The Republic of Tyva is situated in the very center of the Asian continent. The territory (170,500 square km) lies between the Taiga zone of Eastern Siberia and semi-desert areas, Tundra plateaus with permafrost as well as Taiga and hollows with vast reed tickets.
The republic is split up in 16 Kozhuuns (regions) and has borders with Mongolia, the Republics of Buryatia and Khakasia and territories Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk and Altai. The population of Tyva is consists of 306,000 people. 70% are Tuvinians and the other 30% are representatives of 10 other nations.
The climate is sharply continental: the lowest temperatures in winter fall down to 45-50 degrees below zero Celsius, but in summer the mercury climbs up to 38 degree Celsius.
The FloraFlora of Tyva is rich and diverse. There are 1,500 species of plants and 15 out of the them grow only in this Republic.
The FaunaFauna is presented by 72 types of animals, 240 kinds of birds and 7 kinds of reptiles. One can see such sharp contrasts here as people breeding reindeers in the north east of the Republic and camels in the south. About 60% of the territory are hunting areas. The Republic is a major supplier of "soft gold" (fur).
Tyva is a mountainous country and the highest peak, the Mongun-Tajga, lies 3,976 m. above sea level. Mountains occupy 50% of the territory and half of the land is covered by forest. Predominant trees are the Siberian larches, pine trees, cedars and fir trees.
Tuva is called the country of blue rivers and lakes. One of the world's largest rivers, the Yenisee, originates from here. Also there are more than 400 larger and smaller lakes in the Republic. One of them, lake Dus-Khol is even a salt lake. Up to 18 kinds of fish inhabit the local reservoirs. Numerous thermal, carbonaceous and salty springs of Tuva can compete with a number of well known health resorts in Russia and other countries concerning their medical characteristics.
The Ubsunur hollows, one of the ecologically purest places on the whole planet, are in unique part of Tuva and Mongolia. An International Biospheric Reserve has been set up here and the cleanliness of the air is considered to be the standard of ecological cleanliness.
The roots of the Tyvinian history go back to the deepest layers of the past. Tools dating from the Stone Age (paleolith) were found in the Republic. Also a number of ancient people's living places have been researched in the central and southern regions of Tyva.
The stone drawings in the Sayan Canyon of the Yenisei belong to the world's best models of stone drawing art.
The Sayan & Altai upland can be considered the cradle of the Turkish, Mongolian Tungus, Manchu and Ket speaking people. Important periods of the formation of the Scythian animal style art took place here.
During the VI & VIII centuries the territory of Tuva was a part of the Turkish Khaganate. Even now one can see funeral monuments and stone statues of noble warriors which remain from that time. Also during that time period appeared the ancient Turkish script. In Tyva are stone monuments located with Orhon-Yenisei runic inscriptions.
The emergence of defense fortresses and banks, among them the so called Genghis-Khan's Road and the Por-Bazhyng fortress, are connected to the Uighur period in Tuva (VIII-IX centuries).
In the Middle Ages the Great Silk Road passed over the land of Tuva. Some preconditions for its formation began in the 1st Millennium B.C. Numerous articles of archaeological importance were found in Scythian burial mounds and testify to this fact.
From the XIII up to the XIX century the Tuvan territory was part of Genghis-Khan's mighty empire. It became an industrial and raw material base for the Mongolian army, which undertook conquering campaigns to the west. During that time some towns and agricultural settlements had been built, where Chinese handicraftsmen and ploughmen lived.
After the disintegration of the Mongolian Empire, Tuva remained independent for two centuries. At the end of the XVI century Tyva came under the dominion of two North Mongolian States, the Altyn-Khans and the Dzgungars. These were defeated by the Manchu Dynasty of China. Thus, Tuva became a part of the Manchu Empire.
In 1911-1912 the Thin House collapsed and Mongolia as well as Tuva gained their autonomy. In 1914 Tuva was under the protectorate of the Russian Empire.
On August 1921 the People's Revolution took place in Tyva and after that the Constituent Khural proclaimed the Tannu-Tyva Ulus Republic. Therefore Tyva became a sovereign state until 1944.
On the 11th of October 1944 Tuva joined the Soviet Union. On December 1922 the declaration of state sovereignty and in October 1993 a new Constitution of the Tuvan Republic were adopted. An article of the first Constitution says: The Republic of Tyva is a sovereign democratic state, which belongs to the Russian Federation.
The present political situation of the Republic can be characterized as stable. The head of the Republic is the President, who is elected by a national vote. The highest legislative body is the Supreme Khural.
Tuvinians belong to the Central Asian type of the Mongolian race. Their language, Tuvinian, is part of the Turkic language group. According to the ethnocultural characteristics all Tuvinians are divided into Western Tyvinians (Central and Western Tyva) and Eastern Tuvinians (mountainous taiga of the East Sayans).
The traditional religion in Tyva is shamanism. Buddhism was brought to is via China and Mongolia and it became the official national religion in the XVII century.
The traditional food of the Tuvinians are many different kinds of homemade dairy products and meat dishes. The national alcoholic drink, Araka, is even made of sour milk.
Khuresh - national wrestling:
It is surely one of the most favorite entertainments the Tyvinians. Even people from the most remote kozhuuns (regions) of the Republic come to see these competitions. Khuresh has ancient roots which date back to mythology.
In order to win, it's not enough to have strength and be dexterous. A wrestler should know perfectly well various technical methods as well as plenty of tiny ruses. The person who first touches the ground with a hand, a knee or even just a finger loses. When the judge announces the winner, he is supposed to perform the dance of the winner, the eagle dance.
The number of stages in a competition depends on the number of competitors. On Naadym representatives of different regions as well as titled wrestlers from Mongolia get together in Kyzyl for the competition.
Horse races are one of the most popular sport competitions in the Republic. Participants are not only grownups, but children as well. There is a special part of the competition: a steeplechase of unbroken horses. Runners from the age of two and older can participate in a race. The distance also depends upon the age (between 5 and 30 km).
After the race of the adults a competition for children (age: 6-12 yrs.) is held. Many of them are skillful riders too. Quite often one can see girls among the young race participants.
The whole competition is often finished by camel race. It is an unusual and interesting event.
This is a popular national kind of sport in the Republic. A powerful school of archery has been developed in Tuva. The countrymen repeatedly became prize-winners in international competitions.