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The Administrative Status

The Russian Federation consists of 89 different administrative regions, which have various degrees of autonomy. Together with ten other regions of the Russian Federation, Chukotka (Чукотский Автономний Округ) has a status of autonomous district. This means that today unlike before Chukotka reports directly to the Russian Federation (until 1993 Chukotka was a part of Magadan district).

Internally Chukotka is divided into 8 areas (районы): Anadyrskii rayon with the districts capital city, Anadyr (approx. 9.000 inhabitants), Beringovskii rayon, Bilibinskii rayon, Iultinskii rayon, Providenskii rayon, Chaunskii rayon, Chukotskii rayon, and Smidovskii rayon. About half of the Siberian Yupik Eskimo people (approx. 800) live in Providenskii rayon. Some smaller groups of Yupiget (plural of Yupik) are also found in Chukotskii rayon, Iultinskii rayon, on the Wrangel Island and in Anadyr.





Geography, climate, flora and fauna

Chukotka is situated in the Russian Far East and is washed by the waters of the Arctic Ocean, the Bering Strait and the Bering Sea from three sides correspondingly. Wrangel Island (Ostrov Vrangelya) in the Arctic sea and Big Diomede Island (Ostrov Ratmanova) in the Bering Strait form a part of Chukotka. In the south and west Chukotka correspondingly borders Koryakiya (Koryakskii Autonomous District), Magadan district, and Sakha. Chukotka is divided by the polar circle and has a total area of 737.700 km2. For the most of its part the area is hilly, but there are also some bigger flat coastal areas with typical tundra growth (grass, brushwood, moss, and lichen); almost no vegetation is found above the height of 200 hundred meters above the sea surface. Some smaller wood areas are found in the inner southern part of Chukotka; some rich vegetation is also found around separate hot spring waters.

Because of the size, there are some consequential variations in the temperature and precipitation in the area; still, a characteristic feature for the whole district is permafrost. In many ways the climate on Chukotka’s seacoasts stretching further towards the Bering Strait reminds conditions of the Disco Bay in Greenland: long and cold winter (snow cover from the end of September to the middle of May). The temperature in January is from -20° C to -45° C. In July the temperature never reaches above +10° C. Precipitations: 650-700mm is the total amount of precipitations a year. The ice brakes around the 1st of June (on the north coast the only ‘ice free’ months are July and August). There are many violent storms (approx. 70 days a year at the north-west coasts). During the winter some mild winds blowing from the sea bring with them thaw and rain; followed by frost, these usually create an ice layer. Cold, storms and rather sudden changes in the weather highly complicate the life of the reindeer herders and the sea mammal hunters.

 

The fauna of the north-east coast - the area that is inhabited by the Eskimos - mainly consists of reindeers (as a result of harsh weather and poor treatment the amount of both wild and domestic reindeers is crucially decreasing), mountain sheep, wolverine, polar bears (preserved), brown bears and polar wolves (because of the traditional taboo which prohibits the hunt of these animals, they are relatively large in number), foxes and arctic foxes are quite common and are hunted along Chukotka’s seacoasts. However, the most important animals for hunting are sea mammals: grey whales, bowhead whales, beluga (hunting of killer whales is a traditional taboo in the same way it is for bears and wolfs), walruses and different kinds of seals. Some different kinds of fish are being caught - the most important is salmon, which appears in quite big portions in July-August. There are several areas with bird cliffs where various kinds of birds live: eiders, razorbill, guillemot, cormorant etc. Apart from that, arctic skua, gees and ducks are found in the tundra.



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