Ulan-Ude is the capital of the Republic of Buryatia – and with over 400,000 inhabitants, is one of Siberia's largest cities. From Ulan-Ude it is 200 kilometres to Lake Baikal – adjoining the border between Russia and Mongolia. Buryatia offers an amazing synthesis of the best of Europe and Asia. As a result of its history on the crossroads of international trade routes today’s Ulan-Ude is home to Buryats, Russians, Baruch Jews, Evenks, and numerous other nationalities.
- Ulan-Ude is Russia's sunniest city – with 2797 hours of sunshine every year.
- Roads in the area are often marked by Buddhist stupas – small roadside shrines, where Buddhist believers might stop for a short rest, to pray for a safe journey, and perhaps leave an offering in the form of a few coins, or spill a few drops of vodka on the ground.
- Ulan-Ude has Russia's largest monument to Lenin – an enormous sculpture of his head, which weighs 42 tonnes.
- The world-famous Lake Baikal is just a few hours drive from Ulan-Ude.
The city was founded by Cossacks in 1666, at the foot of the Khamar-Daban and Ulan-Burgas mountains.
Ulan-Ude lies on the ancient trade route linking Russia to Mongolia and China. The government decided to establish a military garrison here to safeguard the trade routes and the town grew up under its original name of Verkhneudinsk.
Russia established borders which separated Buryatia from Mongolia. Where once camel-trains had hauled furs and tea across the border, the Trans-Mongolian Railway took over the heavy burden of such goods. Development of this transport infrastructure laid the basis for the regions' economic development. The merchants of the area flourished as trade expanded.
Today's Ulan-Ude is a multi-ethnic city, where members of many different nationalities live. There are over 20 ethnic communities represented in the city, including Poles, Germans, Azeris, Armenians, Tatars, and others. It's a city in which Buddhist belief coexists with that of Russian Orthodox, Russian Old Believers, Roman Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and many others.