Komi Republic the largest state-like entity in European Russia. Situated to the west of the Ural mountains, in the north-east of the East European Plain, it covers 415,900 square kilometers (160,600 square miles), is home to about 900,000 people and has a population density of only 2.2 people per square kilometer. About 77 percent of the population live in urban areas. Syktyvkar is the capital and largest city, with about 234,000 people. Website: Tourism Office of the Komi Republic: tur.rkomi.ru

Komi Republic stretches 695 kilometers (432 miles) east to west; and 785 kilometers (488 miles) north to south. Forests cover over 70 percent of the territory and swamps cover approximately 15 percent. It borders Nenets Autonomous Okrug to the northwest and north; Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug to the northeast and east; Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug to the east; Arkhangelsk to the west; and Sverdlovsk, Perm Krai and Kirov to the south. The Highest point is 1,894-meter-high:Mount Narodnaya. The largest swamp in Europe, covering 1789.75 square kilometers, is in northern Komi Republic..Overall bogs occupy 7.7 percent of the territory of the Komi. A total of 112 swamps are under protection, and 16 of them have scientific value.

The republic's natural resources include coal, oil, natural gas, gold, diamonds, and timber. Native reindeer are in abundance and have been intentionally bred for human usage by the indigenous population. Komi people make up 23 percent of the population, compared 65 percent by Russians. There are also Ukrainians (4.2 percent), Tatars (1.5 percent), Belorussians (1.5 percent) and Nenet.

Komi is a welcoming region combining diverse natural beauty with a multinational mosaic of cultural traditions. Deep in virgin forest, you can visit nature reserves included in the UNESCO list of Natural Heritage sites. Lovers of the extreme can visit Vorkuta in the Arctic Circle, while in the village of Ust-Tsilma you can see the settlement of old believers. There are also numerous rivers and lakes, and a swamp so massive it is described as an “Ocean”.

Getting There: Syktyvkar has an international airport, from which flights are made not only to other regional centers, but to other countries as well. The flight from Moscow to Syktyvkar takes about 2 hours, and costs from RUB 4,000 for a one way ticket. There is a direct train from Moscow to Syktyvkar, but it does not run every day. It takes 24 hours. Tickets start at RUB 2,400. There are several ways to get to Syktyvkar from Moscow. The fastest is through Kirov. On the map, it looks a little bit out of the way, but the quality of roads is better than the other route. The drive takes about 16 hours.


The Komi people are a Finno-Ugric group, traditionally have herded reindeer, hunted, and fished. Closely related to the Udmurts who live in the Volga region, they originated from a region north of Iran and speak a Finno-Ugric language related to Finnish. When Russians took over their homeland in the 14th century many converted to Orthodox Christianity. Saint Stephen of Perm iss credited with launching the conversion process and providing a written language for the Komi language. Today, most Komi are Orthodox Christians.

About 350,000 Komi live in northern Russia, with many of them in the Komi republic, The Komi include three ethnic subgroups: the Permyaks, who inhabit the Permyak Autonomous Region south of the republic; the Yazua, who live in both the Republic of Komi and the Permyak region; and the Zyryan, who account for the majority of the republic's Komi population.

The Komi have largely been assimilated. Their towns looks like Russian towns and in many cases are dominated by Russians. In the old days the Komi hunted and fished and were involved in forestry. Now they have normal jobs. In Russia they are known as skilled folk artist and carvers. They have also produced a number of poets and writers that are well-known in Russia.

Komi Virgin Forest: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Komi Virgin Forest was selected a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995.According to UNESCO: “The Virgin Komi Forests cover 3.28 million hectares of tundra and mountain tundra in the Urals, as well as one of the most extensive areas of virgin boreal forest remaining in Europe. This vast area of conifers, aspens, birches, peat bogs, rivers and natural lakes has been monitored and studied for over 50 years. It provides valuable evidence of the natural processes affecting biodiversity in the taiga. [Source: UNESCO]

An expanded version of the forest was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The territory is characterized by a high conservation of unique natural complexes, ecosystems, plant and animal communities developing evolutionarily without a considerable human input....From aesthetic point of view the territory of the property combines the main aesthetic factors. It comprises the most picturesque and the highest groups of the Ural mountains, distinguished in the north by typical alpine relief and sharp peaks, picturesque rocky areas of mountain risers. The property is specificated by glacial and karst relief: numerous mountain lakes, glaciers, snowfields and waterfalls, as well as weathering forms - rock pillars and grottos. The main peculiarity of landscapes is undisturbed virgin forests of the property. [Source: Permanent Delegation of the Russian Federation to UNESCO]

Outstanding biodiversity of the property is defined by the single, undisturbed by wood cutting and unfragmented area of boreal taiga, which communities have been developing evolutionarily. The forest area of such a size fulfils a wide range of ecosystem functions: conservation of biological and landscape diversity, climate control, hydrological and soil-forming functions. A decisive influence on diversity of natural zones, appearance of plants is exercised by meridian mountain chains of the Ural ridge, altitudinal zonality, against this background invasion of Siberian and European floras contribute to biodiversity of the property. Rock outcrops along the river banks and mountain tundra are the habitats of endemic, relict, rare and endangered plants and animals. Virgin forests are comfortable habitats for big predators and hoofed mammals and able to become a model for studies and modelling (restoration) of primary ecosystems of boreal forests.

