With an area of nearly 10 million sq.km., Siberia is vast. While the popular view of Siberia is of howling arctic wastes dotted with penal colonies, the truth is more complex. The west of Siberia is covered by a swampy plain, the central plateau is heavily forested, and the east has mountains soaring to above 3,000 meters. Only the extreme north is true tundra, where temperatures can hit -68°C in winter.
The Trans-Siberian Railway, connecting Moscow to Vladivostok, is by far the most famous method of transportation in Siberia. Covering a distance of 9,289 kilometres, making it one of the longest railways in the world, the full trip takes over 6 days and crosses 8 time zones. Its branches the Trans-Manchurian and Trans-Mongolian connect to Beijing in China, the first directly, the second via Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia.
Less famed is the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM), a northern line running parallel to the Trans-Siberian for 4,234 km. Completed only in 1991 and built mostly for military reasons, further away from the border of China, the BAM is much less touristed.
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