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The Altai Mountains (), also spelled Altay Mountains, are a
mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and alignment that have arisen from the same cause, usu ...

mountain range
in
Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa ...

Central
and
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the ...

East Asia
, where
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly becau ...

Russia
,
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
,
Mongolia Mongolia (, mn, Монгол Улс, Mongol Uls, Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: '; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia") is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia ...

Mongolia
, and
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика Казахстан, Respublika Kazakhstan, link=no) is a country located mainly in ...

Kazakhstan
come together, and where the rivers
Irtysh The Irtysh ( otk, 𐰼𐱅𐰾:𐰇𐰏𐰕𐰏, Ertis ügüzüg, mn, Эрчис мөрөн, ''Erchis mörön'', "erchleh", "twirl"; russian: Иртыш; kk, Ертіс, Ertis, ; : 额尔齐斯河, : ''É'ěrqísī hé'', : عَعَرٿِسِ ...
and
Ob
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 The Gobi Desert () is a large desert upright=1.5, alt=see caption, Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali ("Empty quarter") in the United Arab Emirates">Rub'_al_Khali.html" ;"title="Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali">Sand dunes in the Rub' al ...

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 , native_name_lang = ru , image = , caption = Wedding ceremony in the national Russian tradition. , population = 134 million , popplace = 117,319,000 , region1 = , pop1 = 7,170,00 ...
,
Kazakhs The Kazakhs (also spelled Qazaqs; Kazakh: , , , , , ; the English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medi ...
, Altais, and
Mongols The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the di ...
. The local economy is based on
bovine The biological subfamily In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying groups of biological organisms based on shared characte ...

bovine
,
sheep Sheep (''Ovis aries'') are quadruped The zebra is a quadruped. Quadrupedalism is a form of terrestrial locomotion where a tetrapod Tetrapods (; from Greek 'four' and 'foot') are four-limbed animals constituting the superclass Tetrapo ...

sheep
, and
horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to ...

horse
husbandry Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of ...
,
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of , whereby farming of species created food that enabled people to live in cities. The began thousands of ...

agriculture
,
forestry Forestry is the science and craft of creating, managing, planting, using, conserving and repairing forest A forest is an area of land dominated by s. Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating fac ...
, and
mining Mining is the extraction of valuable mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occu ...

mining
. The controversial Altaic language family takes its name from this mountain range.


Etymology and modern names

The name comes from two words: ''al'' meaning "gold/reddish/yellowish" in
Mongolic language
Mongolic  language
, and ''-tai'' meaning "mountain" in
Turkic languages The Turkic languages are a language family of at least 35 documented languages, spoken by the Turkic peoples of Eurasia from Eastern Europe and Southern Europe to Central Asia, East Asia, North Asia (Siberia), and Western Asia. The Turkic langu ...

Turkic languages
too; thus, literally, the "Golden Mountain". That matches their old Chinese name , literally "Gold Mountain". Also, the word ''altın/altun/al'' which means ''gold'' is a cognate word for Turkic and Mongolic languages. The mountains are called ''Altain nuruu'' () in
Khalkha Mongolian The Khalkha dialect (Mongolian script The classical or traditional Mongolian script, also known as the , was the first Mongolian alphabet, writing system created specifically for the Mongolian language, and was the most widespread until the intr ...
, ''altai-yin niruɣu'' in
Chakhar MongolianThe Chakhar (Mongolian script The classical or traditional Mongolian script, also known as the , was the first Mongolian alphabet, writing system created specifically for the Mongolian language, and was the most widespread until the introduction ...
, and ''Altay tuular'' () in the
Altay language Altai (also Gorno-Altai) is a Turkic language, spoken officially in the Altai Republic, Russia Russia (russian: link=no, Россия, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the List ...
. They are also called or in Kazakh; ''Altay dağları'' in
Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), offi ...

Turkish
; ''Altajskije gory'' () in
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
; ''Altay Taghliri'' ( or ) in
UyghurUyghur may refer to: * Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia * Uyghur language, a Turkic language spoken primarily by the Uyghurs ** Uyghur alphabets, any of four systems used to write the language * Uyghur Khaganate, a T ...

Uyghur
; ''ā'ěrtài shānmài'' in
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
( simplified,
traditional A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to attitudes about the wo ...
, or in
Xiao'erjing Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin or Xiaor jin or in its shortened form, Xiaojing, literally meaning "children's script" or "minor script" (cf. "original script" referring to the original Perso-Arabic script; zh, s=本经, t=本經, p=Běnjīng, Xiao' ...
); and ''Arteː shanmeː'' () in Dungan.


Geography

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 pass A mountain pass is a navigable route through a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, s ...

