What proportion of the Siberians are indigenous

Multi-ethnic Siberia

The different population groups

The huge country has only about 24 million inhabitants. That's just 2.7 people per square kilometer. For comparison: 82 million people live in the much smaller Federal Republic. Here, an average of 231 residents have to share a square kilometer. In Siberia, most of the people in the south and south-west live in the larger cities that are directly connected to the Trans-Siberian Railway.

The Russians represent the largest group of the population with around 85 percent. They conquered Siberia during the tsarist rule from the 16th century and pushed the original inhabitants back more and more. Nevertheless, numerous different ethnic groups still exist today. Some of the ethnic groups only have a few hundred members.

Other ethnic groups, on the other hand, can be found in larger numbers. The Tuwins, Yakuts, Altaians and Buryats are among the so-called "great peoples". The latter are the largest ethnic minority in Siberia with around half a million. The people, originally from Mongolia, live in the south of the country near the legendary Lake Baikal and have retained much of the Mongolian culture.

Once the Buryats were nomads who wandered around with their cattle and the shepherd's yurt, today most of them are sedentary. Most of them live in Buryatia's capital Ulan-Ude. Many are followers of shamanism or the Buddhist religion that was brought from Mongolia to this part of Siberia in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Destruction of natural habitats

The smaller indigenous peoples include the Khanty, Mansi, Evenks, Chukchi and Nenets. The Nenets live in northern Russia, a distinction being made between the Nenets living in the European part near the city of Arkhangelsk and the Yamal-Nenets in the north of the West Siberian lowlands.

About 4,700 Nenets live on the Jamal Island. With their large herds of reindeer, the nomads move from the summer pastures on the coast of the Arctic Ocean to their winter quarters in the forest-dominated taiga, where they are protected from the icy winds of the tundra. The reindeer herds are the basis of life for the fully nomads: They provide them with everything they need for life, such as meat, hides and tools that are made from the antlers of the animals.

Other groups like the Chukchi in the easternmost part of Russia make their living from fishing and hunting. But not all indigenous peoples of Siberia could and can preserve their traditional ways of life and cultural peculiarities as well as these two peoples.

As a result of the Sovietization and forced Christianization of the indigenous people, many have lost their independent and nature-loving way of life. After all, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union there has even been an interest group, the "Association of the Small Peoples of the North". It advises the Russian government and strives for at least partial self-determination for the minorities.

However, the greatest threat to the indigenous peoples comes from the industrialization of the country and the commercial exploitation of natural resources. The extraction of oil, gas and gold is destroying the hunting and grazing areas of the indigenous people of Siberia.

The deforestation of the taiga forests and the massive soil pollution from the gas and oil industries are among the most serious environmental sins of Siberia. For example, the "Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug" is one of the most important regions of the Russian oil and gas industry, which causes severe environmental damage there.