In the nominated territory there are three large geomorphological areas according to specific features of relief and geological structure: Pechora Depression, Piedmont hilly (rugged hills) area, Mountainous area. Meridian mountain chains of the Ural have the major impact on the outlook of the park. Major landscape zones of the Park, i.e. plain, foothill (rugged hills) and mountain, differentiating by geomorphologic structure, climate conditions and, as the outcome, soil and vegetation. In the mountain landscape of the reserve there can be segregated three tiers of the plants: mountain forests, subalpine and mountain tundra.

The territory of the Park is characterized by well-developed hydrographical network that is explained by strong segregation of the relief and significant moisturizing of the western slope of the Ural. The rivers of the park, flowing down from the western slope of the Ural Mountains, perform an important function - deliver “fresh” water to the Pechora, one of the biggest rivers in Europe, flowing into the Barents sea.

The major rivers of the National Park are right influxes of the Pechora, the Podcherem and the Schugor (the Northern Ural), the left influxs of the Usa flowing into the Pechora, the Bolshaya Synya (the Big Synya), Kosyu and Kozhim, the right in-stream of the Kosyu (Sub-Polar Ural). The major rivers of the Reserve are Pechora and Ilych, each of them goes along the boundaries of reserve around 200 kilometers. Pechora is the biggest and the best river in the European North, it starts in the territory of reserve with two streams, coming together in the boundaries of mountain tundra belt between the peaks of Engile-Chahl and Pecherya-Talyah-Chaly at the altitude of 896.8 meters above the seal level. Its total length is 1809 kilometers, water catchment area is 322,000 square kilometers.

Komi Virgin Forest Climate

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The climate of the Sub-Polar Ural and the Northern Ural is severe and extremely continental. It is formed under the impact of the western drifting of the air masses and frequent intrusions of the cold arctic air from the north along the mountain ranges. As a result of such circulation there can be noticed intensive cyclone activities and deformation of the air flows by the mountains, that causes extremely unstable and excessively humid weather.

The Sub-Polar Ural and the Northern Ural get the most snow and rain water of any part of the Urals. The upper areas of the western slopes in particularly receive large amounts of rain and snow: 1500 millimeters or more annually. The Northern Ural get about 1000 millimeters annually. The plain and the piedmont area get only 500 - 800 millimeters. The most precipitation occurs in the warm period from April to October. About to 40 percent of the precipitation is in the form of the snow.

Because of long territory of the park in the latitude direction and variety of the relief forms, the temperature mode in its different parts shows significant differences. In the Sub-Polar Ural the average monthly temperature of the coldest month (January) in the south equals -18°C, in the north -21°C. Winter temperature minimum is -55°C. Winter lasts from October to mid-April, in the higher mountains longer. For the winter period are typical strong winds, their speed achieves sometimes 40 - 50 m/sec. Snow thawing starts in March and it is accompanied with rapid fluctuations of daily temperatures: at night air cools down to -30°C, in the day-time warms-up to 10°C. In sunny days there are abnormal temperatures mentioned, it is when in the higher mountain areas air temperature is lower than in the plateau and in the plain land.

Average monthly temperature of the warmest month (July) in the Sub-Polar Ural is -10°C, in its piedmont areas 12°C. In general summer is characterized by cool instable weather and frequent returns of colds and night frosts, deceasing of the atmospheric processes. The duration of autumn is 50 - 60 days, in the northern part and in the higher mountains it starts significantly earlier than in the plain land.

The Reserve is located in the area where arctic and moderate climatic zones meet. The climate is characterized as continental & oceanic with the difficult process of annual climatic phenomena. Average monthly positive temperatures of the air are noticed within the period of 6 months, but average duration of the frost-free period is 80-83 days. In certain years when there were late spring and early autumn frosts mentioned, the frost-free period is reduced to 50 days. The vegetation period when the average daily temperature exceeds +10°,is 80-85 days in the plain land and 47-80 days in the piedmont area and in the mountains. Average annual temperature of the air in the area of the Yaksha is 0.7°C, in the north of the mountain area is around -4°. Average temperature for many years of the coldest month, January is -17,8°; of the warmest month, July -16.3°. Absolute minimum is -55,5°C, absolute maximum +35,7°C°.

General annual rainfall is the following: in the plain land area 500-800 millimeters (coverage annual amount is 635.5 mm), in the mountain area it is up to 1000 mm. major part of the rainfall happens in the warm period of the year (April - October). Almost 40 percent of the annual rainfall amount in the form of snow falls down. Average duration when the snow cover lays on in the plain land is 200 days, in the mountains it is up to 220 days. Average date of the forming of the stable snow cover in the Yaksha area is October 21st, thawing is May 7th. In the mountains snow falls down at the end of September, thaws quite unevenly, staying sometimes until July. Maximum average decade height of the snow in the pine forests is around 90cm, in the dark softwood taiga it is 90 - 120 centimeters. In the mountains depending on the conditions of relief and exposure of the slope this number varies between 20 and 200 centimeters and more. Minimum height of the snow cover is typical for mountain tundra, where snow is normally blown by the wind.

Komi Virgin Forest Vegetation

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Flora of the National Park includes more than 600 species of the vascular plants, tens of species of mosses and lichens. Some of them have the status of "red hook" ones. These are yellow lady's slipper and blotched slipper, Woodsia alpina, common peon, Snowdon rose etc.

