Tatarstan is one of the constituent republics of the Russian Federation. Together with Bashkortostan, Udmurtia, Mari El and Chuvashia, it makes up the so-called “Volga republics”. Tatarstan is one of Russia’s richest federal units, its economy based on an important oil and industrial production.
The population of Tatarstan is made up of mostly Muslim Sunni Tatars (53%, 2010 census), mostly Orthodox Christian Russiann (40%), and other peoples (7%). Tatar and Russian are Tatarstan’s official languages, although in practice Tatar is in a subordinated position in areas such as administration, education and the media.
The Tatar people (5.3 million people), of Turkic language and culture, is the second largest of the Russian Federation. Out of 2 million in Tatarstan proper, neighbouring Bashkortostan boasts a significant Tatar population (1 million, 25% of the republic’s total).
The fact that more Tatars are found outside Tatarstan than inside has its roots in the definition of the Tatarstan borders in 1920 by Soviet Russia authorities, which left three-quarters of the whole Tatar population in other administrative units.
At the end of the Soviet period, the Tatar national movement —which had its roots in the early 20th century— demanded further self-government for Tatarstan. The republic proclaimed itself sovereign in 1990. The Tatarstan and Russian governments signed a bilateral, power-sharing agreement in 1994. Tatarstan self-government was cut in 2005 and 2007, under the Russian presidency of Vladimir Putin.
(Last updated November 2017.)