Siberian Federal District
Time: Novosibirsk Time Zone (NOVT/NOVST). UTC offset is +0600 (NOVT)/+0700 (NOVST).
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Federal district: Siberian Federal District.
Capital: Gorno-Altaysk or Gorno-Altaisk (Tuulu Altay).
Main cities: none.
Land and Resources: The republic is situated in the very center of Asia at the junction of Siberian taiga, steppes of Kazakhstan and semi-deserts of Mongolia. Its area is 92,600 km². The Altai Republic is located in the Novosibirsk Time Zone (NOVT/NOVST). The republic borders Kemerovo Oblast (N), Republic of Khakassia (NE), Tuva Republic (E), and Altai Krai (W/NW); international: Mongolia (SE), China (S), and Kazakhstan (S/SW). Forests cover about 25% of the republic`s territory. The highest point is Mount Belukha (4,506 m).
More than 20,000 tributaries sprawl throughout the mountainous Republic, making up for a total of more than 60,000 km worth of waterways. The Republic`s largest rivers are the Katun and the Biya, both of which originate in the mountains and flow northwards. The junction of the two rivers eventually forms the Ob River, one of the longest rivers in Siberia, which flows northward to the Arctic Ocean. The source of the black Biya River is Lake Teletskoye, the region`s largest lake located in an isolated area far south in the mountains. The emerald-colored Katun River has its source at the Gebler glacier, which is situated on the Republic`s highest point, Mount Belukha. The Katun River in particular holds a religious significance for native Altaians, as well as for many Russians who live in the area, as Mount Belukha is known in Altai folklore to be the gateway to mystical Shambhala. There are also approximately 7,000 lakes. The largest lake is Lake Teletskoye, which is 80 km long and 5 km wide, and has a maximum depth of 325 m. The mountain lakes of Altai contain enormous freshwater reserves of a very pure quality as a result of their distance from most human activity. Lake Teletskoye alone contains more than 40 km³ of highly pure water.
The most striking geographical aspect of the Republic of Altai is its mountainous terrain. The Republic is situated within the Russian part of the Altay Mountains system, which covers a large part of the Republic and continues into neighboring Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. The region continues to experience periodic notable seismic activity, which is visually made apparent through the mountains` characteristically high and rugged mountain ridges, separated by narrow and deep river valleys. The Republic`s highest peak, Mount Belukha (4,506 m), is the highest point in Siberia.
Climate: The republic has a temperate continental climate with relatively short and hot summers (June-August); and long, cold, and often quite frosty winters (November-March). In general, the climate of the southeastern areas of the republic, such as the (Ulagansky and Kosh-Agachsky Districts), is harsher than the climate of the less elevated northern areas. Average annual temperature: +1°C to -6.7°C. January temperature range: -9.2°C to -31°C. July temperature range: +11°C to +19°C.
Transportation: Due to geographical peculiarities of the Republic, two means of transport—motor transport (over 90% of all kinds of traffic) and air transport (passenger traffic and transport of mail) — were developed. Motor transport is by far the prevailing one, and the vast majority of the Republic`s inhabitants live along the main Chuiskiy highway. There is the Gorno-Altaysk Airport. It is 96 km from the nearest railway station at Biysk.
Tourism has begun to make its mark on the economy, and a large number of new hotels and resorts catering towards "New Russians" have begun to appear.
With the Soviet Union`s collapse, the Altai Republic`s tourism industry has greatly expanded. Although wealthy Russians from neighboring Russian republics are the most common sort of tourist in Altai, foreign interest has also grown in the area, especially due to the area`s spiritual significance to New Age believers and others.
Popular tourist destinations tend to be concentrated in the north, where the roads are more accessible. They are also almost entirely located along the Chuiskiy highway, which is the main road from the north into the mountains (although it is currently only two lanes wide). The north is also significantly warmer than the elevated southern areas, which tend to be chilly even in the summer.
Some of the more well-known tourist spots in the Altai region include Lake Aiya (a popular bathing spot), Belokurikha (known for its mineral water springs), and the picturesque Chemal region. More adventurous travelers may wish to visit the more remote Lake Teletskoye or Mount Belukha in the south.
Great attention is devoted to revival of the culture of indigenous population of the Altai Republic - the Altaians. At the same time a sufficient support is given to cultural organizations of the Russians and other peoples living on the territory of the Altai Republic .
The Altaian and Russian troupes work at the National Theater. Each Region of the Republic has its own folklore collectives:
The Altai Republic territory possesses a unique historical potential and has dozens of thousands of archeological and ethnographic monuments of history and culture.
The history of the Republican Museum of Regional Studies named after A.V.Anokhin started in 1918. The Museum`s archeological collection characterizes the main stages of ancient history of Gorny Altai. Today about 40 thousand exhibits are stored in the Museum`s funds.
Gorno-Altaisk has a theatre, and a regional museum.
Gorno-Altaisk Republican State Philharmonic Society
Gorny Altai is a unique natural complex with its recreational richness. It is a wonderful combination of picturesque mountain landscapes with different climate types determined by sunshine and heightened ultraviolet radiation. The Altai Republic`s territory has beautiful forests and medicinal herbs, mineral resources and salubrious air. Almost all groups of recreational resources take place in Altai: medicinal, aesthetic, rest, sport and others.
The Altai Republic`s territory is in the whole a historical and landscape preserve which have no analogues. At the present moment the specially protected territories and natural complexes with an area of almost 22% of the whole Republic`s territory are distinguished in the Altai Republic.
The specially protected territories are presented by two preserves (The Altai and The Katun Preserves), by five reserves (The Tcherginsky, Sumultinsky, Kosh-Agachsky, Turochaksky, Shavlinsky), the Zone of Peace "Ukok" and The Natural Park "Belukha".
Waterfalls: Korbu, Tekelu, Kamyshinsky.
Caves: Muzeinaya, Kek-Tash, Kuldinskaya, Tut-Tash, Taldinskaya Karst Arch, Tarcolskaya, Karakokshinskaya.
Landscape territories: Ust-Seminsky, Shishkular-Katail, Tchisty Lug (Clean Meadow), Komsomolskaya Mountain, Tchelushmansky, Maiminsky Crumby Bank, Ulalinsky Crumby Bank.
All the specially protected territories and natural complexes are under the authority and control of the Altai Republic State Committee of Nature.
The Altai Preserve - one of the largest preserves in Russia - occupies almost the whole eastern part of the Altai Republic.
The territory of Central and South-Eastern Altai is of high recreational value. Here a seasonal organization of water rafting, tourist hikes and alpinist ascents are possible. The rivers of Gorny Altai are of great interest because of their technical characteristics for sportsmen and water-tourists.
Glaciers evoke a great sporting interest among tourists and mountaineers. Altai takes the third place among mountain lands of the world according to the number of glaciers (1330) and area covered with ice. 169 glaciers are concentrated near Belukha Mountain (4506 m).
Encarta World Atlas