The main role in the picturesque landscapes is played by wood species: Siberian spruce, silver-fir, Siberian pine (cedar), larch, white birch, European white birch, mountain birch and more seldom pine and aspen. In the southern part of the park quite often the one can meet growth of tree-like willows. In the swampy and river-side areas impassable "jungles" are formed by bush willows, and also by dwarf birch and hush alder. At the forest borders and towpaths in the lower parts of the slopes there are many bushes: Spiraea media, prairie weed, hedge rose, Pallas honeyberry. The specific feature of the plant cover of the park is diversity of the shrubs. Normal in the over soil cover of forest and mountain tundra communities are lingonberry, swamp blueberry, blueberry, and crowberry. In the stony exposed surface of the forest belt and higher grow dryad, Alpine bearberry, Harrimanella, Diapensia, fruticulous willow.

The specific feature of the park's flora is numerous amounts of ferns and heather. Here gramineous, composite flowers, rose family, buttercup family, buttercup, figwort family belong to ten most multiple families. Of the biggest interest are endemic species of the plants. The other endemic species were formed as a result of hybrids forming of the relative species and isolated geographic plants. To the endemics in the national park are listed Taliev's thyme, mountain anemone, Ural aypsophila, Northern flax etc, all in all more than 10 species.

The territory of the Park is represented by virgin forests with rare and endemic species of shrubs and herbs: shrubby cinquefoil, rodiola guadrefida, mountain anemone, etc. Such plant species as arctic paintbrush, yellow lady's slipper, Snowdon rose are included in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation. The majority of cenopopulations of rare plants is in a stable state. Specific feature of the plant cover of the Reserve are ruling of the dark softwood forests with wood stand of Siberian species: spruce, fir, cedar. In the lower tiers of the forest undergrown forests and in the above-soil cover there are both European and Siberian species. Specific features of the plant cover is also stipulated by the availability of big Ural mountain system with clearly visible altitude belts.

The lay-out of the geobotanical splitting into districts incorporates the areas: 1) The area of pine forests and sphagnum swamps of the Pechora low land (complete territory of the Yaksha district): 2) The area of dark soft wood forests of the steeply sloping piedmont sub-area of swampy dark softwood forests and sphagnum swamps of Verhneilych low land (the territory of the Ural area until western slopes of the main mountain range of the Northern Ural, excluding transition stripe); 3) The area of mountain dark softwood forests, subalpine crooked forests and meadows, mountain tundra and bare-boulders of the Northern Ural (western sloped, mountain chains, valleys and separate peaks of the Uran range of mountains).Nowadays the Reserve counts 113 plant species from the Red Data Book of the Komi Republic.

Komi Virgin Forest Wildlife

According to a report submitted to UNESCO:The fauna of vertebrates of the National Park includes representatives of fish (21 species), amphibia (3 species), reptilian (1 specie), birds (around 200 species) and mammals (42 species). Many of them are the most precious properties of the world fauna. Into the Red Data Book of Russia are entered bullhead, red-breasted goose, fish-hawk, golden eagle, white-tailed eagle, gerfalcon, peregrin (duck hawk), black stork, common crane etc.

Specific feature of the fauna of the region is big share of the Siberian species, many of them have here the western boundary of the aerial. Species diversity of the animal world of the reserve territory and conservation territory in relation to the different endemic taxa is studied unevenly. Sufficient complete inventory fauna reports are available only for water and ground vertebral.

The territory of the National Park is unique from the point of view of theriology, where European and Siberian faunas come together. The territory of the Park is inhabited by 42 species of the mammals. Out of 52 species of the mammals registered in the territory of the Reserve the biggest one is the order of predators, 17 species (33 percent), related to the 4 families. Then are the rodents, 16 species, 6 families; insect-eating mammals - 8 species, 2 families; hoofed mammals, 4 species, 2 families; cheiropterous (Chiroptera) animals, 5 species, 1 family; double-toothed rodents - 2 species and 2 families.

Birds: In the fauna of the Yugyd va National Park are known around 200 species of birds. Out of them, despite of severe ecological surrounding, nest about 150. Some representative of feathered, in majority water fowl and sandpiper, inhabit the area of tundra, can be met also within the boundaries of the park only during autumn and spring migration.

Bird fauna of the Yugyd va National Park presents the composite mix of Siberian taiga species. European and Arctic and Alpine species migrating from the plain tundra and also birds, widely spread in the European part of Russia.

Avifauna of the conservation area includes 252 species of birds of 18 orders, 50 families which makes 96 percent of the total number of species recorded within the entire Komi Republic. The species include 170 breeding species (67 percent), 30 seasonal transient birds (12 percent), 52 vagrant species (21 percent). The widest range of species have the Passeriformes (107 species), Charadriiformes (40), Anseriformes (30) and Falconiformes (20): the rest classes are presented by 1 to 8 species.

Avifauna is compositionally heterogenic, Siberian bird species prevail (heather cock, hazelhen, Blyth's cuckoo, three-toed woodpecker etc), typically European species are almost twice less in number (chaffinch, warbler, swift, corncrake etc), some species are of arctic ptarmigan, common dotterel, Eurasian golden plover etc) and Chinese (greenish warbler, red-backed shrike, oriental tree pipit) oriuin.

