Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia

Zabaykalsky or Trans-Baikal Territory is located in Eastern Siberia. It borders on the Amur region in the northeast and the Irkutsk region in the northwest, the republics of Buryatia in the west and Yakutia in the north, and has a federal border with northeastern China in the east and Mongolia in the south.






The first traces of human presence on the territory of the region date back to 150-35 thousand years ago. Early evidence was found on the surface of ancient pebbles of the Gyrshelunka River (a tributary of the Khilok River), in the vicinity of the city of Chita (Sukhotino-1), in the Ust-Menza area on the Chikoy River.

The consolidation of the population in the Agin Transbaikal steppes was facilitated by the decree of Peter I issued in 1703, which determined the places of their nomads, as well as the location of border markers under the Burin Treaty with China in 1727.

In 1802, according to the imperial decree of October 17, 1799 “On the settlement of the midday region of Siberia,” the lands along the Ingoda, Chita, Ulunga (Olenguy) and Tura rivers, previously inhabited by Buryats, were transferred to settlers arriving from the western regions of the country.

On September 26, 1937, by a resolution of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR, the Aginsky Buryat-Mongolian National District was formed from the Aginsky and Ulan-Onon aimaks of the Buryat-Mongolian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic as part of the Chita region.

On September 16, 1958, after replacing the ethnonym “Buryat-Mongols” with “Buryats”, the district was renamed the Aginsky Buryat National District. Since October 7, 1977 - Aginsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug. Since March 31, 1992, it has been an independent subject of the Russian Federation.

In 2004, during a visit to China, V.V. Putin made the final decision to transfer half of the Big Island on the Argun River to the Chinese.

Education of the Zabaykalsky Territory
On March 1, 2008, as a result of a decision based on a referendum of the peoples of the Aginsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug and the Chita Region, the Trans-Baikal Territory was formed.

Preliminary work on the unification of the Aginsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug and the Chita Region began at the level of regional authorities in April 2006. The head of the administration of the Aginsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug Bair Zhamsuev, the Governor of the Chita region Ravil Geniatulin, the heads of regional parliaments Anatoly Romanov and Dashi Dugarov sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and on November 17, 2006 he supported this initiative. The referendum on unification took place on March 11, 2007.

In the Aginsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug, 94% (38,814 voters) were in favor of unification, 5.16% (2,129 voters) were against, and 82.95% of the district’s voters took part in the referendum.

In the Chita region they answered “Yes” to the question:
“Do you agree that the Chita Region and the Aginsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug unite into a new subject of the Russian Federation - the Trans-Baikal Territory, within which the Aginsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug will be an administrative-territorial unit with a special status determined by the charter of the region in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation? »

In the Chita region, 90.29% (535,045 voters) were in favor of unification, 8.89% (52,698 voters) were against, and 72.82% of the region’s voters took part in the referendum.

On July 23, 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the federal constitutional law “On the formation of a new subject of the Russian Federation within the Russian Federation as a result of the unification of the Chita region and the Aginsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug,” adopted by the State Duma on July 5, 2007 and approved by the Federation Council on July 11, 2007 .

By decree of the President of Russia dated May 10, 2015, the region’s entry into the Siberian Federal District was taken into account (before that, the Chita Region and the Aginsky Buryat Autonomous District continued to appear in the list of districts).

On November 3, 2018, the Zabaykalsky Territory was transferred to the Far Eastern Federal District, and in 2019 - to the Far Eastern Economic Region (before that it was part of the East Siberian Economic Region).


Physiographic characteristics

Geographical position

Transbaikal region is located in the eastern half of Transbaikalia. The greatest extent of the region from the north (Kodar ridge) to the south (Prionon Plain) is noted on the meridian 117°08'E. and reaches almost 1000 km, from the west (Yablonovy ridge) to the east (Argun River) along the parallel of 50° N. w. the length is just over 850 km. The highest point in the Trans-Baikal Territory is the BAM peak, whose height is 3073 m.

The territory is approximately comparable to Iraq.



The relief of the Trans-Baikal Territory is represented by both plains and mountains, but mountains noticeably predominate in the region. The northern part is occupied by mountain ranges, the middle zone by numerous hills, the southern by vast steppe plains. A total of 65 ridges and 50 depressions have been identified in the region. All ridges and depressions are characterized by one feature - distribution from southwest to northeast. The territory of the region contains the highest and lowest altitudes above sea level of the entire Transbaikalia. The first is 3073 m, the peak of the BAM, the second is 292 m, located in the Amur valley.

In eastern Transbaikalia, six geomorphological regions are distinguished: the northern highlands, the Vitim Plateau, the Transbaikal Middle Mountains, the Khentey-Daurian Highlands and the Uldza-Torey High Plain.



More than 40,000 watercourses flow through the region. 98-99% of them are rivers and streams less than 25 km long. The largest (more than 500 km long) are the main 14 rivers, five of which are entirely located on the territory of the region - Gazimur, Ingoda, Kalar, Nercha and Shilka.

