The Evenk Autonomous Area is in the most unfavorable geographical location of all administrative units of the Russian Federation in the Siberian Federal District. Evenkia occupies the central part of the Central Siberian Plateau in the basin of the Podkamennaya and Lower (Nizhnyaya) Tunguska rivers (right-hand tributaries of the Yenisei River) between 50 and 60 degrees north latitude and 89 and 106 degrees east longitude. The most elevated part of the area is the Putorana Plateau in the north, the highest point being Kamen Mountain (1701 m). The geographic center of Russia is near Vivi Lake. The area borders on Krasnoyarsk Territory in the south and southwest, Irkutsk Region in the south and southeast, Taimyr (Dolgan-Nenets) Autonomous Area in the north, and the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in the northeast.
The area has a total area of 767 600 km2 (4.5% of the area of the RF and 32.8% of the area of Krasnoyarsk Territory). It extends 1500 km from north to south and 800-850 km from west to east. The distance from the town of Tura to Moscow is 5738 km, and the time difference is +4 hours.
Owing to its north-south extent, the area is located within various national zones, from Arctic and subarctic tundra, forest tundra and taiga, to alpine forests. The relief is predominately mountainous; tundra covers about 10% of the area's territory. Topographical features include the world's largest basalt rock mass formed by the mountains of the Putorana Plateau, and the ancient Anabara Mountains in the east. Intermountain basins and taiga and tundra plains complete the geographical picture.
The town of Tura (pop. 5100) is the administrative center of the Evenk Autonomous Area. The area is also divided into 3 administrative districts [Ilimpiisky (Tura), Baikitsky (village of Baikit), Tungussko-Chunsky (village of Vanavara)], 1 town, and 22 rural administrations. The population is 18 200 (28.3% urban and 71.7% rural) or 0.01% of the total population of the RF, and the population density is 0.02 people per km2. The area's ethnic structure is made up of Russians (67.5%), Evenks (14.0%), Ukrainians (5.3%), Yakuts (3.8%), and other nationalities (9.4%).
Human settlement of the Nizhnyaya Tunguska River valley took place from the 2nd millennium B.C. to the 1st millennium A.D (Neolithic period). The ancestors of the native Evenks (formerly known as the Tungus) began occupying the present-day territory of the area in the 11th-12th centuries. The territory of modern-day Evenkia became part of Russia in the first half of the 17th century. The Evenk National Area was formed within Krasnoyarsk Territory on December 10, 1930, and was part of the East Siberian Territory. It was renamed the Evenk Autonomous Area in 1992 and is an independent administrative unit of the Russian Federation, while remaining part of Krasnoyarsk Territory.
The territory is home to a number of small ethnic groups like the Kets (718 people), Nganasans (809 people), and Enets (209 people) with unique languages, cultures, and religions. These peoples still preserve the ancient taiga and tundra culture in their practice of shamanism, rites, ancient medicine, way of life, and occupations. The people of the north had no written language, but the thirst for knowledge of the world and its figurative interpretation and the drive to create drew people irresistibly to the arts. Native craftsmen produced beautiful articles of wood, bone, stone, and metal. People composed songs, epics, fairy tales, myths, and legends. Their works represent a priceless legacy of the northern peoples. Passed down orally from generation to generation, they had enormous force. They reflected the history of the people, their ideals, their quest to liberate themselves from earthly oppression, and their dream of a free and happy life.
Northern folklore is unique and distinctive. Worldly wisdom, national color, and artistic expression are inherent in the folk tales, legends, and traditions. It vividly expresses the beauty of the north and the deep wisdom and intellect of its small but great peoples.
Anyone can be charmed by the beauty of nature in Evenkia; but it takes a true artist to not only perceive this beauty, but also to reproduce it on canvas and paper. Evenkia has been the home of many such artists.
It is notable that nearly every Evenk child has artistic talent that can achieve excellent results with proper development. The Evenks' favorite art form is drawing, mainly in black and white. These are the colors that most precisely reflect the Evenks' vision. Most of the year, the taiga and tundra are covered with dazzling white snow, with sharply contrasting gray and black strokes, lines, and silhouettes of trees, rocks, reindeer caravans, fast-moving dogsleds, courting grouse, and streams of smoke over sharp-peaked tents.
Evenk artists like P. Pikunov, N. Botulu, A. Emidak, S. Salatkin, N. Khukochar, and A. Amelkin are acknowledged masters of the visual arts. It is also not surprising that people who came to Evenkia at various times and fell under the spell of the taiga landscapes went on to perfect their artistic skills here. Thus, artists like V. Sadovnikov, S. Kazantsev, B. Romanovsky, V. Donchenko, and A. Popov can also be considered "our" artists now.
The austere, eternally youthful beauty of the tundra and taiga attracts people who like to travel. The dream of every traveler is to roam through these places. Here you can gather minerals, hunt in the virgin taiga and live off "living silver" in the numerous rivers. However, the territory's special pride and its distinctive calling card are reindeer and the majestic moose.
The Evenk Autonomous Area is a free tourist zone (FTZ). A total area of more than 1.5 million km2 has been proposed for tourist development. The FTZ is located within the Arctic and subarctic tundra, forest tundra, dense southern taiga, and alpine forest zones.
The East Siberian Plateau in the south, the Putorana Plateau in the center, the ancient Anabara Mountains in the east, the Arctic Byrranga Mountains in the north, intermountain basins, endless expanses of taiga and tundra on the left bank of the Yenisei River, and the Taimyr Lowlands form the topography of the FTZ.
The area has a large number of crystal-clear, mineralized mountain, taiga, and tundra rivers, both fast- and slow-moving. There are tens of thousands of lakes, including some of the largest and deepest lakes in Russia after Lake Baikal, e.g., Taimyr, Dyupkin, and Khantaika. The largest waterfalls in Russia are located on the Kureika and Yadun rivers, and the highest density of waterfalls is found in the Putorana Mountains.
Scientists consider the area to one of the ecologically cleanest regions of Russia, and possibly in the world (the area of Kotu and the Moyarskaya basin and the area between the Anabara and Putorana mountains).
Visitors to the FTZ can tour the site where the Tunguska meteorite fell, see the world's largest meteorite crater, and stand at the geographical center of Russia at Vivi Lake.
Bird colonies, polar bear habitats on the shores of Taimyr Lake, the world's largest surface agate-amethyst deposit (Nerangda Lake), the world's largest wild reindeer herd, and a traditional mountain burial ground of shamans are all found in the area.
Excursions led by experienced hunters have been developed for organized tour groups. The routes are supplied with safety equipment and radio connections. In addition to educational tours, there are other special tours, e.g., survival tours, ethnographic tours, hunting trips (grouse, bear, moose, wolf, and sable), fishing trips, and ice fishing.
Half of the area of the FTZ is located north of the Arctic Circle, so in summer, there are the White Nights (midnight sun) and in winter, the Northern Lights.