Sakha Republic

Sakha Republic
Sakha (Yakutia) Republic
Республика Саха (Якутия) (Russian)
Саха Республиката (Sakha)
—  Republic  —


Coat of arms
Anthem: National Anthem of the Sakha Republic
Coordinates: 66°24′N 129°10′E / 66.4°N 129.167°E / 66.4; 129.167Coordinates: 66°24′N 129°10′E / 66.4°N 129.167°E / 66.4; 129.167
Political status
Country Russia
Federal district Far Eastern[1]
Economic region Far Eastern[2]
Established April 27, 1922[3]
Capital Yakutsk[3]
Government (as of August 2010)
 - President[4] Yegor Borisov[5]
 - Legislature State Assembly (Il Tumen)[4]
Area (as of the 2002 Census)[6]
 - Total 3,103,200 km2 (1,198,152.2 sq mi)
Area rank 1st
Population (2010 Census)[7]
 - Total 958,300
 - Rank 55th
 - Density 0.31 /km2 (0.80 /sq mi)
 - Urban 64.1%
 - Rural 35.9%
Population (2002 Census)[8]
 - Total 949,280
 - Rank 58th
 - Density 0.31 /km2 (0.80 /sq mi)
 - Urban 64.3%
 - Rural 35.7%
Time zone(s) YAKST (UTC+10:00)[9]
YAKST (UTC+10:00)[9]
MAGST (UTC+12:00)[9]
ISO 3166-2 RU-SA
License plates 14
Official languages Russian;[10] Sakha[11]

The Sakha (Yakutia) Republic (Russian: Республика Саха (Якутия), tr. Respublika Sakha (Yakutiya), IPA: [rʲɪˈspublʲɪkə sɐˈxa jɪˈkutʲɪə]; Sakha: Саха Республиката, Sakha Respublikata) is a federal subject of Russia (a republic). Its population mainly consists of ethnic Yakuts and Russians.

Comprising half of the Far Eastern Federal District, it is the largest subnational governing body by area in the world at 3,103,200 km2 (1,198,200 sq mi)[citation needed] (just smaller than India which covers an area of 3,287,240 km2). It has a population of fewer than one million inhabitants. Its capital is Yakutsk.



Early history

The Turkic Sakha people or Yakuts probably settled in the area in the 13th and 14th centuries, migrating north from the Lake Baikal area to the middle Lena. According to their own traditional accounts, the Sakha were driven out of their earlier homeland by the Buryats. From their new center along the middle Lena they gradually expanded northeast and west beyond the Lena basin towards the Arctic Ocean. The name Sakha is an endonym, of unknown etymology. The term Yakut is a Russian exonym, probably a corruption of Evenk yako "stranger". The Sakha displaced earlier, much smaller populations who lived on hunting and reindeer herding, introducing the pastoralist economy of Central Asia. The indigenous populations of Paleosiberian and Tungusic stock were mostly assimilated to the Sakha by the 17th century.[12]

Russian conquest

The Tsardom of Russia began its conquest of the region in the 17th century, moving east after the defeat of the Khanate of Sibir. Tygyn, a king of the Khangalassky Yakuts, granted territory for Russian settlement in return for a military pact that included war against indigenous rebels of all North Eastern Asia (Magadan, Chukotka, Kamchatka and Sakhalin). Kull, a king of the Megino-Khangalassky Yakuts, began a Sakha conspiracy by allowing the first stockade construction.[citation needed]

In August of 1638, the Moscow Government formed a new administrative unit with the administrative center of Lensky Ostrog (Fort Lensky), the future city of Yakutsk, which had been founded by Pyotr Beketov in 1632.

The arrival of the Russian settlers at the remote Russkoye Ustye in the Indigirka delta likely also dates to the 17th century.[13]

The Siberian Governorate was established as part of the Russian Tsardom in 1708.

