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Brief information about Altai Region

Geographical position

Altai Region is located in the south-east of West Siberia at the border of continental Asia 3419 km from Moscow. Its territory is 168 000 km², it takes the 24th place in the Russian Federation and the 10th place in Siberian Federal District. In the north Altai Region borders on Novosibirsk region, in the east - Kemerovo region, the south-eastern border is with the Republic of Altai, in the south-west and west the state border with Kazakhstan is, its length is 843,6 km.

Climate

The climate is temperate continental; it is formed as a result of frequent changes of air masses coming from the Atlantic, Arctic, Eastern Siberia and Central Asia.

Absolute annual range of air temperature reaches 90-95°C.

The predominance of cloudy weather makes a significant inflow of solar radiation. The average duration of sunshine is 2000-2300 hours per year; the amount of total radiation reaches 4500-4800 MJ/m² a year.

Average temperatures are favorable, 0.5-2.1C. Average maximum of high temperatures in July is 26-28C; low temperatures reach 40-41C. Average minimum of low temperatures in January is 20-24C; absolute winter minimum is -50-55C. Frost-free period lasts about 120 days.

The most dry and hot is the western flat part of the region. To the east and south-east the level of precipitation increases from 230 mm to 600-700 mm per year. Annual average temperature rises to the south-west of the region.

Due to the mountain barrier in the south-east of the region prevailing west-east air masses take the south-west direction. In summer months northern winds are steady. The wind speed of the south-west and west directions exceeds 6 m/sec in 20-45% of cases. In the steppe areas of the region hot winds arise as the winds become stronger (up to 8-20 days per year). During winter months at the periods with intense cyclonic activity snow-storms are observed everywhere in the region with frequency of 30-50 days a year. On the average the snow cover falls in mid-November and thaws in early April. Snow depth averaged 40-60 cm, in western areas it is reduced to 20-30 cm or fully blowing off. Freezing depth of the soil is 50-80 cm, on the bared steppe areas soil may freeze to a depth of 2-2,5 m.

Water resources

The main rivers are the Ob, Biya, Katun, Aley, Charysh. The total surface flow of the rivers is 53,5 km³ per year. In the Ob basin, which occupies 70% of the region, 53 km³ are formed. In the drainless area of the Ob-Irtysh interfluves (30% of the territory) only 0,5 km³ of flow are formed.

In the region there are 17,085 rivers of the total length 51,004 km: 16,309 of them are less than 10 km; 776 are over than 10 km (including 32 rivers more than 100 km, 3 of them are more than 500 km), 9700 rivers have more or less permanent watercourses.

The main waterway of the region is the Ob; its length within the region is 493 km, the river is formed by the confluence of the Biya and Katun. Its major inflows (length more than 500 km) are the Alei, Charysh, and Chumysh.

There are about 13 000 lakes on the territory of the region, more than 230 of them are of an area more than 1 km². The largest lakes are in the steppe zone of the region:

Kulunda - 728 km²,

Kuchukskoe - 181 km²,

Gorkoye (Romanovsky district) - 140 km²,

Bolshoye Topolnoye - 76 km²,

Bolshoye Yarovoye - 66,7 km².

There are significant reserves of groundwater. Their potential operational resources within the flat ground of the region are 269 m³/sec for the 50-year period. The region uses less than 20% of fresh groundwater of the general forecasting operating reserves.

Variety of wildlife

The variety of zone and intrazonal landscapes of Altai Region favors the species variety of wildlife.

The largest group of animals in the region is invertebrates, and the largest class among them is the class of insects (more than 400 species). 39 species of insects are in the Red Book of Altai Region.

The class of amphibians is represented by six species, including two species - “triton common” and salamander – which were brought into the Red Book of Altai Region.

Half of the seven species of reptiles were brought into the Red Book of Altai Region: steppe viper, kruglogolovka takyr, and colored lizard.

The region has more than 320 bird species, 220 - 290 species nest in the region. Due to the reduction of the area of the most important nesting sites serpent eagle, little bustard, and bustard completely or partially disappeared. 46 species of the 96 species of birds that are in the Red Book of Altai Region are related to wetlands.

