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The Altai territory

Territory assimilation of Altai started in 17 Ц 18 centuries. A long war with Sweden made Russia find solutions to several problems, one of which was need in metals, especially copper, to make cannons, coining, and moulding bells. The government of Peter the First prepared searching groups for those reasons.

Altai has been known as a region of mining, Уchudskie minesФ are the evidence of it. The Altai ore deposit discoverers are the father and the son Kostylevy. This information has been used by Akinfiy Demidov, the outstanding Ural manufacturer. Beside rich ores, Altai was famous for dense pine forests and numerous rivers. Thus there were all the conditions for setting mining industry. September 21, 1729 is the day when the first metallurgy factory started its work - Kolyvansko - Voskresenskiy plant.

Altai deposits were famous for their great silver reserves. When rumour of DemidovТs silver reached St. Petersburg empress Elizaveta Petrovna sent a committee to Altai. As a result a decree appeared on May 1, 1747 where Altai was declared to be Russian tsarsТ property. During five years after the decree (1747 - 1752) over 750 poods of silver and over 20 poods of gold were smelted, that comprised 150 thousand rubles Ц a great sum of money at that time. By the second half of 18th century Kolyvansko Ц Voskresenskiy mountain okrug had been created (the Altai mountain okrug since 1834, the Altai okrug since 1896) Ц a vast territory including present Altai territory, Novosibirsk and Kemerovo oblasts, part of Tomsk and Eastern Kazakhstan oblasts with the total area over 500 thousand square kilometers and population over 130 thousand people. The reigning monarch was the owner of Altai plants.

In the middle of 19th century Altai was the first territory in Russia in silver production, second in copper, third in gold. It became the second industrial in Russia to the East from the Urals

Mining industry, being the main industry of the okrug, faced crisis after 1861. Rising unprofitability of mining plants grew in 70s of the 18th century and almost all of them were closed. Private mining companies started gold extraction in greater volume. Over 70 mines extracted up to 100 poods of gold a year.

During the second half of the 19th century private manufacturing started growing. It was presented by flour-grinding mills, distilleries, sheepskin Ц coat shops, etc. Black short sheepskin coats made in Barnaul were famous all around Russia. Gradually, agriculture becomes the basis of Altai economy. Beside grain crops cultivation (wheat, oats, rye) potato cultivation developed along with apiculture.

Butter industry and dairy cattle breeding become leading industries. Altai butter was exported to Western Europe. By the end of the 19th century the Siberian railroad had been built that crossed a part of the Altai territory and by 1915 the Altai railroad had been completed that connected Barnaul and Semipalatinsk. Water transport also developed.

The Agrarian reform in Russia gave rise to migration into the Altai territory that led to economy development. The Soviet power came to the Altai territory in 1917 - 1919. The Altai province was founded in July, 1917 with Barnaul as a capital. This province existed till 1925. From 1925 till 1937 the territory of Altai was a part of West Ц Siberian territory. The Altai territory was founded in 1937.

By the end of 30s the Altai territory became one of the largest agrarian and industrial regions of Siberia.

During the years of the Great Patriotic War the Altai territory hosted 100 factories evacuated from the western territories of Russia, including 24 factories of all-Soviet Union importance. This changed the economic position of the Altai territory and gave rise to industry development. At the same time the Altai territory remained one of the biggest manufacturer of bread, meet, butter, honey, wool and other agricultural produce.

Over 80% of tractor ploughs and over 30% of freight cars and steam boilers in Russia were produced in Altai by 60s. In 1955 the Altai territory became the biggest wheat supplier in Russia. In 1956 the largest wheat crop of 7,296 million tones was harvested in Altai and the Altai territory was awarded with the Order of Lenin.

In 70s there was a transition from separate enterprises to large industrial complexes: agrarian Ц industrial blocks, industrial Ц scientific unions.

At present the Altai territory is in the south Ц east of West Siberia between 49 and 54 degrees of northern latitude and 78 Ц 87 degrees of east longitude. In the west part it borders on Eastern Kazakhstan, in the north and south Ц east it borders with Novosibirskaya and Kemerovskaya oblasts, in the south Ц east part it borders with the Altai republic. The total are of the Altai territory is 167,85 thousand square kilometers. The length from west to east is 600 kilometers, from north to south 400 kilometers. Time difference with Moscow is 3 hours. Air length from Barnaul to Moscow comprises 3600 kilometers.

The Altai territory belongs to two landscape types: West Ц Siberian Plain and Altai Ц Sayan Mountains. The mountain part spreads to the plain part in the east and south. Due to the landscape types the climate varies greatly. Almost all landscape areas of Russia are present in the Altai territory - steppe and forest steppe, taiga, mountains and reach river ecosystems.

There are 11 cities and 60 rural districts in the Altai territory.

The administrative centre of the Altai territory is Barnaul with the population of 653 thousand people.

The population of the Altai territory is 2,575 million people, where 54% are urban people and 46% live in the country. Ethnic structure of the population: Russians Ц 90%, Germans Ц 3,9%, Ukrainians Ц 2,9%, Byelorussians Ц 0,4%, Kazakhs Ц 0,4%, Mordvins Ц 0,3%, Tatars Ц 0,3%, Chuvashes Ц 0,3%, other nationalities Ц 1,5%. People of over 110 nationalities live in the Altai territory. Density of population is 15,8 people per square kilometer.

Altai is a fertile territory and is a homeland for many famous people. World famous Altai landsmen are: Ivan Ivanovich Polzunov Ц inventor of the first steam machine, Kozma Frolov Ц made the first Russian waterpower development, Mikhail Kalashnikov Ц inventor of the most reliable machine gun.

V.A. Skubnevskiy, doctor of history, professor, director of department of country history of the Altai State University.

ƒата изменени€: 21.05.2010 г.

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