Russian Empire

1821 map of Yakutsk Oblast

In an administrative reform of 1782, Irkutsk Governorate was created. In 1805, Yakutsk Oblast was split from Irkutsk Governorate. Yakutsk Oblast in the early 19th century marked the easternmost territory of the Russian Empire, including such Far Eastern (Pacific) territories as were acquired, known as Okhotsk Okrug within Yakutsk Oblast. With the formation of Primorskaya Oblast in 1856, the Russian territories the Pacific were detached from Yakutia.

The Russians established agriculture in the Lena River basin. The members of religious groups who were exiled to Sakha in the second half of the 19th century began to grow wheat, oats, and potatoes. The fur trade established a cash economy. Industry and transport began to develop at the end of the 19th century and in the beginning of the Soviet period. This was also the beginning of geological prospecting, mining, and local lead production. The first steam-powered ships and barges arrived.

Yakutia's remoteness, even compared to the rest of Siberia, made it a place of exile of choice for both Czarist and Communist governments of Russia. Among the famous Tsarist-era exiles were the democratic writer Nikolay Chernyshevsky, Doukhobor conscientious objectors (whose story was told to Leo Tolstoy by Vasily Pozdnyakov), and the Socialist Revolutionary and writer Vladimir Zenzinov, who left an interesting account of his Arctic experiences.

Soviet era

On April 27, 1922 the former Yakutskaya oblast was proclaimed the Yakut ASSR, although in fact the eastern part of the territory, including the city of Yakutsk, was controlled by the White Russians (see Yakut Revolt).

In 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Yakutia was recognized in Moscow as the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. Yakutia is historically part of Russian Siberia, but since the formation of the Far Eastern Federal District in 2000, it is administratively part of the Russian Far East.


The head of government in Sakha is the President. The first president of the Sakha Republic was Mikhail Yefimovich Nikolayev.[14] As of 2010, the president is Yegor Borisov, who took office on May 31, 2010; his vice president is Evgeniya Mikhailova.

The supreme legislative body of state authority in Sakha is a unicameral State Assembly known as the Il Tumen. The government of the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic is the executive body of state authority.


Industry generates slightly above 50%[citation needed] of the gross national product of Sakha, stemming primarily from mineral exploitation. Industrial enterprises are concentrated in the capital Yakutsk, as well as in Aldan, Mirny, Neryungri, Pokrovsk, and Udachny. The diamond, gold and tin ore mining industries are the major focus of the economy. Uranium ore is beginning to be mined. Turkic-language Sakha are in politics, government, finance, economy and cattle-breeding (horses and cows for milk and meat). The Paleoasian indigenous peoples are hunters, fishermen, and reindeer herders. As of 2008, Sakha Republic is the 19th most developed federal subject in Russia.


Water transport ranks first for cargo turnover. There are six river ports, two sea ports (Tiksi and Zelyony Mys). Four shipping companies, including the Arctic Sea Shipping Company, operate in the republic. The republic's main waterway is the Lena River, which links Yakutsk with the rail station of Ust-Kut in Irkutsk Oblast.

Air transport is the most important for transporting people. Airlines connect the republic with most regions of Russia. Yakutsk Airport has an international terminal.

Two federal roads pass the republic. They are Yakutsk–Bolshoy Never and Yakutsk–Magadan. However, due to the presence of permafrost, use of asphalt is not practical, and therefore the roads are made of clay. When heavy rains blow over the region, the roads often turn to mud, sometimes stranding hundreds of travellers in the process.[15]

The Berkakit–Tommot railroad is currently in operation. It links the Baikal Amur Mainline with the industrial centers in South Yakutia. Construction of the Amur-Yakutian Railway continues northward; the plans are for it to reach Yakutsk by 2012.


The most important facilities of higher education include Yakutsk State University and Yakutsk State Agricultural Academy.


