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Evenkiyskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug
(Evenki Autonomous District)

(compiled by Joachim Otto Habeck)



[Names] [Factsheet] [Emblems] [Text section]

Names

Name of this area in Russian language:
Evenkiyskiy avtonomnyy okrug
cyrillic

Name of this area in Evenki language:
Evedy avtonomdy okrug
cyrillic

Name of this area in English language:
Evenki Autonomous District

Abbreviated name:
Evenkiya (Evenkia)

Factsheet

Area (km², 1989):
771,747 (4.5 % of Russian Federation)
Population (1 January 1995): 21,016 (0.01 % of Russian Federation)
Population density (inh. per km²): 0.02
Population change 1989-1995: - 3,753
Number of households: n. a.
Average size of family: n. a.

Ethnic breakdown

Nationality number
1989
percent
1989
percent
1994
(est.)
TOTAL 24,769 100.00 100.00
Russian 16,718 67.50 75.41
Evenki 3,480 14.05 13.72
Ukrainian 1,303 5.26 3.00
Sakha (Yakut) 937 3.78 n. a.
Other 2,331 9.41 7.87

Native language breakdown (1994, all figures in %)

Nationality Language
Language of the
own nationality
Russian Evenki
19891994 19891994 19891994
Russian 100.0 100.0 ----- ----- 0.0 0.0
Evenki 73.7 45.9 25.9 54.1 ----- -----
Ukrainian 55.4 15.0 44.4 85.0 0.0 0.0
Other 62.8 34.3 36.0 65.7 0.1 0.0

Administrative centre: Tura (Evenki name: Turu) 6,122 inhabitants
| Other major settlements:
|
Baykit
Vanavara
4,300 inhabitants
4,381 inhabitants
Urban population (%, 1 January 1995): 29.1
Students (%): n. a.
People in pensionable age (%): n. a.
Median age: n. a.
Birth rate (per 1000 inhabitants, 1987): 24.6
Death rate (per 1000 inhabitants, 1987): 5.9
Natural increase (per 1000 inhabitants, 1987): + 18.7
Infant mortality (per 1000 inhabitants, 1987): 22.8
Migration, arrivals: n. a.
Migration, departures: n. a.
Net migration (1994): - 2,200
Serious crime rate (per 1000 inhabitants): n. a.

Employment structure (%, 1987)

TOTAL 100.0
industry 4.1
construction 5.7
agriculture 12.0
service industries 30.4
other 47.8

Unemployment rate (%): n. a.
Below RF defined poverty line (%): n. a.
Personal income index(RF=100): n. a.
Food prices/basket index (July 1995, RF=100): 129
Back wages owed/person (Sept. 1995): 76,300 rubles

Public holidays: n. a.

References

Official emblems

flag flag (© PJRC, cf enlarged version)

seal seal (© Northern Forum)


Text Section

The text section includes chapters on:


Topography

The Evenkiyskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug (in this text abbreviated as Evenkia) is situated in East Siberia. The area stretches approximately from 87E to 108E and from 59N to 70N. The geographic centre of the territory of the Russian Federation is located n ear Lake Vivi (67N 94E) in the north-west of the Evenkia.

This region comes under the zone called Central Siberian Uplands. In the SE of Evenkia the topography rarely exceed 500 m above sea level. Land heights increase towards the NW: the highest peak of the Putorana Mountains is 1,701 m above sea level. Two major streams run through Evenkia: the Nizhnyaya Tunguska (Lower Tunguska) and the Podkamennaya Tunguska (Mountainous Tunguska). Both Tunguska rivers flow into the Yenisey.

The climate is severe continental with annual average temperatures below 0C in all parts of the area. 1938-1942 records showed -68C as absolute minimum and +36C as absolute maximum temperature. Precipitation fluctuates between 300 mm in the east and 500 mm in the west of Evenkia.

Discontinous permafrost is predominant in the southern part of Evenkia, whereas all other parts belong to the zone of continous permafrost. Most of the area is covered by taiga (predominantly Larix dahurica in the north and Pinus sibirica in the south). The Putorana area and the highlands adjacent to it in the south can be described as mountainous tundra or as a transition zone between tundra and taiga.

