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General Information on the Komi Republic

Cultural map | About the Komi Republic

The Komi Republic is a federal subject of Russia.

According to the 2002 Census, ethnic Russians make up 59.6% of the Republic's population, while the ethnic Komi are only 25.2%. Other groups include Ukrainians (6.1%), Tatars (15,680 or 1.5%), Belarusians (15,212 or 1.5%), Ethnic Germans (9,246 or 0.9%), Chuvash (7,529 or 0.7%), Azeris (6,066 or 0.6%), and a host of smaller groups, each accounting for less than 0.5% of the total population. 5,700 people (0.6%) did not indicate their nationalities during the Census. 

В верховьях р. Усть-Унья, фото А.Бр. Свидерского.2.jpg

The Ust-Unja River. Photo by A. B. Swidersky

Geography

The Republic is situated to the west of the Ural Mountains, in the north-east of the East European Plain. Forests cover over 70% of the territory and swamps cover approximately 15%.
- Area: 415,900 sq.km 
- Borders (all internal): Nenets, Yamalo-Nenets, Khanty-Mansi, Sverdlovsk, Perm Krai, Kirov and       Arkhangelsk. 
- Highest point: Mount Narodnaya (1,894 m) 
- Maximum N→S distance: 785 kilometres (488 m) 
- Maximum E→W distance: 695 kilometres (432 m).

Вид на Вычегду весной. Корткерос.Фото С. Киселева.jpg

The Vychegda River in Spring. The Kortkeros Area. Photo by S. Kiseljev

History

A northernmost portion of Europe, crossing the Arctic Circle, Komi was an unspoiled land throughout most of history, dwelt in only by nomadic native peoples of the Finno-Ugric linguistic stock, known as the Komi or the Zyrians. Eventually, it became a part of the Russian Empire.
Starting from the expedition led by Alexander von Keyserling in 1843, the Komi territory was most extensively explored in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries by the Russians, who found ample reservoirs of various minerals, as well as timber, to exploit. After the founding of the Soviet Union, the Komi-Zyryan Autonomous Oblast was established on August 22, 1929, and on December 5, 1936, it was reorganised into the Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic with its administrative centre located at the town of Syktyvkar.
Many of the "settlers" who came in the early 20th century were prisoners of the Gulag who were sent by the hundreds of thousands to perform forced labour in the Arctic regions of the USSR. Towns sprang up around labour-camp sites, which were initially carved out of the untouched tundra and taiga by gangs of prisoners. The first mine, "Rudnik No. 1," became the city of Vorkuta, and the other towns of the region have similar origins: "Prisoners planned and built all of the republic's major cities, not just Ukhta but also Syktyvkar, Pechora, Vorkuta, and Inta. Prisoners built Komi's railways and roads, as well as its original industrial infrastructure."

Головные сооружения усинский район 21.01.2010г.Фото И.Р. Гампера.JPG

Industrial Complex in the Usinsk Area, 21.01.2010. Photo by I. R. Gamper

 

Politics

The head of government in the Komi Republic is the Head of the Republic. As of 2010, the Head of the Republic is Vyacheslav Gayzer.
The State Council is the legislature.
 

Economy

The Komi Republic's major industries include oil processing, timber, woodworking, natural gas and electric power industries. Major industrial centres are Syktyvkar, Inta, Pechora, Sosnogorsk, Ukhta, and Vorkuta.

Аварийный выброс. Фото И.Р. Гампера.jpg

Dangerous Emission. Photo by I. R. Gamper

 

Natural resources

The Republic's natural resources include coal, oil, natural gas, gold, diamonds and timber. Native reindeer are in abundance, and have been intentionally bred for human usage by the indigenous population from the beginning.
Around 32,800 km² of mostly boreal forest (as well as some alpine tundra and meadows) in the Republic's Northern Ural Mountains have been recognised in 1995 as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Virgin Komi Forests. It is the first natural UNESCO World Heritage site in Russia and the largest expanse of virgin forests in Europe. The site includes two pre-existing protected areas: Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve (created in 1930) and Yugyd Va National Park (created in 1994).

Голубика. Корткеросский район.Фото С. Киселева.jpg

Crowrerry. The Kortkeros Area. Photo by S. Kiseljev

 

Rivers

Major rivers include: Izhma River, Mezen River, Pechora River, Sysola River, Usa River, Vashka River, 
Vychegda River, Vym River.

Copious humidity, specific topographic features and geological structure have resulted in an abundance of surface and underground waters. Slow drainage and the nearby occurrence of underground water and considerable areas of permafrost in the northeast have resulted in the emergence of swamps. Komi's average waterloggedness is 9.4% reaching 40-80% in some river basins. The mountainous areas washed with rains are the main regions of drainage, and many rivers originate there. 