Before the arrival of the Russian Empire, the majority of the local population believed in Tengrianism common to Turkic-language people of Central Asia, or in Paleoasian indigenous shamanism with both 'light' (community leading) and 'dark' (healing through spirit journey) shamans.[clarification needed] Under the Russians, the local population was converted to the Russian Orthodox Church and required to take Orthodox Christian names, but in practice generally continued to follow traditional religions. During the Soviet era, most or all of the shamans died without successors.

Currently, while Orthodox Christianity maintains a following (however, with very few priests willing to be stationed outside of Yakutsk), there is interest and activity toward renewing the traditional religions. As of 2008, Orthodox leaders described the world view of the republic's indigenous population (or, rather, those among the population who are not completely indifferent to religion) as dvoyeverie (dual belief system), or a "tendency toward syncretism", as evidenced by the locals sometimes first inviting a shaman, and then an Orthodox priest to carry out their rites in connection with some event in their life.[16]

Religious Demography

According to the Information Center under the President of Sakha Republic (Информационный центр при Президенте РС(Я)), the religious demography of the republic was as follows:[17]

  • Orthodoxy: 44.9%
  • Shamanism: 26.2%
  • Non-religious: 23.0%
  • New Religious Movements: 2.4%
  • Islam: 1.2%
  • Buddhism: 1.0%
  • Protestantism: 0.9%
  • Catholicism: 0.4%


Sakha stretches to the Henrietta Islands in the far north and is washed by the Laptev and Eastern Siberian Seas of the Arctic Ocean. These waters, the coldest and iciest of all seas in the northern hemisphere, are covered by ice for 9–10 months of the year. New Siberian Islands are a part of the republic's territory. After Nunavut was separated from Canada's Northwest Territories, Sakha became the largest subnational entity (statoid) in the world, with an area of 3,103,200 square kilometres (1,198,200 sq mi), slightly smaller than the territory of India (3.3 million km²).

Sakha can be divided into three great vegetation belts. About 40% of Sakha lies above the Arctic circle and all of it is covered by permafrost which greatly influences the region's ecology and limits forests in the southern region. Arctic and subarctic tundra define the middle region, where lichen and moss grow as great green carpets and are favorite pastures for reindeer. In the southern part of the tundra belt, scattered stands of dwarf Siberian pine and larch grow along the rivers. Below the tundra is the vast taiga forest region. Larch trees dominate in the north and stands of fir and pine begin to appear in the south. Taiga forests cover about 47% of Sakha and almost 90% of the cover is larch.

The Sakha Republic is the site of Pleistocene Park, a project directed at recreating pleistocene tundra grasslands by stimulating the growth of grass with the introduction of animals which thrived in the region during the late Pleistocene — early Holocene period.

Time zones

Detailed map of the three timezones in the Sakha Republic, as of September 2011

Sakha spans three different time zones:

  1. Map of Russia - Yakutsk time zone.svg
    Yakutsk Time Zone (YAKT/YAKST). UTC+9 (YAKT)/ UTC+10 (YAKST). Covers the republic's territory to the west of the Lena River as well as the territories of uluses located on the both sides of the Lena River.
  2. Map of Russia - Vladivostok time zone.svg
    Vladivostok Time Zone (VLAT/VLAST). UTC+10 (VLAT)/UTC+11 (VLAST). Covers most of the republic's territory located between 127°E and 140°E longitude.
  3. Map of Russia - Magadan time zone.svg
    Magadan Time Zone (MAGT/MAGST). UTC+11 (MAGT)/UTC+12 (MAGST). Covers most of the republic's territory located east of 140°E longitude.


Navigable Lena River (4,310 km), as it moves northward, includes hundreds of small tributaries located in the Verkhoyansk Range. Other major rivers include:


There are over 800,000 lakes in the republic.[18] Major lakes and reservoirs include:

  • Mogotoyevo Lake
  • Nedzheli Lake
  • Nerpichye Lake
  • Vilyuyskoye Reservoir


Sakha's greatest mountain range, the Verkhoyansk Range, runs parallel and east of the Lena River, forming a great arc that begins the Sea of Okhotsk and ends in the Laptev Sea.

