The city of Kiev straddles both banks of the Dnieper River, which flows
south and empties into the Black Sea. The western side of the Dnieper at Kiev
is bordered by woody hills, ravines and small rivers; the eastern side consists
of lowlands. The Dnieper River is navigable, though in winter it may freeze.
The Kiev Gubernia is situated on a vast fertile plain that rises southward
towards the southern steppes. The northern region consists of large swamps.
The plain is drained by the Dnieper River system, which is fed by several
tributaries, among which is the Ros River which flows to the west of Tarashcha,
circles to its north and then moves southeastward past Boguslov, emptying into
the Dnieper River on the eastern edge of the Kiev Gubernia.
The Kievian climate is dry, with average annual rainfall of 25.6 inches. The
regional average temperature is 45°, varying from a winter average value
of 13.1° to 54.5° during the summer.
Sixty percent of the land area, consisting of fertile,
black soil is devoted
to agriculture; forests and grasslands make up the remaining land.
Throughout the nineteenth century and into the 1920's, the region was known
as the breadbasket of Europe, producing large quantities of grain: oats, wheat,
barley, rye, millet, and buckwheat. Other agricultural products were beets,
potatoes, vegetables, pears, nuts, and hemp. The grasslands supported the
raisng of horses, cattle, and sheep.
Important industries during the 1880's were the production of beet sugar and
tobacco; distilleries; flour mills; and tanneries. Peasants made their own
tools as well as boats and carts. The Jewish population was involved in trade.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, peasants owned 45% of the land in
the Kiev Gubernia; the nobility owned about 41%. After Stalin forced the kulaks
onto the collective farms in the 1930's, the Ukraine ceased to be the breadbasket