The real Tunguska region is around the two rivers Stony Tunguska and Lower Tunguska in the Krasnoyarsk region in central Russia. Near Stony Tunguska, the “Tunguska event” took place (a meteorite or Nicola Tesla’s death ray – no one is completely sure). The name “Tunguska” comes from the indigenous population of the region, who are nowadays, maybe less offensively, called Evenks instead of Tunguses (a word of Turkic origin meaning someone who raises pigs, which presumably was meant as offensive by the Turkic peoples who coined it, even though pigs are such nice creatures). The Tunguska region was never an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (but since 1992 it is an Autonomous Area within the Krasnoyarsk region).
Furthermore, there is a third river by the name of Tunguska in Russia. It’s in the Khabarovsk region by the Pacific Ocean. Tunguska is in fact a stretch of river that begins where the two smaller rivers Kur and Umin join, and ends when it flows into the Amur river. It’s situated on the border with the Jewish Autonomous Region Birobidzhan. (Here is a map of the region, and here is another one.)
Anyway, the fictional former Tungus ASSR is located by the Pacific Ocean, north of Sakhalin. It consists of a small town and some mountains, forests, swamps and rivers. The indigenous population is sparse, and the first firm settlement was a port town in the late Tsarist Russia, where many political prisoners passed through. The Soviet GULAG system picked up the tradition again from the 1940′s onward. In the late 1950′s the camp action was discontinued, but instead, a blossoming seaweed industry was built up. Seaweed processing soon surpassed lumber. Even with shortage of other products, seaweed was always available all over the Soviet Union. TungusMorKapustProm became so strong that the region eventually declared itself autonomous, and the central Soviet government could do nothing but oblige. However, with the fall of the Soviet Union and the massive privatization, the days of the TungusMorKapustProm plant were numbered. The plant became subject of power struggles among different groups of mobsters, and at some point a particularly ruthless oligarch took control over it and sucked all profit out of it until it was bone dry. TungusMorKapustProm was declared bankrupt and suddenly, most people in the Tunguska region had no job. The seaweed lovers of Russia had to make do with cheap imports from China.
By and by, the former inhabitants of the region left to find work in other parts of the country. In the end, only stubborn old people had stayed, and they, too, gradually died off. Global warming did its share, and the rising sea level swallowed half of the region and brought a nice beach into the region’s capital. Unfortunately, no one was there to enjoy it, because by 2025, Tungus ASSR was a dead zone. Only occasional hunters would pass through on their way to hunt mutant bears in the mountains.
It was then that a group of young friends, traveling on the Trans-Siberian railroad, fell victim to a local petty criminal gang in Khabarovsk. Robbed of their valuables and thrown off a car somewhere in the middle of nowhere, they set out to get back to civilization. They found their way to the ocean, but they never found civilization, as they stupidly followed the beach towards the north and not the south. Instead, they came aross the old regional capital of Tungus ASSR. They stayed in one of the decaying buildings over the night, and in the following morning they found that they liked the place so much that they wanted to stay longer. Gradually they built up a nice place and some self-sufficient food production for themselves, and, after finally managing to construct a connection to the Internet, invited all their friends to come join them. They were all Anarchists and Socialists, hardworking, neat and righteous, and also a bit artistically minded, and so they declared the former Tungus ASSR to be a free state. There was nothing anyone else wanted in the region, so the Russian government didn’t care. Long live the Tungus free state!