The major geographical zones of Siberia are the West Siberian Plateau and the Central Siberian Plateau. The West Siberian Plateau is mainly flat and swampy. The Central Siberian Plateau is an ancient volcanic region that is rich in natural materials and minerals.
Outside of these major regions, Siberia has several rugged mountain ranges that include the Ural Mountains, the Altai Mountains and the Verkhoyansk Range. The highest point in Siberia is Klyuchevskaya Sopka, an active volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula, at 15,253 feet (4,649 m).
Most of the great rivers of Russia are in Siberia. The Lena, Ob, Irtysh, and Yenisey all exceed 2,000 miles (3,200 km) in length. More than a dozen others, including the Amur, Kolyma, Lower Tunguska, and Angara, have courses of 1,000 to 2,000 miles (1,600 to 3,200 km). Except for the eastward-flowing Amur, all the major Siberian rivers drain northward to the Arctic Ocean. Small lakes dot many areas, especially the western lowlands. The only large lake is Lake Baikal – the world’s oldest and deepest lake. Lake Baikal is estimated to be around 30 million years old and at its deepest point it is 5,387 feet (1,642 m). It also contains about 20% of the Earth’s non-frozen water.
Nearly all of the vegetation in Siberia is taiga, but there are tundra areas on in its northern areas and an area of temperate forests in the south. Most of Siberia’s climate is subarctic and precipitation is loc except for the Kamchatka Peninsula. The average January low temperature of Novosibirsk, Siberia’s largest city, is -4˚F (-20˚C), while the average July high is 78˚F (26˚C).
The Siberian northern coastal region along the Arctic Ocean is occupied by a wide strip of arctic tundra, which is inhabited by an enormous population of reindeer. South of this is a vast area of evergreen pine forest, which gradually changes to fertile chernozem (black earth) steppes. The far southeastern part of Siberia, near Manchuria and the Pacific Ocean, consists of subtropical forests.
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