Bordering Outer Mongolia in southern Siberia–ensconced by soaring, glaciated peaks–Tuva is a remote and largely unknown republic of the Russian Federation. Formerly a fiefdom of Manchurian China, Tuva briefly established national independence before joining the Soviet Union in 1944. Today, Tuva’s economic contributions to Russia primarily consist of mined minerals and pastorally raised livestock, forming Tuva as a spartan and inhospitable frontier in the minds of many Russians. Yet for all of Tuva’s seemingly rugged isolation, the republic is home to incredibly diverse landscapes, climates, and wildlife, while Tuvans themselves possess a dazzling array of sophisticated cultures.
Following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, former Soviet travel restrictions dissolved, and Tuvans revealed to the world their remarkable music. Tuvan musicians toured the globe, introducing audiences to the highly developed and innovative Tuvan vocal practice of throat singing. In throat singing a single vocalist produces multiple, harmonious pitches simultaneously to the accompaniment of handmade, wooden instruments. Drawn by Tuva’s unique music, many foreigners traveled to Tuva to explore the landscape that inspired Tuva’s astounding and transportive musical culture.
As these early visitors returned from Tuva, their travel reports thrilled the Tuvan music fan community with images of pristine rivers, old growth boreal forests, thriving reindeer populations, and the rich cultural pastiche that comprises post-Soviet Tuvan life. Fully aware of the potential for a successful tourism operation celebrating the beauty of Tuva’s environs, the Tuvan Ministry of Culture and Tourism developed a national tourism program rooted in the lessons of sustainable tourism practices. Maintaining an emphasis on natural sanctity and preservation, TravelTuva aims to responsibly enrich Tuva’s economy and provide opportunities for Tuvan tourism professionals who collaborate with the Tuvan Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Follow the link to learn more about The TravelTuva Project.
The interactive Google Map below provides detailed data on Tuva’s terrain, infrastructure, and population centers. Feel free to zoom and toggle through available layers while exploring the Republic of Tuva.