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Republic of Tatarstan ( ; ) is a federal subject of the Russian Federationmarker (a republic). Its size is 68,000 km² with a population of 3,800,000. Its capital is Kazanmarker. The unofficial Tatarstan motto is: Bez Buldırabız! (We can!).


Another Tatar version of the name reads Tatarstan Cömhüriäte / Татарстан Җөмһүрияте (cömhüriät is the Turkic form of the Arabic word for "republic," جمهوریة [jumhuuriya]), but it is not official. The direct romanization of its name from Russian is Respublika Tatarstan. Another (old) version of the Russian name is (Tatariya), which was official along with Tatar ASSR during Soviet rule.


Middle Ages

The earliest known organized state within the boundaries of Tatarstan was Volga Bulgaria (c. 700–1238 CE). The Volga Bulgars had an advanced mercantile state with trade contacts throughout Inner Eurasia, the Middle East and the Baltic, which maintained its independence despite pressure by such nations as the Khazars, the Kievan Rus and the Kipchaks. Islam was introduced by missionaries from Baghdadmarker around the time of ibn Fadlan's journey in 922.

Volga Bulgaria finally fell to the armies of the Mongol prince Batu Khan in the late 1230s (see Mongol invasion of Volga Bulgaria.) The inhabitants, mixing with the Golden Horde's Turco-Mongolian, Kipchak-speaking troops and settlers, became known as the "Volga Tatars." Another theory postulates that there were no ethnic changes in that period, and Bulgars simply switched to the Kipchak-based Tatar language. In the 1430s, the region again became independent as the base of the Khanate of Kazan, a capital having been established in Kazanmarker, 170 km up the Volga from the ruined capital of the Bulgars.

Tatarstan was conquered by the troops of Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible in the 1550s, with Kazan being taken in 1552. Some Tatars were forcibly converted to Christianity and cathedrals were built in Kazan; by 1593 all mosques in the area were destroyed. The Russian government forbade the construction of mosques, a prohibition that was not lifted until the 18th century by Catherine II. The first mosque to be rebuilt under Catherine's auspices was constructed in 1766-1770.

Modern times

In the 19th century Tatarstan became a center of Jadidism, an Islamic sect that preached a tolerance to other religions. Under the influence of local Jadidist theologians, the Tatars were renowned for their friendly relations with other peoples of the Russian Empiremarker. However, after the October Revolution religion was largely outlawed and all theologians were repressed.

During the Civil War of 1918-1920 Tatar nationalists attempted to establish an independent republic (the Idel-Ural State). They were, however, put down by the Bolsheviks and the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was established on May 27, 1920. The boundaries of the republic did not include majority of the Volga Tatars. The Tatar Union of the Godless were liquidated in the 1928 purges.

Tatarstan today

On 30th Aug 1990 Tatarstan announced its sovereignty with Declaration on the State Sovereignty of the Tatar Soviet Socialist Republic and in 1992 Tatarstan held a referendum on the new constitution , and 62 percent of those who took part voted in favor of the constitution. Articles 1 and 3 of the constitution, as introduced in 2002 define Tatarstan as a part of Russian Federation.

On February 15, 1994 the Treaty On Delimitation of Jurisdictional Subjects and Mutual Delegation of Authority between the State Bodies of the Russian Federation and the State Bodies of the Republic of Tatarstan and Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Tatarstan (On Delimitation of Authority in the Sphere of Foreign Economic Relations) were signed.


Map of the region with the Republic of Tatarstan highlighted

The Republic is located in the center of the East European Plain, approximately east of Moscowmarker. It lies between the Volga River and the Kama River (a tributary of the Volga), and extends east to the Ural mountainsmarker.

Time zone

Tatarstan map

Tatarstan is located in the Moscow Time Zone (MSK/MSD). UTC offset is +0300 (MSK)/+0400 (MSD).


Major rivers include (Tatar names are given in parentheses):


Major reservoirs of the republic include (Tatar names are given in parentheses):

The biggest lake is Qabanmarker. The biggest swamp is Kulyagash.


Natural resources

Major natural resources of Tatarstan include oil, natural gas, gypsum, and more. It is estimated that the Republic has over one billion tons of oil deposits.


