February 11, 2017

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What is Tuva (English)

February 11, 2017

Written together with Aldynai Sedeen-Khuurak, Kyzyl, Tuva

 

Tuva is situated in the very center of Asia and a monument honoring this fact is placed in the capital Kyzyl. Neighboring Russian republics are Altai, Khacassia and Buryatia and to the south the country borders on Mongolia. Tuva covers a territory of 170,000 square kilometers. The distance from west to east is 750 kilometers and 450 kilometers from north to south the longest way.

 

 There are three climate zones in Tuva: a steppe zone in the central part with the Khemchik and Turan-Uyuk steppe; a semi desert zone in the south around Ubsu-Nur on the border to Mongolia and a taiga-forest zone including Todzha and Tere-Kh. In the northern part there is a chain of high mountains with alpine meadows. Here you can find reindeer-breeders.

There are about 12,000 big and small rivers in Tuva of which almost all belong to the basin of the Ulug-Khem River, also known as the Yenisei. There are about 430 lakes of various sizes. Tuva is famous for its mineral springs, called arzhaan. The biggest arzhaans are sh-Beldir, Tarys and Shivilig.

 

A complex system of mountains causes some climatic and soil peculiarities in the area. The climate of Tuva is harsh. In winter temperature may fall to -50 C, whereas in summer it can rise to +40.

 

Horses are important both from a spiritual and a practical perspective. It is a symbol and a part of the national character of the area. Spiritually the horses are sacred animals that can be sacrificed. The shamanic drum is called the shamans horse and to go on the shamanic journey is called to mount the horse.

 

Practically the importance of horses in everyday life for herding and transporting is still high. Horseracing is one of the most valued sports along with archery and wrestling. Other common domesticated animals are sheep, cows and goat. Yaks, reindeer and camels are not so common but still used for transport, wool, skin and meat. To ride the reindeer is part of the Tuvan tradition. Bear, wolf, badger, and different kind of deer and wild goat are part of the fauna. Among the birds that are mentioned in the algyshes you find ravens, falcons, hawks, eagles and eagles. Kites are very common in Tuva.

 

The capital of Tuva is Kyzyl. The country includes 17 administrative regions and a total of 5 towns. The number of inhabitants is 310,000 with a population density of 2 people per km2. Half the population lives in the towns and approximately 100,000 live in Kyzyl. Official languages are Tuvan and Russian.

 

The industrial development of the 20th century has only marginally affected Tuva, owing to its isolated location behind the eastern and western Sayan Mountains. As a result the national economy has not developed much. On the other hand the nature of Tuva has remained almost untouched by industry so that Tuva today is one of few ecologically sound regions of Russia. Things are changing, however. The fact that the land is so rich in natural resources is increasing interest and pressure from Russian as well as foreign actors. There are rare metals such as tantalum, niobium and lithium, and poly-metals, copper, coal and iron ore are currently mined in Tuva. 

 

Text by Anna Kjellin 

 

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