The Altai Mountains (/ɑːlˈtaɪ/), also spelled Altay Mountains, are a mountain range in Central and East Asia, where Russia, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan come together, and are where the rivers Irtysh and Ob have their headwaters. The massif merges with the Sayan Mountains in the northeast, and gradually becomes lower in the southeast, where it merges into the high plateau of the Gobi Desert. It spans from about 45° to 52° N and from about 84° to 99° E.
The region is inhabited by a sparse but ethnically diverse population, including Russians, Kazakhs, Altais, and Mongolians. The local economy is based on bovine, sheep, and horse husbandry, agriculture, forestry, and mining. The now-disputed Altaic language family takes its name from this mountain range.
The mountains are called Altain nuruu (Алтайн нуруу) in Khalkha Mongolian, altai-yin niruɣu in Chakhar Mongolian, and Altay tuular (Алтай туулар) in the Altay language. They are also called Altaı taýlary (Алтай таулары or التاي تاۋلارى) in Kazakh; Altajskije gory (Алтайские горы) in Russian; Altay Taghliri (ئالتاي تاغلىرى or Алтай Тағлири) in Uyghur; ā'ěrtài shānmài in Chinese (阿尔泰山脉 simplified, 阿爾泰山脈 traditional, or اَعَرتَىْ شًامَىْ in Xiao'erjing); and Arteː shanmeː (Артэ Шанмэ) in Dungan.
The name comes from the word alt that means "gold" in Mongolic languages and the -tai suffix that means "with"; thus, literally, the "Mountains with Gold". That matches their old Chinese name 金山, literally "Gold Mountain". Also, the word for "gold" is altın in Turkic languages.
In the north of the region is the Sailughem Mountains, also known as Kolyvan Altai, which stretch northeast from 49° N and 86° E towards the western extremity of the Sayan Mountains in 51° 60' N and 89° E. Their mean elevation is 1,500 to 1,750 m. The snow-line runs at 2,000 m on the northern side and at 2,400 m on the southern, and above it the rugged peaks tower some 1,000 m higher. Mountain passes across the range are few and difficult, the chief being the Ulan-daban at 2,827 m (2,879 m according to Kozlov), and the Chapchan-daban, at 3,217 m, in the south and north respectively. On the east and southeast this range is flanked by the great plateau of Mongolia, the transition being effected gradually by means of several minor plateaus, such as Ukok (2,380 m) with Pazyryk Valley, Chuya (1,830 m), Kendykty (2,500 m), Kak (2,520 m), (2,590 m), and (2,410 m).
This region is studded with large lakes, e.g. Uvs 720 m above sea level, Khyargas, Dorgon and Khar 1,170 m, and traversed by various mountain ranges, of which the principal are the Tannu-Ola Mountains, running roughly parallel with the Sayan Mountains as far east as the Kosso-gol, and the Khan Khökhii mountains, also stretching west and east.
The north western and northern slopes of the Sailughem Mountains are extremely steep and difficult to access. On this side lies the highest summit of the range, the double-headed Belukha, whose summits reach 4,506 and 4,440 m respectively, and give origin to several glaciers (30 square kilometers in aggregate area, as of 1911). Altaians call it Kadyn Bazhy, but is also called Uch-Sumer. The second highest peak of the range is in Mongolian part named Khüiten Peak. This massive peak reaches 4374 m. Numerous spurs, striking in all directions from the Sailughem mountains, fill up the space between that range and the lowlands of Tomsk. Such are the Chuya Alps, having an average elevation of 2,700 m, with summits from 3,500 to 3,700 m, and at least ten glaciers on their northern slope; the Katun Alps, which have a mean elevation of about 3,000 m and are mostly snow-clad; the Kholzun range; the Korgon 1,900 to 2,300 m, Talitskand Selitsk ranges; the Tigeretsk Alps.
Several secondary plateaus of lower elevations are also distinguished by geographers, The Katun Valley begins as a wild gorge on the south-west slope of Belukha; then, after a big bend, the river (600 km long) pierces the Katun Alps, and enters a wider valley, lying at an elevation of 600 to 1,100 m, which it follows until it emerges from the Altai highlands to join the Biya in a most picturesque region. The Katun and the Biya together form the Ob.
