An extract on #siberia
The territory of Siberia extends eastwards from the Ural Mountains to the watershed between the Pacific and Arctic drainage basins. The Yenisei River conditionally divides Siberia into two parts, Western and Eastern. Siberia stretches southwards from the Arctic Ocean to the hills of north-central Kazakhstan and to the national borders of Mongolia and China. With an area of 13.1 million square kilometres (5,100,000 sq mi), Siberia accounts for 77% of Russia's land area, but it is home to just 40 million people27% of the country's population. This is equivalent to an average population density of about 3 inhabitants per square kilometre (7.8/sq mi) (approximately equal to that of Australia), making Siberia one of the most sparsely populated regions on Earth. If it were a country by itself, it would still be the largest country in area, but in population it would be the world's 35th-largest and Asia's 14th-largest.
Worldwide, Siberia is well known primarily for its long harsh winters, with a January average of 25 C (13 F), as well as its extensive history of use by Russian and Soviet administrations as a place for prisons, labor camps, and exile.
The origin of the name is unknown. Some sources say that "Siberia" originates from the Siberian Tatar word for "sleeping land" (Sib Ir). Another account sees the name as the ancient tribal ethnonym of the Sirtya (also "Syopyr" (spr)), a folk, which spoke a language that later evolved into the Ugric languages. This ethnic group was later assimilated to the Siberian Tatar people.
The modern usage of the name was recorded in the Russian language after the Empire's conquest of the Siberian Khanate. A further variant claims that the region was named after the Xibe people. The Polish historian Chycliczkowski has proposed that the name derives from the proto-Slavic word for "north" (, sever), but Anatole Baikaloff has dismissed this explanation. He said that the neighbouring Chinese, Arabs and Mongolians (who have similar names for the region) would not have known Russian. He suggests that the name is a combination of two words, "su" (water) and "bir" (wild land).
The region is of paleontological significance, as it contains bodies of prehistoric animals from the Pleistocene Epoch, preserved in ice or permafrost. Specimens of Goldfuss cave lion cubs, Yuka (mammoth) and another woolly mammoth from Oymyakon, a woolly rhinoceros from the Kolyma River, and bison and horses from Yukagir, were found here.
The Siberian Traps were formed by one of the largest-known volcanic events of the last 500 million years of Earth's geological history. They continued for a million years and are considered a possible cause of the "Great Dying" about 250 million years ago, which is estimated to have killed 90% of species existing at the time.
At least three species of human lived in Southern Siberia around 40,000 years ago: H. sapiens, H. neanderthalensis, and the Denisovans. The last was determined in 2010, by DNA evidence, to be a new species.