The Chersky Range runs east of the Verkhoyansk Range and has the highest peak in Sakha, Peak Pobeda (3,003 m). Recent satellite photos, however, revealed that Peak Mus-Khaya may in fact be a higher point, reaching 3,011 m.

The Stanovoi Range borders Sakha in the south.

Natural resources

Sakha is well endowed with raw materials. The soil contains large reserves of oil, gas, coal, diamonds, gold, silver, tin, tungsten and many others. 99% of all Russian diamonds are mined in Sakha, accounting for over 25% of the world's diamond production.[citation needed]


Sakha is known for its climate extremes, with the Verkhoyansk Range being the coldest area in the northern hemisphere. Winters here are extremely cold. Some of the lowest natural temperatures ever recorded have been here. The Northern Hemisphere's Pole of Cold is at Verkhoyansk, where the temperatures reached as low as −67.8 °C (−90.0 °F) in 1892, and at Oymyakon, where the temperatures reached as low as −71.2 °C (−96.2 °F) in 1926. It's also believed it may have unofficially reached as low as -117 F in the mountains.[citation needed]

  • Average January temperature: −28 °C (−18 °F) (coast) to −47 °C (−53 °F) (Pole of Cold).
  • Average July temperature: 2 °C (36 °F) (coast) to 19 °C (66 °F) (central parts). However, it gets very hot during the day in Yakutsk in July (record = 38.3 °C (100.9 °F)).
  • Average annual precipitation: 200 mm (central parts) to 700 mm (mountains of Eastern Sakha).

Administrative divisions


The official languages are both Russian and Sakha, also known as Yakut, which is spoken by approximately 25% of the population. The Yakut language is Turkic with Mongolian influence and some borrowings from Sakha's Paleosiberian indigenous peoples.

