feet above sea-level, and the Kars plateau falls towards it by a steep slope, while on the other side a steep, rocky ridge of exceedingly wild aspect rises as the northern border-ridge of the South Armenian (Alashkert) plateau and the water-parting between the Caspian Sea and the Indian Ocean. This ridge, which includes the Allah-dagh and laisa-dagh (10,720 and 11,260 feet respectively), as also the Great and Little Ararats (17,100 and 12,990 feet), has no general name, but is described under the names of Shah-ioly, or Agri-dagh.' A number of lakes occur on the plateau, especially along its northern border-ridge, the chief being that of Goktcha, an extensive alpine basin (500 square miles 6310 feet above sea-level) surrounded by wild mountains. Most of the depressions of the plateau bear traces of having been under water during the Lacustrine (Post-Glacial) period. Granites and other unstratified rocks constitute the nucleus of the Armenian and Kars plateaus. These are covered with Azoic slates, and partly with Devonian and Carboniferous deposits ; Jurassic and Cretaceous are wanting, but the Tertiary (Eocene and Miocene) are widely spread both in the valley of the Rion and Kura and in the depressions of the plateau. Rocks of volcanic origin are widely diffused all over Erivaii: the Alexandropol plateau, surrounded by extinct volcanoes, is all covered with volcanic products, which overlie the Tertiary deposits and in turn are covered with Glacial boulder-clay.

The Alaghciz, the Ararats, and the peaks around Lake Goktcha are huge trachitic masses surrounded by volcanic rocks. Iron and copper ores are widely spread; alum and rock-salt are obtained, the latter at Kulpi and Nakhichevail. Mineral springs are numerous. The region is watered by the upper Araxes - too rapid and rocky to be navigated - and its tributaries, most of which flow at the bottoms of deep gorges. The upper Kura waters western Kars. The climate presents all the varieties which might be expected in a region of so varied altitudes. While cotton grows in the dry and hot climate of the valley of the lower Araxes, the winter is severe on the plateau, and Alexandropol (5010 feet) has an average temperature of only 41°-5 (Jan. 12o8; July, 73°-6). The difference between summer and winter is still more striking at Erivat. (3210 feet), which has in January an average of only 5° while that of August reaches 77'7. On the Kars plateau the winter is still more severe. Kagbyzman (4620 feet) and Sary-kamysh (7800 feet) have the winter temperature of Finland, and the latter place, with an annual mean the same as that of Hammerfest (36° F.), has frosts of W. Massalsky, "Government of Kars," in Izvestia of Russ. Geogr. Soc., vol. xxiii., 1887.

27° and heats of 99°. The vegetation of the Kars plateau reflects these extremes of climate, and, besides the alpine vegetation of the high yailas (alpine meadows), we find there the Anatolian, Armenian, and Pontic floras meeting. The population of Erivaii consists of Armenians (54 per cent.), Tartars (40 per cent,), some 28,000 Kurds, and some 4400 Russians, together with a few Greeks and Jews. In localities under 4000 feet cotton and rice are the chief crops, oil-yielding plants, the vine, the mulberry, and fruit trees being also cultivated. Higher up wheat and barley are grown, while at altitudes above 6000 and 7000 feet the Tartan and Kurds support themselves by rearing cattle. Many petty trades are developed in the towns among the Armenians, and the trade of Erivaa with Persia and Turkey amounts to about 10,000,000 roubles.

The population of the province of Kars (167,610 in 1883) is very mixed. In a remote antiquity it was inhabited by Armenians, whose capital Ani, Mren with its beautiful ruins of a grand cathedral, and several other towns now in ruins testify to the former wealth and populousness of the country. After the fall of the Armenian empire the Turks occupied the region ; Kurds from Kurdistan and Diarbekr invaded the alpine pasturages of the valley of the Araxes ; later on, Kabards, Circassians, Osses, and Karapapakhs found refuge there ; and finally, after the last war the Mohammedans emigrated to Asia Minor (82,760 in 1878-81), while Christian Armenians, Greeks, Russian Raskolniks, and some Yezids took their place. The population consists now of Turks, Armenians, Turcomans, Greeks, Kurds, Adherbaijan Tartars, Gipsies, and Russians. The Kars sanjak, which was one of the granaries of Turkey, has lost this reputation ; but the crops (chiefly wheat and barley) are now again increasing where the early frosts do not interfere with agriculture. Cotton is raised in the Olty region ; and in the valley of the Araxes gardening and the culture of the silkworm are widely diffused; while cattle-rearing is the chief source of income in the highlands, especially with the Kurds, who move their felt tents on the yailas to higher levels as the summer sun burns up the vegetation.

