Data and map backgrounds:

In the present document, we have used the statistical data related to the various administrative regions (krays, oblasts, okrugs or republics). The administrative level used certainly lays itself open to criticism (Eckert, 1996): for a country of 17 million km2, with the largest surface area in the world, we have 89 regional units, in other words, an average surface area of 190,000 km2 (the equivalent of a third of France) for each one. In addition, this administrative mesh is far from homogeneous. Indeed, the regions, socalled “subjects of the Russian Federation”, differ greatly from each other as geographical objects in both their type and surface area. We find two federal cities (Moscow and Saint Petersburg) counted as separate from the surrounding territory (called, respectively, the oblast of Moscow and the oblast of Leningrad), some very small regions (Republic of Adygea: 7,600 km2) as well as some huge territories [Republic of Sakha (Yakutia): 3 million km2]. Yet this referential framework remains the familiar one for the observer as well as for the Russian population.

An attentive reader of the maps will notice that, in certain areas, the division varies (we have occasionally lumped several regional units together). This is the case in the Caucasus, where the former Republic of Chechno-Ingushetia was divided in two just before the breakdown of the USSR. Nevertheless, the separate data are not unavailable for all of the years concerned (1979 in this particular cas was not broken down) and the evolution maps thus refer to a very rough division: This is why the evolution maps for 1979-2002 represent the two current administrative units as one statistical unit.

The case of statistics regarding the city of Norilsk

We have chosen to rectify something odd in the Russian statistics for Siberia. The population of the city of Norilsk, located in the middle of the Taymyr Autonomous District yet administratively independent from it, is indeed counted as part of Krasnoyarsk Kray, several hundred kilometres to the south. In order to obtain a reasonably significant representation of the population in this area, we have:

  • cut the population of Norilsk away from that of the Siberian kray,
  • added this same population to the figure published on the Taymyr Autonomous District in the hopes of creating a cartographically coherent spatial unit.

However, this operation was not possible for every year considered.

we have no population figures for Norilsk at this date.

the population data corresponding to the city and urban region of Norilsk for 1989 have been published and are immediately available on the site of the American university professor R. Kaiser (University of Wisconsin, Madison):

the only published data as of January 15, 2004, deal with the city centre of Norilsk. We have reconstituted the data for the urban region by applying the percentage of development measured in the city centre from 1989 to 2002 to it.

The maps which take into account the data for the year 1979 thus represent a single spatial unit: the Krasnoyarsk Kray and the Taymyr Autonomous District melded into one. This solution is crude, cartographically speaking, since it creates an enormous unit, but at least it avoids the absurdity of the original.