courtesy of Dr. Veronica Tarbaeva, Syktyvkar State University
Komi Republic of Russia: The KR is situated on the European North-east of Russia. KR covers an area equal to 416 thousand square km. It is about 3 times the size of the state of Georgia, with a population now over 2 million people. It borders on the Perm, Kirov, Archangelsk regions, and to the east it restricted by Ural mountains. Most of the KR is flat, excpet for the Timan range and the Ural mountains. The Ural's highest point (Mt. Narodnaya) is 1900 m. The climate here is continental with long and rather severe winters and short and cool summers. KR is subdivided into 3 climatic zones. The northern part of the area is tundra (5% of total area) with permanently frozen ground. Vegetation consists mainly of mosses, lichens and marsh weeds. Dwarf birch and willow occur in places, their branches spreading low over the ground. A thick layer of snow protects them in winter against the fierce winds. The tundra is the home of countless numbers of lemmings - small rodents that feed on grass roots. These are hunted by arctic fox. In spring flocks of wild geese, swans, ducks and other birds arrive. In summer there are great swarms of gnats, mosquitoes and gadflies. Great collective-farm herds of reindeer graze in the vast pastures. Their chief diet is a lichen called "yagel". They dig up it from under the snow in winter. The belt of forest-tundra is situated between tundra and taiga. It is included in the forest protected area. The main winter and spring-autumn pastures of reindeers are concentrated there. The greatest part of KR is taiga (boreal forest) (89% of total area). There are many peat bogs, pine and spruce forests, and in some places fir forests. 8 coniferous species and 20 deciduous species are distributed there. They are very cold tolerant. Aspen, birch, rowan tree, bird cherry and willow grow mostly on the river banks. There is a great diversity of animal life in the taiga. It is the home of various fur-bearing animals: squirrel, hare, fox, bear, wolf. Of the large plant-eating animals the elk is most common. There are many forest birds as well: black grouse, wood grouse, hazelhen, ducks, geese and ptarmigan. The southern part of the taiga is the mixed and deciduous forest belts. Here the climate is rather wet. Summers are warm. Animal life here is common with taiga. But we can add lynx, boar, roe and stag. The main rivers are Pechora and Vychegda, which are navigable in summer. Rivers of KR are rich in fish: salmon, omul, siberian whitefish. The KR is famous for its mineral resources, which include all elements of Mendeleev's periodic table. It is rich in mineral resources and timber. Coal, oil, natural gas, shists, asphaltite, titanium, titanium, ores, boxites, rock salt created a highly developed industry. In KR there are largest natural reservations Pechora-Ilych Reserve and Yougyd-Va National Park. They have 2,500,000 ha of pristine boreal forest. They are one of the very last untouched areas of Europe where natural dynamics still shape the forests. Yougyd-Va National Park is included by UNESCO in the list of world legacy. Many ecologists from different parts of the world come to these preservations to see virgin forests and many rare plants. Population: Many centuries ago the Komis, a small people, whose language is related to the Magyar (Hungarian), Finnish, Karelian and Estonian group of the Finno-Ugric language family, settled on the banks of the mighty Pechora, the beautiful Vychegda and tranquil Mesen. The original home of all people speaking Finno-Ugrian languages was in the first opinion, in the region between the Ural Mountains and the Baltic. A more recent theory proposes that the ancient homeland might have been at the northern end of the Urals at the upper and middle reaches of the river Ob. Now in the KR there are 37% Komi people, but 50% of them live in Syktyvkar, the capital of the KR. There are also many different nationalities of the former USSR. A large percentage is Russian people. For example, the president of KR Uriy Spiridonov is Russian. He is a geologist. Syktyvkar is the oldest town in KR, and is its administrative, economic and cultural centre. It is situated on the bank of the Sysola river, flowing amid the woodlands. The nearby forests offer opportunities for pleasant walks or excursions in summer and for skiing in winter. In autumn they are rich in mushrooms and berries. About 270,000 people live in the town at present. Ust-Sysolsk is the old name of the town. Ust means the mouth of Sysola river, which is the confluence with the Vychegda river. Ust-Sysolsk was mentioned in written documents as far back as in 1587. In 1780 Ust-Sysolsk was given the status of a town. In 1930 Ust-Sysolsk was given a Komi name of Syktyvkar which means "a town on the Sysola river." At present Syktyvkar is divided into 2 parts: administrative and industrial zone, named Azh-wa ("clean water"). In the second part there is the large Syktyvkar industrial timber complex. It produces paper and different wood products. Cultural life of the town is many-sided and diverse. There are 2 theatres: Komi Drama Theatre and the Theatre of Opera and Ballet, a concert hall, museums, libraries, sport complexes and swimming pools. In Syktyvkar the education and science is greatly developed. There are the Komi Science Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences with 6 research institutes, Syktyvkar State University (SSU), Komi Pedagogical Institute, Forest Institute and many branches of different universities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, many colleges, schools, kindergartens, 10 gymnasiums for talented children, highest school attached to SSU and so on. In the KR there are also several industrial towns. Ukhta is the center of oil and natural gas industry of KR. Gas from Ukhta is used in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Riga and another places. In the boundless Bolshezemelskaya Tundra, not far from the Arctic Ocean, there is the town of miners and builders. The polar city Vorkuta stands on coal, and the people who extract it are really wonderful. The towns Inta and Pechora are also industrial. Thus, coking and industrial coals, oil and oil products, natural gas and gas soot, timber and sawn-timber, plywood, cellulose and paper, furniture, building material - these are only some of the items of Komi's modern industry.