Sakha Republic (Russian: Респу́блика Саха́ (Яку́тия), Respublika Sakha (Yakutia)); Yakut: Саха, Sakha) is a federal subject of the Russian Federation (a republic). It is located in the Far Eastern Federal District.
Sakha stretches to the Henrietta Islands in the far north and is washed by the Arctic Ocean (Laptev and Eastern Siberian Seas). These waters, the coldest and iciest of all seas in the northern hemisphere, are covered by ice for 9-10 months of the year. The Stanovoy Ridge borders Yakutia in the south, the upper reaches of the Olenyok River form the western border, and Chukotka forms the eastern border.
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 Yakutia and almost 90% of this cover is larch.
Yakutia's greatest mountain range, the Verkhoyansk, runs parallel and east of the Lena River, forming a great arc that begins the Sea of Okhotsk and ends in the Lappet Sea (Arctic Ocean). This great range has hundreds of small tributaries which flow into the Lena as it moves northward. The Cherky Range runs east of the Verkhoyansk and has the highest peak in Yakutia, Peak Pobeda (5,147 m). Even further east are the gold-rich Kolyma Mountains, which stretch all the way to Chukotka.
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, 'prince' of the Khangalassky Yakuts, granted territory for Russian settlement. The Lenskiy Ostrog (Fort Lensky), the future city of Yakutsk, was founded by the Cossack, Pyotr Beketov, on September 25, 1632 is the date of the first stockade construction. In August, 1638, the Moscow Government formed a new administrative unit centred on Lenskiy Ostrog which cemented the town's ascendancy in the territory.
Russians established agriculture in the Lena Basin. The members of religious groups who were banished to Sakha in the second half of the 19th century religious groups who had been exiled to the region 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 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.
In 1922 former 'Yakolskaya land' was proclaimed the Yakut Autonomous Soviet Republic and in 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union, it was recognised in Moscow as the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) as an Internal Republic of the Russian Federation.
The Sakha Republic is well endowed with raw materials. The soil contains large reserves of oil, gas, coal, diamonds, gold and silver. Industry generates 43% of the gross national product stemming primarily from mineral exploitation. The diamond, gold and tin ore mining industries are the major focus of the economy. 99% of all Russian diamonds are mined in Sakha. The indigenous peoples are well-known as hunters, fishermen and reindeer herders.
Water transport ranks first for cargo turnover. There are six rivers and two sea ports, three shipping companies besides the Arctic Sea Shipping company. 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-Bolshoi Niever and Yakutsk-Kolyma. The Berkakit-Aldan railroad is in operation at present. It links the Baikal-Amur railroad with the industrial centers in South Yakutia.
The republic has independence within the Russian Federation as an Independent Internal Republic of Russian Federation. The supreme legislative body of state authority in Sakha Republic (Yakutia) is a bicameral State Assembly known as the "IL Tumen". President of Sakha Republic (Yakutia) is the head of the state. The government of Sakha Republic (Yakutia) is the executive body of state authority.
The first President of Sakha was Mikhail E. Nikolaev.
Official languages are Yakut, (also known as Sakha), spoken by approximately 25% of the population. The Yakut language is Turkic with Mongolian influence. There are also borrowings from Sakha’s Paleosiberian indigenous peoples.
Russian is spoken as a lingua franca by all ethnic groups.
See also: Yakut
Great photos of the republic: