TOMSK, a government of western Siberia, extending from the Chinese frontier northwards to 6 N., and bounded by the government of Tobolsk on the N.W., by Yeniseisk on the N.E. and E., by north-western Mongolia on the S.E. and by the province of Semipalatinsk on the S. and W. Itsarea, 327,284sq. m., is more than one and a half times that of France. The surface includes in the south-east the high alpine tracts of the Altai Mountains, and in the north-west and west the lowlands of the Irtysh and the marshy tracts of the Ob. The Altai Mountains or Sailughem system, which at their northern extremity join with the Sayan Mountains, run from north-east to southwest along the Russo-Chinese frontier, and are cleft by a deep gorge through which flows the Yenisei (see ALTAI). A zone, some 200 m. in width, of alpine tracts fringes the outer margin of these mountains, which have a very steep slope towards the north-west, although 'their south-eastern foot-hills rest on the plateau of Kobdo (4500 to 5000 ft.)- A chain having a northwestern direction the Salair Mountains shoots off from the main range of the Altai, between the Tom and the Chumysh ; it is about 170 m. in length, with a width of nearly 60 m., and contains the most productive silver-mines of the region, as also several gold-washings. Its upheaval belongs 10 a more recent epoch than that of the Sailughem range, and (like the mountains of Turkestan, having a north-west direction) it is composed of dioritic rocks. In the Kuznetsk depression it is overlain by deposits of the Lower and Upper Carboniferous, containing beds of coal. The Kuznetskiy Ala-tau, one of A. von Humboldt's meridional upheavals, consists of a series of ridges running south-west to north-east.
Tomsk is drained principally by the Ob and its tributaries, but the south-east corner drains into the Abakan, a tributary of the Yenisei. The Ob, formed by the union of the Biya and Katun, has within the government a course of more than 800 m., and is navigated as far as Barnaul and Biysk. Its tributaries, the Tom (450 m.), Vasyugan (530 m.), Ket (230 m.) and Tym (200 m.), are all navigable. The Chulym and the Chumysh are also large rivers. The Bukhtarma, Om, Uba and Tara, tributaries of the Irtysh, are worthy of notice.
The climate is severe, and is, moreover, very wet in the north-west. The average yearly temperatures at Tomsk, Kainsk and Barnaul are 30-2, 31 and 32-7 (Jan., 4, 6-2 and 3-7; July, 65-5, 68-5 and 62-2) respectively. The Altai steppes enjoy a much drier climate than the lowlands, and are clothed with beautiful vegetation ; in the sheltered valleys corn is grown up to altitudes of 3400 and 4250 ft.
The population was estimated in 1906 as 2,412,700. The bulk (90%) is Russian, the remainder being Ostyaks, Mordvinians, Tatars (mostly in the Altai), Teleuts and Telenguts (Mongol tribes, chiefly in the Altai), and nomad Samoyedes, representing a mixture between the Samoyedes and the Ostyaks, and dwelling along the Ob river and its tributaries. The prevailing religion is Greek-Orthodox, but there are also some Nonconformists, Roman Catholics, Jews, Mahommedans and pagans.
Agriculture is the predominant occupation, and excellent crops are obtained in the southern portion of the government, especially in the Altai. Livestock breeding is very important, and butter-making in model dairies, partly co-operative, has developed greatly, butter being exported from Tomsk to western Europe. Trade is actively carried on at Tomsk and Barnaul, the chief centres for the trade of Siberia with Russia. The Biysk merchants carry on a barter trade with Mongolia and China.
The government is divided into six districts, the chief towns of which are Tomsk, Barnaul, Biysk, Kainsk, Kuznetsk and Marlinsk. .
(P. A. K.; J.T. BE.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)