The Altai Republic is situated in the very centre of Asia at the junction of Siberian taiga, steppes of Kazakhstan and semi-deserts of Mongolia. The Altai Republic is the territory of highlands with a very picturesque landscape, a kind of "Russian Tibet" in the centre of Eurasia at the junction of several states, natural zones and cultural worlds.
The Altai Republic borders on such remote countries as China and Mongolia and on near foreign country - Kazakhstan, which is the State border of the Russian Federation. The Republic has an administrative border on such subjects of the Russian Federation as the Tuva and the Khakass Republics, Altai Region and Kemerovo Oblast.
The Altai Republic has temperate continental climate with relatively short and hot summers (June - August) and long, cold and at some places very frosty winters (November - March). The average annual temperatures are about +1?С - -6,7?С. January temperature range is from -9,2?С to -31?С, July - from +11?С to +19?С. The average annual precipitation level varies from 100 up to 1000 mm.Mountainous relief of landscape is the prevalent one. The Republic is situated within the Russian part of the mountain system of Altai (Gorny Altai), that's why the relief of the Republic is characterized by high mountain ridges separated from each other by narrow and deep river valleys, rare and wide intermountain hollows.
The highest peak - Belukha - being 4506 m is the highest point in Siberia.
Communications. Due to geographical peculiarities of the Republic, two means of transport -motor transport (over 90% of all kinds of traffics) and air transport (passenger traffic and transport of mail) were developed. Motor transport is the leading one in the Republic. The extent of automobile roads is more than 3,5 thousand km, 572 km of them - the main motor highway, the route of Federal importance Novosibirsk-Biysk-Tashanta (Tchujskiy Highway).
Water resources are among the most important natural resources of Gorny Altai.
Hydrographic network of the Republic counts more than 20 thousand water courses stretching for more than 60 thousand km and about 7 thousand lakes with the general square of more than 700 square km. The largest rivers are the Katun and the Biya, which junction forms one of the largest Siberian rivers - the Ob River. The hugest lake is the Teletskoye, the area of its water surface is 230,.8 km and maximum depth - 325 m.
Mountain lakes of Altai contain enormous freshwater reserves of the highest quality. Only Lake Teletskoye contains more than 40 square km of the purest water.
Potential use of underground water storage is evaluated at 22 mln. cubic meters per day, while the present use constitutes only about 44 thousand cubic meters per day. There are mineral springs known in Altai Mountains considered medicinal.
Altai glaciers contain great amount of fresh water. The general volume of ice of the registered Altai glaciers comes up to 57 cubic km, which constitutes 52 cubic km of water. The whole water stock of glaciers exceeds an average annual effluent of Altai rivers for many years being equal to 43 cubic km per year.
The largest glaciers are: Bolshoi Taldurinskiy - 35 square km, Mensu - 21 square km, Sofiyskiy - 17 square km, Bolshoi Maashei - 16 square km.
The preliminary size of the Altai Republic population constitutes 205,5 thousand people on 2001.01.01, 53,1 thousand of them live in the city of Gorno-Altajsk, 152,4 thousand of people are rural population. Able-bodied population of the Altai Republic constitutes a bit more than 100 thousand people, the largest part of people being occupied in agriculture and industries processing agricultural production.
Representatives of many nationalities live in the Altai Republic. However, these nationalities, except the Altaians, the Russians and the Kazakhs, don't comprise compact groups and are presented by individuals being in international marriages or by separate families living in environment of another nation.
Recreational resources potentially promote the Altai Republic to the role of recreational centre of not only regional (West-Siberian), but of Russian and international significance as well. The unique natural and climatic conditions create opportunities for development of almost all kinds of tourism, creation of balneological health resorts and sanatoriums, organization of exotic journeys and excursions (hunting, fishing, tourism, etc.). Several kinds of special tourism and sports are of interest, such as: mountain and mountain-hiking kinds of journey, horse routes, water and speleotourism, mountaineering, etc.