Mountain pass
es 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 In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the proces ...

plateau
of Mongolia, the transition being affected gradually by means of several minor plateaus, such as
Ukok
Ukok
(2,380 m) with Pazyryk Valley,
Chuya The Chuya (russian: Чуя) is a river in the Altai Republic The Altai Republic (; russian: Респу́блика Алта́й, Respúblika Altáy, ; Altai language, Altai: , ''Altay Respublika'', also known as Gorno-Altai Republic) is a repu ...
(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 Dorgon (, literally "badger"; 17 November 1612 – 31 December 1650), also Prince Rui, was a Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and ...
and Khar 1,170 m, and traversed by various
mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and alignment that have arisen from the same cause, usu ...

mountain range
s, of which the principal are the
Tannu-Ola Mountains The Tannu-Ola mountains tyv, Таңды-Уула, ''Tañdı-Uula'', uniturk, Taᶇdь-Uula, – Tangdy-Uula mountains; mn, Тагнын нуруу, ''Tağnîn nurú'', , russian: Танну-Ола, ) is a mountain range in southern Siberia ...
, 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
Belukha
, whose summits reach 4,506 and 4,440 m respectively, and give origin to several
glacier A glacier (; ) is a persistent body of dense ice Ice is into a state. Depending on the presence of such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less bluish-white color. In the , ice is abunda ...

glacier
s (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 Khüiten Peak ( mn, Хүйтэн оргил, ''lit.'' ''"cold peak"'' ; also as Friendship Peak in China; ) is the highest peak with 4,356 m above sea level and a permanent snow cap in the Altai Range The Altai Mountains (), also spelle ...
. 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 Tomsk ( rus, Томск, p=tomsk) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd editio ...

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 Katun may refer to: Places * Katun (river), a tributary of the Ob in Siberia, Russia * Katun Mountains or Katun Alps, a mountain range in Russia, part of the Altai Mountains * Katun (Vranje), a village in Vranje Municipality, Serbia * Katun (Alek ...
and the Biya together form the
Ob
Ob
. The next valley is that of the
Charysh The Charysh (russian: Чарыш) is a river in south-western Siberia in Russia, flowing into the left bank of the Ob (river), Ob.
, 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 dome Mount Bulka, a granite monolith in Bayanaul National Park, Kazakhstan. Granite domes are Dome (geology), domical hills composed of granite with bare rock exposed over most of the surface. Generally, domical features such as these are known as born ...
s and towers. Farther west the valleys of the Uba, the
Ulba The Ulba ( kk, Үлбі, ''Ýlbi''; russian: Ульба) is a river of Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика ...
and the
Bukhtarma The Bukhtarma ( kk, Бұқтырма, translit=Buqtyrma, بۇقتىرما, ; russian: Бухтарма, translit=Bukhtarma) is a river of Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), of ...

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 Belukha. On the northern side of the range which separates the upper Bukhtarma from the upper
Katun Katun may refer to: Places * Katun (river), a tributary of the Ob in Siberia, Russia * Katun Mountains or Katun Alps, a mountain range in Russia, part of the Altai Mountains * Katun (Vranje), a village in Vranje Municipality, Serbia * Katun (Alek ...
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
schism A schism ( , , or, less commonly, ) is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization, movement, or religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a split in what had previously been a single religious body, s ...
atics (
Raskolnik Disputing with Patriarch Joachim of Moscow, Patriarch Joachim on Matters of Faith.'' Painting by Vasily Perov (1880) Raskol (russian: раскол, , meaning "split" or "schism") was the splitting of the Russian Orthodox Church into an official ...

Raskolnik
s), who created a free republic there on
Chinese territory
Chinese territory
; and after this part of the valley was annexed to
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly becau ...

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 Biysk ( rus, Бийск, p=bʲijsk) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition ...

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 The Abakan (russian: Абака́н), (from the Khakas The Khakas or Khakass (Khakas language, Khakas: Хакас тілі, ''Xakas tili'', ''Hakas tëlë''), are a Turkic peoples, Turkic indigenous peoples of Siberia, indigenous people of Siber ...
, which rises on the western shoulder of the Sayan mountains, belongs to the system of the
Yenisei The Yenisey (russian: Енисе́й, ''Yeniséy''; mn, Енисей мөрөн, ''Yenisei mörön''; Buryat language, Buryat: Горлог мүрэн, ''Gorlog müren''; Tuvan language, Tuvan: Улуг-Хем, ''Uluğ-Hem''; Khakas language, ...
. The Kuznetsk Ala-tau range, on the left bank of the Abakan, runs north-east into the government of
Yeniseisk Yeniseysk ( rus, Енисейск, p=jɪnʲɪˈsʲejsk) is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than city, cities, though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably ...
, while a complexus of mountains (Chukchut, Salair, Abakan) fills up the country northwards towards the
Trans-Siberian Railway The Trans–Siberian Railway (TSR) ( rus, Транссибирская магистраль, r=Transsibirskaya magistral', p=trənsʲsʲɪˈbʲirskəjə məgʲɪˈstralʲ) is a network of railways connecting Moscow Moscow (, ; rus, links=no ...
and westwards towards the
Ob
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 An escarpment is a steep slope In mathematics, the slope or gradient of a line Line, lines, The Line, or LINE may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''Lines'' (film), a 2016 Greek film * ''The Line'' (2017 film) * ''The ...

escarpment
from the
Dzungaria Dzungaria (; also transliterated as Zungaria; Dzungharia or Zungharia; Dzhungaria or Zhungaria; Djungaria or Jungaria; or literally züüngar, Mongolian for "left hand") is a geographical subregion in Northwest China that corresponds to th ...

