Geographical location and climate
According to the political division accepted in the Russian Federation Kalmykia holds an official designation The Republic of Kalmykia and has its administrative center at the city of Elista. Kalmykia's region is situated in the steppe, semidesert and desert zones and occupies the territory of total 75.9 thousand square km. It exceeds the size of such European nations as Belgium, Denmark Switzerland and Netherlands all together. The Republic is situated in the South East of the European part of the Russian Federation. It verges on Rostov Oblast on the West, Volgograd Oblast on the North and North West, Astrakhan Oblast on the East, Republic of Dagestan on the South and Stavropol Territory on the South West. Its geographic coordinates are 44о50 and 40о10 longitude East and 41о40 and 47о35 latitude North. The territory extends for 448 km North to South, and 423 km West to East.
The territory of Kalmykia may be conditionally divided into three native and economical zones: Western, Central and Eastern. The Western zone comprises the territories of Gorodovikovsky and Yashaltinsky regions, the Central zone encloses the territories of Maloderbetovsky, Sarpinsky, Ketchenerovsky, Tselinny, Priyutnensky and Iki-Burulsky regions, the Eastern zone is restricted to the territories of Oktyabrsky, Yustinsky, Yashkulsky, Chernozemelsky and Lagansky regions. The most favorable soil and climatic conditions offers the Western zone.
Chernye Zemli (Black Lands) are quite a large and specific territory of the Western Zone.
In the South the territory of Kalmykia borders upon Kuma-Manych depression and rivers Manych and Kuma, in the South West it is washed by Caspian Sea, North West part of Kalmykia's territory is made up by Yergeninky Hills. The Kalmykia's segment of Caspian lowlands is called Sarpa lowlands; its Southern part is the Chernye Zemli. The dominating type of republic's relief occupying the most of its territory is plains.
The climate of the republic is continental, i.e. hot and dry summers and cold winters with little snow. The continental character of the climate intensifies essentially from West to East. The Average January temperatures are negative throughout the whole republic: -7о to -9о in the South and South West and -10о to -12о in the North. The lowest temperature levels are -35о or lower in the Northern regions. The climate's peculiarity is a considerable number of sunny days, 280 per year. The duration of the warm period is 240 - 275 days. Average temperatures of July are 23,5о - 25,5о. The absolute temperature maximum reaches 40о - 44о.
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The average temperature levels grow from North to South and South East. Winter is often marked by thaws, some days show snowstorms. Ice cover occurring time to time may result in agricultural damages causing icing of grasslands and winter crops.
A twist of the republic's territory is summer draughts and hot winds. The latter make up 120 days per year. The region is the most arid in the South of Russia's European part. The annual precipitation does not exceed 210-340 mm.