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Sakha/Yakut Republic


YAKUTIA (SAKHA) Republic Profile


Yakutia is the largest administrative and territorial region in the world and the largest entity of the Russian Federation, was officially formed in 1922 during the early days of the Soviet Union. The territory of the republic stretches for 2,500 km from north to south and 2,000 km from west to east. The distance from Moscow to Yakutsk by roads is about 8,300 km.

Almost half of the region (about 40%) is located in the Arctic Circle. In the north the Sakha Republic is washed by the Laptev Sea and East Siberian Sea. The total length of the coastline exceeds 4,500 km. Yakutia is characterized by the diversity of natural conditions and resources. The republic’s main rivers are the Lena, Yana, Indigirka, and Kolyma. In general, there are over 700,000 rivers and running bodies of water coursing through the republic’s massive expanse.

The Republic borders on the Trans-Baikal, Krasnoyarsk and Khabarovsk territories, the Irkutsk, Magadan, Amur regions and the Chukotka Autonomous Area.

CAPITAL: Yakutsk (founded in 1632, population - 322 987 in 2020)

AREA:  3,083,500 sq km (1,190,555 sq mi)

POPULATION & NATIONALITIES: Population is 967,000 in 2019. The national composition according to the 2010 Census: Yakuts (49.9%), Russians (37.8%), Evenks (2.2%), Ukrainians (2.2%), Evens (1.6%), Tatars (0.9%).


Native to the Republic of Yakutia in Siberia’s far east, the Yakuts inhabit some of the coldest places on Earth, which get surprisingly hot in summer. It's the country of contrasts. In the conditions of sharp continental climate the range of air temperature changes is more than 100 degrees by Celsius. The summer is short, dry and has relatively high temperatures, which can hit +40 C.  In winter the temperature drops to  40 - 50 degrees below zero. It is one of the coldest places in the world. The Cold Pole of the Northern Hemisphere is located in Oymyakon, one of the coldest permanently inhabited locales on Earth, in winter the temperature can drop below 65 degrees Celsius.  Almost the entire territory of the region is located in the permafrost zone.


According to archaeological studies, ancient people inhabited the Lena River region in the early Paleolithic. It is believed that they are the descendants of the aboriginal people of the Lake Baikal area who migrated north and resettled among Evenk and Yukagir nomads around the Lena Valley. A lot of archaeological monuments dated from 300,000 to 10,000 years ago were found. From the middle of the first millennium AD, the ancestors of the Evens and Evenks began to settle here. Yakuts appear in histories that date back to the 10th century. Livestock development brought major changes in the economic life of the region. The Yakuts brought handicraft production (blacksmithing, jewelry, pottery etc.) and construction of permanent dwellings.

In the first quarter of the 17th century, the Cossacks reached the banks of the Lena River. By the mid-1600s the Russian empire had absorbed the valley, and by the 1700s Yakutsk was a bustling Russian outpost. The fortified settlements of Lensky (Yakutsk), Zhigansk, Verkhoyansk, Zashiversk, Srednekolymsk were founded. They became the advanced posts for Russian colonists, who moved to the northeast Asia.


Yakutia is a land of dense taiga wilderness and immense tundra zones, hundreds of thousands of large and small rivers and lakes, harsh mountain ranges and ice arctic regions, primeval nature, original culture and warm open people. Permafrost of Yakutia keeps many mysteries perfectly preserving ancient animal carcasses - mammoths, woolly rhinoceros, cave lions etc. At present there are 4 national nature parks, 38 resource reserves, 38 reserved territories forming a total area of 53427 acres. This is 17.1 percent of the entire territory of the republic.

Lenskie Stolby Park
Surface: 13530 sq. km.

Location: is situated in the Khangalassky uluss, 100-200 km southwards from Yakutsk. The accommodation for the tourists is provided on the park territory, in the lodges of “Buotama" and "Verhniy Bestyah". The object the national park is called after is Lenskie Stolby, the rocks on the bank of the Lena River. These rocks are a real masterpiece of nature which form picturesque natural arches, towers, colonnades and many other intricate structures. They are extremely beautiful in the every season.

