The Republic of Altai (Республика Алтай) is a republic within the Russian Federation, a subject of the Russian Federation, a part of the Siberian Federal District. The capital is the city of Gorno-Altaisk (Горно-Алтайск).
Borders on the Republics of Tuva and Khakassia, Altai region and Kemerovo region, also China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
The Republic was founded on June 1, 1922. As for January 1, 2009, the population of the Republic of Altai was 209 207 people.
In 2006 the Bank of Russia produced a memorable coin dedicated to the Republic of Altai.
There is a great number of significant nature objects on the territory of the Republic. The most popular among tourists are the Teletskoye Lake (Телецкое озеро), on the shores of which there are about twenty pansionates, tourist camps and camping sites. There are best fishing places; walking, horse, water and bus tours are held. Cascade of Karakol lakes in Chemal district presents a unique nature reserve. Water in each of the seven lakes is different in colour and chemical constitution. The range of Shavlinsk Mountains in the upper stream of the river Shavla is the aim for walking and horse routes on the picturesque foothill of the Northern Chuisk range. On the territory of the Ust-Koksinsk region there is the Belukha (Белуха) Mountain (4506 m) — the highest peak of the Republic and the whole of Siberia.
«The Golden Mountains» (from the Mongolian word «altan») is one of the meanings of the word Altai. There truly is gold, although Altai has never been a popular golden province such as Eldorado or Kolyma. There is another Russian version of this word — «tortoise mountains». It reflects the overall picture of the region most precisely.
The Altai is so diverse that it can satisfy a taste of any traveler.
It is possible to travel in Altai by foot or ski, by horse or camel, by helicopter or light sport boat on the rapid mountain rivers and by a comfortable boat on the Teletskoye lake, which is also called Altyn Kol (Golden Lake), by down-hill ski on the sharp slopes or by car and bike through mountain passes in the search of the «Heart of Asia».
With special alpinist equipment on icefalls and cliffs to the empyrean peaks of the highest mountains in Siberia or to the bottomless abysses of the deepest caves, with an aqualung on the bottom of pure mountain lakes, with a gun in taiga chasing a dear hunting trophy — it is hard to imagine any kind of tourism not possible in Altai.
European travelers who appeared here the last century found a significant similarity between the Altai and the Swiss Alps. No wonder that such names as the Siberian Switzerland, Northern Chuisk Alps , Katun Alps appeared. The Swiss, who have been here lately affirm this similarity and say with envy that only here one can imagine what the Alps were like while the tourists started to come there. Small hotels and roads to them are being constructed in the Altai now.
There are two specialized health resorts in the region operating all-year-round, six tourist camps operating all-year-round («Katun», «Golden Lake», etc.), about twenty tourist camps and pansionates with a season stay, thirty health improvement camps for schoolchildren etc.
The most of discoveries in the Altai were made in the 19-th century. Although, many new things are found at present here. So, at the end of the 1970’s the deepest caves in the mouth of the river Ustyuba on the Seminskiy range were discovered and researched.
Scientists supposed that researches of the Altai karst will bring many new discoveries. In the middle of the 1970’s the waterfall on the river Chulcha became well-known. This biggest waterfall of the Altai has a total height of water falling of 160 meters and in the big water presents quite a spectacular scene.
Archaeological findings of the recent years attract attention of specialists from all over the world: the dwelling site at the Denis cave, which is situated in the valley of the Anui river is considered as one of the most ancient in Asia.
People, living in these mountains, their way of life and history is a real treasure for travelers. The Altai is the place of junction and interpenetration of different religions: Christianity, Islam, Lamaism and Buddhism, — and some of the Altai tribes are keeping until now their heathenism and live under the never-sleeping eye of the good God Ulgen and the evil God Erlik.
The Altai is a wonderful example of how a human life is dependent on nature, defined by the land a man is living on. The same as hundreds of years ago they pasture, hunt wild animals and do the patchwork.
A great space of these mountains have never seen industry, that is why the food products made basically in an old, grandfather’s way are ecologically clean. Many products of natural origin have exclusive healing qualities, for example, velvet antlers gotten at the red deer breeding farms, honey and propolis from mountain bee yards, Mumiyo, roseroot.
Having chosen the Altai for your vacation, you will get the maximum of pleasure and impressions. Calm eco-tourism lovers, extreme searchers and those, who long for new adventures, will also like the Altai.