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Reise / Europe / Eastern Europe / Russia


The Republic of Tatarstan is a federal subject of Russia, located in the center of the East European Plain, approximately 800 kilometers (497 mi) east of Moscow. It lies between the Volga River and the Kama River, and extends east to the Ural mountains.
Population: 3,779,265 (2002)
There are about two million ethnic Tatars and over a million 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 have a Sunni Muslim background, but a small minority known as the Keräşen Tatars have an Orthodox background and some of them still 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.
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