Republic of Khakasia

  Somewhat hidden away in Minusinsk Basin and among the mountains of the Kuznetsk Alatau and Abakan Range is the Republic of Khakassia, one of the less well-known republics of Russia. Its name is sometimes spelled Khakasia, as the Russian only has one S, and refers to the Khakas - a Turkic-language speaking people, who make up around 12% of the population and are considered the descendants of the Yenisey Kyrgyz, who remained in their ancient homeland around the River Yenisey. Traditionally Shamanistic, many Khakhas now observe Russian Orthodoxy, sometimes alongside Shamanism. Khakassia shares borders with Altai and Tyva and the Kemerovo Region and Krasnoyarsk Territory.

  Khakassia can be described as the cradle of Siberian archaeology as shortly after incorporating Khakas lands into the Russian Empire an exhibition was sent by Peter the Great to Khakassia, which was surprised by the amount of kurgans (burial mounds) and stone engravings they found.

Salbyksky Kurgan

  A vast number of these archaeological sites have survived to this day all over Khakassia, including the Salbyksky Kurgan - the closest you can get to a Siberian Stonehenge. In addition to its historical sites, the republic also has many beautiful natural sites, including the nine clusters which make up the Khakassky Nature Reserve.