#1 Unbelievably Great
With more than three thousand square kilometers, Yakutia is the largest federal subject of the Russian Federation and the largest sub-national governing body in the world. Three thousand square kilometers – that’s almost the size of France, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Finland, Poland and Italy put together!
At the same time, with a population of less than a million people, Yakutia is one of the least densely populated places on earth. In Yakutia, mathematically, each inhabitant has more 3,000 square meters on its own. In fact, if Yakutia would be a sovereign country, it would be even less populated than Mongolia, the country with the world’s lowest population density. The majority of Yakutia’s population clusters in Yakutsk, the capital and cultural center of the republic, while large areas of the republic are entirely unpopulated. In those areas, which are one of the most remote areas in the world, you will find truly untouched nature and undisturbed wildlife far away from modern life and civilization.
#2 Rich in Resources
Yakutia is ridiculously rich in natural resources. Gold, diamonds, oil, natural gas and silver, you name it, Yakutia has it! For instance, almost 15% of the world’s diamonds production comes from Yakutia. But Yakutia is not only rich in diamonds, it has also enormous oil and gas reserves. While Yakutia’s natural gas production has so far only been used for domestic consumption, the importance of the natural gas sector will substantially increase in future: In September 2014, president Putin came to Yakutsk to officially launch the construction of the ‘Power of Siberia’ pipeline, enabling for natural gas exports to the Chinese market. In Yakutia, you will also find one of the deepest man-made holes in the world which has been made to exploit diamonds, see below!
#3 Even richer in Culture
Yakutia is not only rich in resources and natural landmarks but also in culture and traditions. When meeting foreigners, many of them are very surprised to hear that I am from Russia. And indeed, appearance-wise to many of you we may appear distinctly East Asian. But that’s were the similarities end!
In fact, the Yakut culture is absolutely unique. We have our own distinct traditions and we even have our own language. The Yakut language is of Turkic origin and is spoken by almost half a million people, unsurprisingly, most of them Yakut. Hence, most of us are bilingual in both Russian and Yakut. Though that the vast majority of the Yakut were christianized in the early 19th century, the Yakut have preserved many of their shamanism beliefs and practices.
One of the yearly highlights for us is the summer festival ‘Ysyach’ with which we are welcoming the longest day of the year. The festival is an important social event for us. Yakut from all parts of the republic travel to the ceremony which lasts for two to three days. The highlight is the waiting for the sunset which during summer months is actually taking place at around 3 am in the night. Many of my guests tell me how surprised they were about the cultural richness of Yakutia and that they felt the warm-hearted people of Yakutia to form a contrast to the harsh natural and climate conditions.
#4 The coldest constantly inhabited place in the world
Yakutsk is the coldest city in the world. But there is another constantly inhabited place which is colder: the Oymyakon village located even more north than Yakutsk. Beside its position far in the north there are further reasons why Oymyakon is that extremely cold. Those are the continental characteristic of the climate, its attitude roughly 800 meters above sea level as well as its location in a basin which makes cold air flowing into the city. The record low temperature in Oymyakon was almost 78 degrees minus. Temperatures below 50 degrees are nothing uncommon during winter months.
Under such circumstances, you can’t even wear eye glasses as they would instantly freeze to your face. Cars need to be run seven days a week and 24 hours a day as you would not be able to start them again and milk is traded in icy blocks. If you are interested in experiencing such extreme conditions you should come there in December or January as those are the coldest months in Oymyakon.
Located not far away from the Arctic Circle, the duration of the day in Oymyakon varies from a little more than four hours in December to almost 21 hours in June during the months of the white nights. To get to Oymyakon you will need to drive the so called ‘Road of Bones’ – the only street from Yakutsk to the port city Magadan located at the Sea of Okhotsk. Oymyakon is located somewhere in the middle of both cities. The road was built by gulag prisoners during the time of Stalin oppression which is also the reason for the name of the street. Despite the sad history of the construction, travelling the ‘Road of Bones’ to Oymyakon is a true once in a life experience – and yes, particular in winter! For more, you my have a look at our page on Oymyakon.
#5 The Lena and Sinaya pillars
I would like to conclude my amazing facts list with another great travel destination: the Lena and Sinaya pillars. The Lena river is one the three large Siberian river and the lifeline of Yakutia. Originating roughly five kilometers north-west of the Baikal lake the river flows from south to north through entire Yakutia, and then finally flows into the arctic ocean, more than four thousands kilometers north from its source. The Sinaya river is a tributary of the Lena river.
Some 200 kilometers south of the city Yakutsk, where the Lena and Sinaya rivers meet, nature has formed unique pillars on the banks of the Lena and Sinaya rivers, reaching a height of more than 100 meters. The unique beauty has also been recognized by the UNESCO which has included the site in world’s heritage list. You should definitely come and see them. If you are interested in more information you may have look on our blog post on how we are kayaking the Lena and Sinaya pillars.