Monday, April 4, 2022

The Lost Country of Tanna Tuva

You know I love odd geographical anomalies, and this is a good one. Tanna Tuva. It was a country from 1922 to 1944. In fact it was the 3rd Communist Country in the world, following The Soviet Union and Mongolia.

How did this country to be and what happened? Well it is an interesting story.

Until 1911 the Qing Dynasty in China ruled both Mongolia and Tuva. With the fall of the Dynasty, Mongolia and Tuva fought for independence in wars that were a stalemate, until the Soviet Revolution in 1919. Having exited World War I, the USSR decided to help these two achieve independence and fought a limited war with China in this region. At that time it was the Republic of China under Sun Yat-sen.

In 1921 both Mongolia and Tanna Tuva declared themselves Socialist Republics. Tanna Tuva was only recognized by USSR and Mongolia. During World War II, Tuva supplied a great amount of arms, raw materials and weapons to the Soviet Union in their fight against Nazi Germany.

For most of their period of independence they were primarily cow herders. In the 1931 census, 82 percent of the population were cow herders.

The period of independence from 1922 through1939 changed the country immensely. The changes from China to Mongolia to Republic resulted in a certain national pride. Very early the country changed their writing system from Mongolian letters (seen in the stamp below) to Latin characters like ours.

Starting in 1939, the Tuva people worked with the Soviet Union more and more. They supported the war effort and even sent volunteers to the conflict. Russification occurred during this period. In 1941, the alphabet was changed again, this time to Cyrillic. During a period of solidarity with the USSR and a coup against the governing class, Tanna Tuva "requested" to join the Soviet Union 1944.

It was made an independent "Oblast" which is a self-governing region in a Soviet Republic, in this case part of the Russia SSR.


In looking at it on the world scale, it is a small region. But is you measure it against North or South Korea, and it is about the same size.

You can see the Mongolian writing system here AND the hammer and sickle in the middle of the stamp.

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