Altai Republic
Алтай Республика (Altay)
Республика Алтай (Russian)
Алтай Республикасы (Kazakh)
Anthem: National Anthem of the Altai Republic[1]
Location of Altai Republic
Coordinates: 50°55′N 86°55′E / 50.917°N 86.917°E / 50.917; 86.917
Federal districtSiberian
Economic regionWest Siberian
 • TypeState Assembly—El Kurultai[3]
 • Head[3]Andrey Turchak
 • Total92,903 km2 (35,870 sq mi)
 • TotalIncrease 210,924
 • Rank81st
 • Density2.27/km2 (5.9/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Rural
Time zoneUTC+7 (MSK+4[6])
ISO 3166 codeRU-AL
Vehicle registration04
Official language(s)

The Altai Republic (/ˈælt/; Altay: Алтай Республика, romanized: Altay Respublika;[9] Russian: Респу́блика Алта́й, romanizedRespublika Altay, IPA: [rʲɪˈspublʲɪkə ɐlˈtaj]), also known as Gorno-Altai Republic, and colloquially, and primarily referred to in Russian to distinguish from the neighbouring Altai Krai as the Gornyi Altai (Russian: Горный Алтай, romanized: Gornyy Altay, lit.'the mountainous Altai'), is a republic of Russia located in southern Siberia. The republic borders the Russian federal subjects of Kemerovo Oblast to the north, Khakassia to the northeast, Tuva to the east, Altai Krai to the west, as well it borders three countries: Mongolia to the southeast, China to the south and Kazakhstan to the southwest. It is a part of the Siberian Federal District, and covers an area of 92,903 square kilometers (35,870 sq mi), with a population of 210,924 residents. It is the least-populous republic of Russia and least-populous federal subject in the Siberian Federal District.[5] Gorno-Altaysk is the capital and the largest town of the republic.

The Altai Republic is one of Russia's ethnic republics, primarily representing the indigenous Altai people, a Turkic ethnic group that form 37% of the republic's population, while ethnic Russians form a majority at 54%. Other minority populations include Kazakhs, other Central Asian ethnicities, and Germans. The official languages of the Altai Republic are Russian and Altai. Kazakh is official in areas of compact settlement of its speakers.[10]


The Xiongnu Empire (209 BC – AD 93) governed the territory of the modern Altai Republic. The area was part of the First Turkic Khaganate, the Uyghur Empire, and the Yeniseian Kyrgyzs. It was during this time that the local population became fully Turkicized culturally and linguistically.[11]

The southern part of the Altai Republic came under the Naiman Khanate. The territory of the modern Altai Republic has been ruled by the Mongolic Xianbei state (93–234), Rouran Khaganate (330–555), Mongol Empire (1206–1368), Golden Horde (1240–1502), Zunghar Khanate (1634–1758) and Qing Empire (1757–1864).

The Qing period is a semi-autonomous period with the supervision of two Altan Nuur Uriankhai Governor Banners and part of the seven Altai Uriankhai banners. During the Qing administration, the General of Siberia Fedor Ivanovich Soimonov launched a non-military expedition into the Altan Nuur region in 1760 and began fort building. This was subsequently removed by Heseri Jalafungga of the Qing. Since the 1820s, the routine border check was less frequent and the Chuy drainage basin has been occupied by Russians.

The entire Altan Nuur Uriankhai region was annexed into the Russian Empire in 1864–1867 by the Treaty of Tarbagatai. During the Russian Civil War, the Confederated Republic of Altai (Karakorum-Altai Region) was established in 1918, and declared as the first step to rebuilding Genghis Khan's Mongol Empire.[12] But it never became a competing force in the Russian Civil War, and stayed neutral from 1918 until January 1920, when it was annexed back into Russia. A second Altai Republic was formed in 1921 and lasted until 1922 when they were annexed by the Bolsheviks.[12]

On June 1, 1922, the Altaians regained autonomy with the creation of the Oyrot Autonomous Oblast (Ойро́тская автоно́мная о́бласть), part of Altai Krai. The original name for this region was Bazla. On January 7, 1948, it was renamed Gorno-Altai Autonomous Oblast (Го́рно-Алта́йская автоно́мная о́бласть). In 1991 it was reorganized into the Gorno-Altai Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR). In 1992 it was renamed as the Altai Republic.