The taiga forests grow on the territory of the park, and suddenly, in the middle of this taiga, one can see sand dunes called tulkans, reminding more the desert or the shore of the Baltic Sea, than the climate zone they are situated in. The rests of such fossil animals as mammoths and bisons were found on the park territory. The people of antiquity have also left their pattern there: the samples of old Turk runic writing can also be seen.Lenskie Stolby Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

The Labynkyr Lake

Surface: 44.7 sq. km. (17.3 sq mi); average depth 52 m (171 ft); max. depth 75 m (246 ft)


Location:is situated not far from the Pole of cold in the Oymyakon uluss of the Sakha Republic, on its north. This exotic place attracts the people fond of mystics and everything strange and exotic. According to the legend, a monster lives in the lake. It eats dogs, reindeers and even people. Once upon a time the beast of Labynkyr Lake ate a whole caravan of Evenki people. There are plenty of stories and documents evidences left by the witnesses. The wide public got acquainted with the monster in the 50's because of the diaries of soviet geologist Tverdohlebov. Many expeditions have visited and observed the Labynkyr Lake, but they could neither confirm, nor contradict the legends and stories about Nessy’s nephew living in the lake. There are many versions, who could it be, more or less crazy, for example, that it could be a huge pike, a water mammoth, a reptile or a plesiosaurus, or even something from the parallel world. What it is in actually, is still a mystery.

Moma Natural Park (Yakut: Aan Aiylgy)

Surface: 2,175,600 hectares (5,376,000 acres)

Location: Moma Nature Parkis a protected area of the Momsko-Chersk Region of Yakutia in the upper part of the Moma River basin.

The park includes part of the mostly mountainous area of the Ulakhan-Chistay Range, featuring pristine ridges and lakes of environmental and aesthetic value. Visitors may find a whole array of educational and recreational purposes in the area. Some of the main features are:

Mount Pobeda (3,147 metres (10,325 ft)), rising in the Buordakh Massif, it is the highest point of  the Chersky mountain system. Climbing routes of varying difficulty are marked —up to category 5A.

Moma River valley, featuring the extinct cinder cone volcanoes Balagan-Tas and Uraga-Tas.

Ulakhan-Taryn, a layered ice body formed by frozen river flows. By the end of winter, its dimensions can be 30 km long and 5 km wide with a thickness of 7 meters.

Ulakhan-Kuel, a lake where the water does not freeze even down to −60 °C (−76 °F).

Yuryung Taastah Haya (Marble Mount), a mountain of white stone.



Yakutia is one of the rare places on our planet with preserved primeval nature and an amazing variety of flora and fauna. The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) has over 30% of Russian wildlife. More than 90% of the territory is unaffected or slightly affected by industrial development.

The main attractions of Yakutia are:

Kisilyakh Mount (“stone people” in the Yakut language) is known for its picturesque piles of stones resembling blurry silhouettes of people.

Lena and Sinskiye Pillars - two series of steep, vertical cliffs located on the banks of the Lena and Sinyaya rivers. These rocks have different fancy shapes: columns, spires and towers. Many of them have traces of ancient rock paintings.

Memorial Museum “Yakutsk political exile” in the village of Cherkyokh - an open-air museum that includes two dozen objects. The main purpose of the museum is to demonstrate how Russian culture, brought to Yakutia by political exiles, affected the lives of local people.

Lensky historical and architectural museum-reserve “Druzhba” (“friendship”) in Sottintsy village, 70 km from Yakutsk, has interesting old wooden monuments, the oldest of them date back to the 17th century.

Olekminsk Reserve - one of the most interesting nature reserves of Yakutia with a lot of bears, moose, deer and other wildlife.

Zoo “Orto-Doydu”, located 50 km south of Yakutsk, has more than 150 species of animals (white-tailed eagles, golden eagles, spotted deer, Siberian tigers, Asian spruce grouse and others).

Diamond quarry “Mir” in the town of Mirny is a man-made attraction. It is one of the largest quarries in the world with the diameter of 1,200 meters.

Oimyakon (translated from Yakut language “nonfreezing source”) is the village on the left coast of Indigirka River in Oimyakonsky district. It is the most known as one of the poles of cold on Earth. It is the only place where people live despite a low temperature. The average temperature of January is −61˚C, in cold days it is −68˚C. And the lowest temperature that has ever been there is −71.2˚C. There hard frosts form a way of life, habits, and occupations. There are streams of the rivers that don't freeze even in such hard frost. For example, a nonfreezing stream «Razluka».