The whole north of Evenkia is often referred to as Ilimpeyskaya tundra. This geographic term includes the slopes of the Putorana Mountains as well as the lowlands with numerous lakes in the NE of Evenkia. In Evenki language, both the Nizhnyaya and the Podkamennaya Tunguska are indiscriminately named Katanga. Thus, Katanga is the official name of the upper course of the Podkamennaya Tunguska. The name Katangskiy rayon refers to the area along the upper reaches of the Nizhnyaya Tunguska. It is outside of Evenkia (and belongs to the Irkutskaya Oblast') but has close historical and cultural ties with it.

Administrative Divisions

The Evenkiyskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug forms an administrative unit within the borders of the Krasnoyarskiy Kray. The adjacent administrative units are the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and the Irkutskaya Oblast' in the east, the Taymyrskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug (which also forms a part of the Krasnoyarskiy Kray) in the north, and the proper Krasnoyarskiy Kray in the south and west.

The Evenkiyskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug embraces three districts (rayony). The centre of the Ilimpiyskiy Rayon is Tura. This district covers the northern and middle part of Evenkia. The Baykitskiy Rayon (centre: Baykit) is situated in the SW, the Tungussko-Ch

History

Traditionally all people in this taiga region, abundant in fur-bearing animals, were hunters, reindeer herders, and fishermen. Until recently hunting and reindeer herding were connected to nomadism. The history of this area in the 17th and 18th century may be compared with the history of many other regions in the Russian Far North. During this centuries, many Evenki (before 1930 the Evenki were called "Tungus") clans tried to evade Russian rulership by moving to the north. There, they met Yakutian clans who went westwards for the same reason. The territory nowadays called Evenkia was one of the remotest are as of the whole Russian Empire. Therefore, not only native groups, but also old-orthodox Russians used this area as a refuge.

Collectivisation took place during the 1930s and 1940s. It was connected with the sedentarisation of the nomads. However, the sedentarisation process had not come to an end even in the 1980s. In the 1940s, many Balts and Soviet Germans were deported to Evenkia. They had to take part in the development of new branches of agriculture (eg crop cultivation, cattle breeding, and fur breeding). However, fur hunting and reindeer herding are still among the most important agricultural activities in Evenkia. < /p>

Many small collective farms were united to form large enterprises during the 1950s. About 1970, all collective farms were restructured into state farms. Administrative changes led to the inclusion of a small Ket community into the territory of Evenkia. The ethnic composition changed also due to the steady immigration of Russian and Ukrainian workers who came in order to explore the mineral resources of Evenkia.

Political Developments Since 1991

"Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Valerii Zubov and Evenk Autonomous Okrug Governor Aleksandr Bokovikov have signed an agreement which declares that Evenkiya is a constituent part of the krai and that its residents will vote in the krai's gubernatorial and legislative elections... Now the two units will sign 12 additional agreements regulating specific economic issues. Once the Krasnoyarsk and Evenk legislatures ratify the treaty, the krai can sign a power-sharing agreement with the federal government."
(Kommersant-Daily, 25 June 1996)

The chairman of the Zakonodatel'nyy Suglan (ie the parliament of the Evenkiyskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug), is A. E. Amosov. The deputee of Evenkia in the federal Duma is V. I. Gayul'skiy. On the federal level the region is also represented by its Moscow office. In 1994 Evenkia became member of the Northern Forum. The interests of the indigenous peoples of Evenkia (Evenki, Yakut and Ket inhabitants) are represented by the local Association of the Numerically Small Peoples of the North (Arun) which takes also part in political negotiations and decisions.

Information about more recent events will be added soon. Please check NUPI Database.

