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In addition, Kalmyk allegiance was often nominal, as the Kalmyk Khans practiced self-government, based on a set of laws they called the Great Code of the Nomads (Iki Tsaadzhin Bichig).
The Kalmyk Khanate reached its peak of military and political power under Ayuka Khan (1669–1724).
They also encamped on both sides of the Volga River, from the Don River in the west to the Ural River in the east.
This area under Kalmyk control would eventually be called the Kalmyk Khanate.
Within twenty-five years of settling in the lower Volga region, the Kalmyks became subjects of the Tsar.
In exchange for protecting Russia's southern border, the Kalmyks were promised an annual allowance and access to the markets of Russian border settlements.
The open access to Russian markets was supposed to discourage mutual raiding on the part of the Kalmyks and of the Russians and Bashkirs, a Russian-dominated Turkic people, but this was not often the practice.
Kalmykia has a cold semi-desert climate, with hot and dry summers and cold winters with little snow.
The average January temperature is −5 °C (23 °F) and the average July temperature is 24 °C (75 °F).Shamanism has in all probability remained a constant, often hidden, substrate of folk-practice, as it is today.The ancestors of the Kalmyks, the Oirats, migrated from the steppes of southern Siberia on the banks of the Irtysh River to the Lower Volga region.The remaining nomadic Mongol Oirats tribes became vassals of Kalmyk Khan.The Kalmyks settled in the wide open steppes from Saratov in the north to Astrakhan on the Volga delta in the south and to the Terek River in the southwest.During his era, the Kalmyk Khanate fulfilled its responsibility to protect the southern borders of Russia and conducted many military expeditions against its Turkic-speaking neighbors.