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The vast Russian empire occupies the whole northen parts. of Europe and Asia, from the frontiers of the Swedish dominions in Finland, to the strait which separates Asia from America, that is, from long. 30° to long 190° E. from Greenwich; a distance upon the arctic circle, where this ineasure must be taken, equal to 4452 English miles* ; but further to the southward, in lat, 55°, the Russian territory begins at long. 22° E. from Greenwich.
The greatest extent of the European part of this immense empire, on the parallel of 55°, is about 1400 English miles, and that from the Black Sea to the Arctic ocean, on a meridian, is about 1700 miles. By the latest estimation, the population of Russia in Europe announts to 33,000,000.
Russia, in Europe, occupying a position between the parallels of 45° and 70° of N. latitude, must possess a great variety of temperature, climate, and soil. The country is, in a general sense, one vast plain, varied by successions of gradual swellings, but without anymountainous tracts of notice. able elevation, the highest land in the heart of the empire, where the great rivers have their origin, not being more than 1,200 feet above the sea. The mountains of Olonetz, however, forming the boundary with Sweden, and the Uralian mountains, which divide Europe from Asia, attain considerable heights.
At the arctic circle a degree of longitude is equal to about 27,63 English miles, consequently 100° of longitude on that parallel are only equal to 4552 miles. By some unaccountable oversight, the length of the Russian Empire is, in a recent ample work on geography, said to be 9,200 English miles; an extert which, at the arctic circle, would be equal to 330° of longitude, nearly encompassing the whole globe of the earth.
From its extent Russia presents many rivers of importance : the Volga, the largest streain in Europe, rising between Petersburg and Moscow, flows for above 1,700 miles, being in the latter half of its course the boundary of Europe, and entering Asia, discharges itself into the Caspian sea below Astracan. The Don, after a winding course of 800 miles, is lost in that gulf of the Black sea called the Sea of Azof. The Nieper runs for about 1000 miles to the Black Sea, which also receivs the Neister after a course of 600 miles. Considerable streams rising in Russia pursue their course in a different direction, as, for instance, the Petshora, which by a course of 450 miles falls into the Arctic or Frozen Ocean ; the Dwina discharging itself, after a course of 500 miles, into the White Sea, a few miles below the port of Archangel; the Duna, which having its sources at no great distance from those of the Volga and the Nieper, fows north-westerly for 500 miles, and is lost in the Baltic below the noted trading town of Riga.
In the northen parts of Russia are many considerable lakes: Ladoga is the largest in Europe, being 130 miles in length and 70 in breadth : Onega is in length 150 miles, but its breadth is only about 30 miles. Near the shores of the Baltic is the lake of Peypus, in extent 60 miles by 30.
Russia, in Europe, possesses some inconsiderable mines of gold in the Olonetz range: but it produces plentifully iron and copper; and in various places mineral waters, chiefly chaly beate, have been found.
The population of Russia is composed of various races: the Laplanders on the north-west ; the Samojedes on the northeast corner of the country; the Fins in the neighbourhood of Petersburg, the great body of the inhabitants, or Russians, properly so called ; the Tartars, or Tatars, of the southern provinces, although united under one sovereign, still retain many distinctive and characteristic marks of their origin, in stature, complexion, language, customs, and religion. From
the white bear of the islands on the northen coast, to the camel of the southern provinces, Russia produces all the varieties of the animal world known in Europe.
This country abounds with forests of vast extent: the road from Petersburg to Moscow leads for 150 miles through the forest of Volkonski, composed of oak, beech, mountainash, pine, and fir. The trees found in greatest abundance are the fir and the pine, furnishing at Memel and other ports unexhausted supplies of timber, pitch, &c. to many parts of Europe. Hemp and flax are also exported in great quantities, and of the best quality.
Contiguous to the northern shores of liussia, lies the extensive cluster of barren, uninhabited islands called in general Nova Zembla, or more properly Novaya Zenilia, that is, the New Land, stretching in the formof a crescent between lat. 70° and 770, and resorted to in the summer for the sake of the seals, foxes, and white bears found on its desert shores.
Some authors have considered the remote islands of Spitzbergen, lying between lat. 76° and soo as belonging in some respects to the Russians, who have attempted to form a settlement on them, for the convenience of the whale fishery, which in that part of the northern ocean is the most abundant.
North-east from these isles lies a small group called the Seven Sisters, the most northerly land hitherto discovered.
The prevailing religion of Russia is the Christian system of the Greek Church, differing in many essential points from that of Rome, and holding in a considerable degree a middle course between it and protestantism. The government of the Russian empire is completely despotic, the will of the sovereign being the only legal authority:
The country lying along the shore of the German ocean, opposite to England, and adjoining to France on the north, being low and flat, and in many parts covered with marshes and lakes, was long ago distinguished by the name of the Low Countries, or the Netherlands. Whilst this tract belonged to the house of Austria and the crown of Spain, it was divided into seventeen provinces; but the seven most northerly provinces, towards the end of the 16th century, throwing off their allegiance to Philip II. of Spain, formed an independent republican s'are, under the title of the Seven United Provinces, while the remaining ten continued under the house of Austria, until, in the course of the revolutionary war with France, they were conquered by that power, and finally at the peace incorporated with it.
The Seven United Provinces are generally known by the name of Holland, which is the most considerable of the number; the other six being, Friesland, Groningen, Overyssel, Utrecht, Gelderland, and Zealand. The extent of the whole territory is about 150 English miles from north to south, by 100 from west to east, the number of square miles being computed at 10,000, occupied by about 2,758,000 inhabitants, or nearly 256 for each square mile, a proportion greater than that of any other country in Europe.
. Great part of the territory of Holland being taken up with rivers, canals, marshes, lakes, and inlets of the sea, the climate is extremely inoist, and although no part of the country be situated so far to the northward as the mouth of the Humber in England, yet the winter's cold is so intense, that not only the rivers, canals, &c. are locked
up with ice, but even the great bay of the sea called the Zuyder Zee, is itself frequently frozen over.
In such a country no hills can be expected ; but in the eastern parts a few gentle swellings of the surface serve to vary the prospect.
One of the principal rivers of Europe, the Rhine, terminates its course in Holland, but receiving in the heart of the country the Maas, or Meuse, which runs northernly from France, this much inferior stream usurps the name, and their common discharge into the sea below Rotterdam is called the Mouth of the Meuse. The Leck and the Wahal are branches of the Rhine uniting with the Meuse. The other rivers are of little importance in a geographical point of view, but with the multitude of canals by which Holland is intersected, are of incalculable value to the manufactures and commerce of the country.
The lakes of Holland are either stagnating inundations of the rivers, or so connected with the sea as rather to resembie inlets from it than internal pieces of water.
From the nature of the country no minerals, even coal, can be looked for: the peat for fuel is the only substance drawn by industry from the bosom of the earth: but in sinking wells and digging deep in the marshes, sea-sand has been met with, and the trunks of trees, pointing eastward ; proofs of the great changes Holland in the course of ages has undergone.
This country produces very little grain, but in recompense the pastures are excellent, supporting cows enough for the use of a very crowded population, and affording butter and cheese sufficient to supply an extensive exportation.
The animals of Ilolland are similar to those of England: but the stork, a common and protected bird in Holland, is a stranger to England. The coasts furnish abundance chiefly of flat fish, such as turbot, plaice, &c: but the herrings, for curing which the Hollanders (or Dutch, as we call them)