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Yakutsk Travel Guide

The City of Yakutsk

Yakutsk is the capital of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia). It is situated on the Lena River. Yakutsk was first reached by Russians when the Cossack Peter Beketov approached the area from the upper reaches of the great Siberian River Lena with a detachment of thirty people.

The Sakha Republic is the traditional homeland of the Yakut people who today represent about one-third of the population. Yakuts (Yakuti in Russian) live in Siberia in the basin of the Middle Lena River and the Aldan and Vilyuy rivers and farther north. It is an area of primarily taiga vegetation.

The Russians introduced agriculture in the mid-nineteenth century, but it was never widely practiced. The diet consisted primarily of dairy products, secondarily of fish, thirdly of vegetable products, and lastly of meat. Nine-tenths of the population lived in the central regions, in the former Okrugs of Yakutskiy and Vilyuyskiy, and these people were the "typical" Yakuts. Other indigenous people who live in Yakutia include Eveni, Evenki, Dolgane, Chukchi and Yukaghiri. Like Yakuts, they herd reindeer and hunt and fish.

The City of Yakutsk

Presently, Yakutsk is an administrative, scientific and cultural center. The city is 8468 km away from Moscow and 826 km from the nearest railroad. The population is over 200,000 people. The primary social unit was the nuclear family. Marriages were usually monogamous, but in the early nineteenth century, polygamy was practiced among the wealthy.

The country is partly mountainous and partly lowland. The northern area is a tundra region. The climate is dry, with long and severe winters. The vegetation consists predominantly of larch, with some birch and pine. The animal life includes squirrel, Siberian ferret, ermine, hare, fox, bear, wolverine, elk, blue fox, wild reindeer, and musk deer. Fish are also abundant. Yakuts were primarily pastoralists, whereas their neighbours were hunters and fishers. Fishing was the second most important economic activity. Hunting was done primarily for furs.

There are about 250 avian species in Yakutsk. The tundra is a habitat for rare birds, sterkh (Siberian white crane), sandhill crane, loon, Ross's goose, golden eagle, white-tailed eagle, etc. The Arctic shore is famous for the noisy and spectacular seashore bird colonies. Yakutia is the only place on the planet with Siberian black crane and Ross's gull habitats.

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