On the territory of the Trans-Baikal Territory, on the Yablonovy Ridge, there is a unique place in the world - Mount Pallas, from the slopes of which there is a flow into three large rivers of Asia: the Yenisei (via Selenga and Baikal), Lena and Amur. The Trans-Baikal Territory is entirely located in the basins of the Yenisei, Lena and Amur.

Near Chita there is the Ivano-Arakhlei system of lakes.



The climate of the region, like most of Eastern Siberia, is sharply continental with insufficient precipitation.

In the Trans-Baikal Territory, the Kalarsky, Tungiro-Olyokminsky and Tungokochensky districts are equated to the regions of the Far North.

Winter is long (long) and harsh, with little snow, with a large number of clear days; the average January temperature is −19.7 (−21) °C in the south and −37.5 °C in the north, and in some years the monthly average in January can go below -42°, and below -39° in December and February. The absolute minimum is −64 °C - recorded at the mine named after the XI Years of October in the Kalarsky district. Transition seasons (spring and autumn) are short. Spring is cold, dry, windy. Summer is short and warm (sometimes hot) - dry in the first half and humid in the second. Variations in daily and annual temperatures are large, in some areas the annual range is 94 °C or more. The average July temperature is +13 °C in the north (as well as on the plains) to +20.7 °C in the south (up to +21 °C in the mountains), the absolute maximum is +42 °C - recorded in the village of Novo-Tsurukhaituy, Priargunsky district , in June 2010, the temperature in the south of the region in some places reached almost +43°, and even in the north reached +38.4°, in Sretensk for the first time rising to +41.3°. The frost-free period averages 80-140 days. Autumn is warm. Another characteristic feature of the climate is the significant duration of sunshine per year. Thus, in Sochi the average annual number of hours of sunshine is 2154 hours; The number of hours of sunshine in the region ranges from 1873 to 2592 per year, and in Borza - 2797 hours, which is 529 hours higher than the sunniest year of 2014 in the ETR Center.

Precipitation ranges from 200–300 (in the south and steppe regions; 350–450 mm in mountain taiga) to 600 millimeters (in the north) per year, most of it falling in summer and autumn.



Trans-Baikal Territory is located in the MSC+6 time zone. The applied time offset relative to UTC is +9:00.


Natural resources


The region has large reserves of hard coal (more than 2 billion tons - this is 2% of the total Russian reserves). The Apsat deposit alone has proven reserves of 977 million tons. The total reserves of brown coal in the region are 2.3 billion tons. Some types of coal produce flammable gas, coke, synthetic gasoline and humates. The iron ore reserves of the Sulumat deposit amount to more than 650 million tons.

According to the Roskomnedra report for 1995, significant reserves of silver (16%), copper (21%), gold (43%), and fluorspar (fluorite) - 38% are concentrated in eastern Transbaikalia. In the Trans-Baikal Territory, copper reserves exceed 24 million tons. Tungsten resources are estimated by Chita geologists at 300 thousand tons, and tin resources in the southern part of the region alone - at 100 thousand tons.

Also in the Trans-Baikal Territory there are three mineragenic zones for the extraction of antimony (100 thousand tons). Lithium resources are estimated at 180 thousand tons. Reserves of tantalum, niobium and zircon amount to 744 million tons. The total predicted resources of germanium are estimated at 500 thousand tons.

Eastern Transbaikalia has uranium resources of hundreds of thousands of tons. Reserves at the Berezovoye deposit in category C2 amount to 3.05 million tons of ore and 3,481 tons of uranium with an average uranium content in ore of 0.114%. At the same time, the predicted uranium resources in the P1 category are 500 tons.

The reserves of the Gornoye deposit in category C1 amount to 394 thousand tons of ore and 1087 tons of uranium, in category C2 - 1.77 million tons of ore and 4226 tons of uranium. The predicted resources of the P1 category deposit are 4800 tons of uranium.

Reserves of the Olovskoye deposit in category B+C1 amount to 14.61 million tons of ore and 11,898 tons of uranium.

In September 2006, JSC TVEL received the right to develop the Argunskoye and Zherlovoe uranium deposits.

On February 8, 2007, Techsnabexport OJSC won the competition for the development of the Berezovoye and Gornoye uranium deposits.

The region has huge reserves of feldspathic raw materials (46.5 million cubic meters), refractory (5 million cubic meters) and refractory (50 million cubic meters) clays, zeolites (more than 1 billion tons), graphite (165 million tons).


Forest resources

Forests in the Trans-Baikal Territory are mountainous in nature. The area of forest land in 2006 was 34,048 thousand hectares. Of these, 29,443 thousand hectares are covered with forest vegetation and 1,236 thousand hectares of unforested land. The average forest cover of the region is 67% and varies by region from 6% to 85%. Most of the logging enterprises are located in Khiloksky, Mogochinsky and neighboring areas.

Forests occupy 68.3% of the region (34.1 million hectares or 341 thousand km²), the forest fund is 32.65 million hectares or 326.5 thousand km².