р. Сысола, фото Вл. Бадера.JPG

The Sysola River. Photo by V. Bader

 

A considerable part of Komi's river network belongs to the basin of the Arctic Ocean. The Pechora (1809 km), Komi's major river, is second (after the Volga) in waten volume in the European part of Russia. Annually, it brings 120 cubic km to the Arctic Ocean, which is three times as much as the volume brought by the other rivers in Komi. The main tributary of the Pechora, the Usa, exceeds the Don in terms of water, volume. Other major tributaries include the llych, the Pedcherem, the Shchuger, the Usa, the Laya, and the Shapkina (right side), and the Izhma and Tsilma (left side), The major tributary of the Northern Dvina, the Vychegda (1130 km), flows within the territory of Komi; its annual drainage is equal to 32 cubic km. The major tributaries ob the Vychegda are the Vym (right side) and the Sysola (left side). There are no large lakes. The total area of lakes is small, comprising only 0.1% of Komi's territory. 

ледоход. Фото Хрусталева Ю.А.JPG

The Poterjay-Poloy River (Petuhovka) near Syktyvkar.  Photo by S. Hrustaljev 

 

р. Щугор.Верхние Ворота. Фото В. Пономарева.JPG

The Upper Gate of the Shugor River. Photo by V. I. Ponomarjev

 

Lakes

The major lakes, Yamozero (49 sq. km) and Sindorskoye (35 sq. km), are residual lake and glacial basins. Some tundra areas are rich in small lakes. Floodplain lakes in river valleys are a special group. In the mountains, lakes aril located in deeps kars, circuses and on the bottoms of troughs. The distribution of the river network, its density and the structure of river valleys undergo changes depending on the climate, topographic features, geológical structure and other factors. In the Urals and in some Timan areas, rivers have high falls, and often have rapids and canyon-like valleys.  

Бол. Балбанты. Фото Пономарева В. 2.JPG

The Big Balbanty Lake. Photo by V. I. Ponomarjev

 

On the plains they usually flow quietly, have broad valleys with vast flood plains, within which the river bed meanders widely, making up numerous channels. Divides are not distinct. The average time of freezing-over varies from the north to the south from late October to mid November.  

Усинское болото. Фото В.А. Якунина.jpg

The Usinsk Bog. Photo by V. A. Jakunin

 

The rivers are frozen over for about 200 days a year in the north of Komi, and less than 165 days in the south. Freezing-over usually starts in late May and late April, respectively.

Морошка поспевает. Корткеросский район. Маджские болота.Фото С. Киселева.jpg

Cloudberry. The Kortkeros Area. Madzha Bogs. Photo by S. Kiseljev

Flora

Vegetation is mostly coniferous forests, consisting mainly of spruces and pines. To the east, the larch becomes more common and the cedar begins to appear. Besides the fir, the silver fir and the linden are common in southern taiga, as well as green moss forests with oxalis. Fir-groves with bilberries are common in middle taiga, and the silver fir can be found in river valleys. Waterlogged fir-groves with birches and pines predominate on flat divides. Fir forests with pines and birches (with bog whortleberries in the bush circle) predominate in northern taiga. In the extreme north of taiga, fir-groves become less condensed, and the birch occupies considerable part. The soil is covered with either lichen or green moss, or green and sphagnum moss; or lichen, green and sphagnum moss. In the herb and bush areas, one can find the sedge, the bog whortleberry and the wild rosemary. In the forest tundra, suppressed fir-groves and fir-birch forests are located in small islands on the drained slopes of ridges and in narrow strips along valleys.Pine forests are quite common for river terraces and sand plains, and range from dry lichen forests to swamped sphagnum pine forests. Forests with the predominance of small-leafed trees (birch and aspen) are quite common, but they mostly grow оn deforested and burned-out areas of former coniferous forests. Birch-woods can be mostly found in the Urals and forest-tundra. Aspen-woods are located mostly in the southern areas of Komi. Large areas in the taiga are occupied by swamps. In the middle taiga they are often surrounded by small pine trees, and there are no forests in the northern area. 

Заяц-беляк, фото Г. Л. Накул.JPG

The Hare. Photo by G. L. Nakul

Fauna

Komi's fauna comprises about 300 vertebral species, including more than 50 species of mammals, over 200 species of birds and several thousand invertebrate species. Siberian taiga species predominate and become even more abundant in the east: one can find the sable, the Siberian weasel, the nutcracker and other species there. Some European species can be found only in the west of Komi, in southern areas, one can find animals inhabiting mixed forests and open forest steppes: the European hare, the field-vole, the polecat, the field-iark, the quail, the partridge, etc. Many mammals and birds are hunted: the squirrel, the marten, the bear, the wolverine, the lynx, and the chipmunk in coniferous forests; and the lepus, the fox, the ermine, the wolf and the elk in low forests and river valleys. 