Breakdown of population changes, 1939–2002
  • Population: 949,280 (2002)
    • Urban: 609,999 (64.3%)
    • Rural: 339,281 (35.7%)
    • Male: 464,217 (48.9%)
    • Female: 485,063 (51.1%)
  • Females per 1000 males: 1,045
  • Average age: 30.0 years
    • Urban: 31.0 years
    • Rural: 27.4 years
    • Male: 30.0 years
    • Female: 26.6 years
  • Number of households: 305,017 (with 937,954 people)
    • Urban: 212,593 (with 600,696 people)
    • Rural: 92,424 (with 337,258 people)
  • Vital statistics:
Source: Russian Federal State Statistics Service
Births Deaths Birth rate Death rate
1970 13,899 5,700 20.6 8.5
1975 15,636 6,242 20.2 8.1
1980 18,132 7,501 20.4 8.5
1985 22,823 7,266 22.8 7.3
1990 21,662 7,470 19.4 6.7
1991 19,805 7,565 17.8 6.8
1992 17,796 8,710 16.3 8.0
1993 16,771 9,419 15.6 8.8
1994 16,434 10,371 15.6 9.9
1995 15,731 10,079 15.3 9.8
1996 14,584 9,638 14.4 9.5
1997 13,909 9,094 13.9 9.1
1998 13,640 8,856 13.8 9.0
1999 12,724 9,480 13.1 9.8
2000 13,147 9,325 13.7 9.7
2001 13,262 9,738 13.9 10.2
2002 13,887 9,700 14.6 10.2
2003 14,224 9,660 15.0 10.2
2004 14,716 9,692 15.5 10.2
2005 13,591 9,696 14.3 10.2
2006 13,713 9,245 14.4 9.7
2007 15,268 9,179 16.1 9.7
2008 15,363 9,579 16.2 10.1
  • Ethnic groups: According to the 2002 Census the national composition is • 432,290 Yakuts (45.54%), • 390,617 Russians (41.15%), • 34,633 Ukrainians (3.65%), • 18,232 Evenks (1.92%), • 11,657 Evens (1.23%), • 10,755 Tatars (1.13%), • 7,266 Buriats (0.77%), • 4,236 Belarusians (0.45%), • 2,764 Armenians (0.29%), • 2,355 Bashkirs (0.25%), • 2,293 Azeris (0.24%), • 2,283 ethnic Germans (0.24%), • 2,255 Moldovans (0.24%), • 2,072 Mordovians (0.22%), • 1,815 Koreans (0.19%), • 1,700 Chuvash (0.18%), • 1,454 Kyrgyz (0.15%), • 1,272 Dolgans (0.13%), • 1,272 Uzbeks (0.13%), • 1,105 Tajiks (0.12%), • 1,097 Yukagirs (0.12%), • 1,000 Ingush (0.11%), and other groups of less than one thousand persons each. (0.28% of the inhabitants declined to state their nationality on the census questionnaire.)[19]
    Historical population figures are shown below:
census 1939 census 1959 census 1970 census 1979 census 1989 census 2002
Yakuts 233,273 (56.5%) 226,053 (46.4%) 285,749 (43.0%) 313,917 (36.9%) 365,236 (33.4%) 432,290 (45.5%)
Dolgans 10 (0.0%) 64 (0.0%) 408 (0.0%) 1,272 (0.1%)
Evenks 10,432 (2.5%) 9,505 (2.0%) 9,097 (1.4%) 11,584 (1.4%) 14,428 (1.3%) 18,232 (1.9%)
Evens 3,133 (0.8%) 3,537 (0.7%) 6,471 (1.0%) 5,763 (0.7%) 8,668 (0.8%) 11,657 (1.2%)
Yukaghir 267 (0.1%) 285 (0.1%) 400 (0.1%) 526 (0.1%) 697 (0.1%) 1,097 (0.1%)
Chukchis 400 (0.1%) 325 (0.1%) 387 (0.1%) 377 (0.0%) 473 (0.0%) 602 (0.1%)
Russians 146,741 (35.5%) 215,328 (44.2%) 314,308 (47.3%) 429,588 (50.4%) 550,263 (50.3%) 390,671 (41.2%)
Ukrainians 4,229 (1.0%) 12,182 (2.5%) 20,253 (3.0%) 46,326 (5.4%) 77,114 (7.0%) 34,633 (3.6%)
Others 14,723 (3.6%) 20,128 (4.1%) 27,448 (4.1%) 43,695 (5.1%) 76,778 (7.0%) 58,826 (6.2%)

