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Khakass Republic

Khakass Republic (khəkäs´, kəkăs´) or Khakassia (khəkäs´ēə), constituent republic (1990 est. pop. 573,000) 23,900 sq mi (61,900 sq km), S central Siberian Russia, in Krasnoyarsk Territory. Abakan (the capital) and Chernogorsk (a coal-mining center) are the major cities. The republic, largely consisting of black-earth steppe, is bounded by the upper Yenisei River on the east and by the wooded Kuznetsk Alatau and Sayan ranges on the west and south, respectively. The Abakan (a tributary of the Yenisei) and Chulym rivers drain the area.

Railroads are the chief mode of transportation. The republic's swift-flowing rivers provide hydroelectric power, and many of the numerous lakes are sources of therapeutic mineral waters. Mining, forestry, and food processing are the main industries. Gold, coal, iron ore, barite, copper, lead, and molybdenum are mined, and gypsum, limestone, marble, and other building stones are quarried. The forests of the taiga zone yield lumber and wood products. Logs are floated down the Abakan River to sawmills located in the capital.

Although the republic's population is primarily Russian (with some Ukrainians), there is a large Khakass minority. The Khakass are a Turkic-Mongol nationality that inhabited the S Yenisei valley for many centuries. Formerly nomadic herders, they are now mostly settled and engage in farming, hunting, or livestock-breeding. They speak a Turkic language and are Orthodox Christians.

The region, known for mining and trade from the 8th to the 11th cent., came under Russian control in the 17th cent. Numerous Russian settlers were attracted by copper mining in the 18th cent. The Khakass sided with counterrevolutionary forces during the Russian civil war. An autonomous region was formed in 1930; the region was given republic status in 1991. It was a signatory, under the name Republic of Khakasiya, to the Mar. 31, 1992, treaty that created the Russian Federation (see Russia.

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