Don Cossacks, Territory Of The
DON COSSACKS, TERRITORY OF THE (Russ. Donskaya Oblast), a government of S.E. Russia, bounded W. by the governments of Voronezh, Kharkov and Ekaterinoslav, S.W. by the Sea of Azov, S. by the governments of Kuban and Stavropol, and E. by those of Astrakhan and Saratov. Area, 63,532 sq. m. Pop. 1,010,135 in 1867, 2,585,920 in 1897 and 3,125,400 (estimate) in 1906. It belongs almost entirely to the region of the South Russian steppes, but in the N., W. and S.W. presents more the aspects of elevated plains gapped with ravine-like river-courses, while in the S.E., towards the Manych depression, it passes over into the arid Aral-Caspian steppes (e.g. Zadonsk Steppe), dotted over with salt lakes. Geologically the region is made up of Carboniferous limestones, clay slates and sandstones, containing anthracite and coal; of Cretaceous marls, chalk, sandstone and greensands - chalk cliffs, in fact, accompany the Don for 200 m.; and of Miocene limestones and clays. The surface, especially W. of the Don, is the fertile black earth, intermingled here and there, especially in the Zadonsk Steppe, with clay impregnated with salt. The government is drained by the Don and its tributaries, of which the Donets, Chir and Mius enter from the right and the Khoper and Medvyeditsa from the left. The Don is navigable throughout the government, and at Kalach is connected by a railway, 45 m. long, with Tsaritsyn on the Volga, routes by which an enormous amount of heavy merchandise is transported. The climate is continental and dry, the average temperatures being - year 43° Fahr., January 13°, July 72° at Uryupina (in 50° 48´ N.; alt. 92 ft.); and year 48°, January 21°, July 73° at Taganrog. The annual rainfall at the same two places is 13.4 and 17.4 in. respectively. Forests cover only 2% of the area.
Nearly one-half of the population are Cossacks, the other ethnological groups being (1897) 27,234 Armenians, 2255 Greeks, 1267 Albanians, 16,000 Jews and some 30,000 Kalmuck Tatars, who are Lamaists in religion. Nearly all the rest of the people, except the Jews and about 3000 Mahommedans, belong to the Orthodox Eastern Church. The Cossacks own nearly 30,000,000 acres of land. The government is well provided with schools, especially on the Cossack territory. Agriculture is the principal occupation, but the crops vary very greatly from year to year, owing to deficiency of rain. Vines are cultivated on a large scale, and tobacco is grown in the south. Cattle-breeding is important, and there are fine breeds of horses and large flocks of sheep. Productive fisheries are carried on at the mouth of the Don. Nearly 13,000 persons are engaged in coal-mining; the coalfields form part of the vast Donets coal basin (10,420 sq. m., with a total output of nearly 13,000,000 tons annually). Some iron ore, gypsum, salt and limestone are also produced. The principal branches of manufacturing industry are flour-milling, potteries, ironworks and tobacco factories. The exports consist chiefly of cereals, cattle, horses, sheep, wine, fish and hides. The government is under the administration of the ministry of war, and is divided into nine districts - Donets (chief town, Kamenskaya with 23,576 inhabitants in 1897), First Don district (Konstantinovskaya, 8800), Second Don district (Nizhne-Chirskaya, 15,196), Rostov (Rostov-on-Don, 119,889), Salsky (Velikoknyazheskaya), Taganrog (Taganrog, 58,928 in 1900), Ust-medvyeditsa (Ust-medvyeditsa, 16,000), Khoper (Uryupina, 9600), Cherkasky (Novo-cherkassk, 52,005). The capital of the government is Novo-cherkassk. Many of the Cossack stanitsas (villages) are very populous.
(P. A. K.; J. T. Be.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)