See also: Geography of South-Central Siberia

The Altai Republic is situated in the Altai Mountains in the very center of Asia at the junction of the Siberian taiga, the steppes of Kazakhstan and the semi-deserts of Mongolia. Forests cover about 25% of the republic's territory.

Rivers and lakes

The Katun River in the Altai Republic

More than 20,000 tributaries sprawl throughout the mountainous Republic, making for a total of more than 60,000 kilometers (37,000 mi) worth of waterways. The republic's largest rivers are the Katun and the Biya, both of which originate in the mountains and flow northwards. The junction of the two rivers eventually forms the Ob River, one of the longest rivers in Siberia, which flows northward to the Arctic Ocean.

The source of the black Biya River is Lake Teletskoye, the region's largest lake located in an isolated area far south in the mountains. The emerald-colored Katun River has its source at the Gebler glacier, which is situated on the Republic's highest point, Mount Belukha. The Katun River, in particular, holds a religious significance for native Altaians, as well as for many Russians who live in the area, as Mount Belukha is known in Altai folklore to be the gateway to the mystical kingdom of Shambhala.[13]

The hydrographic network of the Republic also includes approximately 7,000 lakes, adding up to a total area of more than 700 km2 (270 sq mi). The largest lake is Lake Teletskoye, which is 80 km (50 mi) long and 5 km (3.1 mi) wide, has an area of 230.8 square kilometers (89.1 sq mi), and has a maximum depth of 325 meters (1,066 ft). The mountain lakes of Altai contain enormous freshwater reserves of a very pure quality as a result of their distance from civilization.[14] Lake Teletskoye alone contains more than 40 cubic kilometers (9.6 cu mi) of very clear water.

Potential groundwater storage is evaluated at 22 million cubic metres (780×10^6 cu ft) per day, while the present use constitutes about 44,000 m3 (1,600,000 cu ft) per day.

Shavlo Lake in Northern Chuysky Range
Belukha Mountain


The most striking geographical aspect of the Republic of Altai is its mountainous terrain. The Republic is situated within the Russian part of the Altai Mountains system, which covers a large part of the Republic and continues into neighboring Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. The region continues to experience periodic notable seismic activity, which is visually made apparent through the mountains' characteristically high and rugged mountain ridges, separated by narrow and deep river valleys. The Republic's highest peak, Mount Belukha (4,506 m), is the highest point in Siberia.

Natural resources

Various bodies of water are among the most important natural resources of the Republic. Mineral and hot springs are popular destinations for tourists and locals, sought for their therapeutic effects. Additionally, Altai glaciers contain a great amount of fresh water. The general volume of ice for registered Altai glaciers comes to a total of 57 km3, 52 km3 of which is water. The total water stock of the glaciers exceeds the average annual effluence of all Altai rivers, which are equal to 43 km3 per year. The largest glaciers are Bolshoy Taldurinsky (35 km2), Mensu (21 km2), Sofiysky (17 km2), and Bolshoy Maashey (16 km2).

Mineral resources in the region primarily include gold, silver, iron ores, and lithium, in addition to other smaller amounts of minerals. The large city of Barnaul in neighboring Altai Krai was founded as a processing center for minerals from the Altai region, although the mineral extraction industry today is much smaller than in the past.


The republic has a temperate continental climate with relatively short and mild summers (June–August); and long, cold, and often quite frosty winters (November–March).

In general, the republic's climate of the southeastern areas, such as the (Ulagansky and Kosh-Agachsky Districts), is harsher than the climate of the less elevated northern areas.

