VLADIMIR, a government of middle Russia, bounded W. by the governments of Moscow and Tver, N. by Yaroslav and Kostroma, E. by Nizhniy-Novgorod, S. by Tambov and Ryazan, with an area of 18,815 sq. m. It belongs to the eastern part of the central plateau of middle Russia, which has an average elevation of 800 to 950 ft., and is grooved by river valleys to a depth of 300 ft. to 450 ft. below the general level, so that the country has a hilly appearance.
The lacustrine depression of the middle Volga and Oka extends into the east of the government. The Upper Carboniferous limestones, of which it is mostly built up, are overlain by Permian sandstones towards the east, and patches of Jurassic clays—denuded remnants of formerly extensive deposits— are scattered over its surface. The whole is covered with a thick sheet of boulder clay, considered to be the bottom moraine of the North-European ice-sheet, and overlaid, in its turn, in the depressions, by extensive lacustrine clays and sands. The geology, especially of the western parts, has been investigated by Professor Nikitin, who has ascertained that under the Glacial and post-Glacial deposits—the lower strata of which contain remains of the mammoth and rhinoceros and the upper fossils of extensive prehistoric forests—occur Lower Cretaceous deposits and deposits intermediate between the Cretaceous and the Jurassic (“Volga” deposits). Upper Jurassic (Kellaway and Oxford) and Upper Carboniferous deposits are also found, and at Gorbatov Permian marls.
The soil is for the most part infertile, save in the district of Yuriev, where are patches of black earth, which have occasioned a good deal of discussion among Russian geologists. Iron ore is widely diffused, and china clay and gypsum are met with in several places. Peat is of common occurrence. Forests cover extensive tracts in the south-east. The climate resembles that of Moscow, but is a little colder, and still more continental: the average yearly temperature at the city of Vladimir is 38° F. (January, 16°; July, 66.5°).
The Oka flows through the government for 85 m., and is navigable throughout. Of its tributaries, the Klyazma is navigable to Kovrov, and even to Vladimir in summer; and timber is floated on the Teza. Small lakes are numerous; that of Pleshcheyevo or Pereyaslavl (5 m. in length) has historical associations, Peter the Great having there acquired in his boyhood his first experiences in navigation. The marshes extend to more than half a million acres.
The population was estimated in 1906 as 1,730,400. It is thoroughly Great Russian. The Finnish tribes, Muroma and Merya, which formerly inhabited the region, have been absorbed by the Slavs, as also have the Karelians, who are supposed to have formerly inhabited the territory. The descendants of the few hundred Karelian families, which were settled by Peter the Great on the shores of Lake Pereyaslavl, still, however, preserve their own language. The government is divided into thirteen districts, the chief towns of which are Vladimir, Alexandrov, Gorokhovets, Kovrov, Melenki, Murom, Pereyaslavl Zaiyeskiy, Pokrov, Shuya, Sudogda, Suzdal, Vyazniki and Yuriev Polskiy. Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Gusevsk and Kholui are important industrial towns. The zemstvos (district councils) make considerable efforts to foster education and improve the sanitary arrangements.
The soil is not very fertile, and the standard of agriculture is low, the inhabitants being largely engaged in manufactures. In 1900 1,908,200 acres (15.8% of the entire area) were under cereals. Cherries and apples are exported in considerable quantities.
The cultivation of flax, both for local manufactures and for export—especially about Melenki—is important; so also is that of hemp. Natural pastures are numerous, and support large herds of cattle. The principal crops are rye, oats, wheat, barley and potatoes. The peasants hold 5,591,000 acre's in communal ownership: of this 60% is arable land, 3,802,800 acres belong to private owners, 552,300 acres to the crown and 370,000 acres to the imperial family. The only important mineral is alabaster.
Vladimir ranks third among the governments of European Russia for manufactures. It has some 500 large factories, which employ over 100,000 persons (one-third women); the principal establishments are cotton, linen and silk mills, dye-works, and rope, paper, cardboard, oil, chemical, machinery, glass and iron works, tanneries and distilleries. Wood, coal, petroleum and peat are all used as fuel.
A distinctive feature of Vladimir is the great variety of petty trades carried on by peasants who still continue to cultivate their allotments. While in some villages almost all the male population leave their homes and travel all over Russia as carpenters, masons, iron-roof makers, or as pedlars or travelling merchants, other villages have their specialties in some branch of manufactured produce. Nearly 30,000 carpenters leave Vladimir every year. Whole villages are engaged in painting sacred pictures or ikons; and although the ikons are sold at a shilling the hundred, the aggregate trade is valued at £150,000 a year; and the Vladimir (or rather Suzdal) pictures are sold ail over Russia and the Balkan peninsula. In other villages some 1200 men are employed in making sickles, knives and locks. Wooden vessels, boxes and baskets, lapti (shoes made of lime-tree bark, which are worn in Great Russia and are produced by the million), wheels and sledges, sieves, combs, woollen stockings and gloves, sheep-skins and sheep skin gloves, felt toys, earthenwear and all kinds of woven fabrics, are specialties of other villages. In these petty trades Vladimir occupies the first rank in Russia, the annual production being one-third of the total output for the whole country.
The movement of shipping on the Volga and its tributaries and sub-tributaries, the Oka, Klyazma and Teza, is considerable. The principal ports are Murom on the Volga and Kovrov and Vyazniki on the Klyazma. Timber, wood for fuel and manufactured goods are the chief exports.
Numbers of Palaeolithic stone implements, intermingled with bones of the mammoth and the rhinoceros, and still greater numbers of Neolithic stone implements, have been discovered. There are a great number of burial-mounds belonging to the Bronze and Iron periods, and containing decorations in amber and gold; nearly 2000 such burial-mounds are scattered round Lake Pleshcheyevo, some of them belonging to the pagan period and some to the early Christian. Coins from Arabia, Bokhara, Germany and Anglo-Saxon lands are found in great quantities. (P. A. K.; J. T. Be.)