Most of breeding birds (77 percent) are migrating. The highest diversity of species, summer bird numbers and biomass are peculiar to forest hank line habitats, subalpine belt and some pattern bogs. Common and the most numerous species of forest communities are: chaffinch, finch, tree-pipit, thrushes – snowbird, red-winged thrush and song thrush, chiff-chaffs - willow-warbler and arctic warbler, European redstart, buntings - rustic-bunting and little bunting, common and Blyth's cuckoos. The dominating species of wetland birds are: fiddler, grey gull, greenshank, snipe, whimbrel, mew gull, common teal, bullhead, and goosander. The typical representative of mountain tundra is meadow pipit, and this is the unique place for common dotterel, Eurasian golden plover and ptarmigan nesting.

The following breeding birds are included in the lists of Red Data Book of the Russian Federation: erne, osprey and golden eagle; transient birds: peregrine and brant goose. Erne, double snipe and corncrake are on the international list of globally rare species. 29 bird species of the reserve are listed among rare and requiring protection on the territory of Komi Republic. 26 species of birds nesting in the conservation are on the list of Red Data Book of Komi Republic: Category I (endangered) - honey buzzard, quail. Category II (shortening the numerosity) - osprey, erne, golden eagle, eagle owl. Category III (species with small numerosity and restricted distribution) - hooping swan, black kite, kestrel, corncrake, spotted crake, double snipe, hawk-owl, Siberian grey owl, short-eared owl, boreal owl, wryneck. Category IV (with undefined status) — common pochard, jack snipe, pintail snipe, dove, pygmy owl. Category V (recovering species) - merlin, common woodcock, curlew, whimbrel.

Northern Railway

Northern Railway (Severnaya Railway) is a railway network that embraces about 6,000 kilometers or track. It covers parts of central Russia and extends far to the north, with lines that running through Yaroslavl, Vologda, Kostroma, Ivanovo, Arkhangelsk, Vladimir, Kirov and Tver region as well the Republic of Komi and Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District. Half of the system operates in Arctic conditions.

The Northern Railway links Moscow with Arkhangelsk, stopping in Yaroslavl and Vologado before heading into the great northern forests.. Its oldest part — The Yaroslavl Railway, owned by Savva Mamontov — was one of the first railways in Russia. It opened in 1872, liking Alexandrov, Yaroslavl and Vologda line was opened in 1872. In 1894, the construction of the railway connecting Vologda with Arkhangelsk started. The decision was taken to construct the line along the shortest route, which at the time ran through a sparsely populated area, and not along one of the existing trading routes.

Many parts of the Northern Railway were built through harsh conditions — in marshes and swamps and over icy rivers — in a relatively short time. One the primary purposes of the North Railway was to connects the industrial areas of central Russia with suppliers of raw materials in the mining regions in the far northern territories.During the war, the railway North made a significant contribution to the victory over Nazi Germany, ensuring the delivery of ammunition, military equipment and food to the front in the front-line area, as well as the evacuation of wounded soldiers, civilians.

The Northern Railway runs through the territories with a unique history and nature, many of which are under the protection of UNESCO, such as Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve and National Park "Yugyd Va" in Komi. In northeastern Russia the railway connects large and small towns, monasteries and churches, beautiful wooded and lowland landscapes alomg with the historic towns of Vladimir, Yaroslavl, Rostov, Kostroma and Ivanovo — the Golden Ring of Russia — and passes through taiga, tundra and the Polar Urals — with their pristine rivers, virgin beauty and vast spaces — and helps to develop and exploit the resource-rich regions in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Komi Republic and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug.


Syktyvkar is the capital and largest city of Komi Republic, with about 234,000 people. The city was founded in 1780 on the site at the confluence of Sysola in Vychegda. People lived near modern Syktyvkar from ancient times: in the 3rd-2nd millennium B.C. There were settlements in the area between the modern village of Ozel and the settlement of Sedkyrkeshch.

The history of Syktyvkar began in the 16th century, when resident population appeared here. The first mention of Syktyvkar is contained in the cadastres of 1586: “The churchyard at the estuary of the Sysol River. There was a wooden church here, next to it — three courtyards of clergymen, and in six peasant households. For more on its history see Yb below.

Of the city's attractions, it is worth mentioning first of all the St. Stephen's cathedral, the fire-tower, the museum of Olympic champion R. P.Smetanina, as well as the national gallery and the national museum of the Komi Republic.

Accommodation: Syktyvkar is a three star hotel. It is located in the business center of the city, within walking distance of the city’s main attractions. A room goes for RUB 3,600 a night. Finnougoria is located in the Finno-Ugric ethnopark. Built from environmentally friendly materials. Prices for a room start at RUB 1,800 per night. The rooms are not equipped with the best heaters.

Ust-Vym (60 kilometers north of Syktyvkar) is sort of a peripheral member of the Golden Ring north of Moscow that includes Vladimir and Suzdal. Ust-Vy, has a unique complex of monuments of history and architecture that sort of dates back to around the same time as the more famous Golden Ring towns. The village is located on the right bank of the Vym river and contains some churches that date back to the 18th century.

