Geographical Features
The Republic of Tatarstan is situated in the middle of the Volga-Basin at the confluence of the Volga and Kama rivers. In the north, it borders Udmurtia, in the west - Mari El and Chuvashia, in the east - Bashkortostan, and in the south - Samara Region. Area: 68,000 km2.

The population of Tatarstan is 3,7 million, of which 48% are Tatars and 43% Russians. Only 23% of Tatars live in Tatarstan.

Tatarstan is an economically very important region. The region produces oil, gas and has many highly developed industries for machine-building products such as heavy trucks and bombers. Its economic and strategic value is possibly the primary reason for the special position of Tatarstan within the Russian Federation.

Brief History

  • The term "Tatar" has been used in a variety of ways since it appeared for the first time among Mongolian and Turkic tribes in the 6th to 9th c. More specifically, however, "Tatar" denominates the descendants of Kypchak and other Turkic tribes that migrated west out of Southern Siberia between the 10th and the 13th centuries. They formed an important part of the Mongol "Golden Horde" armies which defeated the Russians in the 13th century. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the Kypchaks assimilated the other Turkic-Mongolian tribes. Some mixed with the indigenous groups in the area where they settled, while those who retained their Kypchak identity and converted to Islam, adopted the name "Tatar".

  • 1552 When the "Golden Horde" disintegrated, new Tatar states like the Astrakhan Khanate and the Kazan Khanate emerged. Russia conquered these states in 1556 and 1552 respectively, and eventually, the Tatars spread east and west in the Russian empire and became divided into a variety of tribal and territorial groups. It was not until the fall of the Khanates that the name "Tatar" became common also to denominate the poorer parts of the population. The Tatars made numerous attempts to throw off Tsarist rule. At the end of the 19th c., there was a renaissance of Tatar nationalism.

  • Between 1917 and 1919, many Tatar nationalists had camaigned for creation of a Volga-Urals state, which would have included the Tatars, Maris, Chuvash, and Bashkirs, but in 1920, the Bolsheviks established the smaller Tatar ASSR, as part of RSFSR.

  • 1918 A Tatar-Bashkir Soviet Republic was set up within the Russian federation. The borders of the two republics were drawn arbitrarily, and 75% of the Tatar population were left outside their nominal republic.

  • late 1980s In the period of Perestroyka, Tatar nationalism again grew strong, and a variety of nationalist groups and movements appeared. In 1991, the most radical Tatar leaders called for a truly independent Tatar republic, including lands ever controlled historically by Tatars. Other groups advocated the creation af a greater Tataria to Unite the Tatar autonomous republic with other ethnically defined neighbouring regions (much like the dreams of the Tatar nationalists in 1917-19).

  • 1990 Tatarstan became the first of the autonomous republics to adopt a declaration of sovereignty. This declaration was not recognized by the Russian Federation.

  • 1991 the Republic of Tatarstan replaced the former ASSR. As one of the Russian Federation's 89 subjects, it is struggling to increase its independence. In 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the Tatar ASSR adopted the "Declaration on the State Sovereignty of the Republic of Tatarstan".

  • 1992 In February 1992, Tatarstan stopped sending tax revenues to Russia and in March the same year a referendum was held, in which 61% of the 2,132,000 participating voters approved the resolution for state sovereignty and absolute control of natural resources. Also in 1992, Tatarstan President, Mintimer Shaymiyev, refused to sign the new Union Treaty for the Russian Federation.

  • 1994 The presidents of Russia and Tatarstan signed a bilateral power-sharing treaty on behalf on the Russian Federation and the Republic of Tatarstan, respectively. The treaty recognizes extensive self-government rights for Tatarstan, apparently beyond those enjoyed under the Russian Constitution, yet it falls short of recognizing state sovereignty.

  • 1995 The economy of Tatarstan began to improve and the standard of living in Tatarstan is higher than in other parts of the Russian Federation.

  • 1996 Over 1 000 companies were privatized which supply about 75% of the consumer production within Tatarstan.

Current situation
The positive developments, started in 1995 continue. The special status of the Republic within the Russian Federation is probably one of the reasons for the growing economy in Tatarstan. The republic has actively taken part on behalf of the Russian Federation, in delegations which carried out work for the UN, the Council of Europe and several international organizations.

Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO)
Norwegian Institute of International Affairs [NUPI] - Centre for Russian Studies
Photos: Kazan State University

Ancient Turkic Deities | Tatar Ethnic Roots | The Bulgars | The Alans

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