Yakutia (Russian: Яку́тия, yah-KOO-tee-yuh), also known as the Republic of Sakha, is located in the Russian Far East, and is notable for being the largest subnational governing body by area. Yakutia covers an area of more than 3 million km², representing about 18 percent of the Russian Federation, and making it roughly the size of India, despite having a population smaller than that of Rhode Island. The republic's capital is Yakutsk.
Yakutia borders Chukotka to the northeast, Magadan Oblast and Khabarovsk Krai to the southeast, Amur Oblast to the south, Zabaykalsky Krai and Irkutsk Oblast to the southwest, Evenkia to the west and Taymyria to the northwest. In the north it has a long coastline with the Arctic Ocean.
- 1 Yakutsk (Russian: Якутск; Sakha: Дьокуускай, D'okuuskay) — oblast capital and a serious contender for the title, "Coldest city in the World"
- 2 Kyubyume (Russian: Кюбюме) — abandoned town on the road from Magadan, perfect for an urbex expedition
- 3 Lensk (Russian: Ленск; Sakha: Лиэнскэй, Lienskey)
- 4 Neryungri (Russian: Нерюнгри; Sakha: Нүөрүҥгүрү, Nüörüñgürü)
- 5 Tiksi (Russian: Ти́кси; Sakha: Тиксии, Tiksii) — former Soviet trade post and sea port along the Arctic shoreline.
- 6 Ust-Nera (Russian: Усть-Нера; Sakha: Уус Ньара) — large-ish town on the road from Magadan, featuring an interesting museum and surrounded by impressive mountains and taiga
- 1 Bennett Island (Russian: Остров Бе́ннетта, Ostrov Bennetta)
- 2 Lena Pillars Nature Park (Russian: Ле́нские столбы́, Lenskiye Stolby; Sakha: Өлүөнэ туруук хайалара, Ölüöne Turūk Khayalara) — an UNESCO World Heritage site
- 3 New Siberian Islands (Russian: Новосиби́рские острова, Novosibirskiye Ostrova; Sakha: Саҥа Сибиир арыылара, Sanga Sibiir aryylara)
- 4 Pole of Cold
Yakutia, or Sakha as it is known to its indigenous locals, is named after the Yakut (Sakha) people, who are remotely related to Turks. While most of Sakhas are, at least nominally, Orthodox Christians, there are still many remnants of their ancient religion, Tengriism (a kind of sun-worship, with shamanistic practices). Other aspects of indigenous Sakha culture have started going through a revival as well.
Native language of Sakha people is Sakha, which is a Turkic language, but Russian is by far the most common language anyway, as Sakha is spoken by only about a quarter of the population. English is not widely spoken or understood.
On a car
The only road connecting Yakutia with other regions of Russia is M56 Never-Yakutsk road. It is macadam covered, sometimes asphalt (near towns and cities). There are many lakes and rivers along the way, and it is very exciting to go along the road. The road was selected as "the worst in the world" in 2006, it has been renovated, but still after long rains the road becomes a way of mud.
Air travel is the main mode of transportation due to the large distances across Yakutia.
A popular option during the summer months is to take a river boat along the majestic Lena river, cruises and regular services are available from Yakutsk. Among the routes offered are a once-weekly hydrofoil service to Lensk (4000 руб, 32 hours). The more remote destinations you can reach via ship includes arctic settlement of Tiksi where the Lena river meets the Arctic ocean, there are 5-6 departures during summer and a one-way journey takes five days, prices from about 12000 руб. More information can be obtained from the Yakutsk river port (+7 4112 21-90-13), the seasons schedule is usually published in early May.
- Kolyma Highway — one of the ultimate adventures on the planet with a very real possibility of death, this "highway" crosses the taiga all the way from the Pacific coast