Yb Village

Yb (35 kilometers south of Syktyvkar) is one of the oldest settlements in the Komi Republic. Yb was first mentioned in a document dated 1586, but archaeologists have found evidence of an older settlement dating to the 11th century. It is believed that the spiritual origins of the Komi people come from Syktyvdinsky district. In Komi, “Yb” means hill. The village, stretches for nearly 15 kilometers along the Sysola River, and actually consists of several small villages.

The history of Yb is inseparably linked with Stephen of Perm, a 14th-century Orthodox educator from Komi-Zyrian who became the first bishop in the region. In olden times there were fourteen Orthodox chapels and churches in the village. Currently the Church of the Ascension, built in 1825-1830, and the convent of St. Seraphim of Sarov operate. There are also five chapels remaining.Teeth and bone fossils of marine dinosaurs and reptiles have found in the Jurassic period sediments near the town.

Yb perhaps is best known for its Orthodox Christian springs. In total ten springs have been renovated and consecrated in Yb. The bathing room of St. Michael the Archangel is in Vadkeros village. Saint George spring is located in Myrgaib village. St. Theodosius of Chernigov spring (said to cures eye diseases) is located in Kuliga village. The spring of Saint Nicholas the Miracle Worker of Myra is in Bereznik village. The spring of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God is in Kargort village. The spring of the Twelve Apostles by Kungur-shor creek and the spring of the Mother of God in honor of the “Joy of All Who Sorrow” icon are Podgorye village. According to legend, the waters in the spring of the Transfiguration in Volokul village cure skin diseases and the spring of the Holy Great Martyr Paraskeva Pyatnitsa in Chulib cures childhood diseases, eye diseases, and diseases of the genitals.

Teeth and bone fossils of marine dinosaurs and reptiles have found in the Jurassic period sediments on the high bank of Sysola river near the town. There are also traditional houses with utensils and tools; the 5th-6th century Shoynayagsky burial ground; the 14th century old town of Chudskoe; and a historical museum in a school building erected in 1892.

Finno-Ugric Ethnocultural Park

Finno-Ugric Ethnocultural Park (near Yb) popularizes the culture of Komi and introduces the life of the ancient inhabitants of these regions. A log hut has been recreated, similar to those in which Komi men used to live, along with a bathhouse and a woodcutter work shop. In the ethnopark among other things, you will learn how the ancient Finno-Ugric hunted, what food they cooked and hear the stories that were passed on from generation to generation.

The Finno-Ugric Ethnic and Cultural Park is a a multifunctional tourist complex with 24 exhibited related to the cultural heritage of the Komi, Finno-Ugric and Samoyed people. There are also more than 20 informative and entertainment, sports, educational programs.

The park is arranged like a Komi farmstead, The café serves Komi and Finno-Ugric dishes made from - mushrooms, venison, radish and salmon. At the site "Lords of Parma" you can shoot a bow and arrow,, crossbow or slingshot or throw an ax or spear at a target. Instructors explain how to handle weapons. Classes are offered in traditional crafts and skills of Finno-Ugric and Samoyed peoples: such as singing rye shanezhki, making Veps Lykov horse dolls, to defend your house from the dark forces, and make "Zare Poo" ( "Rain Tree") a musical instrument out of a hollow hogweed tube.

In Ethnopark there ski and skate rentals, places for bicycling, a tubing track, badminton, table tennis, paint ball and laser tag. There are organized walks and excursions. You you can learn how to play Komi football and Sami "fish." Among ropes courses are 1) "Vörsa tui", forest trail. route over the earth; 2) "Oshpi tui" ( "Path of the bear"), for children from three to ten years; 3) "Ur tui" ( "The Way of proteins") roue, for adult beginners; and 4) the extreme trail "Vörkan tui" ( "The Way of the lynx" ), seven meters above the ground with steep walls and hunting nets.


Pechora (500 kilometers northeast of Syktyvkar) is a town in the Komi Republic, Russia, located on the Pechora River, west of and near the northern Ural Mountains. It is home to 43,105 (2010 Census), down from 64,746 (1989 Census). Until the middle of the 18th century in the range of modern Pechora region did not exist a permanent settlement. The region was inhabited by nomadic Ugric and Samoyed reindeer peoples. The first villages, Danilovka and Ust-Kozhva, were established in the late 18th century.

The formation of large settlements began in the early 1930s in the so-called "special settlements", where resettled farmers expelled from the southern regions of the country were placed after they were kicked of their land. Gulag prisoners appeared in the region in connection with the construction of the North Pechora Railway.

Pechora is a typical northern industrial city with Stalin- and Khrushchev- architecture. The main industries are energy transmission and oil and gas industry. The name "Pechora" probably descended from the Samoyed word for "forest dweller".

Timan-Pechora is an enegry-producing area. Liquids fields in these areas are relatively small, however there is well-developed oil infrastructure in these areas. Two liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects have been proposed for the area, Gazprom's Shtokman LNG and Rosneft's Pechora LNG, both of which have the potential to yield significant quantities of hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL). However, both projects have been delayed indefinitely. ~

Ural Mountains

Ural Mountains are the traditional dividing line between Europe and Asia and have been a crossroads of Russian history. Stretching from Kazakhstan to the fringes of the Arctic Kara Sea, the Urals lie almost exactly along the 60 degree meridian of longitude and extend for about 2,000 kilometers (1,300 miles) from north to south and varies in width from about 50 kilometers (30 miles) in the north and 160 kilometers (100 miles) the south. At kilometers 1777 on the Trans-Siberian Railway there is white obelisk with "Europe" carved in Russian on one side and "Asia" carved on the other.

