Over the border … continued
After a quick scan through Khakassia, it’s time to look at the other territory promised back at the start of my “Krasnoyarsk thing”: Tuva, resting as a southerly wedge between Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Krai and Monogolia.
The population demographic shows much more buoyancy than Khakassia… in terms of indigenous ethnicity anyhow… around 77% of residents are native Tuvan, with the remainder largely Russian, at just over 20%. There’s something of a renaissance here, with the Tuvan population doubling since 1960, whilst the Russian contingent slowed its growth into the 1980s and then began to actively shrink from then onwards. A bit like reaching the bottom and starting to dig… This shrinkage was accelerated by violence against the Russian community in 1990, subsequent to the formation of the Tuvan Democratic Movement, set up to improve the lot of Tuvans and their culture. The extent of the violence was so severe (88 died) that the Russian military became involved and many Russians left the country.
Today, as may be expected, Tuvan and Russian are spoken extensively, along with a small spread of other languages, proportional to the remaining few percentiles of the population originating from other cultures.
Geographically speaking, the landscape consists of hills and mountains across 80% of the area… much of it under permafrost… along with forests and steppe, many lakes and springs, and over 8000 rivers. It is also home to the highest point in Siberia: Mount Mongun-Tayga; literally “Silver Mountain” standing 3970 metres high.
Tuva has changed hands significantly over time, experiencing approximately 500 years of Mongol rule from 1207 to 1757. It was then seized by the Chinese Manchu dynasty until the Chinese revolution of 1911. Then followed a brief period of independence until absorption into The Russian State in 1914 as a “protectorate”.
The Revolution and subsequent years saw yet more turmoil within, …and Tuvan occupation by the Tsarist “White” forces, a presence by the Chinese and Monogolians, the Red army, the Chinese again… and Russian-supported Bolsheviks, finally settling into the Russian state, the Soviet Union, proper in 1944. It would then be a country, officially “closed” to the outside world for the best part of 50 years.
As with a good deal of mountainous Siberia: precious metals are mined here, in what paradoxically (though with grim regularity) is one of the poorest regions within Russia. So poor that it doesn’t even have its own railway…
Next time: Trips and Tales (Part 58) Over the border … continued, and then we’re gone
[Photo by Northwest Rafting Company]