The capital of Buryatia is Ulan Ude. Originally the city was called Verkhneudinsk, and only in 1934 it got its present name – Ulan Ude, which means Red Uda in Buryat language. The city is located in a valley formed by the Selenga and Uda rivers, approximately 45 miles from Lake Baikal. With a population of 386,000 people, it is the third largest city in Eastern Siberia.
Ulan Ude was founded in 1666 by Russian Cossacks and was used primarily as a military outpost. In 1680-s the encampment was upgraded to a fortress and finally to the official status of city in 1690.
Ulan Ude’s ideal geographic location made possible two distinct opportunities for rapid economical growth during the early years of the city’s development. First, settling in between the commercial routes between Russia and the Far East (China and Mongolia), Ulan Ude became a hot bed of trade for the two economic powers. Secondly, the city was opened to the world when the Trans-Siberian Railway connected Ulan Ude with Central Russia and the Far East.
Ulan Ude occupies a territory of 85 acres and stretches for 20 miles from east to west. The private residence of the President of Buryatia, the Republic’s government offices, the Khural (National Assembly) are all located in Ulan Ude.