The next valley is that of the Charysh, which has the Korgon and Tigeretsk Alps on one side and the Talitsk and Bashalatsk Alps on the other. This, too, is very fertile. The Altai, seen from this valley, presents the most romantic scenes, including the small but deep Kolyvan Lake (altitude 360 m), which is surrounded by fantastic granite domes and towers.
Farther west the valleys of the Uba, the Ulba and the Bukhtarma open south-westwards towards the Irtysh. The lower part of the first, like the lower valley of the Charysh, is thickly populated; in the valley of the Ulba is the Riddersk mine, at the foot of the Ivanovsk Peak (2,060 m), clothed with alpine meadows. The valley of the Bukhtarma, which has a length of 320 km, also has its origin at the foot of the Belukha and the Kuitun peaks, and as it falls some 1,500 m in about 300 km, from an alpine plateau at an elevation of 1,900 m to the Bukhtarma fortress (345 m), it offers the most striking contrasts of landscape and vegetation. Its upper parts abound in glaciers, the best known of which is the Berel, which comes down from the Byelukha. On the northern side of the range which separates the upper Bukhtarma from the upper Katun is the Katun glacier, which after two ice-falls widens out to 700 to 900 metres. From a grotto in this glacier bursts tumultuously the Katun river.
The middle and lower parts of the Bukhtarma valley have been colonized since the 18th century by runaway Russian peasants, serfs, and religious schismatics (Raskolniks), who created a free republic there on Chinese territory; and after this part of the valley was annexed to Russia in 1869, it was rapidly colonized. The high valleys farther north, on the same western face of the Sailughem range, are but little known, their only visitors being Kyrgyz shepherds.
Those of Bashkaus, Chulyshman, and Chulcha, all three leading to the alpine lake of Teletskoye (length, 80 km; maximum width, 5 km; elevation, 520 m; area, 230.8 square kilometers; maximum depth, 310 m; mean depth, 200 m), are inhabited by Telengit people. The shores of the lake rise almost sheer to over 1,800 m. From this lake issues the Biya, which joins the Katun at Biysk, and then meanders through the prairies of the north-west of the Altai.
Farther north the Altai highlands are continued in the Kuznetsk district, which has a slightly different geological aspect, but still belongs to the Altai system. But the Abakan River, which rises on the western shoulder of the Sayan mountains, belongs to the system of the Yenisei. The Kuznetsk Ala-tau range, on the left bank of the Abakan, runs north-east into the government of Yeniseisk, while a complexus of mountains (Chukchut, Salair, Abakan) fills up the country northwards towards the Trans-Siberian Railway and westwards towards the Ob.
The Ek-tagh or Mongolian Altai, which separates the Khovd basin on the north from the Irtysh basin on the south, is a true border-range, in that it rises in a steep and lofty escarpment from the Dzungarian depression (470–900 m), but descends on the north by a relatively short slope to the plateau (1,150 to 1,680 m) of north-western Mongolia. East of 94° E the range is continued by a double series of mountain chains, all of which exhibit less sharply marked orographical features and are at considerably lower elevations. The slopes of the constituent chains of the system are inhabited principally by nomadic Kyrgyz.
The five highest mountains of the Altai are:
The Altai mountains are home to a diverse fauna, because of its different habitats, like steppes, northern taigas and alpine vegetation. Steep slopes are home to the Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica), whereas the rare argali (Ovis ammon) is found on more gentle slopes. Deer are represented by five species: Altai wapiti (Cervus elaphus sibiricus), moose (Alces alces), forest reindeer (Rangifer tarandus valentinae), Siberian musk deer (Moschus moschiferus), and Siberian roe deer (Capreolus pygargus). Moose and reindeer however, are restricted to the northern parts of the mountain range. The wild boar (Sus scrofa) is found in the lower foothills and surrounding lowlands. Until recently, the Mongolian gazelle (Procapra gutturosa) was found in the Russian Altai mountains, more specifically in the Chuya River steppe close to the Mongolian border. Large predators are represented by snow leopards (Panthera uncia, syn. Uncia uncia), wolves (Canis lupus), lynx (Lynx lynx), and brown bears (Ursus arctos), in the northern parts also by the wolverine (Gulo gulo). The Tien Shan dhole (Cuon alpinus hesperius) (a northwestern subspecies of the Asiatic wild dog) also lives there.
