Isolation is bliss
In this technologically advanced age, is it possible to remain in isolation from the rest of the world? That's the question people in the Republic of Tuva are asking. Plans are afoot to connect the isolated community near the Mongolian border with the rest of the world, by means of a new railway. But the Tuvans aren't too sure they want it.
In 1944, the Soviets entered Tuva, demolishing Buddhist temples and persecuting (sometimes killing) their holy men. The nomadic population were moved to collective farms, and their way of life massively disrupted.
The demise of the Soviet Union allowed Tuvans to withdraw back behind the massive mountains that surround them, and reclaim some of their battered culture.
So, just as the Tuvans are starting to make some progress, the prospect of another change of pace has alarmed many. External and economic pressures are forcing them to consider new industries such as mineral mining to keep the community alive. Hence the railway.
But what will the railway bring? Money, work, prosperity. Tourists. Change. Cultural erosion. Walmart and Starbucks? It's easy to understand their concern. RM