Siberia (Russian: Сиби́рь see-BEER’) is a region in Russia. Historically, the term Siberia includes all Russian territory in north Asia, with the Urals and the Russian Far East; this article however covers the Siberian Federal District.
With an area of nearly 11 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.
While the official language of Russia and the extended region of Siberia is Russian, the numerous tribes that populate the area possess different languages and dialects that do not transfer as well. Among the largest of these ethnic tribes are the Buryats who can be found mostly south towards Mongolia and as far west to the border of China and, as such, may speak either Russian, Mongolian, or Chinese in addition to their native language of Buryat. The eastern region is home to indigenous people known as the Koryaks who speak their own native language. The Buddhist Mongol tribe known as the Kalmyk people also have a strong presence across the region but span further away from the Russian mainland after a massive exodus occurred in the 1700s to avoid slavery.
Although all these races are likely to understand Russian, it is possible that they may only understand their native language which is rarely spoken or understand by the majority of Russians. One should have an idea of which region they desire to travel to so they can be prepared to deal with whatever natives they may encounter.
The Trans-Siberian Railway, connecting Moscow to Vladivostok, is by far the most famous method of transport in Siberia. Covering a distance of 9,289 kilometres, making it the longest railway 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.
Stroganina (national dish)