Administrative divisions

Main article: Administrative divisions of the Altai Republic

The Altai Republic is administratively divided into ten districts and Gorno-Altaysk Urban Okrug. The districts are further subdivided into ninety-two rural settlements.


210,924 (2021 Census);[5] 206,168 (2010 Russian census);[15] 202,947 (2002 Census);[16] 191,649 (1989 Soviet census).[17]

Historical population
Source: Census data

Vital statistics

Source: Russian Federal State Statistics Service Archived 2008-04-12 at the Wayback Machine[18][19]
Average population (× 1000) Live births Deaths Natural change Crude birth rate (per 1000) Crude death rate (per 1000) Natural change (per 1000) Fertility rates
1970 168 3,236 1,486 1,750 19.3 8.8 10.4
1975 170 3,805 1,724 2,081 22.4 10.1 12.2
1980 175 3,841 2,082 1,759 21.9 11.9 10.1
1985 185 4,256 2,097 2,159 23.0 11.3 11.7
1990 194 3,753 2,126 1,627 19.3 10.9 8.4 2,52
1991 196 3,579 2,064 1,515 18.2 10.5 7.7 2,41
1992 197 3,263 2,271 992 16.6 11.5 5.0 2,25
1993 197 2,878 2,630 248 14.6 13.4 1.3 2,00
1994 198 2,931 2,875 56 14.8 14.5 0.3 2,03
1995 199 2,853 2,637 216 14.3 13.2 1.1 1,93
1996 200 2,704 2,567 137 13.5 12.8 0.7 1,80
1997 200 2,686 2,547 139 13.4 12.7 0.7 1,77
1998 201 2,923 2,367 556 14.5 11.8 2.8 1,89
1999 202 2,742 2,536 206 13.6 12.6 1.0 1,74
2000 203 2,907 2,645 262 14.3 13.0 1.3 1,82
2001 203 3,033 2,870 163 14.9 14.1 0.8 1,87
2002 203 3,252 3,061 191 16.0 15.1 0.9 1,98
2003 203 3,392 3,173 219 16.7 15.7 1.1 2,04
2004 202 3,513 3,015 498 17.4 14.9 2.5 2,08
2005 202 3,502 3,170 332 17.3 15.7 1.6 2,03
2006 202 3,395 2,837 558 16.8 14.1 2.8 1,93
2007 202 4,066 2,574 1,492 20.1 12.7 7.4 2,29
2008 203 4,442 2,549 1,893 21.9 12.5 9.3 2,48
2009 204 4,266 2,492 1,774 20.9 12.2 8.7 2,48
2010 206 4,224 2,508 1,716 20.6 12.2 8.3 2,48
2011 207 4,719 2,529 2,190 22.7 12.2 10.5 2,84
2012 209 4,693 2,416 2,277 22.4 11.5 10.9 2,91
2013 211 4,442 2,392 2,027 21.1 11.3 9.8 2,82
2014 213 4,404 2,365 2,039 20.7 11.1 9.6 2,88
2015 214 4,022 2,347 1,675 18.7 10.9 7.8 2,68
2016 216 3,911 2,151 1,760 18.1 10.0 8.1 2,63(e)
2017 217 3,443 2,099 1,344 15.8 9.6 6.2

Ethnic groups

Ethnic map of the Altai Republic by settlements, 2010 census.

As per the 2021 Census,[20] ethnic Russians make up 53.7% of the republic's population, with the indigenous Altai people making up 37.0%. Other groups include people of Kazakh (6.4%), together with smaller groups, each accounting for less than 0.5% of the total population.

