Land and People
Lying mostly in the vast depression of the N Caspian lowland, Kalmykia is largely a steppe and desert area. There are salt lakes but no permanent waterways. Stock raising (horses, cattle, sheep, goats, and some pigs and camels) is by far the leading economic activity, and fishing is important. Irrigation has made limited agriculture possible; winter wheat, corn, and fodder crops are grown. Industry revolves primarily around the processing of agricultural products, fish, and minerals. The population is primarily Kalmyk (45%) and Russian (37%). Buddhism and Orthodox Christianity are the main official religions. The republic has a 130-member parliament.