Republic of Kalmykia
// GENERAL INFORMATION
According to the political division accepted in the Russian Federation, Kalmykia is officially designated as the Republic of Kalmykia and has its administrative center in the city of Elista. Kalmykia is situated in the steppe, semidesert, and desert zones and occupies a total area of 75 900 square km, which is larger than such European nations as Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands together. The republic is situated in the southeast of the European part of the Russian Federation. It borders on Rostov Region in the west, Volgograd Region in the north and northwest, Astrakhan Region in the east, the Republic of Dagestan in the south and Stavropol Territory in the southwest. Its geographic coordinates are 44°50' and 40°10' east longitude and 41°40' and 47°35' north latitude. The territory extends for 448 km from north to south, and 423 km from west to east.
The territory of Kalmykia is conventionally divided into three natural economic zones: Western, Central, and Eastern. The most favorable soil and climatic conditions are found in the Western zone. In the south, the territory of Kalmykia borders upon the Kuma-Manych depression and the Manych and Kuma rivers; in the southwest it is washed by Caspian Sea; the northwest part of Kalmykia's territory lies in the Yergeninky Hills. The Kalmykian part of the Caspian lowlands is called the Sarpa lowlands; its southern part is in the Chernye Zemli. Plains are the dominant relief in the republic, occupying most of its territory.
The climate of the republic is continental, i.e., hot dry summers and cold winters with little snow. The climate's continental character grows more pronounced as you move from west to east. Average January temperatures throughout the whole republic are -7 °C to -9 °C in the south and southwest and -10 °C to -12 °C in the north. The lowest temperature levels are -35 °C or lower in the northern regions. The climate is notable for its large number of sunny days-280 per year. The duration of the warm period is 240 - 275 days. Average July temperatures are 23.5 °C -25.5 °C. The absolute maximum temperature reaches 40 °C-44 °C. The average temperature levels are higher in the south and southeast. Winter is often marked by thaws, with snowstorms on some days. Ice cover occurring from time to time may result in agricultural damage due to icing of grasslands and winter crops. Summer droughts and hot winds that blow up to 120 days per year are features of the republic. The region is the most arid part of the southern European part of Russia. Annual precipitation does not exceed 210-340 mm.
The Kalmyks (or Khalmag, as the Kalmyks call themselves) are the descendants of the Oyrats originating from Western Mongolia (Jungaria). These were nomadic tribes akin to the Mongols in material culture, language, and religion. In the 13th century the Oyrats became part of Genghis Khan's state. After the collapse of the Mongolian Empire, Oyrat rulers joined the fight for domination in Mongolia against the Eastern Mongolian khans. By the middle of the 14th century Esen Khan managed to unite all the original Mongolian lands under his power. He also defeated the forces of Ming China and captured the emperor, which subsequently resulted in a favorable peace treaty. However, Esen's successors did not succeed in holding onto power in Mongolia.
In the late 16th and early 17th centuries the shortage of pasture lands and feudal internecine dissension forced the rulers of large Oyrat tribal unions of Torgouts headed by Taisha Ho Urluk and Derbets headed by Dalai Batyr to migrate to the steppes of Western Siberia. After the Yermak Expedition, these territories came under Russian control. In 1608 and 1609 the Oyrats swore an oath of allegiance to the Russian Tsar. Later on these Oyrats, whom the Russians named Kalmyks after their Turkic-speaking neighbors, settled in the territory bounded by the Emba, Yaik (Ural), and Volga rivers. In the second half of 17th century they formed the Kalmyk Khanate in the Lower Volga and laid the foundation for a new Mongolian-speaking ethnic group, the Kalmyks.
By becoming part of Russia and keeping their oath to protect its southeastern borders, the Kalmyks managed to preserve their state. Kalmyks took an active part in all Russian war campaigns in 17th and 18th centuries, providing up to 40 000 fully equipped horsemen.
The Kalmyk Khanate reached its peak of power in the period of Ayuka Khan (1669 -1724). Ayuka Khan fulfilled his responsibility to protect the southern borders of Russia and conducted many military expeditions against the Crimean Tatars and Kuban Tatars. He also waged wars against the Kazakhs, subjugated the Mangyshlak Turkmens, and made multiple expeditions against the highlanders of the North Caucasus.
In 1771, the oppression of the tsarist administration forced the majority of Kalmyks (33 000 households or approximately 170 000 people) to migrate to their original territories, and the Kalmyk Khanate ceased to exist. The remaining Kalmyks were subjected to the imperial system of governing foreigners. Most of them resided on the Kalmyk steppe. Some groups of Kalmyks joined the Ural, Orenburg, and Terek Cossack forces. In the late 18th century, the Kalmyks who had settled along the Don River were included in the Cossack class of the Don Host.
