The Sakha (Yakutia) Republic (Russian: Респу́блика Саха́ (Яку́тия); Yakut: Саха Республиката) is a federal subject of the Russian Federation (a republic). The direct transliteration of the republic's name is Respublika Sakha (Yakutiya) in Russian and Sakha Respublikata in Yakut.
- Area: 3,103,200 km².
- Highest point: Peak Pobeda (3,003 m) or Peak Mus-Khaya (3,011 m).
- Maximum N->S distance: 2,500 km.
- Maximum E->W distance: 2,000 km.
- Average elevation: no data.
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.
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, in the south, stands of fir and pine begin to appear. Taiga forests cover about 47% of Sakha and almost 90% of this cover is larch.
Sakha spans three different time zones:
- Yakutsk Time Zone (YAKT/YAKST). UTC offset is +0900 (YAKT)/+1000 (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.
- Vladivostok Time Zone (VLAT/VLAST). UTC offset is +1000 (VLAT)/+1100 (VLAST). Covers most of the republic's territory located between 127°E and 140°E longitude.
- Magadan Time Zone (MAGT/MAGST). UTC offset is +1100 (MAGT)/+1200 (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 700 lakes in the republic. 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 Cherky 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.
Further east lie the gold-rich Kolyma Mountains, which stretch all the way to Chukotka.
The Stanovoi Range borders Sakha in the south.
Sakha is well endowed with raw materials. The soil contains large reserves of oil, gas, coal, diamonds, gold, and silver. 99% of all Russian diamonds are mined in Sakha, accounting for over 13% of the world's diamonds production.
Sakha is known for its climate extremes, with the Verkhoyansk Range being the coldest area in the northern hemisphere. The Northern Hemisphere's "Cold Pole" is at Oymyakon, where the temperatures reached as low as −72.2°C in January of 1926.
- Average January temperature: −28°C (coast) to −50°C (other territories).
- Average July temperature: +2°C (coast) to +19°C (central parts).
- Average annual precipitation: 200 mm (central parts) to 700 mm (mountains of Eastern Sakha).
- Main article: Administrative division of Sakha.
Russians (50.3%), the Sakha people (33.4%), and Ukrainians (7%) are the three most common nationalities inhabiting Sakha.
Official languages are Yakut (also known as Sakha), spoken by approximately 25% of the population, and Russian. The Yakut language is Turkic with Mongolian influence and some borrowings from Sakha's Paleosiberian indigenous peoples.
- 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)
The Sakha arrived relatively recently in their current geographical area. They are heterogeneous of Turkic and Mongoloid origin. They absorbed the hunter-gatherer tribes (including the Chinyik) and after centuries of consolidation, began to call themselves "Sakha". However, the Malaty are still holding on.
The Evenki referred to the Sakha as "Yako" and this term was adopted by the Russians when they began arriving in the region in the early 17th century. Tygyn, a "prince" of the Khangalassky Yakuts, granted territory for Russian settlement. The Lensky Ostrog (Fort Lensky), the future city of Yakutsk, was founded by Pyotr Beketov, a Cossack, on September 25, 1632 (the date of the first stockade construction). In August of 1638, the Moscow Government formed a new administrative unit with the administrative center of Lensky Ostrog, which cemented the town's ascendancy in the territory.
Russians established agriculture in the Lena River basin. The members of religious groups who were banished 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.
On April 27, 1922 former "Yakolskaya land" was proclaimed the Yakut ASSR, and in 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union, it was recognized in Moscow as the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation.
The head of government in Sakha is the President. The first President of Sakha was Mikhail Yefimovich Nikolayev. As of 2004, the president is Vyacheslav Anatolyevich Shtyrov, who was elected on January 27, 2002.
The supreme legislative body of state authority in Sakha is a bicameral State Assembly known as the Il Tumen. The government of the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic is the executive body of state authority.
Industry generates 43% 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. The indigenous peoples are well-known as hunters, fishermen, and reindeer herders.
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.
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—Kolyma. The Berkakit—Aldan railroad is currently in operation. It links the Baikal Amur Mainline with the industrial centers in South Sakha.
The most important facilities of higher education include Yakut State University and Yakut State Agricultural Academy.
The majority of the population are shamanists or belong to the Russian Orthodox Church.
- Sakha is the largest subnational entity in the world.
- Lenin was the most well known of Vladimir Ulyanov’s revolutionary pseudonyms. He is believed to have created it to show his opposition to Georgi Plekhanov, who used the pseudonym Volgin, after the Volga River. Ulyanov picked the Sakha's Lena River, which flows in the opposite direction, and is longer.
- Official website of Sakha (http://www.sakha.ru/Eversion/HTMLs/default.htm) (in English, somewhat outdated)
- Official website of Sakha (http://www.sakha.ru) (in Russian)
- Website of Yakutia Travel (a travel company) (http://www.yakutiatravel.com) (in English and Russian)
- Official website of the Yakut State University (http://www.ysu.ru) (in Russian)
- Information about the Yakut State Agricultural Academy (http://www.sakha.ru/sakha/Education/YGSHA/yasha.htm) (in Russian)
- A map of Sakha (http://odur.let.rug.nl/~bergmann/russia/regions/rus14sa.htm) (in English)