Mammals are represented by 90 species. The most important are wild ungulates and fur animals, production of which gives meat, fur, leather and crude drug. Over the past few years the number of elks, brown bears, squirrels, marmots, musk deer, and otters has reduced. A slight decrease in the number of wolfs and beavers is noted. However since 1996 there is a tendency of increasing the number of some animals, especially species licensed for hunting marals (Siberian stag), roe deer, elks, brown bears, musk deer, sables, wild boars. Ploughing up of huge areas of lowland forest-steppes and steppes led to the emergence of unique anthropogenic forest-field and field localities with a specific population of wildlife. In the northern forest-field area a field mouse is in the dominant position among mammals. In the fields in place of southern forest-steppes and steppes these kinds of steppe fauna dominate - ground squirrels and hamsters. Red-cheeked ground squirrels became the dominant, which extends its natural habitat on cultivated lands.

Plant resources

There are the following vegetation types on the territory of the region: forests, steppes, meadows, marshes, tundra, shrubs, rock, water, saline land and synanthropic.

Flora of Altai Region has 2186 species of vascular plants, including 1886 native and 300 adventive, about 400 species of mosses, and about 700 species of lichens. Representatives of the endemic and relict species are among them.

Hay meadows and pastures. Pastures and hay meadows of Altai Region occupy 3731 thousand hectares, which is 35% of agricultural land. Hay meadows and pastures have economic value as forage for livestock and as locality for various animals and plants, including rare. 10 thousand species of plants grow there which are used for forages production. This is mainly cereals, legumes and motley grass. The most efficient for green mass feeding production are floodlands haying meadows. Grassy flora of feed land successfully protects the soil from erosion and deflation (at a reasonable loading of grazing cattle).

Useful flora of the region has 1184 species of plants, among which are medical plants - 913 species, nectariferous - 379, forage - 663, decorative plants 400, food plants - 228, vitamin-containing - 42, dyeing - 117, ether-oil - 87, tanning 58, poisonous - 135, industrial - 79 species. The group of medicinal plants is the largest; about 100 species of them are widely used in official medicine. These are the golden root (Rhodiola rosea), maral root (Rhaponticum carthamoides), red root (Hedysarum austrosibiricum), peony (Marin koren) (Paeona anomaia), Ural licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), oregano (Origanum vulgare), common St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), elecampane (Jnula helenium) and others. There are medicinal plants with difficult cultivation and natural resources are the only source of raw product: spring Adonis (Adonis vernals), foxberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), sweet flag (Acorus calamus), and yellow candock (Nuphar lutea Smith).

Forests

The total area of forests in the region is 4375,1 thousand hectares (26% of the total area), including the wooded area of 3635,6 thousand hectares. Percentage of forests of Altai Region is 22,1%. In the region forests are allocated irregularly. In Kulunda steppe and forest steppe zone of the left bank of the Ob forests cover 12%, on the right bank of the Ob it is 24%, rising in the mountain area up to 34%. Timber stock is 527,4 million m³. The dominant species in the forests of the region are coniferous - 43,2% (including cedar 1,1%), small-leaved - 56,8%. The average age of plantations is 62,8 years, including coniferous 84,6 years and deciduous - 47 years. According to forestry and forest economic conditions four forest regions are singled out in the region: Band pine forest, Priobski, Salairski and Foothills. Favourable conditions for forest fires are from April to October inclusive. To eliminate the effects of forest fires, destruction of plantations from pests and diseases, and to increase forest area reforestation measures are conducted. The annual volume of reforestation measures in the region is over 10 hectares.

Mineral resources

Coal, lignite, iron ores, manganese, chromium, titanium, vanadium, tungsten, bauxites, nickel, cobalt, polymetals, precious metals (gold, silver, platinum), scandium and rare soils, fluorspar, cement raw materials, gypsum are mined in the region.

Altai Region is famous for unique deposits of jasper, porphyry, marble, granite, mineral and drinking ground waters, and mineral therapeutic mud.

In salt lakes considerable reserves of mineral raw materials for food and chemical industry are concentrated: sodium sulfate, sodium chloride, natural soda, magnesium and bromine salts.

Regional raw material base of polymetals is concentrated in 16 fields with the general balance reserves of 70 million tons of ore. The fields are located compactly in areas with good infrastructure in the southwestern part of the region. In addition to base metals - copper, lead, zinc - ores of the deposits also contain gold, silver, cadmium, bismuth, selenium, thallium, gallium, tellurium, sulfur and other elements (in some fields - barite).

The raw material base of iron ores is represented by two explored deposits with total reserves of ore of about 490 million tons. Deposits are located in the undistributed fund of subsoil.