Dzungaria
n 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 Mongolia (, mn, Монгол Улс, Mongol Uls, Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: '; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia") is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia ...

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
KyrgyzKyrgyz, Kirghiz or Kyrgyzstani may refer to: *Things related to Kyrgyzstan *Kyrgyz people *Kyrgyz language *Kyrgyz culture *Kyrgyz cuisine *Yenisei Kirghiz *The Fuyu Kyrgyz language, Fuyü Gïrgïs language in Northeastern China {{Disambig Languag ...

Kyrgyz
. The five highest mountains of the Altai are: *
Belukha
Belukha
, , Kazakhstan–Russia *
Khüiten Peak Khüiten Peak ( mn, Хүйтэн оргил, ''lit.'' ''"cold peak"'' ; also as Friendship Peak in China; ) is the highest peak with 4,356 m above sea level and a permanent snow cap in the Altai Range The Altai Mountains (), also spelle ...
, , China–Mongolia * Mönkh Khairkhan, , Mongolia * Sutai Mountain, , Mongolia * Tsambagarav, , Mongolia Image:Kazakhstan Altay 3.jpg, Markakol reserve, Altay Mountains,
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика Казахстан, Respublika Kazakhstan, link=no) is a country located mainly in ...

Kazakhstan
Image:Katun.jpg, Katun River in the Altai Mountains Image:Altai Kutscherla-Tal.jpg, The Kucerla Valley in the Altai Mountains


Fauna

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''), wolf, 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 Irtysh River, 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 Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic name ''Panthera tigris altaica''. The wisent was present in the Altai mountains until the Middle Ages, perhaps even until the 18th century. Today, there is a small herd in a nursery in the Altai Republic.


History and prehistory

The Altai 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 Denisova hominin, 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 sapiens'' have also been found in the Denisova Cave, making it the only place in the world where all three hominids are known to have lived. A dog-like canidae, canid from 33,000 years ago was found in the Razboinichya Cave. DNA analysis published in 2013 affirmed that it was more closely related to modern dogs than to wolves. 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.


World Heritage site

A vast area of 16,178 km2—Altai and Katun Natural Reserves, Lake Teletskoye, Mount , and the Ukok Plateau—comprises 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.


Geology

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 Granite, granites and metamorphic Schist, schists, and some are highly sheared near to fault zones.


Seismic activity

Although earthquakes are generally rare occurrences, on 27 September 2003 a 2003 Altai earthquake, very large earthquake measuring Moment magnitude scale, 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 (United States Geological Survey, USGS) and wiping out the village of Beltir (village), Beltir.


See also

* Altai Republic * Altai Krai * Altay Prefecture * Govi-Altai Province * Altaic languages *
Altay language Altai (also Gorno-Altai) is a Turkic language, spoken officially in the Altai Republic, Russia Russia (russian: link=no, Россия, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the List ...
* Altai-Sayan region * List of Altai mountains


Notes


References

* Authorities cited: ** P. Semenov and G. N. Potanin, in supplementary vol. of Russian ed. of Ritter's ''Asien'' (1877) ** Ledebour, ''Reise durch das Altaigebirge'' (1829–1830) ** P. Chikhatchev, ''Voyage scientifique dans l'Altai oriental'' (1845) ** Gebler, ''Übersicht des katunischen Gebirges'' (1837) ** G. von Helmersen, ''Reise nach dem Altai'' (St Petersburg, 1848) ** T. W. Atkinson, ''Oriental and Western Siberia'' (1858) ** Cotta, ''Der Altai'' (1871) ** Adrianov, "Journey to the Altai," in ''Zapiski Russ. Geogr. Soc.'' xi. ** Yadrintsev, "Journey in West Siberia," in ''Zapiski West Sib. Geogr. Soc.'' ii. ** Golubev, ''Altai'' (1890, Russian) ** Schmurlo, "Passes in S. Altai" (Sailughem), in ''Izvestia Russ. Geogr. Soc.'' (1898); xxxiv. 5 ** V. Saposhnikov, various articles in same periodical (1897), xxxiii. and (1899) xxxv., and, by the same, ''Katun i yeya Istoki'' (Tomsk, 1901) ** S. Turner, ''Siberia'' (1905) ** Deniker, on Kozlov's explorations, in ''La Géographie'' (1901, pp. 41, &c.) ** P. Ignatov, in ''Izvestia Russ. Geog. Soc.'' (1902, No. 2).


External links

* * ''RT (network), RT''. 6 November 2011.
Guide to the Mountain Altai
– Welcome to Altai
Photos of Mountain Altai
– Altai-Photo

a
Natural Heritage Protection Fund

UNESCO's evaluation of Altai
(PDF file) {{Authority control Altai Mountains, Mountain ranges of China Mountain ranges of Kazakhstan Mountain ranges of Mongolia Mountain ranges of Russia Mountain ranges of Xinjiang Physiographic provinces World Heritage Sites in Russia