The eastern side of the Urals contains a lot of granite and igneous rock. The western side is primarily sandstone and limestones. A number of precious stones can be found in the southern part of the Urals, including emeralds. malachite, tourmaline, jasper and aquamarines. The highest peaks are in the north. Mount Narodnaya is the highest of all but is only 1884 meters (6,184 feet) high. The northern Urals are covered in thick forests and home to relatively few people.

Like the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States, the Urals are very old mountains — with rocks and sediments that are hundreds of millions years old — that were one much taller than they are now and have been steadily eroded down over millions of years by weather and other natural processes to their current size. According to Encyclopedia Britannica: “The rock composition helps shape the topography: the high ranges and low, broad-topped ridges consist of quartzites, schists, and gabbro, all weather-resistant. Buttes are frequent, and there are north–south troughs of limestone, nearly all containing river valleys. Karst topography is highly developed on the western slopes of the Urals, with many caves, basins, and underground streams. The eastern slopes, on the other hand, have fewer karst formations; instead, rocky outliers rise above the flattened surfaces. Broad foothills, reduced to peneplain, adjoin the Central and Southern Urals on the east.

“The Urals date from the structural upheavals of the Hercynian orogeny (about 250 million years ago). About 280 million years ago there arose a high mountainous region, which was eroded to a peneplain. Alpine folding resulted in new mountains, the most marked upheaval being that of the Nether-Polar Urals...The western slope of the Urals is composed of middle Paleozoic sedimentary rocks (sandstones and limestones) that are about 350 million years old. In many places it descends in terraces to the Cis-Ural depression (west of the Urals), to which much of the eroded matter was carried during the late Paleozoic (about 300 million years ago). Found there are widespread karst (a starkly eroded limestone region) and gypsum, with large caverns and subterranean streams. On the eastern slope, volcanic layers alternate with sedimentary strata, all dating from middle Paleozoic times.”

The fauna of the vertebrate animals in the Reserve includes 19 fish, 5 amphibian and 5 reptile. Among the 48 mammal species are elks, roe deer, boars, foxes, wolves, lynxes, badgers, common weasels, least weasels, forest ferrets, Siberian striped weasel, common marten, American mink. Squirrels, beavers, muskrats, hares, dibblers, moles, hedgehogs, voles are quite common, as well as chiropterans: pond bat, water bat, Brandt's bat, whiskered bat, northern bat, long-eared bat, parti-coloured bat, Nathusius' pipistrelle. The 174 bird bird species include white-tailed eagles, honey hawks, boreal owls, gnome owls, hawk owls, tawny owls, common scoters, cuckoos, wookcocks, common grouses, wood grouses, hazel grouses, common partridges, shrikes, goldenmountain thrushes, black- throated loons and others.

Yugyd Va National Park

Yugyd Va National Park (70 kilometers east of Pechora, 600 kilometers northeast of Syktyvkar) is the largest national park in Europe (ahead of Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland) and was Russia's largest national park until the creation of Beringia National Park in 2013. Established in 1994, Yugyd Va National Park was set up to protect the most extensive area of primary boreal forest in Europe and preserve the ecosystems of the taiga, tundra and forest-tundra of the Ural mountains. The park covers almost 20,000 million square kilometers of mountain, plain, and tundra landscapes, with meadows, mountains, riverside cliffs, canyons, caves, waterfalls, rock outcrops and pillars created by erosion, as well as ruins.

The Yugyd Va National Park is located on the western slopes of the Polar Ural and Northern Ural, on the border of Europe and Asia. The highest part of the Ural Mountains is situated in the park. It also includes 821 lakes and about 50 glaciers. The largest glacier is Goffman glacier on the Sablya (Sword) Mountain Ridge. The longest and widest rivers in the preserve are Kozhim, Kosyu, and Shchugor, which all flow into the Pechora River. one of the largest rivers in Europe flowing into the Barents Sea.

The natural boundary of the park in the east is the main ridge of the Ural mountains, in the north - the Kozhim River, in the west - the rivers Synja, Vangir and Kosya, in the south - the Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve. In the central part of the Yugid Va National Park that the highest peaks of the Ural Mountains are: the Mount Narodnaya (1894.5 meters), as well as the Mount Karpinsky (1878 meters), Bell Tower (1724 meters), Manaraga (1662 meters), Nioroika (1645 meters).

More than half of the park is covered with the taiga boreal forest; the rest is mostly tundra, found at higher elevations. Some 180 bird species live in the park, some of them quite rare. Twenty fish species are known to inhabit the park's rivers and lakes. There are also five amphibian species and one reptile species in the park. Among the mammals common in the park are the mountain hare, flying squirrel, reindeer, ermine, otter, moose (elk), wolf, fox, wolverine, bear, pine marten, weasel and Arctic fox. The territory of the park has been occupied by humans since Paleolithic times. It has served as habitat and hunting grounds for Mansi, Vogul, Nenets, Komi-Zyrian, and Russians. Among the historical and cultural monuments in Yugyd Va are ancient encampments, cult places, and sacred places related to beliefs of the Mansi and Komi peoples, and the remains of Old Believer settlements.

