1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/St Petersburg (government)

ST PETERSBURG, a government of north-western Russia, at the head of the Gulf of Finland, stretching for 130 m. along its south-east shore and the southern shore of Lake Ladoga, and bordering on Finland, with an area of 17,221 sq. m. It is hilly on the Finland border, but flat and marshy elsewhere, with the exception of a small plateau in the south (Duderhof Hills), 300 to 550 ft. high. It has a damp and cold climate, the average temperatures being: at St Petersburg, for the year 39° F., for January 15°, for July 640; yearly rainfall, 18.7 in.; at Sermaks, at the mouth of the Svir on the E. side of Lake Ladoga (60° 28′ N.), for the year 37°, for January 13°, for July 62°; yearly rainfall, 20.8 in. Numerous parallel ridges of glacier origin intersect the government towards Lake Peipus and north of the Neva. Silurian and Devonian rocks appear in the south, the whole covered by a thick glacial deposit with boulders (bottom moraine) and by thick alluvial deposits in the valley of the Neva. The bays of Kronstadt, Koporya, Luga and Narva afford good anchorage, but the coast is for the most part fringed with reefs and sandbanks. The chief river is the Neva. The feeders of Lake Ladoga-the Volkhov, the Syas, and the Svir, the last two forming part of the system of canals connecting the Neva with the Volga-are important channels of commerce, as also is the Narova. Marshes and forests cover about 45% of the area (70% at the end of the 18th century). The population, which was 635,780 in 1882, numbered 873,043 in 1897, without the capital and its suburbs; including the latter it was 2,103,965. Of this latter number 466,750 were women and 160,499 lived in towns. The estimated pop. in 1906 was 2,510,100. The average density was 121 per sq. m. The population is chiefly Russian, with a small admixture of Finns and Germans, and according to religion it is distributed as follows: Greek Orthodox, 78%; Nonconformists, 1.6%; Lutherans, 17%; and Roman Catholics, 2.4%. A remarkable feature is the very slow natural increase of the population. During the 25 years 1867 to 1891 the natural increase was only 867. The government is divided into eight districts, the administrative headquarters of which, with their populations in 1897, are: St Petersburg (q.v.), Gdov (2254 inhabitants), Luga (5687), Novaya Ladoga (4144), Peterhof (11,300), Schlüsselburg (5285), Tsarskoye Selo (22,353) and Yamburg (4166). Most of the towns are summer resorts for the population of the capital. Till the latter part of the 19th century education stood at a very low level, but progress has since been made, and now three-quarters of all who enter the army from this government are able to read. The zemstvo (provincial council) has organized village libraries and lectures on a wide scale. Many improvements have been made, especially since 1897, in sanitary organization. Generally speaking, agriculture is at a low ebb. The principal crops are cereals (rye, oats and barley), potatoes and green crops, the total area under cultivation being only 13%. These crops, which are often ruined by heavy rains in the late summer, are insufficient for the population. Flax is cultivated to some extent. Nearly 21% of the area consists of meadows and pasture. Dairy-farming is developing. Timber, shipping, stone-quarrying and fishing are important industries; the chief factories are cotton, tobacco, machinery, sugar, rubber and paper mills, chemical works, distilleries, breweries and printing works.