Yamaliya

   / YAMALO-NENETS AUTONOMOUS OKRUG
   An administrative district of the Russian Federation. Yamaliya is one of three ethnic homelands of the Nenets people, the other two being Nenetsiya and Taymyriya (both of which share a border with Yamaliya). Yamaliya also neighbors the Komi Republic, Krasnoyarsk Krai, and Khantiya-Mansiya. The region’s northern coast is washed by the Kara Sea, and hems in the Gulf of Ob, which in turn is fed by the Ob River. An autonomous okrug (AOk), Yamaliya is a federal subject of the Russian Federation but is simultaneously subjugated to Tyumen Oblast.
   Established by Cossacks in 1595, the administrative center is Salekhard (pop. 96,000), one of the world’s largest towns located above the Arctic Circle; it was previously known as Obdorsk. Salekhard is connected to Russia proper by a railway constructed in the 1950s with gulag labor.
   The region has an area of 750,300 square kilometers and a population of 500,000. The titular nation, Nenets, makes up only 5 percent of the population, while ethnic Russians account for 59 percent. Ukrainians, Tatars, and indigenous peoples of the Far North make up the remainder.
   Yamaliya is a major center of natural gas extraction, and home to Russia’s largest independent natural gas company, Novatek. Gazprom also has a large presence in the area and signed a major cooperation agreement with the local government to promote environmental protection, investment, relocation of retirees to warmer climes, and new jobs. More than 90 percent of Russia’s natural gas is produced in the region. Transneft’s Yamal-Europe is a 4,200-kilometer pipeline connecting the region to Germany; other routes connect to the southern Urals and other parts of Russia.
   Oil is also found in abundance in the region, which has attracted the interest of Rosneft, Lukoil, and other major companies. Gold, timber, lead, iron ore, copper, and other natural resources also contribute to the local economy, as do construction, maritime and riverine shipping, and manufacturing. Fur farming, fishing, and animal husbandry remain traditional occupations among the indigenous population, often supplemented by sales of mammoth ivory, which is abundant in the region.
   The longtime governor of the region is Yury Neyolov. His tenure has been marked by attempts to preserve Nenets culture and protect the environment, while attracting investment to the region and establishing relations with foreign governments, including Canada and Iceland. He has a close relationship with former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Yamal Potomkam (Yamal for Our Descendants) is an important Salekhard-based nongovernmental organization that supports environmentalism and cultural rights for the native population.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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