Kyakhta


Kyakhta

Kyakhta or Kiakhta ( _ru. Кя́хта) is a town in the Buryat Republic, Russia. It is located on the Kyakhta River near the Russian-Mongolian border. Besides the lower town or Kyakhta proper, the town also includes Troitskosavsk, about three kilometres to the north, and Ust-Kyakhta, sixteen kilometres further. The lower town stands directly opposite the Mongolian border town of Altanbulag. Population: 18,391 (2002 Census).

History

Kyakhta was founded by Savva Raguzinsky as a trading point between Russia and the Qing Empire in 1728. The eastern terminal of the Great Siberian Route from Moscow, Kyakhta prospered from cross-border trade with Altanbulag which was then a Chinese trading center called Maimachin. Trade was essentially based on barter, with merchants crossing the border to make their business.

The foundation of the city was paralleled by a treaty, one of the first between China and a Western nation, named the Treaty of Kyakhta, which established trade agreements and defined the border between Siberia and the Qing Empire territories of Mongolia and Manchuria. As a result of this agreement, Kyakhta was an exclusive trading point on the frontier.

Kyakhta and its Chinese counterpart, Maimaicheng, were visited by the famous English adventurer and engineer Samuel Bentham in 1782. He related that he was entertained by the commander of the Chinese city "with the greatest politeness which a stranger can meet with in any country whatever". At that time, the Russians sold furs, textiles, clothing, hides, leather, hardware and cattle, while the Chinese sold silk, cotton stuffs, teas, fruits, porcelain, rice, candles, rhubarb, ginger and musk.

The town was crowded, unclean, ill-planned and never came to reflect the wealth that flowed through it, [W. Bruce Lincoln. "The Conquest of a Continent: Siberia and the Russians". Cornell University Press, 2007. Page 145.] although an outcrop of Neoclassical buildings were erected in the 19th century, including a tea bourse (1842) and the Orthodox cathedral (1807-17) which still stand. It was from Kyakhta that Nikolai Przhevalsky, Grigory Potanin, Pyotr Kozlov, and Vladimir Obruchev set off on their expeditions into the interior of Mongolia and Xinjiang.

After the entire Russian-Chinese frontier was opened to trade in 1860 and the Chinese Eastern Railway bypassed it, Kyakhta fell into decline. The whole city assumed the name Troitskosavsk during the first part of the 20th century, but reverted to Kyakhta in 1935.

Kyakhta today is located on the highway from the Buryatian capital of Ulan-Ude to the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator. It is an important transit point for trade between Russia and Mongolia. It has textile, lumber, and food-processing plants, as well as the Damdin Sükhbaatar memorial museum.

Town name in other languages

* _mn. Хиагт ("Khiagt")
*Manchu: Kiyaktu.
*Chinese: 恰克图 / 恰克圖 ("Qiàkètú") or 恰克土 ("Qiàkètǔ")
*Buryat: Хяагта ("Khyaagta").

In Mongolian, Kyakhta was formerly known as Ар Хиагт ("Ar Khiagt", lit. "North Kyakhta"); Altanbulag (then, Maimaicheng) across the border was Өвөр Хиагт ("Övör Khiagt", lit. "South Kyakhta"). Troitskosavsk is known as Дээд Шивээ ("Deed Šhivee") in Mongolian.

References

*"The Benthams in Russia 1780-1791", Ian R.Christie, Berg Publishers Limited, Oxford, ISBN 0-85496-816-4
*1911


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