Until the 20th century, the Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata) was found in the southern parts of the Altai mountains, where it reached Lake Zaisan and the Black Irtysh. Single individuals were also shot further north, for example close to Barnaul. Closely related to the Caspian tiger is the extant Amur tiger, which has the taxonomic name Panthera tigris altaica.
The Altain mountains have retained a remarkably stable climate changing little since the last ice age. In addition the mix of mammals has remained largely the same, with a few exceptions such as extinct Mammoths, making it one of the few places on earth to retain an ice age fauna.
The Altai mountains were home to the Denisovan branch of hominids who were contemporaries of Neanderthals and of Homo Sapiens (modern humans), descended from Hominids who reached Asia earlier than modern humans. The Denisova hominin, dated to 40,000 years ago, was discovered in the Denisova Cave of the Altai mountains in southern Siberia in 2008. Knowledge of the Denisovan humans derives primarily from DNA evidence and artifacts, as no complete skeletons have yet been recovered. DNA evidence has been unusually well preserved because of the low average temperature in the Denisova caves. Neanderthal bones and tools made by Homo sapienshave also been found in the Denisova Cave, making it the only place in the world where all three hominids are known to have lived.
The Altai Mountains have been identified as being the point of origin of a cultural enigma termed the Seima-Turbino Phenomenon which arose during the Bronze Age around the start of the 2nd millennium BC and led to a rapid and massive migration of peoples from the region into distant parts of Europe and Asia.
A vast area of 16,178 km²—Altai and Katun Natural Reserves, Lake Teletskoye, Mount Belukha, and the Ukok Plateau—comprise a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site entitled Golden Mountains of Altai. As stated in the UNESCO description of the site, "the region represents the most complete sequence of altitudinal vegetation zones in central Siberia, from steppe, forest-steppe, mixed forest, subalpine vegetation to alpine vegetation". While making its decision, UNESCO also cited Russian Altai's importance for preservation of the globally endangered mammals, such as snow leopard and the Altai argali. Siberian ibex also live in these mountains. The Uvs Nuur basin is also a protected site.
Violations of the protection status of Argali sheep and other species have been alleged, together with accusations of corruption, in the Altaigate Scandal. The incident arose from the death of several Russian VIPs in a helicopter crash early in 2009, purportedly on a poaching excursion.
The Siberian Altai represents the northernmost region affected by the tectonic collision of India into Asia. Massive fault systems run through the area, including the Kurai fault zone and the recently identified Tashanta fault zone. These fault systems are typically thrusts or right lateral strike-slip faults, some of which are tectonically active. Rock types in the mountains are typically granites and metamorphic schists, and some are highly sheared near to fault zones.
Although earthquakes are generally rare occurrences, on 27 September 2003 a very large earthquake measuring MW 7.3 occurred in the Chuya Basin area to the south of the Altai region. This earthquake and its aftershocks devastated much of the region, causing $10.6 million in damage (USGS) and wiping out the village of Beltir.
Altai (also Gorno-Altai) is a Turkic language, spoken officially in the Altai Republic, Russia. The language was called Oyrot (ойрот) prior to 1948.Altai people
The Altaian (also Altayans) are a Turkic people living in the Siberian Altai Republic, Russia. For alternative ethnonyms see also Teleut, Tele, Telengit, Black Tatar, and Oirats.
