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Penza, Government Of

PENZA, GOVERNMENT OF, a government of eastern Russia, bounded N. by the government of Nizhniy-Novgorod, E. by Simbirsk, and S. and W. by Saratov and Tambov; area 14,992 sq. m.; pop. (est. 1906) 1,699,000. The surface is undulating, with deep valleys and ravines, but does not exceed 900 ft. above sea-level. It is principally made up of Cretaceous sandstones, sands, marls and chalk, covered in the east by Eocene deposits. Chalk, potter's clay, peat and iron are the chief mineral products in the north. The soil is a black earth, more or less mixed with clay and sand; marshes occur in the Krasnoslobodsk district; and expanses of sand in the river valleys. There are extensive forests in the north, but the south exhibits the characteristic features of a steppeland. The government is drained by the Moksha, the Sura (both navigable), and the Khoper, belonging to the Oka, Volga and Don systems. Timber is floated down several smaller streams, while the Moksha and Sura are important means of conveyance. The climate is harsh, the average temperature at the city of Penza being only 38. The population consists principally of Russians, together with Mordvinians, Meshcheryaks and Tatars. The Russians profess the Orthodox Greek faith, and very many, especially in the north, are Raskolniks or Nonconformists. The chief occupation is agriculture. The principal crops are rye, oats, buckwheat, hemp, potatoes and beetroot. Grain and flour are considerable exports. The local authorities have established dep&ts for the sale of modern agricultural machinery. There are several agricultural and horticultural schools, and two model dairyfarms. Cattle breeding and especially horse-breeding are comparatively flourishing. Market-gardening is successfully carried on, and improved varieties of fruit-trees have been introduced through the imperial botanical garden at Penza and a private school of gardening in the Gorodishche district. Sheep-breeding is especially developed in Chembar and Insar. The Mordvinians devote much attention to bee-keeping. The forests (22 % of the total area) are a considerable source of wealth, especially in Krasnoslobodsk and Gorodishche. The manufactures are few. Distilleries come first, followed by beet sugar and oil mills, with woollen cloth and paper mills, tanneries, soap, glass, machinery and iron-works. Trade is limited to the export of corn, spirits, timber, hempseed-oil, tallow, hides, honey, wax, woollen cloth, potash and cattle, the chief centres for trade being Penza, Nizhni-Lomov, Mokshany, Saransk and Krasnoslobodsk.

The government is divided into ten districts, the chief towns of which are Penza, Gorodishche, Insar, Kerensk, Krasnoslobodsk, Mokshany, Narovchat, Nizhni-Lomov, Saransk and Chembar. The present government of Penza was formerly inhabited by Mordvinians, who had the Mescheryaks on the W. and the Bulgars on the N. In the 13th century these populations fell under the dominion of the Tatars, with whom they fought against Moscow. The Russians founded the town of Mokshany in 1535. Penza was founded in the beginning of the i;th century, the permanent Russian settlement dating as far back as 1666. In 1776 it was taken by the rebel Pugashev. The town was almost totally destroyed by conflagrations in 1836, 1830 and 1858.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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