As foreigners with another religious affiliation, Kalmyks were not subject to military service, but in the Patriotic War of 1812 they formed three regiments (the First and Second Kalmyk and Stavropolsky Kalmyk regiments) that fought their way to Paris. Kalmyks of the Don fought in Cossack units under the command of the legendary Chief Platov.
The people's long habitation in an environment with another way of life and a different religion led to serious changes in Kalmyk society. The mandatory feudal statuses of classes were abolished in 1892. Many changes followed colonization of the Kalmyk steppe by Russian settlers.
In spite of this, the Kalmyks' spiritual culture remained quite stable, thus preserving an enclave with its original Eastern culture, unique folklore, written culture, and music in the European territory of Russia. At the beginning of 20th century, the rest of the world discovered the pearl of Kalmyk folklore, the Jangar epic.
Following the February Revolution of 1917, the Steppe Region of the Kalmyk People was formed. In 1920, it was transformed into the Kalmyk Autonomous Region. In 1935, the Kalmyk Autonomous Region was reorganized into the Kalmyk Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR).
During World War II, in summer 1942, the greater part of Kalmykia was occupied by Nazi troops, but by January of the following year the Soviet army liberated the territory of the republic. The Kalmyks fought with fortitude in the battlefront of war and in the partisan resistance on the steppes of Kalmykia, in Belorussia, Ukraine, the Bryansk woods, etc. Twenty-one men were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
In December 1943, the Kalmyk people were unjustly deported to Siberia, and the Kalmyk ASSR was abolished.
Justice was restored only in 1957 when the Kalmyks returned to their homeland. It was first called the Kalmyk Autonomous Region, and then in 1959 was transformed into the Kalmyk ASSR.
Industry, agriculture, science and education, and culture and arts began developing intensively in the republic.
In 1993, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov won the first presidential elections in the Republic of Kalmykia. President Ilyumzhinov's program has focused on improving the social and economic situation and standard of living in the republic and reviving the Kalmyk language.
Elista - the capital of Kalmykia
Elista, the capital of Kalmykia, is located in the southwest of the republic. It has a population of 109 900 people.
The area of Elista is about 40 000 hectares, of which 21 000 hectares is the city itself and 18 600 hectares are the adjoining territories.
The city's transportation network is made up of 300 kilometers of automobile roads, including 220 km of paved and 80 km of unpaved roads. The three highways crossing Elista have federal status: Elista - Volgograd, Elista - Makhachkala, Elista - Astrakhan.
External connections are provided by the Stavropol - Elista railroad line; the Stavropol - Elista - Volgograd, Elista - Astrakhan, and Volgograd - Elista - Kizlyar highways; and airlines.
One of the priorities in the development of the city is residential construction and construction of social facilities.
The social and economic development program for Elista for the years ahead stipulates a series of measures to support small and medium-sized enterprises, shows calculations of the population's demand and the economic effect of production development, and provides a basis for industrial development.
There are 23 industrial enterprises in Elista representing the following sectors: production; power production; engineering; wood processing; construction materials; and the light, food, and printing industries.
The structure of industrial production by sector is characterized by the following data: oil production, 70.5%; printing, 1.3%; construction materials, 0.7%.
There are 2713 small enterprises in Elista or 23.6 % of the total number of enterprises registered as tax payers and conducting business in Elista. The number of private enterprises is constantly growing.
Elista is also a science center of the region and the home of Kalmyk State University.
The government of the republic, i.e., the People's Khural and the President of the Republic, lays particular stress on increasing the republic's investment attractiveness. Hence, favorable tax treatment and an investment policy based on the following objectives are in force in the republic:
- development of regional investment legislation and other norms in the sphere of business support;
- openness of information;
- creation of a specialized market infrastructure to back investment processes.
The government and the People's Khural (Parliament) have drawn up and adopted the law "On Investment Activities in the Form of Capital Investments in the Republic of Kalmykia". It provides investors with a guarantee of tax remissions. The proposed law "On Investment Activities in the Republic of Kalmykia" focuses on guarantees for investors, administrative conditions for business, and development of an investment infrastructure and prescribes the adoption of an Annual Investment Program. The government has set up a system of constant monitoring of promising investment projects in Kalmykia. In addition, the republic offers all the necessary conditions for small business development (protection of interests, monetary incentives, methodology, and consulting services).