Throughout the park, hiking and water trails have been laid out, as well as tourist campgrounds. Recreational uses of the park include rafting, boating, and hiking in the summer, Nordic skiing in winter. Limited hunting is allowed too, but permits have to be applied for several months in advance. Due to the remote location of the park, the amount of tourism there is still quite low. According to the park's management, it is currently visited by some 4,000 tourists every year,

Mount Manaraga

Mount Manaraga (in Yugyd-Va National Park) is a beautiful peak and differs from other mountains of the Ural range in that it is comprised of a ridge divided into seven parts. The name of the mountain in Mansi means “Bear's Paw”. At 1662 meters, Manaraga is the second highest mountains of the Urals after Narodnaya). In July and August, climbers from all over Russia come to climb this unusual-looking peak.

To some Manaraga looks like dissected comb and it rocky outcrops look like a medieval fortress. Climbers say that Manaraga is fun to climb. It is not too difficult to climb; even relative novices can climb it. But under certain conditions it can be difficult, with some experienced climbers unable to reach the summit, saying the mountain “does not permit them”. Before going to Manaraga check in with the administration of the Yugyd-Va National Park.

The indigenous peoples — Zyrians and Mansi — considered Manaraga to be a living being thing and treated it as a holy place. Only shamans and attendants had access to the mountain. In the 11th century, people staged special ritual games to find a common language with Manaraga; this is evidenced by archeological finds — sanctuaries with sacrificial stones.

Mount Narodnaya: the Highest Mountain in the Urals

Mount Narodnaya (700 kilometers northwest of Khanty-Mansiysk) is the highest mountain in the Urals. Also known as Naroda and Poenurr and "People's Mountain", it is 1,894 meters (6,214 feet) high. It lies in in Khanty–Mansi Autonomous Okrug but is only 500 meters east from the border of Komi Republic. The name is derived from the nearby Naroda River.

Mount Narodnaya is the highest point in European Russia outside the Caucasus and rises 1,772 meters (5,814 ft) above the landscape. Narodnaya is located in the Ural mountains water divide, and therefore on the border between Europe and Asia: The mountain is formed with quartzites and metamorphosed slates of the Proterozoic Eon and Cambrian Period. There are some glaciers on the mountain. Also, there are sparse forests of larch and birch in the deep valleys at the foot of the mountain. The slopes of the mountain are covered with highland tundra.

Mount Narodnaya was identified in 1927. If you ascend from the territory of Ugra, you first need to get to the village of Saranpaul (by helicopter from Berezovo, in the winter you can snowmobile), then about 180 kilometers to overcome by all-terrain transport to the camp site “Desired”, where you can climb Narodnaya and Manaragu. The cost of the tour, depending on the time of year, transport and service varies from 15,000 to 200,000 rubles, with a lot of the cost depending on whether you use a helicopter or not..

The easiest route to the summit is a technically easy hike on the moderate north-west slope. Depending on snow and ice conditions, crampons may be required. The south wall of Narodnaya is steeper and less commonly used to reach the summit. Accommodation: The cost of living at the camp site “Desired” — from 2300 rubles per day. In the forest in tent-for free.

Pechora-Ilych Biosphere Reserve

The Pechora-Ilych Biosphere Reserve (400 kilometers east of Syktyvkar, south of Yugyd-Va National Park) forms the heart of ”Virgin Forests of Komi”. UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main feature of the reserve is not only that all the forests are preserved in their original form, but also a place where European forests and ecosystems merge with Siberian steppes are dense taiga.

Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve occupies 7,213 square kilometers. It is located in the south-eastern corner of the Komi Republic (Troitsko-Pechorsky District), on the western slopes of the Ural Mountains and the adjacent foothills and lowlands. The area is drained by the upper course of the Pechora River and its tributary the Ilych, from whose names the name of the reserve is derived.

Russian geographer A.A. Korchagin divided the area of the reserve into five natural regions: 1) The Pechora lowlands: pine forests, pine forested swamps, and moss swamps. There are few spruce forests in that area. This region includes the Gusinoe Bolota (Goose Swamp), a peat bog that occupies around 3 km2, with the peat deposits some 5–6 meters deep. 2) The piedmont (foothills) region, dominated by forests of shade-loving species: Siberian spruce, Siberian pine, and Siberian fir. There are abundant forested swamps there, but hardly any moss swamps. 3) The Upper Ilych lowland: this region is surrounded by the Urals highlands and mountains and has particularly severe climate. The slow-growing forest there is classified as boreal taiga. 4) Upper Pechora River and Bear Stone Mountain; Pechora-Ilych Reserve. 5) The valleys of the Pechora, Ilych, and their tributaries.

The Ural Mountains, the area that is the least studied but has the greatest variety of landscapes. It includes the piedmont forest belt (fir and spruce), up to 300–350 meters in elevation. Above it, up to 600 m elevation, is the subalpine forest belt, where firs and spruces are gradually replaced with birch forests and subalpine meadows. The tree line is at 550–650 m elevation, although there are occasional firs at the elevations as high as 800 m or even higher. Above the tree line, alpine meadows and then tundra are found.

Keep in that because it is a biosphere reserve, Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve is for the most part off limits to everyone except scientists. Tourists are allowed in some areas. A visit to this reserve is possible only after the submission of the application in its administration. Visiting without permission is punishable by a serious fine, an even greater fine is provided for damage to the flora or fauna of the reserve.

