The Republic of Buryatia is a subject of the Russian Federation situated in the southern part of East Siberia; its area is 351.3 thousand sq. km (2 per cent of the Russian Federation area). Buryatia borders on the Chita and Irkutsk regions, the Republic of Tyva, in the south – on Mongolia. 2/3 of the south-eastern coastline of the great Lake Baikal washes Buryatia from the north and the west. The republic occupies favourable geographic position in the system of relations of the Russian Federation and the countries of the Asian-Pacific region. Practically Zabaikalye can be considered to be the “transport gate” of Russia and the Asian-Pacific region (APR).
The capital is Ulan Ude, founded in 1666. There are 6 towns, 17 townships and 273 villages in the republic. The distance from Ulan Ude to Moscow is 5,519 km of railway and 3,500 km to the Pacific Ocean.
Strongly broken mountains prevail in Buryatia. The area taken by the mountains is 4 times bigger than that taken by the lowlands. Considerable raise above the sea level is characteristic of the republic. The lowest point is Lake Baikal level, 456 m of the Pacific level, and the highest point is Mount Munku-Sardyk in the East Sayans, 3,491 m over the sea level.
Extreme continental climate is characteristic of Buryatia, with great yearly and daily fluctuations in air temperatures. Low winter temperatures are endured quite easily thanks to dry air. Summer heat is felt only at midday, and morning and evening hours are pleasant with their coolness. The average temperature in January is 20-30 degrees below zero, and its absolute minimum is -45-55. The average temperature of the warmest month, July, is 15-20, and its absolute maximum is 30-38 degrees above zero.
Nature resources of Buryatia are unique both in their amount and their diversity. Thick coniferous forests, high mountain ranges, broad steppes, mountain valleys with colourful herbs, abundance of nuts and berries provide favourable conditions for numerous representatives of animal world. There are many unique and rare species included in the Red Book. The Barguzin sable, the brown bear, the mountain goat, the wild reindeer are world famous. The Manchurian deer, the elk, the squirrel, the lynx, the wolverine, the roe, the musk deer, the wild boar, the Baikal seal (nerpa), the omul, as well as numerous species of birds – this is incomplete but representative list of the animal diversity of Buryatia. All in all there are about 2,500 different species of animals and fishes, 250 of which are endemics.
The state balance of Russia and the territorial balance of Buryatia enumerate more than 600 deposits of different minerals. There are 247 deposits of gold, 13 of uranium, 10 of brown coal and 4 of bituminous coal, 8 of fluorspar, 7 of tungsten, 4 of polymetal ores, 2 of molybdenum and beryllium each, one of tin and aluminum each, 2 of asbestos, a number of deposits of jade, raw building materials, granulated quartz, apatite, phosphorites, graphite and ceolites. The land of Buryatia contains 48 per cent of Russia balance deposit of zinc, 24 per cent of lead, 37 per cent of molybdenum, 27 per cent of tungsten, 16 per cent of fluorspar and 15 per cent of chrysotil-asbestos.
The land resources of the republic include 35.1 mln. hectares. The chestnut, grey wood and black earth soils are of greatest significance. They take 56.4 per cent of all agricultural lands and 76.5 per cent of arable lands. The Republic of Buryatia is referred to the zone of risky agriculture.
Specially guarding nature territories take up 9.76 per cent of the total area of the republic of Buryatia and represent all the categories of protected nature territories. By January 1, 2006 there had been three nature reserves: Barguzinsky (374.6 thousand hectares), Baikalsky (165.7 thousand hectares), Dzherghinsky (238.1 thousand hectares) and Tunkinsky (1,183.6 thousand hectares). Barguzinsky and baikalsky reserves are biospheric ones. There are three state game reserves of federal significance: Altacheisky, Kabansky, Frolikhinsky with the total area of 181.3 thousand hectares and 13 game reserves of regional significance with the total area of 676.8 thousand hectares.
Among the main renewable resources there are forest resources. The total area of forest fund in the republic of Buryatia is 27.2 mln. hectares, 20.3 mln. hectares are covered with forests. The total stock of wood is 2,244 mln. cub. m. The abundance of the Baikal flora is the foundation for the traditional oriental medicine.
Buryatia possesses great tourism potential, full usage of which can satisfy the needs in resorts, tourism and recreation not only of the population of Buryatia, but also of other regions of Russia, CIS and foreign tourists. The number of sunny days in Buryatia is not smaller than in the Caucasus and the Riga seaside. The uniqueness of the Baikal ecosystem creates broad prospects for travel industry development. The Baikal is a natural reservoir of one-fifth of the world stock of fresh water. The Baikal and its territory are inhabited by 2,500 different species of animals and fishes, 250 of which are endemic, 60 per cent of the Baikal coastline is the object of the UNESCO World Heritage. “Wild” tourism flourishes together with organized tourism. Unorganized tourism is popular and wide spread among holiday-makers from Russian regions. The most prospective districts for tourism development are Pribaikalsky, Barguzinsky, Kurumkansky, Kabansky, Tunkinsky and Okinsky ones. The rich nature of Lake Baikal and many natural medicinal springs curing the vertebral system diseases, alimentary canal, cardio-vascular system, give great opportunities for developing the system of rest homes and sanatoriums.
More than 100 nationalities and ethnic groups live in Buryatia. The Buryats, Russians, Evenks and Soyotes are considered to be indigenous people. There are also the Ukranians, Tatars, Germans, Jews, Koreans, Chinese, Armenians, Azerbaijanians, Georgians and others. The population of Buryatia had been 969 thousand people by January 1, 2005. The density is 2.8 people per 1 sq. km. The most populated districts are in the south, 46 per cent live in 6 towns of the republic.
The historical and cultural resources of the republic are represented by 20 museums, 6 theatres, 20 religious centres, more than 300 landmarks and monuments of history and archeology, history and culture of the peoples of Buryatia, the Tibetan medicine, Buddhism, Shamanism, Old Orthodox Church. In 2002 the Old Believers of Zabaikalye were included in the UNESCO list of immaterial culture.
The sites about Buryatia:
The Republic of Buryatia
The site of the Buryat people
The Republic of Buryatia: the official server of the Republic of Buryatia state power bodies
The Republic of Buryatia President site
The emblems of the Republic of Buryatia cities and towns
The Buryat-Mongolian information portal
The site of Buryat literature (Buryad-Mongol nomoi han (in the Buryat language))
The official site of the Buryat language textbook (in the Buiryat language)
Decembrists in Buryatia
as well as:
The Siberian Federal Okrug
The official portal of the Aghinsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug
The people’s site of the Aghinsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug
The official site of the administration of the Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Okrug