Administration and Population

The population of the okrug was 24,400 in the 1989 Soviet Census. Recently, the population has decreased to about 18,000 people (1.01.2002, http://www. evenkya.ru/eng/) and is scattered thinly over the territory. The density of the population is 1 per 40 km2. The Russians comprised 67.5% in 1989, and there were both Old Settlers and newcomers. The northern indigenous peoples, the Evenki, Ket, and Essey Yakut totaled about 18% of the whole population in 1989 and 24% in 1999. There are many mixed families of indigenous peoples with Russians, Ukrainians, and other nationalities.

There are 30,000 Evenki in Russia, and only 3480 (13%) live within Evenkia (1989 census). Originally the Evenki were hunters and reindeer herders and used their reindeer as a means of transportation. Some of them still follow the seminomadic hunting and reindeer-breeding way of life. The Kets (formerly named Ostyaki) in Evenkia number about 178, mainly settled in the village of Sulomay on the Podkamennaya Tunguska River. They hunt for land mammals, fur animals, and fish. There are about 900 Essey Yakuts in Evenkia; they live in the village of Essey, and their means of living are fishery and hunting.

The indigenous peoples had animistic beliefs, associating numerous master spirits with animals, places, and the campfire, and today some remnants of shamanism are preserved. The Russian Orthodox religion, brought by Russian peasants, merchants, and missionaries in the 18th to 19th centuries, became a historical religion among the indigenous population.

However, during recent years two Orthodox churches were opened in the villages of Tura and Baikit.

The Evenki Autonomous Okrug was formed on the basis of the national state principle in 1930 (when the Soviet government set up national districts named after indigenous peoples in the Russian Far North) and became an autonomous area in 1977, but it is an integral part of the Krasnoyarsk Kray. Relations with Krasnoayrsk Kray and the Federal Center are based on bilateral agreements, which envisage delimitation of the authority. The governor of the Evenki Autonomous Okrug, who is elected by the population, represents the executive power together with the okrug's administration. The State Committee on Religion and National Affairs works within the structure of the Okrug administration. The Evenki legislative assembly (Suglan) has 23 deputies, who are elected for 4 years. The Evenki Autonomous Okrug has an office and a representative in the federal Duma in Moscow.

Most of the population (about 12,500) is rural. There are three administrative districts in Evenkia, including Ilimpiisk, where Tura, the center of the district and of the whole okrug, is located, Tungussko-Chunsk with the district center of Vanavara, and Baikit with the center in the village of Baikit. About half the total population live in Ilimpiisk District, the largest in the okrug. There are 27 settlements in the okrug, of which half are small and number no more than 300 people, mainly indigenous. Only three villages have a population more than 1000. The nomadic camps of the Evenki people are scattered in the taiga. All settlements are widely separated by great distances and the principal means of transportation for goods and people are planes and helicopters, with small airstrips in larger settlements and airports at Tura and Baikit. There are no railways or paved roads. Reindeer play an important role in communication within the okrug.

Although the Evenki Autonomous Okrug has its own budget, it depends upon federal subsidies. From 1930 and during the Soviet period, the Noginsk graphite mine was worked, and Iceland spar (optical calcite) was mined. Today, these no longer form a significant part of the region's economy. In the 1970s, oil and gas prospecting began and identified large oil and gas reserves. From the 1950s, the Evenki worked as hunters and reindeer breeders on state soviet farms, providing fish, reindeer and wild animals' meat, and furs. Fur farming was also carried out. Today reindeer numbers have decreased, and hunting for fur animals is the basis of the okrug's economy. Almost all men living in the okrug are hunters or fishermen on a professional or amateur level. The timber industry is developing in a small scale in the southern pine forests.

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