Altai Republic is located in the very center of Asia at the junction of Siberian taiga, the Kazakh steppes and semi-deserts of Mongolia. It is a mountainous country with an extremely picturesque landscape, the “Russian Tibet” in the center of Eurasia at the junction of several States, natural zones and cultural worlds.
On the territory of the Altai Republic is a state border of the Russian Federation with far abroad countries: China and Mongolia, and the CIS – Kazakhstan. The Altai Republic has an administrative border with the following constituent entities of the Russian Federation – the republics of Tuva and Khakassia, Altai region and Kemerovo region.
The climate of the Altai Republic is temperate continental, with a relatively short summer (June-August) and long (November-March) are cold, sometimes frosty, in winter. The average annual temperature from +1°C to -6.7°C. The temperature range of January is from -9,2°C to -31°C. The range of temperature of July from +11°to +19°C. The average annual rainfall from 100 to 1000 mm.
A prevailing relief is mountainous. The Republic located within the Russian part of the mountain system of Altai (Gorny Altai), respectively, the relief of the Republic is characterized by high ridges, separated by narrow and deep river valleys, rare and wide intermountain hollows. The highest mountain Belukha (4506 m) is the highest point in Siberia.
Communication. The geographical features of the Republic led to the development of two types of transport: automobile (more than 90% of all types of transport) and aviation (passenger and mail transportation). Road transport is the leading in the region. The length of roads – more than 3.2 thousand km, of which 541 km to the main motorway, the route of Federal importance Novosibirsk-Biysk-Tashanta (Chuysky trakt).
One of the most important natural resources of Gorny Altai are its water resources. The hydrographic network of the Republic counts more than 20 thousand rivers with length of over 60 thousand km and about 7 thousand lakes with total area more than 700 sq km and the largest rivers are the Katun and the
Biya, which merge to form the Ob River – one of the largest rivers of Siberia. The largest
lake Teletskoye, with an area of water surface is 230,8 sq. km and maximum depth – 325 meters.
Huge reserves of fresh water of high quality enclosed in the mountain lakesof Altai. Only in lake Teletskoye more than 40 cubic km of the purest water.
Potential groundwater reserves are estimated at 22 000 thousand cubic meters per day, and current use is only about 44 thousand cubic m per day. In the Altai Mountains, a well-known mineral water springs, which are curative.
Glaciers of Altai contain enormous reserves of fresh water. The total volume of ice considered Altai glaciers reaches 57 cubic km, which corresponds to 52 cubic km of water. In General, the supply of water in glaciers exceeds an average annual long-term runoff of rivers in Altai equal to 43 cubic km per year.
The biggest glaciers: the Big Taldurinsky – 35 square kilometers, it is 21 sq km, Sofia – 17 sq km, a Large Maasai – 16 sq. km.
Mineral resources of the Altai Republic vary in the number of identified mineral resources and significant proven reserves. However, today, the mineral resource potential of the region is almost never used.
Currently developed in small volumes of gold and molybdenum-tungsten deposits,
deposits of decorative stone and construction materials.
Explored several major gold sites with geological reserves of hundreds of tons of ore and tens of tons of placer gold. Identified unique inventory comprehensive deposit of rare earth metals (tantalum, lithium, rubidium, caesium, bismuth). Evaluated detail several fields (cobalt, tungsten, molybdenum, bismuth, copper, silver, gold, mercury). Prospected and prepared for operation deposits: Chagan-Uzun mercury, Oractice and Kokolishi marble (by volume of tens of million cubic meters and is unique in decoration), Halswelle iron ore (reserves of about a billion tons), Pirinsko Taldykurgansky coal and lignite.
In the stage of learning and development, there are deposits: Lebesgue wollastonite (unique raw materials), Modelisme gypsum (quality medical), a variety of mineral pigments, mineral and medicinal table water, medicinal mud.
Revealed deposits of almost all types of construction materials, gemstones, decorative and collectible stones.
Plant resources. A long process of historical development of territory, the contrast of modern landscapes has led to a high diversity of plant communities on the territory of the Republic. Plant resources of the Republic include more than 2 thousand species of plants, 200 species of plants are endemic, found only in the Altai Mountains.
Wild fruit-berry plants are of great interest from the point of view of their industrial development. There are over 40 types of fruit plants, characterized by good taste, high in vitamins, antibacterial properties, and many species are valuable medicinal plants. About 100 species of plants included in group of drugs used in the pharmaceutical industry or in folk medicine, this list is much broader.
The total gross stocks of medicinal plants of the Altai Republic are about half a million tons, and operating hundreds of thousands of tons. Many relict plants and endemic plants listed in the Red Book.
The fauna of the Altai Republic represented by 80 species of mammals, 300 species of birds (of which about 250 breeding species), 44 species of fish, 7 species of reptiles, 2 species of amphibians and a large group of invertebrate animals.
The hunting fauna includes 33 species of mammals and 34 species of birds, so the region has long been considered and is now considered one of the best hunting regions of Western Siberia. Rare, on the verge of extinction, animals are also listed in the Red Book.
Forest resources of the Altai Republic is concentrated on an area of about 43 thousand square kilometers and are estimated to contain 700 million cubic meters, including 600 million cubic meters of softwood. Mature and over mature forest amount to about approximately 300 million cubic meters, and allowable cut of more than 2 million cubic meters.
The Republic of Altai has rich energy resources. Hydropower potential estimated at 80 billion kWh.h. The most powerful capability of the Katun river (31 billion kWh.CH.), Argut (7,2), Sensing (7,1). In the Republic, promising to use mini and micro-hydro power (1-100 kW) for power supply of small consumers (shepherd, tourist sites, farms, enterprises processing agricultural products).
There are industrial reserves of brown coal, which are in the early stage of development.
Great sporting interest among tourists and mountaineers cause the glaciers. The number of glaciers (1330), the area of glaciation and their capacities (thickness up to 360 m) Mountain Altai takes the third place among the mountain countries of the world.
Altai has cultural and national traditions that may be of interest for such fields of science as archaeology, folklore, linguistics, history and others.
Such unique natural features as Lake Teletskoye, Belukha Mountain, Altai and Katun natural reserves, UNESCO listed as a World Heritage site.