The Altaians are presented by two ethnographic groups:
The Northern Altaians include the Tubalar (the Tuba-Kizhi), the Chelkans, the Kumandin, the Shors
The Southern Altaians include the Altaian (the Altai-Kizhi), the Teleut, the Teles, the TelengitThe Northern and Southern Altayans formed in the Altay area on the basis of tribes of Kimek-Kipchaks. According to a recent (2016) study, Altaians, especially Southern Altaians, are descendants of the Yeniseian people and closely related to the Paleo-Eskimo groups.Battle of the Altai Mountains
The Battle of Altai Mountains (Chinese: 稽落山之戰), was a major expedition launched against the Northern Xiongnu by the Han Dynasty in June, 89 AD. The battle was a success for the Han under Dou Xian (d. 92 AD).In June 89 AD, the Han dispatched a force which promptly advanced from Jilu, Manyi and Guyang in three great columns that included their allies, specifically the main army of the Southern Xiongnu. The force of General Dou Xian advanced towards the Northern Chanyu into the Altai Mountains. A large detachment then moved to the northwest, and in the major battle of the campaign they defeated the Northern Chanyu at the Altai Mountains and pursued him westwards. The Han forces killed 13,000 Xiongnu troops and accepted the surrender of 200,000 Xiongnu from 81 tribes.Dou Xian brought the main body of his troops in triumphal progress north to the Khangai Mountains, west of present-day Kharkhorin. There he carved the cliff Inscriptions of Yanran, composed by his client, the historian Ban Gu, which celebrated the achievement of the battle. This inscription was identified in Dundgovi Province by scholars from Mongolia and China in August 2017.Belukha Mountain
Belukha Mountain (Russian: Белуха, lit. 'whitey'; Altai: Muztau or Üç Sümer), located in the Katun Mountains, is the highest peak of the Altai Mountains in Russia. It is part of the World Heritage Site entitled Golden Mountains of Altai.Located in the Altai Republic, Belukha is a three-peaked mountain massif that rises along the border of Russia and Kazakhstan, just a few dozen miles north of the point where this border meets with the border of China. There are several small glaciers on the mountain, including Belukha Glacier. Of the two peaks, the eastern peak (4,506 m, 14,784 ft.) is higher than the western peak (4,440 m, 14,567 ft.).
Belukha was first climbed in 1914 by the Tronov brothers. Most ascents of the eastern peak follow the same southern route as that taken in the first ascent. Though the Altai is lower in elevation than other Asian mountain groups, it is very remote, and much time and planning are required for its approach.
In the summer of 2001, a team of scientists traveled to the remote Belukha Glacier to assess the feasibility of extracting ice cores at the site. Research was carried out from 2001 to 2003: both shallow cores and cores to bedrock were extracted and analyzed (Olivier and others, 2003; Fujita and others, 2004). Based on tritium dating techniques, the deeper cores may contain as much as 3–5,000 years of climatic and environmental records. A Swiss-Russian team also studied the glacier. Since 2008, one is required to apply for a special border zone permit in order to be allowed into the area (if travelling independently without using an agency). Foreigners should apply for the permit to regional FSB border guard office two months before the planned date.Burkhanism
Burkhanism or Ak Jang (Altay: Ак јаҥ) is a new religious movement that flourished among the indigenous people of Russia's Gorno Altai region (okrug) between 1904 and the 1930s. Czarist Russia was suspicious of the movement's potential to stir up native unrest and perhaps involve outside powers. The Soviet authorities ultimately suppressed it for fear of its potential to unify Siberian Turkic peoples under a common nationalism.
Originally millenarian, charismatic and anti-shamanic, the Burkhanist movement gradually lost most of these qualities—becoming increasingly routine, institutionalized (around a hierarchy of oral epic singers), and accommodating itself to the pre-existing Altaian folk religion. It exists today in several revival forms.