Transportation and Infrastructure

Up to now, railway lines and paved connection roads do not exist in Evenkia. The only means of transport are aircraft, river traffic, transport on winter roads using lorries, and transport using reindeer or motor sledges. Lorry transport is connected with dramatic strain for both man and machine, hence it contributes little to the transport in general. The main waterways in Evenkia are the Nizhnyaya Tunguska and the Podkamennaya Tunguska. However, mighty rapids in the lower courses of both rivers conside rably inhibit the transport. Large vessels can pass only during the spring flood (and sometimes during the autumn). Therefore, most goods and passengers are transported by aircraft. At present, many people cannot afford the air fares even for local transp o rt and because of this, they are cut off from their respective administrative centres. The new airport of Tura and the airport of Baykit correspond to international standard. The small settlements have airstrips. Telecommunication has slightly improved during the last ten years. Long distance telephone calls to Tura and Nidym can be made automatically, whilst Baykit and Vanavara are accessible only via operator. In the Ilimpiyskiy rayon, all other settlements depe nd on radio telephony with Tura up to half an hour a day. All people working outside the villages, hunters and herdsmen included, are provided with radio sets. The use of communication technology is restricted by the unreliable supply of electricity. In Tura, power failure happens fairly often. In the small settlements diesel generators are used to maintain the power supply. However, it was reported that in wint er 1994/95, there was no electricity in Yessey and Ekonda for two weeks or longer. - In most of the villages, warmth is produced in local heating stations and distributed through panelled pipelines. None of the settlements in the Ilimpiyskiy rayon possesses any running water or sewerage system. In Tura, small tankers carry water from the nearby lakes or rivers into the villages. Then the water is filled into barrels standing in front of the houses. U sually the waste water is poured into the streets. To a certain extent, the outbreak of epidemics is inhibited by the harsh climate. Nevertheless, tuberculosis forms a constant problem in this region, and the number of cases of hepatitis is increasing. Ch irinda and Yesey are more affected than other places, because in both cases the fresh water is taken out of the very lake which receives the sewage.

Economic/Industrial Sectors

Main economic activities are:

At present, hunting is the only industry which brings considerable rewards from outside Evenkia. All other industries have merely local importance. With the beginning of oil extraction in very near future, the economic structure of Evenkia will undergo a fundamental change.

Mineral Resources

In comparison to the other regions in the Russian Far North the industrial structure is hardly developed, notwithstanding the fact that Evenkia bears many mineral resources, eg oil, gas, coal, graphite, diamonds, and calcite. During the Soviet era, the mi ne at Noginsk provided Siberia with a considerable amount of graphite. However, the graphite production came probably to an end in 1993. During the Brezhnyev era, the production of calcite (used in the optical industry) rated as one of the main elements in the balances of Evenkia. At present, only the mine at Krutoye is still in use. Compare also the Web page "Project Ellun-Internet" (Russian Academy of Sciences).
Over the last thirty years, many oil and gas fields have been discovered. In the near future the oil extraction will start in the southern part of Evenkia. Detailed plans for the development of the Yurubchenskiy oil field already exist. They include the c onstruction of a pipeline leading to Lesosibirsk on the Yenisey.

Forestry

As stated above, the predominant species of wood in Evenkia are the Dahurian Larch (Larix dahurica) and the Siberian Pine (Pinus sibirica). The former is not very suitable for timber. The latter grows predominantly in the southern part of Evenkia. Therefore, forestry is concentrated in the south. At present, the author has only little information on forestry in the region in question, and moreover, the sources are contradictory. Probably the amount of timber production does not exceed 1,0 00,000 m² annually. It is possible that a part of this timber is processed in Ust'-Ilimsk (Irkutskaya Oblast').

Agricultural enterprises

During the late Soviet era, agriculture was conducted by state farms (sovkhozy) and cooperative fur hunting enterprises (koopzveropromkhozy). In the course of the privatisation new organisational types were (re-)created: there are several kinds of collective enterprises, eg collective farms (kolkhozy), stock companies (aktsionernye obshchestva), and clan communities (rodovye obshchiny). Some pe ople decided to leave the collective enterprises altogether and to work as individual farmers. In Evenkia, many state farms still exist, but are in a state of dramatic decline, or exist on paper only. In nearly every village the respective state farm is r esponsible for the maintenance of the village's infrastructure. But the state farms cannot afford this anymore. The constitution of clan communities was met with much resistance by the state farms during the early 1990s. In 1993, this attitude has changed at least in the Ilimpiyskiy rayon. In this district, land was allocated to each applicant. In the southern dis tricts, many land claims are still not settled.

Some state farms rented their reindeer to the newly constituted clan communities. However, many clan communities lost all their reindeer in the very first years of their existence. A considerable portion of the clan communities are not involved in hunt ing and reindeer breeding, but merely operate as commercial enterprises.

Hunting

Hunting is now undergoing major changes. Brigades of professional hunters have ceased to exist. During the Soviet era, private hunters could obtain hunting areas and quotas making contracts with the state farms. Today, the private hunters still depend on the state farms. In 1995, one of issues discussed in Evenkia was the proposal for a law that would permit individuals to make direct use of hunting grounds (thereby, omitting the negotiation of the state farms).

