Uvs Nuur Basin (2003)

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The Uvs Nuur Basin (1,068,853 ha), is the northernmost of the enclosed basins of Central Asia. It takes its name from Uvs Nuur Lake, a large, shallow and very saline lake, important for migrating birds, waterfowl and seabirds. The site is made up of twelve protected areas representing the major biomes of eastern Eurasia. The steppe ecosystem supports a rich diversity of birds and the desert is home to a number of rare gerbil, jerboas and the marbled polecat. The mountains are an important refuge for the globally endangered snow leopard, mountain sheep (argali) and the Asiatic ibex. 

Adapted for the extreme weather conditions of freezing snowy peaks and rocky terrain, these rare creatures hunt alone high in the mountains for ibex, wild mountain sheep, musk deer, small goats and often tinier mammals during the warmer daytime hours. 

Unlike most big cats, the snow leopard doesn't roar, and feeds crouched over her dinner, like small cats do. Snow leopard young are born up to four at a time in a warm den lined with mama leopard's fur.

  • Russia 1987. Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia). 
  • Estonia 1999. Snow Leopard from the Zoo in Tallinn. 

Estonia 1999. Snow Leopard from the Zoo in Tallinn.

Russia 1987. Uvs Nuur. Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia)

The closed salt lake system of Uvs Nuur is of international scientific importance because of its climatic and hydrological regimes. Because of the unchanging nature of the nomadic pastoral use of the grasslands within the basin over thousands of years, current research programmes should be able to unravel the rate at which Uvs Nuur (and other smaller lakes within the basin) have become saline (and eutrophic). These processes are on-going and because of its unique geophysical and biological characteristics, the basin has been chosen as an IGBP site for monitoring global warming. 

Russia 1973. Eurasian Beaver. Russia 1975. Musk Deer Russia 1973. Ibex.

The Uvs Nuur site has a large range of ecosystems, representing the major biomes of eastern Eurasia, with a number of endemic plants. 

Russia 1993. Tiger.

Although the basin is inhabited and has been used for nomadic pastoralism for thousands of years, the mountains, forests, steppes and deserts are extremely important habitats for a wide range of wild animals, many of them threatened or endangered. The steppe ecosystem supports a rich diversity of birds and the deserts a number of rare gerbil, jerboas and the marbled polecat. 

The mountains at the western end of the basin are important refuges for the globally threatened snow leopard, mountain sheep (argali) and the Asiatic ibex. Uvs Nuur itself is an important habitat for waterfowl as well as for birds migrating south from Siberia. 

  • Russia 1993. Nice block of four featuring the Siberian Tiger. 

Республика Тыва

The Uvs Nuur basin is found in the Republic of Tuva in Central Asia, on the border to Mongolia. The red spot indicates the exact location. The Uvs Nuur nature reserve is a transboundary property, stretching into Mongolia (on this site). 

Tuva is an autonomous republic in the Russian Federation, bordering Mongolia to the south, the republic of Buryatia to the east, Altay Territory and the republic of Khakassia to the west, and Krasnoyarsk Territory to the north. 

Tuva is one of the 21 Russian republics, which are the administrative units with the greatest amount of autonomy within the Russian Federation. The administrative center is Kyzyl.  

Russia. Map of Tuva (Uvs Nuur).

Tuva covers a total land area of 170,500 sq km (65,830 sq mi). High mountain ranges, including the Western Sayan, the Eastern Sayan, the Shapshal’skiy, and the Tannu-Ola, encircle the Tuva and Todza basins, which lie in the central part of the republic. The highest peak in the republic is Mount Mungun-Tayga (3,976 m/13,044 ft). Vegetation ranges from steppe in the basin areas to dense forests in the mountains and alpine meadows at the highest elevations. Tuva's rivers include the upper course of the Yenisey and several of its tributaries. The republic also contains a number of glacial lakes. Tuva has extremely cold winters and warm summers. Annual precipitation levels are generally low, particularly at lower elevations.

Tuva has a population of 310,000 (1997 estimate). Kyzyl, the administrative center, has a population of 108,075 (1995). Approximately 48 percent of the republic's inhabitants live in urban areas. Tuvans represent nearly two-thirds of inhabitants, while Russians account for nearly one-third. Small minority groups make up the remainder. In earlier times the Tuvans were known as Soyons, Soyots, Uriankhais, and Tannu-Tuvans. They speak a Turkic language influenced by Mongolian that has four principal dialects. The Tuvan language was written in the Latin script beginning in about 1930, but since 1941 it has used the Cyrillic alphabet. 

Russia 1997. Wildlife.

Russia 1997. Wildlife block. 

  • Siberian Flying Squirrel (Pteromys volans). 
  • Label with no postal value.  
  • Lynx (Felis lynx). 
  • Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus). 
  • European otter (Lutra lutra). 
  • Curlew (Numenius arguata).

The traditional religions of Tuva are Tibetan Lamaism and shamanism. Religious practice declined under the restrictive policies of the Soviet period (1917-1991) but revived somewhat in the early 1990s. Educational institutions in the republic include the Tuva Institute of Language, Literature, and History, founded in Kyzyl in 1945, a branch of the Siberian Academy of Sciences, and teacher-training and agricultural institutes. 

Formed by the mixing of Mongolian, Turkic, Uygur (Uighur), and Kyrgyz tribes, the Tuvans were conquered by the Mongols in the early 13th century and later ruled by the Mongol Yuan (Yüan) dynasty of China. 

Russia 1985. Protected Animals. Stamp #1 of five.

Russia 1985. Protected Animals. Stamp #2 of five.

During the 16th and 17th centuries Lamaist Buddhism gained increasing popularity in Tuva. From the late 16th century to the second half of the 17th century, Tuva was ruled by the Altyn khans. From 1757 to 1911 the territory was part of the Chinese Empire, ruled by the Qing (Manchu) dynasty.
  • Russia 1985. Protected Animals.
    • Pamir shrew. 
    • Desert dormouse. 
Russia 1985. Protected Animals. Stamp #3 of five. Russia 1985. Protected Animals. Stamp #4 of five. Russia 1985. Protected Animals. Stamp #5 of five.

In 1911 the Russians encouraged a separatist movement among the Tuvans, whose territory became nominally independent before being made a Russian protectorate in 1914. During the Russian Civil War (1918-1921), the Tuvans declared their independence. In 1921 the People's Republic of Tannu-Tuva was established with its capital at Khem Belder (now Kyzyl), and the region moved into the Soviet sphere of influence. In 1926 the republic became a semi-independent state under Soviet authority, and in October 1944 it was incorporated into Soviet Russia as the Tuva Autonomous Oblast. In October 1961 Tuva was elevated to the status of autonomous republic, and in late 1991, after the breakup of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), it became part of newly independent Russia.

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in Russia (on this web site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Russia-section, for further information on such sites. 

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Revised 21 jul 2006  
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