On the whole, the Burkhanist movement was shown to be a syncretistic phenomenon combining elements of ancient pre-Shamanist, Shamanist, Lamaist and Orthodox Christian beliefs. According to a Professor of Tomsk State University L. Sherstova, it emerged in response to the needs of a new people - the Altai-kizhi or Altaians who sought to distinguish themselves from the neighboring and related tribes and for whom Burkhanism became a religious form of their ethnic identity.Gobi Altai mountain vole
The Gobi Altai mountain vole (Alticola barakshin) is a species of rodent in the family Cricetidae. It can be found in China, Mongolia, and the Russian Federation.Gobi big brown bat
The Gobi big brown bat (Eptesicus gobiensis) is a species of vesper bat. It is found in Afghanistan, China, India, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Russia. Russian zoologist Professor Count Nikolay Alekseyevich Bobrinski first described it in 1926, the type specimen coming from the Altai Mountains in the Gobi Desert.Golden Mountains of Altai
Golden Mountains of Altai is the name of an UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of the Altai and Katun Natural Reserves, Lake Teletskoye, Belukha Mountain, and the Ukok Plateau. As stated in the UNESCO description of the site, "the region represents the most complete sequence of altitudinal vegetation zones in central Siberia, from steppe, forest-steppe, mixed forest, subalpine vegetation to alpine vegetation". While making its decision, UNESCO also cited Russian Altai's importance for preservation of the globally endangered mammals, such as snow leopard and the Altai argali. The site covers a vast area of 16,175 km².Govi-Altai Province
Govi-Altai (Mongolian: Говь-Алтай, Gobi-Altai) is one of the 21 aimags (provinces) of Mongolia. The province is located in the west of the country and is home to Salkhin Sandag NGO, which works to protect its main water source, the Zavkhan River.Irtysh River
The Irtysh River (Mongolian: Эрчис мөрөн, Erchis mörön, "erchleh", "twirl"; Russian: Иртыш; Kazakh: Ертіс, Ertis, هرتىس; Chinese: 额尔齐斯河, pinyin: É'ěrqísī hé, Xiao'erjing: عَعَرٿِسِ حْ; Uyghur: إيرتيش, Әртиш, Ertish; Tatar: Cyrillic Иртеш, Latin İrteş, Arabic ﻴﺋرتئش, Siberian Tatar: Эйәртеш, Eya’rtes’) is a river in Russia, China, and Kazakhstan. It is the chief tributary of the Ob River.
The river's source lies in the Mongolian Altai in Dzungaria (the northern part of Xinjiang, China) close to the border with Mongolia.
The Irtysh's main tributaries include the Tobol River, Demyanka River and the Ishim River. The Ob-Irtysh system forms a major drainage basin in Asia, encompassing most of Western Siberia and the Altai Mountains.Katun Nature Reserve
Katun Nature Reserve (Russian: Катунский заповедник) (also Katunsky) is a Russian 'zapovednik' (strict nature reserve) located in the highlands of the central Altai Mountains of south Siberia. The Katun River runs down through a valley in the reserve, serving as the primary source of the Ob River. The headwaters of the Katun River originate on Mount Belukha, the highest mountain in Siberia at 4,506 metres (14,783 ft), which is located on the far eastern edge of the preserve. Katun is an internationally important center of biodiversity, forming part of the "Golden Mountains of Altai" UNESCO World Heritage Site. Katun Nature Reserve is situated in the Ust-Koksinsky District of Altai Republic.Khüiten Peak
Khüiten Peak (Mongolian: Хүйтэн оргил, lit. "cold peak") is the highest point in Mongolia, on the west side of the country along the border with China. It is 4,374 m (14,350 feet, previously 4,356 m) high and has a permanent snow cap.
In the past, Khüiten Peak was officially known as the "Friendship Peak" (Nairamdal Uul (Найрамдал Уул) in Mongolian, or Youyi Feng 友谊峰 in Chinese).Khüiten Peak is one of five peaks of Tavan Bogd mountain. Another peak, which is about 2.5 km north of Khüiten, marks the border tripoint between Russia, Mongolia, and China; the name of that peak is given in international agreements and on maps as Tavan Bogd Peak (Russian: Таван-Богдо-Ула, Tavan-Bogdo-Ula; Mongolian: Таван Богд Уул, Tavan Bogd Uul), or Mount Kuitun (Chinese: 奎屯山; pinyin: Kuítún shān).Some sources, however, associate the name Nairamdal Peak (Friendship Peak) with the peak at the border tripoint.The first known ascent of Khüiten Peak was in 1963 by Mongolian mountaineers sponsored by the government.List of butterflies of Russia
This is a list of butterflies of Russia. About 540 species are known from Russia. The butterflies (mostly diurnal) and moths (mostly nocturnal) together make up the taxonomic order Lepidoptera.
The history of lepidopterology in Russia is connected with the organization of the first Russian museum The Kunstkamera established by Peter the Great in 1714. In 1717, he purchased the collection of Albert Seba, a merchant from Amsterdam, for the new museum. In 1832 the Zoological Museum of the Imperial Academy of Sciences was separated as a distinct institution which in 1931 became the Zoological Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences (since 1991 — Russian Academy of Sciences).