Лось. Фото В. Пономарева (1).jpg

The Elk. Photo by V.I. Ponomarjev

 One can see a rare hybrid of the sable and the marten - the sable-marten - in the Pechora-IIychsky Reserve, and wild reindeer in the taiga and tundra. Rodents are quite common. Near lakes and ponds, one can find the otter, the mink, the water vole, and the muskrat; Land the beaver and the raccoon dog are being acclimatized. The wood grouses and goes the hazel grouse are hunted in taiga and the black grouse is hunted in birch woods. Few species inhabit the tundra all the year round. It is mainly the polar fox, the willow grouse and the rock ptarmigan that are hunted. A lot of waterfowl can be seen near tundra water area in the summer.
Thirty-six species of fish have been discovered in Komi water areas, the most valuable food fish being the salmon, the omul, the white salmon, the white-fish and the umber.

Komi Republic places of interest

In 2008 there were 95 officially mentioned nature sites on the territory of the Komi Republic. Among them are:
- “The ruins of ancient town” on plateau Torre-Porre-Iz. 
- “Karstic Iordan ravine” on the right bank of the Malaya Pechora River, 16 km up from where Bolshoi Shezhim flows into it. 
- “Verkhniye Vorota (Upper Gates)” on the River Bolshaya Synya (located 55 km up the railway bridge). 
- “Koltso (Ring)” on the River Sharyu (30 km from Usinsk, “A Window to Usinsk oil”). 
- Caves: “Kaninskaya” 47 km up the mouth of the river Unya on the right bank of Pechora, “Unyinskaya”
10 km from Unya mouth, “Ledyanaya (Icy)”, “Tufovaya (Tuff)” and “Medvezhya peshera (Bear’s cavern)” in Iordan ravine, where one of the farthest northern site of Paleolithic man was found and the largest in European north whereabouts of mammoth’s bones, hairy rhinoceros and cavern bear. 

These are the candidates for the title Seven Wonders of Russia from the Komi Republic:
- Bogatyr-Shelye, a rock, a geological monument, located on the river Bolshaya Synya 25 km from the farm Synya. 
- Shugor, a river. “Verkhniye Vorota (Upper Gates)” (located 73 km from the river mouth), “Sredniye Vorota (Middle Gates)” (9 km lower of Upper Gates), “Nizhniye Vorota (Lower Gates)” (the most picturesque place is 22 km from the mouth, on the right bank) and waterfalls “Veldor-Kyrta-El” in the rocks on the bank of Upper Gates, these are geological monuments. 
- Lyokiz, a number of rocks, a geological monument, is located on the right bank of the river Ilych, 4 km lower of a stream B.Sotchemyol, Pechoro-Ilychsky Reserve. 
- Pillars on plateau Manpupunyor, a geological monument, is located between rivers Ichotlyaga and Pechora. The pillars are one of the winners of the contest “Seven Wonders of Russia”. 
- The city of Inta. Kozhimsky and Syvyusky geological monuments, “Golden baba”, a rock “Rif”, a rock “Monakh”, “Kayuk-Nyrd”, “Nortnicha-el”, a cedar monument “Vadcharty” - nature sites on the river Kozhim, Inta city soviet. 
- An old settlement Yb on seven hills (located 50 km to the south of Syktyvkar city), on the bank of the Sysola River there are sites of Jurassic period. This geological monument is known for a long time. Local people often find the fossil remnants here. Due to hot and dry summers and low water level in Sysola the remnants of pre-historical animals - ichthyosaurus and plesiosaurus became systematic, not sudden ones. 

река Печора, скала Канин нос, фото Н. Д.Нейфельда.jpg

The Pechora River. The Rock Canin Nose. Photo by N. D.Neyfeld

 

Manpupuner and the 7 Strong Men Rock Formations

Deemed one of the Seven Wonders of Russia, Komi Republic is home to Manpupuner (Man-Pupu-Nyer), a mysterious site in the northern Ural mountains, in the Troitsko-Pechorsky District, made out of seven rock towers bursting out of the flat plateau known as the “7 strong men“. Manpupuner is a very popular attraction in Russia, but not on an international level and information regarding its origin is scarce. We know however that their height and abnormal shapes make the top of these rock giants inaccessible even to experienced rock-climbers.

Северные олени. Фото В. Пономарева.jpg

Northern Reindeers.  Photo by V. I. Ponomarjev

Climate

Winters in the republic are long and cold, and the summers, while short, are quite warm.
Average January temperature: −17 °C (1.4 °F) (southern parts) to −20 °C (−4 °F) (northern parts);
Average July temperature: +11 °C (51.8 °F) (northern parts) to +15 °C (59 °F) (southern parts);
Lowest recorded temperature: −58.1 °C (−72.6 °F) (village of Ust-Shchuger);
Average annual precipitation: 625 mm (24.6 in).

Resources:

Pearson M. On the European Edge – Journey through Komi Nature and Culture. Vol. 36 / M. Pearson, P. Ojanen, M. Havimo, T. Kuuluvainen, H. Vasander. – Helsinki : University of Helsinki Department of Forest Ecology Publications, 2007. – 216 p.
Strogoff M. Guidebook Komi Republic / M. Strogoff, P. Brochet, D. Auzias. – Moscow : Avant-Garde Publ., 2005. – 176 p.


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фото В. Иванова