Altai Republic is a country inhibited by the Altaians. For neighbors, Altai Republic has China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan as bordering nations. In 1991, as a result of the Soviet Union’s realignment, Altaian was formed as a partially autonomous state. On June 1st, 1922, Oyrot was also incorporated within Altai. In 1948, Oyrot was renamed as Gorno-Alatisky and given the status of an independent county. The name underwent change again in 1990 and again in 1991 and 1992, finally deciding in 1993 to be called and known as the State of Altai. On June 7th, 1997, Altai implemented its own constitution and has been following it ever since.
Presently, the main languages of Altai happen to be Altay and Russian. Gorno-Altaisk city is the major administrative hub of the state (Russia Trek.org, 2011). Altai is gifted with a great landscape which is as diverse as it is beautiful. Majorly a hilly state, Altai is renowned for its jungles of Taiga and the enormous range of alpines.
The Economy of Altai
Altai is one of the major tourist spots and hence, Altaian economy is majorly boosted by tourism. The beautiful mountains and landscapes offered by Altai attract most tourists. Adding on to this, the virgin forests, nature reserves, sanctuaries, and vast species of inhabitants makes Altai even more endearing. Further, snow-capped mountains, thousands (7000 to be precise) of lakes, Mt Belukha (highest peak of Siberia) form few of the most visited tourist spots in Altai. Tourists especially flock the literature, art, and music of Altai, exhibited beautifully through the famous museums (Convis, 2001). The best feature of the Altaian landscape is the Teletskoye Lake. Teeming with animal forms and crowned with thick tiaga forests, Teletskoye Lake offers a panoramic view of a mountain series to the tourists.
Apart from tourism, Altai also earns its income through agriculture. Barley, oats, spring wheat, sunflowers, sugar beets, and soybeans etc form the staple food in this region. Altai is also one of the major wool makers in Russia. Gold mining, wood milling, and metal mining are a few other arenas earning income for Altai. Altai is renowned among business circles for its energy reserves, hence resulting in its rapid socio and economic development (Peter, 1994).
Despite the resources, Altaian economy is facing a downfall owing to its foreign and security policies, which hinder in the price rise of the produce. This has resulted in an increase in unemployment rate, instability of the economic foundations, social unrest, and conflicts among the masses. Nevertheless, the attempt to form a socially, and economically viable foreign policies are on, even as the local heads take charge of the policy formations under the legislative powers (Parkhalina, 2004).
Altai had an extremely sound connectivity and transport system, what with the smooth and well connected roads and much developed railway and airline system. Owing to the smooth connectivity, the productivity of the state is also great (Richmond, 2009).
Demographics of Altai
Not a hugely populated state, Altai has 60% of its population as Russians, 28% as the natives of Altai and the remaining 5% being the semi-nomadic village inhabitants. Altai is ranked highest in the world when it comes to suicide related deaths and the alcohol consumption levels here. Due to the excess alcohol consumption, the night brawls are not uncommon in this region, hence making the late night strolls unsafe for the tourists (and inhabitants of the region).
The Republic has great archives/ records that serve more details on the historic lifestyles. Furthermore, the historical scientific and reference materials and catalogues also lie safe in the lap of Altai region. Thus, taking social and legal references becomes extremely easy with the help of the Altaian records and archives. The readings through these archives also gives the readers and researchers with a firm political background of the state, hence making it easier to understand the political and social impact of each policy and action taken (Zhdanova & Razgon, 2003).
Education in Altai
Altai inhabitants are quite fluent with other foreign languages owing to their close contact with the cultures of the world outside their own. Further, the students here in Altai are quite versed with the functions of the government. Thus, it ensures that these students secure themselves bright jobs as cultural and social brokers and find themselves at advantage compared to other students.
The education system of Altai presents the students here an opportunity to study abroad at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Thus, not only does this increase the scope of exposure, it also makes the students smarter and better learners of the foreign customs and culture. Students from other countries, such as America and Europe also get the scope to come study with the Altai (Marsh & Froese, 2004). While many might argue the state of education in Altai owing to the small size of the state, the truth is that the Altaian government is quite strict on education norms and has developed a significantly strong educational system here in Altai. Altai is bequeathed with one state university known as Gorno-Altaisk State University. This has 12 colleges and 205 schools working under head.
As at other places of the world, television is the major source of leisure here in Altai. The relevance of television can be contributed especially to the improvement of the press and efficient information transmission. The university offers, thus, several courses in journalism. Apart from this, the university also has several courses running offering science subjects for undergraduates and post graduates. Other specialized and professional courses are also offered by the state university (The Center for Hazardous Substance Research, 2009).