- The western part of the Transcaucasian highlands comprises the Batum and Artvin districts, which now belong to Kutais. The whole of the region is occupied by alpine ridges - the Pontic ridge in the west, and those of Arjar and Arsian in the east, whose highest peaks rise to 10,000 and 11,000 feet, without, however, reaching the limits of perpetual snow. The Tchorokh and its tributaries, mountain streams enclosed in deep valleys, water the region ; the Tchorokh is navigable by small boats for 60 miles.

The coast region enjoys an excellent climate ; the average yearly temperature at Batum is 65° F., that of the coldest month (February) being 41°o5, and that of July 76o5. During the last four years the thermometer never fell lower than 39°-5 at Batum. The rainfall is excessive (93.4 inches), and days are recorded on which the amount of rain exceeded 10 inches. The region has accordingly a very luxuriant and subtropical vegetation, and even higher up the hills the villages are literally buried amidst gardens. The higher bills have luxuriant meadows. Rice is cultivated in the coast region, and millet, barley, tobacco, and a variety of fruit- trees on higher altitudes. The inhabitants (about 90,000 in 1884) are chiefly Georgians, approaching the Gurians most nearly. Tho Lazes number about 2000 and the Kurds about 1000. A few Khemshilli, or Mohammedan Armenians, have found refuge in the gorge of Makrial.

Towns. - The chief towns of Transcaucasia are more important than those of northern Caucasus. TJFLIS (q.v.), with 104,024 inhabitants in 1883, is the capital of Caucasia. KUTA5S (q. v.) (13,000), to which tradition assigns an age of 4000 or 5000 years, has grown rapidly of late, owing to its situation at the head of the alluvial plain of the Rion and the proximity of the Tkvibula coal deposits and the Kvirila manganese mines. Khoni (4000) and Orpiri are mere administrative centres of Kutais. Redut-kale (620) has lost its importance as a seaport,,and Poti (3110), at the mouth of the Rion, has not yet become an important port, notwithstanding efforts to improve its roadstead and its railway connexion with Tiflis and Baku. The chief Black Sea port of Transcaucasia is BATUM which has been diligently fortified of late, and has now a population of 12,000. Artvin (5860) and Arcljari are the two other chief towns of the Batum region. The chief towns of the government of Tiflis besides its capital are Gori, capital of Georgia (population 4800), Mtzhet (770) at the junction of the Vladikavkaz highway with the Transcaucasian railway, Telav (7020), Dushety (3600), Zakataty (1080), chief town of a separate military district, and Signakh (10,340), which are built in the spurs of the main chain ; while Akhattsikh (18,270), on the upper Kura and on the Kars plateau, is a busy centre for petty trades. The old city of Ahatkataki (3200) on the same plateau is now a Russian fort. ELIZABETIIPOL, NUKIIA, and SIIUSIIA (qq.v.) are the principal towns in the province of Elizabethpol. BAKU (q.v.), the terminus of the Transcaucasian railway, and in regular steamer communication with Mikhailovsk in the Transcaspian region, derives its importance from the naphtha wells which surround it. SHEMAXHA (q.v.) (28,810), and Saliany (10,170), at the head of the delta of the Kura, and notable for its fisheries, arc the only places of importance in the province of Baku. EalvAST (q.v.) (12,450), capital of the province of Erivah, and the chief city of the Armenian plateau, is one of the oldest cities of the country, and, owing to its position, would be much more important than it is, but for its climate. Etchniiadzin, or Vagarshapad (2910), is the real capital (the Rome) of Armenia, for its antiquities, monastery, library, and printing offices. Nakhitchevati (5390) - the Naxuana of Ptolemy - is another centre of Armenia. The most populous town of the region, however, is Alexandropol (23,010) or GIIMRI (q.v.), the chief Russian fortress of Transcancasia, - the other towns of Eriva9 being Ani, or Oni, Novobayazet at Lake Goktcha, and Ordnbad (3600). The long-disputed KARS (q.v.), which has now 7340 inhabitants, is the chief town of the new Russian province of the same name, annexed in 1878. Kaghyzman (3700), on the upper Araxes, is but a collection of clay houses surrounded by rich gardens ; Ardahan (1270), on the upper Kura, and Olty (530) are the only other towns of Kars worthy of notice as administrative centres. (P. A. K.)



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