See also


  1. ^ Президент Российской Федерации. Указ №849 от 13 мая 2000 г. «О полномочном представителе Президента Российской Федерации в федеральном округе». Вступил в силу 13 мая 2000 г. Опубликован: "Собрание законодательства РФ", №20, ст. 2112, 15 мая 2000 г. (President of the Russian Federation. Decree #849 of May 13, 2000 On the Plenipotentiary Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in a Federal District. Effective as of May 13, 2000).
  2. ^ Госстандарт Российской Федерации. №ОК 024-95 27 декабря 1995 г. «Общероссийский классификатор экономических регионов. 2. Экономические районы», в ред. Изменения №5/2001 ОКЭР. (Gosstandart of the Russian Federation. #OK 024-95 December 27, 1995 Russian Classification of Economic Regions. 2. Economic Regions, as amended by the Amendment #5/2001 OKER. ).
  3. ^ a b Minahan, James (2002). Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: S-Z. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 1630ff. 
  4. ^ a b Constitution, Article 53.1
  5. ^ Official website of the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic. Yegor Afanasyevich Borisov (Russian)
  6. ^ Федеральная служба государственной статистики (Federal State Statistics Service) (2004-05-21). "Территория, число районов, населённых пунктов и сельских администраций по субъектам Российской Федерации (Territory, Number of Districts, Inhabited Localities, and Rural Administration by Federal Subjects of the Russian Federation)" (in Russian). Всероссийская перепись населения 2002 года (All-Russia Population Census of 2002). Federal State Statistics Service. Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  7. ^ Федеральная служба государственной статистики (Federal State Statistics Service) (2011). "Предварительные итоги Всероссийской переписи населения 2010 года (Preliminary results of the 2010 All-Russian Population Census)" (in Russian). Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года (All-Russia Population Census of 2010). Federal State Statistics Service. Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  8. ^ Федеральная служба государственной статистики (Federal State Statistics Service) (2004-05-21). "Численность населения России, субъектов Российской Федерации в составе федеральных округов, районов, городских поселений, сельских населённых пунктов – районных центров и сельских населённых пунктов с населением 3 тысячи и более человек (Population of Russia, its federal districts, federal subjects, districts, urban localities, rural localities—administrative centers, and rural localities with population of over 3,000)" (in Russian). Всероссийская перепись населения 2002 года (All-Russia Population Census of 2002). Federal State Statistics Service. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  9. ^ a b c Правительство Российской Федерации. Постановление №725 от 31 августа 2011 г. «О составе территорий, образующих каждую часовую зону, и порядке исчисления времени в часовых зонах, а также о признании утратившими силу отдельных Постановлений Правительства Российской Федерации». Вступил в силу по истечении 7 дней после дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Российская Газета", №197, 6 сентября 2011 г. (Government of the Russian Federation. Resolution #725 of August 31, 2011 On the Composition of the Territories Included into Each Time Zone and on the Procedures of Timekeeping in the Time Zones, as Well as on Abrogation of Several Resolutions of the Government of the Russian Federation. Effective as of after 7 days following the day of the official publication).
  10. ^ Official the whole territory of Russia according to Article 68.1 of the Constitution of Russia.
  11. ^ Constitution, Article 46
  12. ^ Scott Polar Research Institute — Republic of Sakha
  13. ^ А. И. Гоголев. "ИСТОРИЯ ЯКУТИИ: (Обзор исторических событий до начала ХХ в.)". (A.I. Gogolev. History of Yakutia: Review of Historical Events to the beginning of the 20th century) Yakutsk, 1999. (Russian)
  14. ^ "Михаил Ефимович НИКОЛАЕВ". Члены Совета Федерации Федерального Собрания РФ. Government of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia). Retrieved February 18, 2010. 
  15. ^ – Russian Roads
  16. ^ Елена Дятлова (Yelena Dyatlova) (October 1, 2008). "В Якутии господствует двоеверие (Ч. 1) (Yakutia is dominated by a dual belief system)". "Во многих случаях нам говорили, что при совершении тех или иных обрядов или просто действий приглашают сначала шамана, потом священника. Правда, именно в таком порядке, признавая христианство чем-то высшим по отношению к местной магической языческой традиции, но это соединяя. Даже среди тех представителей якутской интеллигенции, с которыми мы общались, это стремление к синкретизму было отчетливо приметно."  (An interview with Maxim Kozlov, a Moscow priest who had recently returned from a missionary trip down the Lena along with the Bishop of Yakutsk).
  17. ^
  18. ^ . Government of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia). 
  19. ^ (XLS) National Composition of Population for Regions of the Russian Federation. 2002 Russian All-Population Census. 2002. Retrieved July 20, 2006. 


  • Верховный Совет Республики Саха (Якутия). 4 апреля 1992 г. «Конституция (основной закон) Республики Саха (Якутия)», в ред. Конституционного закона №581-З 53-IV от 22 июля 2008 г. (Supreme Council of the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic. April 4, 1992 Constitution (Basic Law) of the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, as amended by the Constitutional Law #581-Z 53-IV of July 22, 2008. ).

External links

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