YAKUTIA (SAKHA REPUBLIC)
Yakutia, or Sakha Republic is a vast unexplored region of Siberia in the northeast of Russia. Yakutia is one of rare places on Earth, where spaces of wild nature - mountains, rivers, lakes, forests (taiga), northern steppes (tundra) were saved untouched by civilization. One thing is for certain — the place is exotic enough.
Sakha Republic is currently the largest subnational entity in the World in terms of land area. If a map of Yakutia were superimposed upon a map of the continental (lower 48) states of USA, Yakutia would overlap almost a half. However the population of Yakutia is less then one of a single state such as Rhode Island.
Yakutia is also known for its climate extremes, with Verkhoyansk Range being the coldest area in the northern hemisphere. The Northern Hemisphere's ‘Cold Pole’ is at Oymyakon, where the temperatures have reached as low as –71.2° C (–96.2° F) in January, 1926.
Sakha is well endowed with raw materials. The soil contains large reserves of oil, gas, coal, diamonds, gold, and silver. 99% of all Russian diamonds are mined in Sakha, accounting for over 23% of the world's diamond production. Every September Yakutsk holds "Diamond Week," a festival celebrating the diamond industry, with reduced prices on local jewelry.
Wild beasts and birds here can be observed in the natural environment. 64 species of mammals and 280 species of birds live in Yakutia, and many of them are rare or vanishing. Many people would like to see where the real mammoths used to live but only few of them know that most of the mammoth bones can be found in Yakutia. The layer of permafrost preserves thousands of unique exemplars incomparable to any others in the world.
Lena Pillars Nature Park
Lena Pillars Nature Park is marked by spectacular rock pillars that reach a height of approximately 100 metres along the banks of the Lena River. The pillars form rocky buttresses isolated from each other by deep and steep gullies developed by frost shattering directed along intervening joints. Penetration of water from the surface has facilitated cryogenic processes (freeze-thaw action), which have widened gullies between pillars leading to their isolation. The site also contains a wealth of Cambrian fossil remains of numerous species, some of them unique.
Since July, 2012 Lena Pillars are inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage as one of the most amazing places on the planet with perfect natural ecosystem.
Ysyakh is the summer holiday in honor of Deities and nature revival. It is spent in the period between mid-June and mid-July depending on the region of Yakutia. This festival symbolizes the end of the previous and the beginning of the next year.
The traditions include women and children decorating trees and tethering posts with “salama” (nine bunches of horse hair hung on horse-hair ropes). The oldest man, wearing white, opens the holiday. He is accompanied by seven virgin girls and nine virgin boys and starts the ritual by sprinkling kymys on the ground, feeding the fire. He prays to the spirits for the well-being of the people who depend on them and asks the spirits to bless all the people gathered. Afterwards, people sing and dance Ohuakhai (national dancing), play national sport games, eat national dishes, drink kumys and watch horserace.
Yakut food may seem bland to those from warmer climates, but it has its own rustic charm. Traditional dishes often feature dairy products and raw fish, with an occasional dose of horse or reindeer meat. The pride of the Yakut kitchen is strogаninа, thinly striped strips of frozen fish dipped in salt and pepper, a treat that goes perfectly with a shot of ice-chilled vodka.
Sacred mountains Kihileeh