1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pskov (government)

PSKOV, a government of the lake-region of north-west Russia, which extends from Lake Peipus to the source of the west Dvina, having the governments of St Petersburg and Novgorod on the N., Tver and Smolensk on the E., Vitebsk on the S. and Livonia on the W. It has an area of 17,064 sq. m. In the south-east it extends partly over the Alaun or Vorobiovy heights, which stretch west into Vitebsk and send to the north a series of irregular ranges which occupy the north-western parts of Pskov. A depression 120 m. long and 35 m. broad, drained by the Lovat and the Polista, occupies the interval between these two hilly tracts; it is covered with forests and marshes, the only tracts suitable for human occupation being narrow strips of land along the banks of the rivers, or between the marshes, and no communication is possible except along the watercourses.

With the exception of the south-eastern corner, where Carbonifer ous rocks crop out, nearly the whole of the government consists of Devonian strata of great thickness, with deposits of gypsum and white sandstone, the latter extensively quarried for building purposes. The botton; moraine of the Scandinavian and Finnish ice-sheet formerly extended over the whole of this region, and has left behind it numerous ridges (kames or eskers), the upper parts consisting of Glacial sands and post-Glacial clays, sands and peat-bogs. The soil is thus not only infertile, but also badly drained, and only those parts of the territory which are covered with thicker strata of post-Glacial deposits are suitable for agriculture.

The rivers are numerous and belong to three separate basinsto Lakes Peipus and Pskov the rivers in the north-west, to Lake Ilmen those in the middle, and to that of the Dvina the rivers in the south-east. A great number of small streams pour into Lake Pskov, the chief being the Velikaya. The Lovat and the Shelon, belonging to the basin of Lake Ilmen, are both navigable; while the west Dvina flows for 100 m. on the south border of the government or within it, and is used only for floating timber. There are no fewer than 850 lakes in Pskov, with a total area of 391 sq. m. The largest is Lake Pskov, which is 50 m. long and 13 broad, covers 300 sq. m. and has a depth of 3 to 18 ft.; it is connected by a channel, 40 m. long and 3 to 10 wide, with Lake Peipus. The marshes on the banks of the Polista are nearly 1250 sq., m. in extent. Forests occupy nearly one-third (32%) of the entire area, and in some districts (Kholm, Toropets, Porkhov) as much as two-thirds of the surface. Large pine forests are met with in the north; in other parts the birch and the aspen prevail; but almost one-quarter of the forest area is overgrown with brushwood.

The climate is very moist and changeable. The average temperature is 41° F. (17·1° in January and 64·8° in July).

The population of the government numbered 1,135,639 in 1897, when there were 584,931 women, and the urban population only 72,623. The estimated population in 1906 was 1,275,300 With the exception of 25,460 Esthonians (1897), the inhabitants are almost entirely Great Russians. They belong mainly to the Orthodox Greek Church, but the official number of Nonconformists, 32,066, is far below the mark. There are also about 12,000 Lutherans and 4000 Roman Catholics. The government is divided into eight districts, the chief towns of which, with their populations in 1897, are Pskov (q.v.), Kholm (5899), Novorzhev (2973), Opochka (5658), Ostrov (6252), Porkhov (5573), Toropets (7489) and Velikiye Luki (8481). Between 1875 and 1896 the peasantry increased their landed possessions by 91%, and the merchants bought considerable areas from the nobles, who altogether sold 43% of their estates. Although the soil is far from fertile, no less than 3070 of the total area is under crops and 12% under meadows. The crops principally cultivated are rye, oats, barley, pease, potatoes, flax (for which the government is famous) and hemp. Grain has to be imported, but oats are exported. Owing to the efforts of the zemstvos, there has been a notable improvement in agriculture, especially in dairy farming. Fishing in Lake Pskov and the smaller lakes is a source of income. The manufacture of wooden wares for local needs, ship-building, the timber trade, and the weaving of linen and woollens for local requirements are additional sources of income. Flax, flour, tobacco factories, saw-mills, distilleries and breweries are the principal industrial establishments. The population engage also in the preparation of lime, in stone-quarrying, and in the transport of merchandise.  (P. A. K.; J. T. Be.)