The Sakha (Yakutia) Republic (p=rʲɪsˈpublʲɪkə sɐˈxa jɪˈkutʲɪjə; Саха Өрөспүүбүлүкэтэ, Sakha Öröspǖbülükete) is a federal subject of Russia (a republic). It has a population of 958,528 (2010 Census), consisting mainly 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 Rosstat (Russian Statistical Service), 2010 (xls). Retrieved 2012-06-15. and the eighth largest territory in the world, if the federal subjects of Russia were compared with other countries. It is larger than Argentina and just smaller than India which covers an area of . It has a population of fewer than one million inhabitants. Its capital is the city of Yakutsk. The Sakha Republic is one of the ten autonomous Turkic Republics within the Russian Federation. Yakutia also fosters close cultural, political, economic and industrial relations with the independent Turkic states through membership in organizations such as the Turkic Council and the Joint Administration of Turkic Arts and Culture.
Sakha stretches to the Henrietta Island in the far north and is washed by the Laptev and 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 , 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.
The Stanovoi Range borders Sakha in the south.
The name Sakha is of Turk origin, "Saqa-Saha" meaning "Cue, Bat". The term Yakut is a Turk word, probably a corruption of zhaqut - yakut "semi-precious stone". 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. Scott Polar Research Institute — Republic of Sakha
In August 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.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. The Siberian Governorate was established as part of the Russian Tsardom in 1708.
Russian settlers began to form a community in the 18th century, which adopted certain Yakut customs and was often called Yakutyane (Якутя́не) or Lena Early Settlers (ленские старожилы). However, the influx of later settlers assimilated them into the Russian mainstream by the 20th century.
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 of 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, , and . 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 (whose story was told to Leo Tolstoy by Vasily Pozdnyakov), the Socialist Revolutionary and writer Vladimir Zenzinov, who left an interesting account of his Arctic experiences, and Polish socialist activist Wacław Sieroszewski who pioneered in etnographic research on Yakut people.
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.
Historical population figures are shown below:
|1 23,864 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.http://www.perepis-2010.ru/news/detail.php?ID=6936|
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. (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).
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:http://www.religare.ru/2_43720.html 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%.
According to a 2012 official survey 37.8% of the population of Yakutia adheres to the Russian Orthodox Church, 1% are unaffiliated generic , 13% of the population adheres to Tengrism or Yakut shamanism, 2% to Islam, 1% to forms of Protestantism, and 0.4% to Tibetan Buddhism. In addition, 17% of the population deems itself to be "spiritual but not religious", 26% is atheist, and 1.8% follows other religions or did not give an answer to the question.
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.
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–Skovorodino (M56 Lena highway) and Yakutsk–Magadan (M56 Kolyma Highway). 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.EnglishRussia.com – Russian Roads
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 Yakutsk Mainline continues northward; the railway was completed to Nizhny Bestyakh, across the river from Yakutsk, in 2013.
There are State Russian drama theatre named after A. S. Pushkin, Sakha Theater named after P. A. Oiyunsky, State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre named after D. K. Sivtsev - Suorun Omoloon, Young Spectator's Theatre.
There are numer of interesting museums as well. National Fine Arts Museum of Sakha, Museum of Local Lore and History named after E. Yaroslavsky and the only in the world Khomus Museum and Museum of Permafrost.