1926 Census 1939 Census 1959 Census 1970 Census 1979 Census 1989 Census 2002 Census 2010 Census 2021 Census
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
Altai 42,2131 42.4% 39,285 24.2% 38,019 24.2% 46,750 27.8% 50,203 29.2% 59,130 31.0% 68,0272 33.6% 69,9633 34.5% 73,242 37.0%
Russians 51,813 52.0% 114,209 70.4% 109,661 69.8% 110,442 65.6% 108,795 63.2% 115,188 60.4% 116,510 57.5% 114,802 56.6% 106,258 53.7%
Kazakhs 2,326 2.3% 4,280 2.6% 4,745 3.0% 7,170 4.3% 8,677 5.0% 10,692 5.6% 12,108 6.0% 12,524 6.2% 12,647 6.4%
Others 3,309 3.3% 4,405 2.7% 4,736 3.0% 3,899 2.3% 4,365 2.5% 5,821 3.1% 5,914 2.9% 5,447 2.7% 5,741 2.9%
  1. including 3,414 Telengits, 1,384 Kumandins and 344 Teleuts
  2. including 2,368 Telengits, 1,533 Tubalars, 931 Kumandins, 830 Chelkans, 141 Shors and 32 Teleuts
  3. including 3,648 Telengits, 1,891 Tubalars, 1,062 Kumandins, 1,113 Chelkans and 87 Shors
  4. including 2,587 Telengits, 3,424 Tubalars, 1,037 Kumandins, 1,170 Chelkans and 91 Shors
  5. 3,432 people were registered from administrative databases, and could not declare an ethnicity. It is estimated that the proportion of ethnicities in this group is the same as that of the declared group.[21]


The head of government in the Altai Republic is the Head of the Republic, popularly elected for a four-year term. As of 2024, the Acting Head of the Republic is Andrey Turchak, who succeeded Oleg Khorokhordin in this post. The supreme legislative body of the republic is the State Assembly—El Kurultai, with 41 deputies popularly elected every four years. Igor Yaimov is the current Chairman of the State Assembly-El Kurultai from January 2002.

The Republic's Constitution was adopted on June 7, 1997.


The Altai Republic is a highly agricultural region. However, it does have some industry which includes foodstuffs, non-ferrous metallurgy, chemicals, gold mining, footwear, dairying, and timber. Tourism has also begun to be a large part of the economy, and a significant number of new hotels and resorts have appeared.



Seminsky Pass of the Chuysky Trakt

The Altai Republic is one of the few Russian political divisions without rail access. The main paved road is the Chuysky Tract, which spans the republic from the capital Gorno-Altaisk in the north to the Mongolian border in the south. The republic's main paved road threads its way through the rugged Altai Mountains. A system of taxis and buses transports people between settlements. Within the settlements, people generally walk or ride horses.

Helicopters are used for emergency transportation, to supply remote government outposts, and by wealthy tourists. In 2012, runway capacity at the Gorno-Altaysk Airport near the republic's capital, was doubled. In June that same year, S7 Airlines started direct flights from Moscow. Prior to this, passengers used to fly through Barnaul in Altai Krai or Novosibirsk.[22]


See also: Tourism in Russia

A Voice of America reporter tours the Altai region in 2012.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Altai Republic's tourism industry has greatly expanded. Although wealthy Russians from neighboring Russian regions are the most common sort of tourist in Altai, foreign interest has also grown in the area, especially due to the area's spiritual significance.[citation needed]

Popular tourist destinations tend to be concentrated in the north, where the roads are more accessible. They are also almost entirely located along the Chuiskiy highway, which is the main road from the north into the mountains, although it is currently (2006) only two lanes wide. The north is also significantly warmer than the elevated southern areas, which tend to be chilly even in the summer.[citation needed]

Some of the more well-known tourist spots in the Altai Republic include Lake Aiya, a popular bathing spot, and the picturesque Chemal region. More adventurous travelers sometimes visit the more remote Lake Teletskoye or Mount Belukha in the south.[citation needed]


There is one university (Gorno-Altaysk State University), 12 colleges, and 205 secondary schools in the republic.


