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The history of Tyva is as long as the history of the mankind. It is considered that Tyva was inhabited 40 000 years ago. Scientists found a great number of rock drawings and stone monuments dating back to that ancient period of the history of Tyva. In the 6th century AD, Tyva fell under Turkic rule. In the 8th century it was conquered by the Uyghurs from modern China. In the 9th century Tyva was taken over by the Turkic “Yenisey Kyrgyz” empire, then, ruled by Jenghis Khan’s Mongolian successors from about the 13th century. When the last independent Mongolian state, that of the western Mongolian Oyrats, was wiped out by the Manchu Chinese in the 1750s, Tyva became an outpost of China.
Conquerors came and went. But they never disappeared without leaving traces of their cultures in Tyva. It was during Chinese period that Buddhism of the Yellow-Hat Tibetan variety led by the Dalai Lama, came to Tyva where it still coexists with the older shamanist religion.
The first Russian delegation came to Tyva in October 1616. The first Russian tsar of the Romanovs dynasty took this part of Siberia under Russia’s protectorate. Russian traders, gold prospectors and peasants first began to settle in Tyva in the 19th century.
After the Revolution in China of 1911, the Tsin Empire collapsed and the Outer Mongolia declared independence. Confronted with the cruelty of rule of Mongolia and Manchuria, Tyvans took the decision to adhere to the Russian Empire. After the Bolshevik Revolution followed by the Civil war, Tyva became an independent people’s republic (Tannu-Tyva) in 1921. Tyvan, the vernacular Turkic tongue, became an official language, initially written in the Latin alphabet but later converted to Cyrrilic.
In 1944 Tyva was renamed to the Tuvinian Autonomous Republic and became part of the USSR. Tyva proclaimed itself a full republic within Russia in 1991 and elected the first president in 1992. However, semi-nomadism survived to some extent in Tyva, as well as shamanism in some mountainous regions of the republic. Buddhism banned during the years of the Soviet power is slowly reviving, and new temples have been founded in Kyzyl and other settlements of Tyva.