At the Pacific end of the Siberian railway a line connecting Vladivostok with Khabarovsk (479 m.) at the junction of the Amur and the Usuri, was first of all built, following the valley of the Usuri.
But it was soon found that the cost of the section required to complete the railway between Stryetensk and Khabarovsk, along the Shilka (246 m.) and the Amur (1160 m.), would be enormous, while neither the wild mountainous tracts of the lower Shilka and upper Amur, nor the marshy, often inundated region between Khabarovsk and the Little Khingan mountains, could ever be the seat of a numerous population.
Tyumen (29,651) in West Siberia, head of Siberian navigation; Barnaul (29,850), capital of the Altai region; Krasnoyarsk (33337) and Tobolsk (21,401), both mere administrative centres; Biysk (17,206), centre of the Altai trade; Khabarovsk (15,082), administrative centre of the Amur region; Chita (11,480), the capital of Transbaikalia; Nikolsk (22,000); Irbit (20,064); Kolyvan (11,703), the centre of the trade of southern Tomsk; Yeniseisk (11,539), the centre of the gold-mining region of the same name; Kurgan (10, 579), a growing town in Tobolsk; and Minusinsk (10,255), in the southern part of .the Yeniseisk province, trading with north-west Mongolia.
In the Far East the chief trade centres are Vladivostok and Nikolayevsk on the Amur, with Khabarovsk and Blagovyeshchensk, both on the same river.
From that place it was intended to push it down the Amur to Khabarovsk, and finally to proceed up the Usuri to Vladivostok.
Steamers ply regularly along the Amur for 62 months, from Khabarovsk to Stryetensk, on the Shilka terminus of the Trans-Siberian railway; but only light steamers with 2 to 3 ft.
The great engineering difficulties in building a railway along the Amur induced the Russian government to obtain from China permission to build a railway through Manchuria, but the project for a railway from Khabarovsk to Stryetensk received imperial sanction in the summer of 1906.
The only town is Blagovyeshchensk, but the centre of the administration is Khabarovsk in the Maritime province.