Uriankhai Krai

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Uriankhai Krai


the Russian name from the 18th to the early 20th century for the territory that is now the Tuva ASSR. The name was derived from the word uriankhaitsy, the Russian form of the Mongol name for the Tuvinians. The people were also known as Soyots, and the territory, Soyotia.

To the south, Uriankhai Krai was bordered by the Tannu-Ola, and to the north, by the Saian ranges and Minusinsk Okrug of Irkutsk Province. In the mid-18th century, the krai became dependent on Manchu-Chinese feudal lords The first information about Uriankhai Krai was collected in 1616 by V. Tiumenets and I. Petrov, the first Russian ambassadors to the state of the Altyn khans. In 1838 and 1839, Russian gold prospectors came to the territory, where they opened the Spasskii and Nikitskii gold mines along the Bol’shoi and Malyi Algiiak rivers. Barter between the Russians and Tuvinians arose in the 1840’s and was widely practiced in the second half of the 19th century.

In the 19th century many Russian researchers worked in the krai, including the geographer P. A. Chikhachev in 1842, the ethnographer V. V. Radlov in 1861, G. N. Potanin from 1876 to 1880, and the botanist P. N. Krylov in 1892. In 1903 and 1904, F. Ia. Kohn studied the folklore and cultural anthropology of the region. Between 1906 to 1910, the Russian government sent a number of expeditions to search for natural resources; discoveries included deposits of asbestos on the Khemchik River and deposits of gold. The Russian government also sent expeditions to map out the path of the Us Route, the construction of which began in 1911. Russian peasants began colonizing the area in the 1870’s, and by 1909, the Russian settlers in the krai numbered 9,000. Contact with the Russians aided the spread of more advanced methods of agriculture among the Tuvinians.

On Apr. 17, 1914, with the support of a number of important Tuvinian feudal lords, the Russian government declared Uriankhai Krai to be a protectorate of the Russian Empire. The administrative divisions that had been introduced in the mid-18th century were retained. As before, the territory was divided into khoshuny (administrative and tax units), headed by ukheridy (ogurdy). The administration was formally in the hands of the amdyn-noion, although in fact it was under the control of the Russian commissioner in Uriankhai Krai and an official of the government agency that had been established to help Russian settlers on their arrival in the area. The seat of the administration was Belotsarsk (now Kyzyl). By 1917 the Russian population of the region totaled 12,000.

Soviet power was established in Uriankhai Krai on Mar. 16, 1918. On Aug. 14, 1921, the People’s Republic of Tannu-Tuva was formed on the territory of the krai.


Rodevich, V. Ocherk Uriankhaiskogo kraia. St. Petersburg, 1910.
Baranov, A. Uriankhaiskii vopros. Harbin, 1913.
Grum-Grzhimailo, G. E. Zapadnaia Mongoliia i Uriankhaiskii krai, vols. 1–3. St. Petersburg-Leningrad, 1914–30.
Kohn, F. Ia. [Ekspeditsiia v Soiotiiu.] In his work Za piat’desiat let [vols. 3–4], Moscow, 1936.
Bibliografiia Tuvinskoi avtonomnoi oblasti, 1774–1958. Moscow, 1959.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.