Manpupuner Rock Formations

Manpupuner Rock Formations (in Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve, 600 kilometers east of Syktyvkar) are spectacular set of seven rock pillars that are situated in an open grassy area and look like natural Stonehenge standing stones. They were created by the weathering of soft rock of mountains that left only these hard rock pillars behind.

Manpupuner Rock Formations are located in a very remote place of the Komi Republic. There is no settlement within 100 kilometers. “Manpupuner” in the Mansi language means “mountain of stone idols”. The seven rocks are sacred to the Mansi tribe. There are many legends about the rock pillars. According to one, the seven idols were terrible giant brothers, forever stopped by the forces of good spirits in the Yalpingnyor mountains. One of the pillars is located at some distance from others. According to the legend, he was the first giant to be turned into stone. Horror-stricken, he threw his drum away and his brothers suffered the same fate later when they tried to run away. This is how the locals were saved from powerful invaders.

Each of the rocks is as high as a 10-15-story building and has unique shape. From certain angles, the pillars collectively form the shape of a giant, or a horse's head. The locals still consider the rocks sacred. In ancient times, ascending to Manpupuner was considered to be a great sin. The history of the rocks goes back 200 million years ago, when gigantic mountains towered over the landscape here. Under the influence of wind and time softer rock formations were destroyed and the harder ones remained. In geological terms the rocks are residual outcrops. This

The Manpupuner rock formations is located on a plateau that is not easy to get to. One has to endure a long, tough road trip or shell out big money for a helicopter ride. However, despite this, the number of people who want to come to Manpupuner is growing every year. For the convenience of tourists, hiking trails with clear paths and rest areas have been laid to the Manpupuner rock formations. Guest houses are also available. The Manpupuner rock formations are usually uncrowded, as they are located in the Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve, which limits the number of visitors.

World's First Moose Farm

World's First Moose Farm (in the village of Yaksha in Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve) was established 1949 in order to domesticate moose, becoming the first facility in the world to attempt to do this. The research carried out has been complex and serious. “Rapid response" moose were chosen due to their characteristics and lack of aggressiveness. By 1959 domesticated elk have been successfully used as productive and working animals. In 1960, selective breeding work began.

Over the first 40-plus years of the project, six generations of moose were raised on the farm, with some 30–35 animals at the farm in any given year. The farm's adult moose spend most of the time browsing in the forest, with pregnant moose cows always come back to the farm to give birth. Then, during the lactation period of three to five months, the moose cow would come to the farm several times a day, at the same hours, to be milked. The milk production of a moose is small compared to a dairy cow. However, the milk has a high (12–14%) fat content, and is rich in vitamins and micronutrient elements; which are said to have medicinal properties. Among the potential productive uses of the moose, the milk production was found the most promising. However, riding a moose and using it to pull a sleigh were tried at the farm as well.

The facility was never meant to make money and found itself in a difficult situation when funding dried up in early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. According to recent visitors the moose farm is still functioning but operations have been greatly curtailed; remaining buildings are in a poor conditions, and only a few animals remain. Moose domestication experiments in Russia continue under better conditions at Kostroma Moose Farm. Visitors to Yaksha can drink moose milk, participate in farm life, feed the moose and go for a walk with a moose.

Polar Urals

Polar Urals is the northern most part of the Ural Mountain range. They extend for about 385 kilometers (239 miles) from Mount Konstantinov Kamen in the north to the Khulga River in the south. They have an area of about 25,000 square kilometers (9,700 square miles) and a strongly dissected relief. The maximum height is 1,499 meters (4,918 feet) at Payer Mountain and the average height is 1,000 to 1,100 meters (3,300 to 3,600 feet).

The mountains of the Polar Ural have exposed rock with sharp ridges, though flattened or rounded tops are also found. The Polar Urals is divided by the valley of the Sob river into northern and southern parts. Settlements are located along the railway. The Polar Urals are in the western part of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Komi Republic is not that far to the west.

The Sub-Polar Ural and the Northern Ural get the most snow and rain water of any part of the Urals. The upper areas of the western slopes in particularly receive large amounts of rain and snow: 1500 millimeters or more annually. The Northern Ural get about 1000 millimeters annually. The plain and the piedmont area get only 500 - 800 millimeters. The most precipitation occurs in the warm period from April to October. About to 40 percent of the precipitation is in the form of the snow.

Vorkuta (northeast Komi) is the forth largest city in the Arctic and the easternmost town in Europe.. Located on the western slopes of the Polar Urals, it lies on the Vorkuta River in a permafrost zone 150 kilometers north of the Arctic circle and 140 kilometers from the Arctic Ocean,. In the Nenets language Vorkuta means "a lot of bears". About 83,830 people live in the town. Winter lasts about 8 months, and the frost-free period is only about 70 days. Even in the summer frosts are possible. Vorkuta is a coal-mong town whose population has declined by nearly 50 percent in the last 30 years. Even so it attracts tourists because it is accessible and its infrastructure is reasonably developed.

Buridan Waterfalls is one of the most impressive sights in the Polar Urals in the Komi Republic. It is part of the Kara mountain river is reached exclusively by off-road vehicles.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation (official Russia tourism website russiatourism.ru ), Russian government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

Updated in September 2020

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