Altai Republic

The formation of the Oirot autonomous region within the Altai territory dates back to June 1, 1922; the Gorny Altay autonomous region was formed in January 7, 1948; the Gorny Altay republic was made a constituent member of the Russian Federation in July, 1991. The republic was given its present day name in May 1992. Its capital - Gorno-Altaisk (49.4 thou), was founded in 1928.
Gorno-Altaisk is 3,641 km away from Moscow.

Geographical location. Altai Republic is located in the southern part of the Altai massif. The territory extends 360 km from north to south, and 380 km from west to east. The republic borders on the Kemerovo region in the north, the Altai territory in the northwest, the Republic of Kazakhstan in the southwest, the People’s Republic of China in the south, the People’s Republic of Mongolia in the southeast, the Republic of Tyva in the east. The main highway of the republic is the 600 km long Chuya road starting from Biisk and ending at the border with the People’s Republic of Mongolia. There is no direct traffic between Gorno-Altaisk and Moscow. The nearest airports are in Barnaul (Altai territory) and Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstan). Gorny Altai is connected to the nearest regional centers by local air airlines.

Natural conditions. The republic is located in the high mountainous part of the Altai. The highest point of the republic is Mount Belukha (4,506 м). The climate is sharply continental. The temperature ranges from -12 down to -32 degrees in January, and from +9 up to +18 degrees in July. The precipitation varies from 100 mm (in intermountain troughs) to 1,000 mm annually. The rivers all belong to the Ob river basin. One of the most beautiful lakes in the republic is Lake Teletskoye on the shore of which is the central office of the Altay reserve, a genuinely picturesque place for holiday-making, tourism and fishing (grayling, Teletskiy cisco, taimen, the latter two being species of salmon).

Population. More than three quarters of the population in the republic of Altai live in the countryside. Birth rates so far exceed death rates, with positive natality, the total number of the population is constantly on the increase despite of a shorter life expectancy. The majority of the population is Russians (63 %). In addition to them, Kazakhs make up about 3 %. The Altaians, who are the indigenous population of the republic, are an ethnic minority (30 %). They originated from Turkic tribes, which had inhabited the territory of the Altai. The mid 18th century saw Gorny Altai incorporated into Russia. The main religions are Buddhism, Shamanism and Orthodox Christianity. According to a census, there are over 40 thousand Orthodox Christians and almost 25 thousand Buddhists in Gorny Altai.

State system. Altai is a parliamentary republic. El Kurultai, or the State assembly is the highest legislative body. Under the present constitution, the head of the republic who is also chairman of the State Assembly nominates a candidate from among the deputies as head of the government to be elected for a term of four years.

Economic advantages and disadvantages. Altai is an agrarian republic with a developing food-processing industry. Pastures take almost 75 % of its agricultural lands. Its agriculture focuses on cattle breeding with an emphasis on breeding goats and downy goats, Altai horses, yaks and partially large horned livestock. Silage corn and long-term grasses are grown, too.

Specific Industries — are antler reindeer breeding and beekeeping. Hunting for squirrel, ermine, fox, Siberian weasel, sable and mink is well developed. The main crops are oats and barley. The republic has been given the status of a special environmental economic zone.

Speciality. Altai supplies timber (270-300 thou cubic meters annually), antlers, furs (ermine, fox, Siberian weasel), honey to other republics of the former USSR and beyond them.

Main industries : include the food industry, butter and cheese making, meat production, processing agricultural products, in particular, tanning and logging. The electric power industry is also on the rise. The leading industrial enterprises include plants of electrical appliances, auto repair, ceramsite concrete.

Expert RA