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Byline: Anthony Haggerty

1) Siberia makes up a whopping 75 per cent of the Russian Federation's territory, approximately 9653 square kilometres.

That is almost the same size as Canada and larger than the whole of Europe.

The vast region is also Russia's natural resource centre for oil, gas, timber and minerals.

2) Most of the barren land remains uninhabited and some places have yet to be explored.

Few people would actually choose to go there but millions were sent to the Gulags as prisoners during the Soviet era.

3) Chelsea's mega-rich owner Roman Abramovich, below, was governor of the Chukotka region of Siberia from 2000 until 2008.

4) Siberia has the most extreme temperature swings on earth, going from minus 50 Celsius in the winter to a blistering 40 Celsius in the summer

5) The Siberian above, is the largest cat in the world but there are reputed to only 200 to 250 left in the wild.

6) The only way to avoid frostbite in winter is to up warm. The traditionally wear huge fur-lined parkas while the women go for patchwork fur coats.

But some of the tribal people wear much more outlandish gear. Witch doctors from the Evenks in central Siberia sport human-shaped pendants made of seal fur to help cure the sick.

The Koryaks from far also have burial clothing made white-haired reindeer skin.

And the Nenets of western Siberia sew bells on their i l d r e n ' s sleeves to ward evil spirits.

7) The Trans-Siberian railway was constructed between 1891 and 1905. It takes 51 hours to travel the 2100 miles to Moscow.

8) There is tremendous cultural diversity in the region with a host of different ethnic groups.

They include: Altaians, Buryatians, Dolgans, Koryaks, Kumandins, Mansi, Selkups, Tuvinians, Khakasians, Nenets, Hunts, Evenks and Russians.

9) Siberians and tuck such cuc anes love their food into delicacies as salted cucumbers, eggs and sausage.

They also enjoy a good swally and knock back vodka and beer.

Tea is another popular drink and even used as currency until the 1800s.

10) Rasputin, the infamous Mad Monk, was born in the Siberian town of Pokrovskoye. Just the place for Boney M fans to make a pilgrimage.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Jan 10, 2012
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