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|Print version. Published on site Rusnet.NL 8 December 2003
Altay Republic, constituent republic (estimated population 190,000 - 1990), 35,800 sq mi, (92,722 sq km, South-Eadtern Siberian Russia.
Bordering on Mongolia in the south, it contains most of the Altay Mountains and is drained by the Biya, Katun, and Chuya rivers. The region is mountainous, and gold, manganese, and mercury are mined. Livestock raising and dairy farming are important, and grain is cultivated.
The republic capital is Gorno-Altaysk, a processing centre for the agricultural products of the region.
The majority of the population are Russians; the rest are Altayans (Oirots, Temuts, Shors, Tilengets, and Kumands). The Altayans, numbering about 45,000, are a Turkic-speaking people with Mongolian ancestry. Some are nomadic or seminomadic herders and hunters, but most are now settled on farms.
A communal society existed in the area from the 3rd millennium BC, and there is evidence of a Mongolian civilisation in the 5th century BC.
The Turkish khanate ruled the region from the 6th to the 10th century AD, and the Altayans were under the control of the Mongolian khans from the beginning of the 13th to the 18th century.
In 1756 the Altayans came under Russian hegemony. From 1918 to 1922 there was civil war as the mountain groups fought the Bolshevik forces. Between 1922 and 1948 the republic was called the Oirat or Oirot Autonomous Region. It was renamed Gorno-Altay in 1948, a name it maintained until the mid-1990s.
Gorno-Altay was given republic status in 1991 and was a signatory, under the name Republic of Gorniy-Altay, to the March 31, 1992, treaty that created the Russian Federation.