The main problem of the forest sector of the region is the annual destruction of many thousands of hectares of forest by natural fires. Between 2005 and 2013, an average of 500–600 forest fires were recorded annually in the region. In 2014-2015, due to the inability of the authorities to effectively resist the elements, more than 500 residential buildings, entire villages, economic facilities were destroyed, as well as ammunition explosions in military units of the Karymsky and Chita regions of the region.

After the collapse of the USSR, illegal logging of valuable tree species caused serious damage to forests in the Russian Far East; in 2014, exports to China amounted to 83% of the total volume of timber exports. This has caused concern to the World Wildlife Fund. 20 years of illegal logging have destroyed stocks of commercially valuable timber, and they will not recover in the foreseeable future; the destruction of forests deprives local residents and indigenous peoples of the Russian Far East of their source of existence.

Data obtained from the analysis of satellite images objectively indicate significant damage caused to the forest fund from 2001 to 2019.



The soil cover of agricultural land is mainly represented by chernozem (32.5%) and chestnut (36.5%) soils. Chestnut soils are more common in the Aginsky region (62.7%). The most powerful and characteristic chernozems are distributed in the Mogoituy region - more than 60.5%. Gray forest soils, meadow-chestnut, meadow-swamp, solonchak, sod-taiga, sandy loam and loamy soils are also widespread. The soils of the Aginskaya steppe are generally quite fertile and, with the application of mineral and organic fertilizers and the correct processing system, can produce good and stable yields of grain and fodder crops.



The vegetation is characterized by larch forests, pine and birch forests. Shrub thickets are common. The steppe areas are dominated by leimus-fescue and cold wormwood steppes. The slopes of the hills are occupied by leimus, chamomile, fescue, tansy, wheatgrass and feather grass steppes. Along the river valleys, yellow lily, forb and foot-sedge associations are common. On saline soils there are xiphoid-iris communities.

The northern part of the Agin steppes is unusual both in terms of relief and vegetation cover: the steppes are furrowed by ridges of mountains and hills, alternating with rather narrow valleys, and areas of steppe formations are sometimes replaced by forests.

Forests are concentrated mainly in the northern and western parts of the district and consist of a few species: Daurian larch, Scots pine, Siberian cedar, Siberian spruce, Siberian fir, flat-leaved birch and aspen.

Birch predominates in mixed forests. Coniferous forests grow in the west, and in the Kunkur steppe grows the island relict Tsasucheisky forest - “Tsyrik-Narasun” (pine army), where the Krylov pine dominates. Rarely standing single trees, as in the savannah, with a unique steppe community have no analogues in ordinary steppes, so the pine forest must be preserved for future generations.

The undergrowth is formed by a few species: bush birch, Daurian rhododendron, rose hips, black cotoneaster, meadowsweet, fieldfare, and cinquefoil. There are red currants and often stoneberries, wild strawberries, blueberries, lingonberries, marsh wild rosemary, and honeysuckle.

In the mixed forests of the district there are more than a hundred species of herbaceous plants, including many purely steppe species.

Slopes of southern exposure are usually rocky slopes of the mountains and hills of the Agin steppes, either completely devoid of woody vegetation or covered with shrubs, mainly spirea, elm, and Siberian apricot.

Single specimens on the hills include buckthorn and Pallas's apple tree. Along the river valleys there are bird cherry, hawthorn, ramus, laurel poplar, etc. In the northern part there are small sedge swamps, which are completely absent in the southern part.

The meadows are represented by chamomile, pikulnik, and, less commonly, chive formations.

The predominant plants of the district are adapted to a cold and dry climate, a short growing season with no drought in mid-summer. Steppes are characterized by sparse, low-growing grass with a powerfully developed root system. There are many valuable plants growing in the district: medicinal, technical, fodder, which must be used rationally.

The vegetation of the district is rich and, according to new research, has more than 700-800 species.

The development of economic ties with China has led to the emergence of new problems. Part of the cut down forest, commercially less valuable, is abandoned on the spot, and during the spring flood it can end up in rivers. At the same time, the issue of locating Chinese pulp and paper enterprises, which are environmentally unsafe, in the Russian Federation is being discussed. This has caused concern to the World Wildlife Fund.

Chinese-owned sawmills and timber yards play a key role in the spread of illegal logging (page 17). Moreover, representatives of organized crime groups occupy not the last place in this business.


Animal world

The fauna of the Trans-Baikal region is represented by a combination of Siberian taiga and steppe Mongolian fauna with a small proportion of Manchurian species. Mammals are represented by about 8 dozen species, including: moose, wapiti, wild boar, Siberian roe deer, brown bear, fox, wolf, sable, common squirrel, white hare, weasel, and musk deer. Many different species of birds: ducks, geese, cranes, woodpeckers, etc.

Some species are listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation, including the gazelle, manul, tarbagan, Amur tiger, Daurian hedgehog, bustard, steppe eagle, white-naped and black cranes, Siberian crane, and demoiselle.

The dynamic development of trade relations with China after the collapse of the USSR led to changes in the environmental situation in the region. Rampant deforestation and poaching contribute to the decline of rare animal species; and the main direction of smuggling was the export of parts and derivatives.