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Languages of North Asia

The region of North Asia includes Siberia and the Russian Far East. For English speakers, Siberia encompasses the entire Asian part of the Russian Federation, while Russians regard only North Asia’s landlocked or Arctic-facing regions as Siberia, contrasting it with the Far East (Asia’s North Pacific Rim).

When Russian adventurers first crossed the Ural Mountains into Asia in 1582, more than 40 distinct languages were spoken across this vast region. Indigenous North Asian languages fall into two major historical and ethnographic layers. The more recent contains the widespread Uralic, Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic families, which expanded from various locations along the forest–steppe ecotone near Siberia’s southern edge during the past few thousand years. These languages spread with horse and cattle breeding across the grasslands of Inner ...

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