The region where Kyakhta stands is a natural location for Russo-Chinese trade. The Siberian River Routes connect the fur-bearing lands of Siberia to Lake Baikal. From there, the Selenga River valley is the natural route through the mountains southeast of Lake Baikal out onto the plains of Mongolia.
Kyakhta was founded in 1727 soon after the Treaty of Kyakhta was negotiated just north at Selenginsk. It was the starting point of the boundary markers that defined what is now the northern border of Mongolia. Kyakhta's founder, SerbSava Vladislavich, established it as a trading point between Russia and the Qing Empire. The Manchus built Maimaicheng just south of Kyakhta on their side of the border. Before 1762, state caravans traveled from Kyakhta to Peking. After that date, trade was mostly by barter at Kyakhta-Maimaicheng, with merchants crossing the border to make their business.
The twin towns of Kyakhta and Maimaicheng can be seen on this 1851 map, on the shortest route from Irkutsk to Peking
Kyakhta and Maimaicheng were visited by the famous English adventurer and engineer Samuel Bentham in 1782. He related that he was entertained by the commander of the Chinese city "with the greatest politeness which a stranger can meet with in any country whatever". At that time, the Russians sold furs, textiles, clothing, hides, leather, hardware, and cattle, while the Chinese sold silk, cotton stuffs, teas, fruits, porcelain, rice, candles, rhubarb, ginger, and musk. Much of the tea is said to have come from Yangloudong, a major center of tea production and trade near today's Chibi City, Hubei.
Kyakhta was crowded, unclean, ill-planned, and never came to reflect the wealth that flowed through it, although several Neoclassical buildings were erected in the 19th century, including a tea bourse (1842) and the Orthodox cathedral (1807–1817), both of which still stand. In 1996 the Voskreskenskaya church was being used a stable. It was from Kyakhta that Nikolay Przhevalsky, Grigory Potanin, Pyotr Kozlov, and Vladimir Obruchev set off on their expeditions into the interior of Mongolia and Xinjiang.
Town status was granted to Kyakhta in 1805.
After the entire Russian-Chinese frontier was opened to trade in 1860 and the Trans-Siberian and the Chinese Eastern Railways bypassed it, Kyakhta fell into decline. The town was renamed Troitskosavsk during the first part of the 20th century, but the original name was restored in 1935. Another source has Troitskosavsk as a fort a short distance north, Troitskosavsk being the administrative and military center while Kyakhta was the trading post on the border.
In the mid-20th century, a branch railway was built from Ulan-Ude (on the Trans-Siberian) to Mongolia's Ulan Bator, and, eventually, to China, paralleling the old Kyakhta trade route. However, this railway crosses the Russian-Mongolian border not in Kyakhta itself, but in nearby Naushki.
Kyakhta's economy today relies mainly on its status as an important center for trade between Russia, China, and Mongolia, located on the highway from the republic's capital of Ulan-Ude to the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator. It also has textile, lumber, and food-processing plants.
In Mongolian, Kyakhta was formerly known as Ар Хиагт (Ar Khiagt, lit. "North Kyakhta"); Altanbulag (then, Maimaicheng) across the border was Өвөр Хиагт (Övör Khiagt, lit. "South Kyakhta"). When the town was known as Troitskosavsk, its name in Mongolian was Дээд Шивээ (Deed Šhivee).
^Правительство Российской Федерации. Федеральный закон №107-ФЗ от 3 июня 2011 г. «Об исчислении времени», в ред. Федерального закона №271-ФЗ от 03 июля 2016 г. «О внесении изменений в Федеральный закон "Об исчислении времени"». Вступил в силу по истечении шестидесяти дней после дня официального опубликования (6 августа 2011 г.). Опубликован: "Российская газета", №120, 6 июня 2011 г. (Government of the Russian Federation. Federal Law #107-FZ of June 31, 2011 On Calculating Time, as amended by the Federal Law #271-FZ of July 03, 2016 On Amending Federal Law "On Calculating Time". Effective as of after sixty days following the day of the official publication.).
Правительство Республики Бурятия. Постановление №431 от 18 ноября 2009 г. «О реестре административно-территориальных единиц и населённых пунктов Республики Бурятия», в ред. Постановления №573 от 13 ноября 2015 г. «О внесении изменений в Постановление Правительства Республики Бурятия от 18.11.2009 №431 "О реестре административно-территориальных единиц и населённых пунктов Республики Бурятия"». Вступил в силу 18 ноября 2009 г. Опубликован: "Бурятия", №216, Официальный вестник №120, 21 ноября 2009 г. (Government of the Republic of Buryatia. Resolution #431 of November 18, 2009 On the Registry of the Administrative-Territorial Units and the Inhabited Localities of the Republic of Buryatia, as amended by the Resolution #573 of November 13, 2015 On Amending Resolution #431 of November 18, 2009 of the Government of the Republic of Buryatia "On the Registry of the Administrative-Territorial Units and the Inhabited Localities of the Republic of Buryatia". Effective as of November 18, 2009.).
Народный Хурал Республики Бурятия. Закон №985-III от 31 декабря 2004 г. «Об установлении границ, образовании и наделении статусом муниципальных образований в Республике Бурятия», в ред. Закона №1411-V от 14 октября 2015 г. «О внесении изменений в Закон Республики Бурятия "Об установлении границ, образовании и наделении статусом муниципальных образований в Республике Бурятия"». Вступил в силу со дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Бурятия", №1, Официальный вестник №1, 12 января 2005 г. (People's Khural of the Republic of Buryatia. Law #985-III of December 31, 2004 On Establishing the Borders, Creating, and Granting a Status to the Municipal Formations in the Republic of Buryatia, as amended by the Law #1411-V of October 14, 2015 On Amending the Law of the Republic of Buryatia "On Establishing the Borders, Creating, and Granting a Status to the Municipal Formations in the Republic of Buryatia". Effective as of the day of the official publication.).
Е. М. Поспелов (Ye. M. Pospelov). "Географические названия мира" (Geographic Names of the World). Moscow, 1998.
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