See also: Religion in Russia

Religion in Altai Republic as of 2012 (Sreda Arena Atlas)[23][24]
Russian Orthodoxy
Old Believers
Other Christians
Tengrism and other native faiths
Spiritual but not religious
Atheism and irreligion
Other and undeclared

Different religions are present in Altai. According to a 2012 survey,[23] 27.6% of the population adheres to the Russian Orthodox Church. The second most popular religions are ethnic and nature religions, namely Rodnovery (Slavic native faith), Tengrism (Central Asians' native faith) and Burkhanism, constituting altogether 13% of the population. 6% of the population follows Islam, 2% Hinduism (including Slavic-Vedic, Krishnaite, and Tantric movements), 1% are Old Believers and 1% Protestants. 25% of the population is "spiritual but not religious", 14% is atheist and 7.4% follows other religions or did not answer the question.[23]

The traditional religion of the native Altaians is Tengrist shamanism, revived by modern Tengrist movements and Burkhanism. Ethnic Russians primarily practice Russian Orthodox Christianity and Rodnovery (Slavic native faith), while Kazakhs are traditionally Muslims. Tibetan Buddhism has also recently begun making some inroads by way of neighboring Mongolia and Tuva.

It is unknown when Buddhism came into Altai but in various periods of history, the territory of the Altai and its population found themselves in full or partial subjection to neighboring states, where Buddhism was the official or one of the official religions: the state of the Khitans (tenth-twelfth centuries), the Mongol Empire (thirteenth-fourteenth centuries), and the Dzhungar Khanate (seventeenth-eighteenth centuries).[25]

From 1904 until the 1930s, a new religious movement called Burkhanism (or Ak Jang, the "white faith") was popularized among native Altaians. The religion originated in Altai and emphasized the "white" aspect of shamanistic practice. Burkhanism remains an important component of Altai national consciousness and is currently being revived in several forms along with indigenous Altai culture in general.

Russian Pagan followers often go on pilgrimages to Mount Belukha, which is considered to be the location of Shambhala both by some Pagans and locals of Altai. One can often find manifestations of shamanistic spirituality in the region; for example, at points along the Katun River, local believers in shamanic religions are known to tie white ribbons to nearby trees and leave offerings of coins or food to the spirits.[26] Although shamanism is much less widely practiced today, it is regaining popularity as a result of new religious freedom following the collapse of the Soviet Union.


The indigenous Altai culture holds the lands of Altai to be sacred. The indigenous (Turkic) languages are focused on the stewardship of the lands. The Altai oral history is transmitted by throat-singers. The Altai culture was repressed during Soviet times and has been rebounding since then. The clans of all ten regions gather in the village of Yelo for a biennial cultural celebration.

There is also a large contingent of "Old Believers" who fled to Altai when they split from the Russian Orthodox Church over 300 years ago.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site "Golden Mountains" protects the Ukok Plateau, on which there are many standing stones and kurgans. Although archaeologists consider kurgans to be burial sites, the indigenous people believe that they are highly refined magnetic instruments for directing the flow of cosmic energy into the Earth.[citation needed] Thus, there is great local indignation about the excavation and removal of the Siberian Ice Maiden, an extraordinary 2,500-year-old mummy that had been preserved in permafrost.

Gorno-Altaisk is the location of the National Museum of the Altai Republic, which houses the mummy, the "Altai Princess", the National Library of the Republic of Altai, the National Theatre of the Republic of Altai and the Municipal House of Culture.

Regularly held national holiday Maslenitsa, Nowruz, Chaga – Bayram, received in February 2013 with the official status of the Republican celebration.

In 2013, the Altai Republic participated in the Turkvision Song Contest. The Altai Republic's entry was the song "Altayym Menin" performed by Artur Marlujokov. The Altai Republic placed fifth in the contest.