Imperial rule and the formation of the Soviet Union saw the number of Yakuts decline. By the 19th century, Yakuts were already forgoing their traditional nomadic lifestyle for a more permanent one, and the increase of urbanisation had a further impact on this. Despite the dwindling numbers, regional villages can be entirely populated by Yakuts, where the plight against the extreme conditions continues. The harsh climate and permafrost mean agriculture is difficult, so regionally many Yakuts are still involved with animal husbandry and mining – Yakutia is one of the world’s major sources of diamonds.

Udachnaya: diamond mine by Stapanov Alexander

The mammoth is another one unmistakable “brand” of Yakutia, because its entrails “preserved” a great many bones of mammoths, once dwelling there. There is the only museum in the world that specialized on mammoths. Yakut mammoths’ tusks and bones are used to fabricate traditional Yakut jewelries and souvenirs, furthermore, as an entertainment, the tourists are offered to try all alone to dig out a mammoth bone from frost-bound earth.

Yakutia is one of the few regions left on the Earth, where you can really feel an integration with severe nature, know yourself better, test your abilities, issue a challenge to severe vastnesses of the far north, wander in tundra and cross the green sea of taiga. This country is a sheer forbidden territory unaffected by civilization, with century-aged larches growing and millennium-aged rocks dominating over them.

The beliefs of Sakha people were influenced by the Russian colonists, who were Christians. But it would not be rights to speak about established Christianization. Shamanism is still the main component of the Yakuts’ spiritual life even if they are baptized. They believe that the shaman is a medium between the world of the people and the world of the spirits.

The most exiting event to visit in this region is Yakut New Year fest of Ysyakh (literally it can be translated as abundance), which is celebrated in the beginning of the summer, between June, 10 and June, 25, depending on the uluss and the local preferences. This fest is devoted to renewing of the humans and nature after the winter. It consists of the prayers, shaman rite ceremonies like feeding the fire, dances, spread and kumiss drinking (kumiss is a traditional low alcohol drink made from mare’s milk (most Turkic peoples know it)). The high spot of the fest is horseracing and sports. The roundelay dance of Osuokhai symbolizes the unity of the people.

The Sakha people (Yakuts) come to the fest wearing their best clothes. It is provided by the rules of decorum and it is a tribute to the folk traditions as well. They prepare all the year for that fest, making festive clothes with accessory and headdress made of birch bark. The costume competition is carried out every year for the sake of preservation of national culture.


Below are further readings and articles about Yakutia sites of interest, culture of people that we are glad to offer to your kind attention:

  “My dear Yakutia: extraordinary and heartwarming photos of Russia’s Arctic republic”

Alex Vasyliev first joined Instagram in 2012. After starting out by sharing the usual photos of his family, he gradually began taking photos of street life in his hometown. Residing in Yakutsk in the Sakha Republic (also known as Yakutia), his account gives a rare glimpse into one of the most remote, as well as the coldest, inhabited places in the world, and reveals the vibrant city life and warmth of all those who live there. To continue reading click  here

 A Look at Winter in the World's Coldest City” by Julius Domoney Bloomberg

Siberia has a reputation for extreme cold, but for the inhabitants of Yakutsk, the remote capital of Yakutia in Russia's far eastern Sakha Republic, temperatures of -40 Centigrade are a breeze. Cold even by Siberian standards, its rich resources of diamonds and gold bring with it the reward of higher salaries and a standard of living hard to equal outside Moscow. To continue reading click here


“What’s it like living in the COLDEST place in Russia? (PHOTOS)” by RUSSIA BEYOND

Yakutia is the largest region in Siberia, itself occupying a fifth of Russia’s territory. It is the coldest republic in the country: in many districts, the winter temperature (from October to April) falls below -50C. But which places are the most severe?

To continue reading click here

 “Russian Land of Permafrost and Mammoths is Thawing” by Neil MacFarquhar NY Times

YAKUTSK, Russia — The lab assistant reached into the freezer and lifted out a football-size object in a tattered plastic grocery bag, unwrapping its muddy covering and placing it on a wooden table. It was the severed head of a wolf.


To continue reading click  here

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