  • Average January temperature:
  • Average July temperature:
  • Average annual precipitation: up to

Administrative divisions


  • Population: 3,779,265 (2002)
    • Urban: 2,790,661 (73.8%)
    • Rural: 988,604 (26.2%)
    • Male: 1,749,050 (46.3%)
    • Female: 2,030,215 (53.7%)
  • Females per 1000 males: 1,161
  • Average age: 36.5 years
    • Urban: 35.7 years
    • Rural: 38.7 years
    • Male: 33.8 years
    • Female: 38.8 years
  • Number of households: 1,305,360 (with 3,747,267 people)
    • Urban: 970,540 (with 2,762,818 people)
    • Rural: 334,820 (with 984,449 people)
  • Vital statistics (2005)
    • Births: 36,967 (birth rate 9.8)
    • Deaths: 51,841 (death rate 13.8)

Ethnic groups

There are about two million ethnic Bolgars and a million and a half ethnic Russians, along with significant numbers of Chuvash, Mari, and Udmurts, many of whom are Tatar-speaking. The Ukrainian, Mordvin, and Bashkir minorities are also significant. Most Tatars are Sunni Muslims, but a small minority known as Keräşen Tatars are Orthodox and some of them regard themselves as being different from other Tatars even though most Keräşen dialects differ only slightly from the Central Dialect of the Tatar language. There is a fair degree of speculation as to the early origins of the different groups of Tatars, but most Tatars no longer view religious identity as being as important as it once was, and the religious and linguistic subgroups have intermingled considerably. Nevertheless, despite many decades of assimilation and intermingling, some Keräşen demanded, and were awarded, the option of being specifically enumerated in 2002. This has provoked great controversy however, as many intellectuals have sought to portray the Tatars as homogenous and indivisible. Although listed separately below, the Keräşen are still included in the grand total for the Tatars. Another unique ethnic group, living in Tatarstan only are the Qaratay Mordvins.

According to the 2002 Census the ‘national composition’ was • Ethnic Tatar 52.92% • Ethnic Russian 39.49% • Chuvash 3.35% • Udmurt 0.64% • Ukrainian 0.64% • Mordvin 0.63% • Mari 0.50% • Keräşen Tatars 0.50% • Bashkir 0.39% • Azeri 0.26% • Belarusians 0.16% • Armenian 0.16% • Uzbek 0.13% • Tajik 0.10% • Jewish 0.09% • Ethnic German 0.08% • Kazakh 0.05% • Georgian 0.05% • Moldovan 0.03% • Roma 0.02% • Lezgin 0.02% • and various other groups of less than eight hundred persons each. • An additional 0.02% of residents declined to state their nationality or ethnocultural identity on the census questionnaire. Historical figures are shown below:

census 1926 census 1939 census 1959 census 1970 census 1979 census 1989 census 2002
Tatars 1,263,383 (48.7%) 1,421,514 (48.8%) 1,345,195 (47.2%) 1,536,430 (49.1%) 1,641,603 (47.6%) 1,765,404 (48.5%) 2,000,116 (52.9%)
Russians 1,118,834 (43.1%) 1,250,667 (42.9%) 1,252,413 (43.9%) 1,382,738 (42.4%) 1,516,023 (44.0%) 1,575,361 (43.3%) 1,492,602 (39.5%)
Chuvash 127,330 (4.9%) 138,935 (4.8%) 143,552 (5.0%) 153,496 (4.9%) 147,088 (4.3%) 134,221 (3.7%) 126,532 (3.3%)
Others 84,485 (3.3%) 104,161 (3.6%) 109,257 (3.8%) 112,574 (3.6%) 140,698 (4.1%) 166,756 (4.6%) 160,015 (4.2%)

The official languages are Tatar and Russian. According to the 2002 Russian Federal Law (On Languages of Peoples of the Russian Federation), the official script is Cyrillic. RFE/RL correspondents are strongly opposed to this law.


The head of the government in Tatarstan is the President. As of 2008, the President is Mintimer Shaymiyev. Tatarstan's unicameral State Council has 100 seats: fifty are for representatives of the parties, other fifty are for deputies from the republic's localities. The Chairman of the State Council is Farit Mukhametshin from May 27, 1998.

According to the Tatarstan Constitution, the President can be elected only by the people of Tatarstan, but due to Russian federal law this law was suspended for an indefinite term. The Russian law about election of governors says they should be elected by local parliaments and that the candidate can be presented only by the president.

On March 25, 2005 Shaymiyev was re-elected for his fourth term by the State Council. This election was held after changes in electoral law and does not contradict the Constitutions of Tatarstan and Russia.