In 1859, the then director of the Zoological Museum, Johann Friedrich von Brandt was one of the founders of the Russian Entomological Society in 1859 and in St. Petersburg . Other founders were Karl Ernst von Baer, Ya. A. Kushakevich, Colonel Alexander Karlovich Manderstern, Alexander von Middendorff and Colonel of General Staff Victor Ivanovitsch Motschulsky. Another society founder was Ferdinand Morawitz. Eduard Brandt and Ferdinand Morawitz. Also important was the Moscow Society of Naturalists and increasingly the Russian Academy of Sciences and The Academy of Sciences of the USSR. From the mid-nineteenth century the main zoogeographic focus was on the Caucasus, Siberia and the Russian Far East. At the end of the nineteenth century the German entomologist Otto Staudinger financed collectors in the Far East of Russia. In the early twentieth century the results of all these endeavours were summarised in Die Gross-Schmetterlinge der Erde edited by Adalbert Seitz.
From 1925 lepidopterology was organised by The Academy of Sciences of the USSR and lists titled USSR or SSR. In 1991 The Academy of Sciences of the USSR became once again the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Notable Russian lepidopterists include Peter Simon Pallas, Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz, Édouard Ménétries, Johann von Böber, Hugo Theodor Christoph, Alexander Yakhontov, Alexander von Nordmann, Vasily Evgrafovich Yakovlev, Victor Motschulsky, Sergei Alphéraky, Otto Vasilievich Bremer, Grigory Grumm-Grzhimaylo, Alexei Fedchenko, Nicholas Mikhailovich, Nikolay Grigoryevich Erschoff, Nikolai Yakovlevich Kuznetsov, Grigory Bey-Bienko and Yuri Korshunov.
Butterflies of RussiaMongolian Plateau
The Mongolian Plateau is the part of the Central Asian Plateau lying between 37°46′-53°08′N and 87°40′-122°15′E and having an area of approximately 3,200,000 square kilometres (1,200,000 sq mi). It is bounded by the Greater Hinggan Mountains in the east, the Yin Mountains to the south, the Altai Mountains to the west, and the Sayan and Khentii mountains to the north. The plateau includes the Gobi Desert as well as dry steppe regions. It has an elevation of roughly 1,000 to 1,500 meters, with the lowest point in Hulunbuir and the highest point in Altai.Politically, the plateau is divided between Mongolia, China and Russia. In China, parts of the Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang autonomous regions lie on the plateau. In Russia, the plateau forms part of Buryatia and the southern Irkutsk Oblast.Oskemen
Oskemen (Kazakh: Өскемен, romanized: Óskemen) or Ust-Kamenogorsk (Russian: Усть-Каменого́рск) is the administrative center of East Kazakhstan Region of Kazakhstan. It is served by Oskemen Airport. Population: 303,720 (2009 Census results); 310,950 (1999 Census results).Seima-Turbino phenomenon
Seima-Turbino phenomenon refers to a pattern of burial sites with similar bronze artifacts dated from 2100 BCE to 1900 BCE found across northern Eurasia, from Finland to Mongolia, which has suggested a common point of cultural origin, advanced metal working technology, and unexplained rapid migration. The buried were nomadic warriors and metal-workers, travelling on horseback or two-wheeled chariots. The name derives from the Seima (Sejma) cemetery at the confluence of the Oka River and Volga River, first excavated around 1914, and the Turbino cemetery in Perm, first excavated in 1924.Ukok Plateau
Ukok Plateau is a remote and pristine grasslands area located in the heart of southwestern Siberia, the Altai Mountains region of Russia near the borders with China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. The plateau is recognized as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site entitled Golden Mountains of Altai as an important environmental treasure. It provides a habitat for many of the world's endangered species including one of its least studied predatory animals: the snow leopard. Other endangered species protected there include the argali mountain sheep, the steppe eagle, and the black stork. There are several threats to the preservation of the Ukok Plateau, including overuse of the steppe by ranchers, a proposed road, and plans for a gas pipeline between China and Russia.
Mountain ranges of China
and Southwest China
Landforms of China