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Yakutia (officially Republic of Sakha) Constituent republic of the Russian Federation, in ne Siberia; the capital is Yakutsk. The region is bounded by the Laptev and East Siberian Seas (n) and the Stanovoy Range (s). It is the largest Russian republic and one of the coldest inhabited regions, with more than 40% of the territory within the Arctic Circle. The principal rivers are the Lena, Yana, Indirka, and Kolyma. A third of the population is Yakut, a Turkic-speaking people who settled in the Lena basin from the 13th to 15th century. They are noted bone-carvers, iron-workers, and potters. The area was colonized by Russia during the 17th century, and many of the Yakuts were forcibly converted from shamanism to Christianity. A republic of the former Soviet Union (1922–91), Yakutia became a member of the new Russian Federation in 1992. Agriculture is only possible in the s. The major industry is diamond mining and processing. Other important minerals include gold, silver, lead and coal. Timber is an important industry in the taiga regions. Area: 3,103,200sq km (1,200,000sq mi) Pop. (2000) 976,400.