Siberian Federal District
Ust-Ordynsky Buryat Autonomous Area
Time: Irkutsk Time Zone (IRKT/IRKST). UTC offset is +0800 (IRKT)/+0900 (IRKST).
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Federal district: Siberian Federal District (It is an administrative division of Irkutsk Oblast, Russia).
Main cities: There are no cities.
Land and Resources: Ust-Ordynsky Buryat Autonomous Area is located in the southern part of Eastern Siberia in southwestern Irkutsk Region, bordering on nine of the region`s districts. The area is located in Cisbaikalia (Predbaikalye; the area west of Lake Baikal) on the southern Lena-Angara Plateau at elevations of more than 1000 m. It lies within the Irkutsk-Balagan forest steppe zone with its scenic landscapes of broad meadows and pastures alternating with coniferous forests. The surface is heavily cut by river valleys. It has total area of 22 400 km2.
Climate: The climate varies from warm summer continental in the south to continental-subarctic in the northern part. For almost half the year, from mid-October until the beginning of April, the average temperature is below 0 ℃ (32 ℉). Winters are very cold, with average high temperatures in Irkutsk of −14.9 ℃ (5.2 ℉) and average lows of −25.3 ℃ (−13.5 ℉) in January. Summers are warm but short: the average high in July is 24.5 ℃ (76.1 ℉) and the average low is 11.2 ℃ (52.2 ℉). However, by September, the weather cools down significantly to an average daily maximum of 15.3 ℃ (59.5 ℉) and an average daily minimum of 2.5 ℃ (36.5 ℉). More than half of all precipitation falls in the summer months, with the wettest month being July. January is the driest month.
Transportation: The area`s transportation system includes rail, road, and river transport. The Trans-Siberian Railway passes through the southwestern part of the area, and two federal highways run from north to south. There is shipping on the Angara River.
Ust-Ordynsky is a settlement and the administrative center of Ust-Orda Buryat Okrug in Irkutsk Oblast, Russia.
The area has good potential for developing recreation and tourism. Three health centers (Alar, Nagalyk, and Nukutskaya Matsesta) are currently operating. The popularity of Nukutskaya Matsesta is due to its hydrosulfuric mineral spring similar to that of Matsesta in Sochi, which is used to treat a wide variety of ailments. The region also has historical and cultural monuments from several periods, the oldest being a human habitation dating from the Paleolithic.
The Buryats, an ancient, distinctive people with a rich historical culture and traditions, live in the Ust-Ordynsky Buryat Autonomous Area. From the earliest times, each settlement had a master craftsman renowned for his art, whether an engraver or a woodcarver. Talented painters and sculptors worked in Buddhist monasteries (datsans). Buryat craftsmen were noted for the age-old technique of inlaying silver and tin on iron. They used such techniques as casting, stamping, engraving, filigree, gilding, graining, and incrustation with precious and semiprecious stones. Knives known as khutaga, which were supposed to protect a person from every kind of evil, were an essential ornament for both men and women. Craftsmen also made firestarting kits (khete) consisting of a steel bar and a leather case for storing flint and tinder, so that courage, strength, and good fortune would accompany a person who carried one. The third essential item of men`s clothing consisted of pendants, also decorated with ornaments and symbols. Coral-decorated caps and headdresses were an essential item of women`s clothing.
The Buryats had long had a single religion-shamanism. Buryat shamans passed on folk traditions and legends and the ancient art of healing with natural remedies and herbs from generation to generation. Buddhism introduced the culture of Tibet and Mongolia and brought Tibetan medicine to the people. Medical schools (manba-datsany) were built, and ancient works were recopied there and new ones that included the experience of Buryat lama doctors were compiled. Religious art developed with the arrival of Lamaism. Sculptures of Lamaist divinities were made for monasteries. A metal sculpture of White Tara, the goddess of mercy, housed in the State Museum of Eastern Art in Moscow has enormous value.
The most important Buryat holiday is Sagaalgan, the festival of the White Month or New Year`s according to the lunar calendar. Celebration of Sagaalgan began as a result of the influence of Buddhism and Mongolian-speaking peoples. Another holiday is the Buryat national holiday of Surkharbaan (target shooting), celebrated annually on the first Sunday in June. Besides archery, the holiday program includes horse races and wrestling contests, as well as performances by folklore groups in Buryat national costumes.
National art always attracts attention and inspires admiration of people who have preserved the language and culture of their ancestors. Applied art, jewelry making, and photography are quite well developed in the area.
Scenic landscapes, natural splendors, and favorable climatic conditions create excellent opportunities for developing tourism and recreation. The area places high emphasis on those interested in active tourism, and a large number of easy hiking and boating routes have been developed for them. The diversity of plant and animal life also offers unique opportunities for hunting and fishing vacations.
A ravine-cut chain of hills located along the Kuda River attracts hang-gliders and paragliders. Both training flights and free flights take off from these hills. Hang-gliders have claimed several of these sections and gather every year in late July and early August for flying camps.
The Nukutskaya Matsesta and Alar health centers with their hydrosulfuric mineral springs are a source of pride for residents of Ust-Ordynsky Buryat Autonomous Area. Mineral water baths are used in the treatment of diseases of the musculoskeletal system, nervous system, heart and blood vessels, urogenital system, kidneys, respiratory system, and consequences of poisoning by heavy metal salts and radioactive substances. Table water is used to treat the digestive organs affected by metabolic disorders. Both adults and children, including patients with cerebral palsy, are treated at Nukutskaya Matsesta.
Encarta World Atlas