Siberia <<sy BIHR ee uh>> is a vast, thinly populated region in northern Asia. It lies within Russia. Ice and snow cover most of the region about six months a year, and the temperature sometimes drops below –90 °F (–68 °C).
People have lived in Siberia for many thousands of years. Asian nomads called Tatars, under the Mongolian emperor Genghis Khan, conquered southern areas of Siberia during the early 1200’s. They drove many of the original tribes into the northern forests. In the late 1500’s, a band of Russian Cossacks defeated the Tatars. Russian fur traders reached the Pacific coast about 1630. By 1700, the Russians controlled almost all of Siberia.
Small plants and shrubs grow in the tundra, a narrow belt of vegetation along Siberia’s Arctic coast. South of the tundra lies a vast evergreen forest.Arctic foxes, lemmings, and reindeer live in the tundra; and ermines, lynxes, red foxes, and sables make their home in the forests. Fishing crews catch cod, crabs, and salmon off the Pacific coast.