Political status

The Republic of Tatarstan is a constituent republic of the Russian Federation. Most of the Russian federal subjects are tied with the Russian federal government by the uniform Federal Treaty, but relations between the government of Tatarstan and the Russian federal government are more complex, and are precisely defined in the Constitution. The following passage from the Constitution defines the republic's status without contradicting the Constitution of the Russian Federation:


The Spirit of Kazan

Tatarstan is one of the most economically developed regions of Russia. The republic is highly industrialized, and ranks second only to Samara Oblast in terms of industrial production per sq km. Tatarstan's GDP per capita was USD 12,325 in 2004, with GDP in 2008 at about 930 billion rubles.

The region's main source of wealth is oil. Tatarstan produces 32 million tonnes of crude oil per year and has estimated oil reserves of more than 1 billion tons. Industrial production constitutes 45% of the Republic's gross regional domestic product. The most developed manufacturing industries are petrochemical industry and machine building. The truck-maker KamAZ is the region's largest enterprise and employs about 1/5 of Tatarstan's work force. Kazanorgsintez, based in Kazan, is one of Russia's largest chemical companies. Tatarstan's aviation industry produces Tu-214 passenger airplanes and helicopters. The Kazan Helicopter Plant is one of the largest helicopter manufacturers in the world. Engineering, textiles, clothing, wood processing, and food industries are also of key significance in Tatarstan.

Tatarstan consists of three distinguished industrial regions. The northwestern part is an old industrial region where engineering, chemical and light industry dominate. In the new industrial Northeast region with its core in the Naberezhnye Cheiny-Nizhnekamsk agglomeration, major industries are automobile construction, chemical industry, and power engineering. The Southeast region has oil production with engineering under development. The North, Central, South, and Southwest parts of the Republic are rural regions.

The Republic has a highly developed transport network. It mainly comprises highways, railway lines, four navigable rivers — Volga (İdel), Kama (Çulman), Vyatka (Noqrat) and Belaya (Ağidel), and oil pipelines and airlines. The territory of Tatarstan is crossed by the main gas pipelines carrying natural gas from Urengoy and Yamburg to the west and the major oil pipelines supplying oil to various cities in the European part of Russia.


Major libraries include the Science Library of Kazan State University and the National Library of the Republic of Tatarstan. There are two museums of republican significance, as well as 90 museums of local importance. In the past several years new museums appeared throughout the Republic.

There are twelve theatrical institutions in Tatarstan. The state orchestra is the National Tatarstan Orchestra.


The most important facilities of higher education include Kazan State Universitymarker, Kazan State Medical Universitymarker, Kazan State Technological University,Kazan State Technical Universitymarker, Kazan State Finance and Economics Institute and Russian Islam University, all located in the capital Kazan.


The most common faiths are Islam, including Sunni and variants of Shi'a and Sufi belief, and the Russian Orthodox Church.

As of January 1, 2008, as many as 1398 religious organizations were registered in Tatarstan, comprising the following: 1055 - Muslim, 255 - Orthodox Christian under the Moscow Patriarchate, Real-Orthodox Church - 5, Old Believers’ Church -2, Catholics - 2, Jews - 4, Protestant communities of different doctrines – 71 (Evangelic Christians-Baptists - 4, Evangelic Christians – 30, Christians of Evangelic faith – 16, Adventists of the 7th day – 10, Lutherans – 5, New Apostle Church – 1), Jehovah’s Witnesses -5, Bahá'í Faith – 1, Krishnaists – 2, Church of the Last Testament (Vissarionov’s) – 1.


The people of ethnic majority of Tatarstan are usually offended when called Tartars. The preferred name is Tatars. Inhabitants of Tatarstan regardless of ethnicity are usually called Tatarstaners ( , ).

The name Tatarstan derives from the Tatar and Persian -stan (an ending common to many Central Asian countries). Other variants of the republic's name are Russian Tataria (former official Russian name) and Turkish Tataristan.

Some Tatarstaners wish for their state to be renamed Bulgaristan (like Alaniamarker), claiming that the region was called Bulgaristan by its inhabitants until 1922 in tribute to the early settlers.

See also

Further reading

  • Lost Cosmonaut: Observations of an Anti-tourist Daniel Kalder
  • The Model of Tatarstan: Under President Mintimer Shaimiev Ravil Bukharaev
  • The Volga Tatars: A Profile in National Resilience Azadeayse Rorlich



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