Religion in Altai
In Altai, Shamanism is the most commonly followed religion. Note that while there are a number of Christians living in Altai is more, the lifestyle amongst these people is not very different. There is another sect known as the Kazakhs, which live in Altai and are the nomadic herders. These Kazakhs are mainly Muslim and follow Islam as their religion (Halemba, 2004).
During the 1920s, the Christians from other states came and settled here in Altai, showcasing their aptitude to adapt to all conditions – social, economic and others. Through the Russian regime, these Christian stuck with their ideals and religious beliefs, maintaining all relations and family ties as was wont from them. Furthermore, these Christians never did accept the authority, yet they did not ever try to break the local laws and rules. Adding further to the reasons that led to the strengthening of the Christians-hold within the region were factors such as the Christians’ ability to talk to the authorities and solve differences, along with their continued indifference with regards to the state structures.
The late societal transformation within the Soviet acted as an impetus within the Altai society to get together and resist destruction. The Altaians acted soundly and tried to understand the new authority in the Soviet. Abiding by the way restructuring went, Altaians took steps to keep the economic ruin at bay and carry on while regulating the religious lives (Kupriyanova, 2003).
Orthodox Christianity was widely accepted amongst the people of Altai. Then again, around 1904, a new local faith started making roots. This new faith was a mixture of Buddhism and non-Buddhist Oyrat belief and was known as Burkhanism. The story that does rounds explaining the roots of Burkhanism cite the development of the religion when an Altai shepherd named Chet Chlepan, got the revelation from Oirot, a messiah-like philosopher. However, this religion led to anti-Russian movements and hence, by 1933, the communists banned this religion. However, since a lot of people had already collectivized by this time, the sightings of Burkhanist-rituals are still not unseen (Sakwa, 2008).
The Governance of Altai
Altai gained its independence from the Soviet Russia only in 1991, while formerly, it was known to the world by the name of Gorno-Altyaskaya Autonomous Region. Altai Republic is now one of the major impetuses within Russia, guiding and organizing the civic facilities (Center for Hazardous Substance Research, 2009). Following a democratic mode of electing the leaders, Altai has a leader selected every four years through the electoral process (elections). The state assembly, consisting of 41 deputies, makes for the highest law-making authority in Altai. The general mode of communication between the Altaians and the Altaian leaders is expected to be the shared meetings, where decisions are formulated and passed concerning the executive, legislative and administrative areas. The Leaders of Altai are sincere in their efforts to enhance the socio-economic standing of the state and hence bring prosperity to the Republic. The decision-makers are often urged and guided by the leaders to make such decisions and put them to practice such will initiate about a social and economic change within the society of Altai.
It may be concluded that Altai, today, is one of the most diverse and economically successful republics in Russia. Owing to the great historical lineage and persistence of its people, Altai today has become prosperous. Altai is further headed towards expansion and growth in all economic and social aspects, while also maintaining the gifts of nature it has, namely – the scenic beauty and the bountiful lakes and forests.
Convis, C.L., (2001). Conservation geography: case studies in GIS, computer mapping, and activism. California: ESRI, Inc.
Halemba, A. (2004). ‘Contemporary religious life in the Republic of Altai: the interaction of Buddhism and Shamanism’ Journal of Siberian Studies. Vol. 3, (2) 165-182
Kupriyanova, I.V., (2003). The Old Believers of Altai try to live with Soviet authority in the 1920s. Retrieved on August 23, 2011 from: http://www.lrz.de/~iims/icofom/iss33_final_version.pdf#page=250
Marsh, C. & Froese, P., (2004). The State of Freedom in Russia: A Regional Analysis of Freedom of Religion, Media and Markets. Retrieved on August 23, 2011 from: http://homepages.baylor.edu/chris_marsh/files/2008/12/marsh-and-froese-state-of-freedom.pdf
Parkhalina, T., (2004). Impacts of Domestic and Regional Factors on Russia’s Foreign and Security Policy. Retrieved on August 23, 2011 from: http://se1.isn.ch/serviceengine/Files/ISN/12/ichaptersection_singledocument/11021A5A-6535-4FFB-9D77-8E3E4BDA036B/en/doc_14_259_en.pdf
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RussiaTrek.org. (2011). Altay Republic overview. Retrieved on August 23, 2011 from: http://russiatrek.org/altay-republic
Sakwa, R., (2008). Russian politics and society. London: Taylor & Francis publication.
The center for Hazardous substance Research, (2009). Altai Republic, Russia. Retrieved on August 23, 2011 from: http://www.engg.ksu.edu/chsr/international/altai/
Zhdanova, D. Z. & Razgon N. I., (2003). The documents in the collections of the Altai Archives. Retrieved on August 23, 2011 from: http://www.lrz.de/~iims/icofom/iss33_final_version.pdf#page=250