Imperiia: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

Topographical Description of Russia

In this section, Arsen'ev describes the towns and "remarkable places" of the empire based on their proximity to seas, lakes, and rivers. By organizing his work in this way, he makes the argument that water is the fundamental element of Russian geography.

Wait a moment. It would be more accurate, really, to say the Arsen'ev exposes the fact that water - or the hydrographic structure of the empire - is the fundamental element of Russian geography. The more time you spend exploring Imperiia, the more evidence you will find for this claim.

But should you decide to dig no further into our data, allow us to offer up this evidentiary gem: of the 264 notable towns arrayed along river banks and sea coasts, 225 (85%) are cross-listed as district towns in the Short Universal Geography. In other words, towns located on important bodies of water were almost always vested with administrative authority. *Not so fast!

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