Due to the fur boycott in western countries the fur prices went down again remarkably. Therefore, in Evenkia as well as in other Taiga regions, the hunters and their families have to meet increasing economic difficulties. Many people point out that hun ting is not efficient anymore.

Reindeer herding

All attempts to connect reindeer herding with a settled lifestyle has caused many problems and obstacles. The education policy of the post-war decades left behind a whole generation of native people who do not possess the knowledge needed for reindeer herding. Today, many young Evenki people are not able or not willing to work as reindeer herders. Reindeer herding has a rather bad reputation because it is connoted with much discomfort and hard physical work in isolated and hardly accesible areas. In addition to this lack of know-how and interest, mismanagement in grazing reindeer, the increasing number of man-made forest fires, and the use of heavy vehicles for the exploration of mineral resources have led to a considerable deterioration of the pastures. The reindeer sledge as a traditional means of transport was gradually abandoned in favour of air transport. As a result of all these developments, the number of domesticated reindeer decreased dramatically (see description of J. O. Habeck's PhD research project).

Environment and Tourism

In comparison to other regions within Siberia, Evenkia is a nearly unspoilt natural area. The major environmental threat is caused by the emissions of the Noril'sk metallurgical plant which is located some 200 km apart from the NW border of Evenkia and the central part of the Putorana mountains. However, the Putorana area is quite frequently visited by hunters from Western countries. The local authorities occasionally complained that Evenkia gains nothing from this kind of tourism because all the rewards go to tourism companies in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The same seems to be true with another form of tourism that owes its existence to a very uncommon circumstance: the explosion of the "Tunguska Meteorite" in 1908 gained much attention all over the world. The area in question (65 km NNW of Vanavara) is more and more becoming a destination for tourists, adventurers, and scientific groups. All in all, Evenkia's remoteness, its unspoilt nature, and its cultural heritage provide good conditions for a future development of tourism. Parts of the Baykitskiy Rayon are included in the Tsentral'nosibirskiy Biosfernyy Rezervat (Central Siberian Biosphere Reserve), the centre of which is located in the village of Bor at the mouth of the Podkamennaya Tunguska (outside of Evenkia).

Considerable problems may occur in connection with future oil production. The consequences of this development for the indigenous population could be like those in West Siberia (Khanty-Mansiyskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug and Yamalo-Nenetskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug). In both these areas the resources for hunting and reindeer herding are seriously endangered, and the indigenous population rarely participates in this industrial development process.

Education, Language, and Culture

Most small settlements are provided with elementary schools. However, the maintenance of these schools is endangered due to the fact that many in many local teachers are not willing to continue their work (wages are too low). Secondary school education takes place in larger settlements like Baykit, Vanavara, Tura, and Yessey. Many of the secondary schools are boarding schools. Tura offers a fairly broad range of educational services, eg a school for maladjusted children, a private school, a department for in-service training of teachers, and a college for medical staff. Cultural institutions in Tura are the public library, the museum of Evenkia, and many others. There is a local newspaper ("Evenkiyskaya Zhizn'") and a local broadcast service.

Today approximately 45 % of the Evenki population consider Evenki as their mother tongue. Knowledge of the Evenki language is very widespread among the elder generation. The majority of the younger Evenki lack a sound knowledge of both Evenki language and traditional economic activities. This gap is mainly caused by an educational system based on boarding schools. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Evenki pupils were urged to stop talking their mother tongue. In about 1980, Evenki language was reintroduced in school education, albeit as a subject and not as the general language of instruction. This cannot help to recover the break in transmission of the traditional knowledge.

Many Evenki emphasise that the cultural identity of the Evenki people is closely connected with the traditional economic activities, especially with reindeer herding. Sometimes it is said that the cultural survival of the Evenki people is depending on the further existence of reindeer herding. The reindeer as a national symbol is now even included in the official flag of Evenkia. In stark contrast to this is the inability or unwillingness of many young Evenki to work as reindeer herders.

Traditionally the Evenki were shamanists. Compiled by Joachim Otto Habeck, 1997
Edited by Joachim Otto Habeck, 20 October 1997
Updated by Joachim Otto Habeck, 8 January 2000