The population of 218,063 (as of 2018) is mainly ethnic Russians (56.6%) and Altais (34.5%), a Turkic group. The population follows a wide range of religions, such as Russian Orthodoxy, Shamanism, Buddhism, and Hinduism; it is one of Russia's most religiously diverse regions.
The modern Altai economy is based largely upon agriculture, but nowadays the tourism industry has undergone much growth. The Altai Mountains are the highest in Siberia. The Altai Republic and nearby Altai Krai were very popular hunting, fishing, and adventure tourist sites during Soviet times. The region is popular for rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, horse riding, fishing, and hunting.
Despite the rapid growth of tourism, the region is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped places of Russia; its HDI (0.777) is third lowest among all Russian federal subjects.
Altai Republic has no more towns; the major villages are as follows:
So far there are three big congregations of private campsites, rest bases and guesthouses, majority of them in the north, where the climate is warmer:
To get there tourists buy tours in big cities or call to the owners beforehand and then arrive. One can try their luck and certainly will find a stay on the spot. In the 2010s, nearly any village on Chuysky Trakt got a camping or tourist base, so it's relatively easy to find a place to stay overnight if you travel by that route. It's best to call in advance if you travel to the more remote areas.
The Altai are a Turkic ethnic group closely related to the Khakas and Tuvans (and more distantly to the Yakuts, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz), and they speak the Altai language. Russian is spoken nearly universally, but it may be hard to find a Russian-speaking Altai in remote areas like Chulyshman valley. The Kazakh language is also prevalent is some villages.
The easiest way to get to Altai Republic is to take a direct flight from Moscow to Gorno-Altaisk. There are regular flights two times a week. The town can also be reached from Biysk, Barnaul or Novosibirsk by bus or "marshrutka". Taxi from Biysk is quite cheap too.
Marshrutka is the most common way of public travel there. It is some kind of bigger taxi, which goes once it gets full. Hitchiking is quite common too. Sometimes you can stop even a child on a horse.
Altai mountains area is the place for adventure travel:
Here are presented 1st-6th classes rapids (according to white water rafting system). For the multi-day rafting usually, choose the tour "Rafting the Middle Katun".
Eat at kafes, it is cheap and quite good. Kafes can are easily be found in Gorno-Altaysk, Mayma and more "civilized" Сhemalskiy region. However there are few if any in other regions.
Tap water is considered unsafe for drinking, and should be avoided. Since being one of Russia's poorest regions, only 60% of the population have access to safe drinking water. Sanitize all water, and drink only water that is bottled.
The central republican hospital is located in Gorno-Altaisk and is well equipped. Regional hospitals are located in the biggest villages and possess basic diagnostic facilities.