There are many things you learn when doing a master degree and not all of them have to do with your thesis per se. Not just that you turn into a google wizard or anything, but today I realized that I should learn the Cyrillic alphabet. And that I need to know more of current Russian geography than I do. The reason is this, my supervisor went to Russia in March to collect samples from the herbaria in Moscow and Leningrad for me and for other projects. In our herbarium here in Trondheim all specimen tags are in English and all the newly collected material is digitalized. This is because we exchange specimens with people from all over the world and then there is no use having it all in Norwegian as well as English. But this is not necessarily the case in other parts of the world. In Russia, for instance, a lot of the specimens are only in Russian (and sometimes only in Cyrillic) and then you need to translate. My supervisor has just taken pictures of all the labels, numbered the pictures and the samples and will now give it all to me, so I can translate the labels… I would never have thought that I needed to know the Cyrillic alphabet studying biology…
Today I was trying to locate my samples on a map of Russia with all the regions on it. But while trying to find all the locations I realized I know nothing of Russian geography. I could not place anything North or East of Georgia and the Ural mountains. So, since I am studying for exams, I did a tour of wikipedia on Russia and the Russian regions…
The result? I now have a favorite Russian region:
Sakha (Yakutsk) Republic
(disclaimer, everything is from wikipedia)
– it lies in the Far Eastern area (they actually call it that), sometimes included in the area Siberia.
– it has almost 1 million inhabitants, but because it is just a tiny bit smaller than India (!) the population density is 0,31.
– it is the largest sub-national governing body by area in the world.
– it is named after the Sakha people who settled there almost 700 years ago.
– As wikipedia so elegantly puts it: “Yakutia’s remoteness, even compared to the rest of Siberia, made it a place of exile of choice for both Czarist and Communist governments of Russia.”
– mineral exploitation is what feeds people there (as in the whole of the Northern Russia).
– there are two main roads, but neither has asphalt (because of permafrost), only clay cover.
– the “official” religion is Russian Orthodox, but as none of the priests want to live outside the capital, people mostly have no faith or believe in shamanism.
– the republic has 3 time zones.
– it has mountains of more than 3000 m.
– it contains the coldest place in the Northern Hemisphere.
– the capital of more than 200 000 has no road connection every winter. The only real means of transport is by water or by air.
It sounds like a wonderful place. They have volcanoes as well. And border the Arctic Ocean. I have to go there sometime. It seems the only real means of transportation in Russia East of Ural is the railway. I should try it sometime.