1902 Encyclopedia > Novgorod (government), Russia

Novgorod (government)

NOVGOROD, a government of north-western Russia, bounded on the W. and N. by St Petersburg and Olonetz, on the S.E. by Vologda, Yaroslavl, and Tver, and on the S.W. by Pskov, has an extreme length from south-west to north-east of 400. miles, and an area of 47,240 square miles. Its southern part is occupied by the Valdai or Alvin plateau, which has the highest elevations of middle Russia (800 to 1000 feet), and contains the sources of all the great rivers of the country. It is deeply furrowed by valleys with abrupt slopes, which give it the aspect of a highland region, and descends rapidly towards the valley of Lake Ilmen in the west, which is only 107 feet above the sea-level. The north-eastern part of the government belongs to the lake district of north-western Russia. This tract, gently sloping towards Lakes Ladoga and Onega in the north, is covered with innumerable sheets of water, of which Byelo-ozero (White Lake) and Vozhe are the largest, while more than 3000 smaller ones are figured on the maps. Immense marshes, relics of former lakes, covered with thin forests of birch and elm, occupy the fiat depressions and cover more than one-sixth of the government ; several of them have an area of from 300 to 450 square miles. In summer they are quite impassable ; they admit of being crossed only when frozen. Six centuries ago they were even less accessible, and were perhaps the best protection Novgorod possessed against its enemies ; but the slow upheaval of north-western Russia, going on at a rate of three or more feet per century, powerfully contributed towards the drainage of the country, as the rivers more deeply excavated their gently-sloping beds. Of recent years artificial drainage has been carried out on a large scale. The forests still occupy more than two-thirds of the government.

Geologically, Novgorod exhibits in the west 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, and contains iron-ores, while the later formation has coal strata of inferior quality. The whole is covered with a thick sheet of boulder-clay, very often arranged in ridges or asar, the bottom moraine of the north European ice-sheet of the Glacial period. Numerous remains of the neolithic stone age are found, especially around the deposits of extinct lakes. The numerous rivers of Novgorod are distributed between the Arctic Ocean, Baltic Sea, and Caspian Sea basins; the last Volkhoff, which flows from Lake Ilmen into Lake Ladoga.

within the province itself amount to more than 7,000,000 cwts., worth from 6,000,000 to 7,000,000 roubles.

The climate is very harsh, the yearly average temperature at Novgorod being only 38°•8 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, only rye, oats, barley, and some tobacco are raised, and this to so small an amount that nearly 1,000,000 quarters of grain have to be imported every year. Neither gardening nor the raising of cattle is very flourishing ; in 1877 there were only 212,000 horses, 364,000 cattle, and 253,000 sheep. A number of petty trades are successfully carried on in the villages, all kinds of wooden wares being made and exported ; the preparation of timber, pitch, tar, and charcoal is general, and shipbuilding is widely diffused in several districts. The fisheries on the great lakes are valued at 170,000 roubles annually, and, owing to the proximity of the capital, hunting is still profitable. But the greater number of the inhabitants are dependent on the river-boat traffic ; and nearly one-fourth of the able-bodied male population are driven in search of work to other parts of Russia. The Novgorod carpenters and masons still maintain their old-established renown. The industrial establishments are few ; in 1879 they numbered 245 (steam flour-mills, distilleries, paper-mills, glass-works, and saw-mills), employing about 4500 hands, and turned out an aggregate production worth 6,313,000 roubles. Trade, which is animated in several towns and at several points of the river-system, 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 Tcherepovets) show considerable returns. The inhabitants are almost exclusively Great Russians, but they are distinguished by some historians from the Great Russians of the basin of the Oka, as showing some remote affinities with the Little Russians. They belong mostly to the Greek Church, but there are many Nonconformists. Lutherans and Catholics number respectively 4000 and 2000. Novgorod, apart from the usual schools and gymnasiums, is better provided with educational institutions than many other governments of Russia, and, through the successful efforts of its zcmstvo, primary education is more widely diffused in the villages; The government is but thinly inhabited, the population (1,011,500 in 1870) being only 1,090,000 in 1884. The chief towns of the eleven districts are : - Novgorod, Borovichi (10,000 inhabitants), Byelozersk (6000), Tcherepovets (3600), Demiansk (1500), Kiriloff (3200), Krestsy (3200), Staraya Russa (6000), Ustynzhna (7000), and Yaldai (3800). (P.A.K.)

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