republic in central Russia. The republic occupies the western half of the broad Minusinsk Basin on the upper Yenisey River. The Abakan River, a tributary of the Yenisey, forms the axis of the republic. Southeast of the Abakan's valley rise the Western (Zapadny) Sayan mountains, reaching 9,613 feet (2,930 m) in Mount Karagosh, and to the west and northwest are the Abakan and Kuznetsk Alatau mountains, with their highest point at Mount Verkhny Zub (7,146 feet [2,178 m]). The enclosed basin has a dry, severely continental climate that has produced a steppe and forest-steppe vegetation in the lowlands, though a considerable amount of grassland has been plowed, especially since the Virgin and Idle Lands Campaign of the 1950s. The mountains are covered with forests of larch, pine, fir, and spruce.
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