Bandy is played in the Altai Republic.[27][28]

Notable people

Main category: People from the Altai Republic

See also



  1. ^ Law #92
  2. ^ Official website of the Altai Republic Archived 2011-05-14 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Constitution, Article 8
  4. ^ 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)". Всероссийская перепись населения 2002 года (All-Russia Population Census of 2002) (in Russian). Federal State Statistics Service. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  5. ^ a b c Russian Federal State Statistics Service. Всероссийская перепись населения 2020 года. Том 1 [2020 All-Russian Population Census, vol. 1] (XLS) (in Russian). Federal State Statistics Service.
  6. ^ "Об исчислении времени". Официальный интернет-портал правовой информации (in Russian). Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  7. ^ Official throughout the Russian Federation according to Article 68.1 of the Constitution of Russia.
  8. ^ Constitution, Article 13.
  9. ^ "". Retrieved 2022-12-31.
  10. ^ "Статья 4. Правовое положение языков | ГАРАНТ".
  11. ^ Skutsch, Carl, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of the World's Minorities. Vol. 1. New York: Routledge. p. 82. ISBN 1-57958-468-3.
  12. ^ a b Znamenski, Andrei (2005). "Power of Myth: Popular ethnonationalism and Nationality Building in Mountain Altai, 1904–1922" (PDF). Acta Slavica Iaponica. 22: 44–47. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-08-02.
  13. ^ "Wild Sightings in the Altai". Archived from the original on November 21, 2008. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  14. ^ "Altai Republic, Russia". Archived from the original on 2007-01-01. Retrieved 2006-12-28.
  15. ^ Russian Federal State Statistics Service (2011). Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года. Том 1 [2010 All-Russian Population Census, vol. 1]. Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года [2010 All-Russia Population Census] (in Russian). Federal State Statistics Service.
  16. ^ Federal State Statistics Service (21 May 2004). 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] (XLS). Всероссийская перепись населения 2002 года [All-Russia Population Census of 2002] (in Russian).
  17. ^ Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 г. Численность наличного населения союзных и автономных республик, автономных областей и округов, краёв, областей, районов, городских поселений и сёл-райцентров [All Union Population Census of 1989: Present Population of Union and Autonomous Republics, Autonomous Oblasts and Okrugs, Krais, Oblasts, Districts, Urban Settlements, and Villages Serving as District Administrative Centers]. Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 года [All-Union Population Census of 1989] (in Russian). Институт демографии Национального исследовательского университета: Высшая школа экономики [Institute of Demography at the National Research University: Higher School of Economics]. 1989 – via Demoscope Weekly.
  18. ^ БГД Archived 2018-02-19 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2013-08-20.
  19. ^ Каталог публикаций::Федеральная служба государственной статистики Archived 2018-12-24 at the Wayback Machine. (2010-05-08). Retrieved on 2013-08-20.
  20. ^ "Национальный состав населения". Federal State Statistics Service. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  21. ^ Перепись-2010: русских становится больше Archived 2018-12-25 at the Wayback Machine. (2011-12-19). Retrieved on 2013-08-20.
  22. ^ James Brooke (March 27, 2013). "Altai Republic slowly opening up to outside world". Archived from the original on March 26, 2014.
  23. ^ a b c "Main page project «Arena» : Non-profit research based consulting "Sreda"". Retrieved 2022-12-31.
  24. ^ 2012 Arena Atlas Religion Maps. "Ogonek", No. 34 (5243), 27/08/2012. Retrieved 21/04/2017. Archived.
  25. ^ Zhukovskaia, N. L. (2001-04-01). "Lamaism in the Altai". Anthropology & Archeology of Eurasia. 39 (4): 50–51. doi:10.2753/AAE1061-1959390450. ISSN 1061-1959. S2CID 161432849.
  26. ^ "Home - Sustainability – Syracuse University". Archived from the original on September 5, 2006.
  27. ^ "РОО Республики Алтай "Федерация хоккея с мячом" | VK".
  28. ^ "Федерация хоккея с мячом России".


  • 7 июня 1997 г. «Конституция Республики Алтай (Основной Закон)», в ред. Конституционного закона №5-КРЗ от 27 ноября 2007 г. (June 7, 1997 Constitution of the Altai Republic (Basic Law), as amended by the Constitutional Law #5-KRZ of November 27, 2007. ).