Predictive capacity of resource base of coals is sufficiently high (200 million tons of coal and 600 million tons of brown coal). Intensification of coal mining in the coming years is connected with Munaysk brown coal deposit. Annual production of brown coal will be increased to 800 or more tons when the whole deposit with reserves of 34,7 million tons of coal is put into the exploitation.

Polymetal gold ores and gravel deposits contain gold. Gold of complex polymetal type is concentrated in 16 fields. Deposits of placer gold are concentrated in 17 gold sites, and 8 deposits are being developed.

4 deposits of sodium sulfate are explored with total reserves of 265 309 thousand tons. The deposit of Kuchuk Lake is exploited with annual production of about 500 tons of sodium sulfate per year.

Altai Region has mineral waters and therapeutic mud, the development of health resort system is based on it. Resort Belokurikha extensively uses subthermal low-mineralized low-radon nitric-siliceous waters, Zavyalovsk deposit of mineral therapeutic-table ground waters, therapeutic mud of Maloye Yarovoye lake (400 m³ per year are developed), deposits of therapeutic mud of the lake Gorkoye-Zavyalovskoye and the lake Mormyshanskoe are being prepared for developing.

In recent years exploration works for brown coal, manganese, chromium, nickel, cobalt, polymetals, gold, fluorspar, phospharites, ground drinking and mineral water, therapeutic mud are carried out.

Soil and land resources

The total land fund of the region is 15799,6 thousand hectares. Ploughed land - 40,6%.

105,7 thousand hectares are irrigated in Altai Region, 99,5 thousand hectares - in the plowed field. The region has 8,5 hectares of drained land, most of it are meadow lands - 7,3 thousand hectares. Waterlogged and boggy lands are exposed to drainage, located mainly in the floodplains of forest-steppe zone.

The top soil of Altai Region is very various, and is represented by thirteen soil types, dominated by black soils, gray forest and chestnut soils, which occupy 88,5% of ploughed land.

About half of the ploughed lands are supplied with phosphorus, one-third below the average with potassium, and almost everywhere plants are needed for nitrogen fertilizers and zinc, sulfur, cobalt, and molybdenum.

Soil acidification. Soils with acid reaction occupy about 18% of agricultural lands and 14,5% of ploughed fields of the region.

Salinity, alkalinity of soils. Saline soils in the region occupy 1042,1 thousand hectares, alkaline soils and alkaline complexes - 827,2 thousand hectares. At the same time agricultural lands contain 982,6 thousand hectares of saline soils and 807,2 thousand hectares of alkaline soils. In ploughed fields saline soils occupy 295,8 thousand hectares, alkaline soils and alkaline complexes - 323.7 thousand hectares.

Features of the regions economy

In the gross regional product industry agriculture and trade dominate essentially. These activities form over 58% of the total GRP.

Modern structure of industry is characterized by high percentage of manufacturing industries (over 80% of total volume of shipped goods). The leading industries are food processing, engineering products (car-, boiler-, diesel-engine, agricultural machinery, and electrical equipment), production of coke, rubber and plastic products and chemical industry. In recent years the pace of industrial development of the region pass ahead of the all-Russian: the volume of production in 2006-2008 increased by 25,6% (in Russia - 15,4%).

Altai Region is one of the largest food producers in Russia. In 2008 it took the 1st place in the country in production of cheese and flour, 2nd place - in production of oil and pasta. Altai Region is the only region from the Urals to the Far East, which produces sugar beets; the average yield is 217 centners per hectare. In 2009 for the first time in the history of beet growing the yield of this crop was 271,3 centners per hectare.

Altai Region is situated at the intersection of transcontinental transit cargo and passenger traffic, closely to major raw materials and processing regions. Highways connecting Russia with Mongolia, Kazakhstan, the railway connecting Central Asia with the Trans-Siberian Railway, the international airlines go through the region. Advantageous geographical position of the region and its high accessibility give opportunities for establishing strong interregional and international economic and trade relations.

Recreational potential combined with favorable climate of the south of West Siberia, rich historical and cultural heritage give an opportunity for development of various kinds of tourism and sports and leisure recreation in the territory of Altai Region.

Politics of Altai Region is aimed at forming the most favorable conditions for attracting investments: improving the forms of state support for business, infrastructure development (transport, energy), strengthening of the economic position of the region inside Russia and abroad, and law enforcement.

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