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 (54%, 2021 census), mostly Orthodox Christian Russiann (40%), and other peoples (6%).
The Tatar people (5.3 million people), of Turkic language and culture, is the second largest of the Russian Federation (2010 census). 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.
Tatar is the national language of Tatarstan. It is a language of the Kipchak branch of the Turkic family, closely related to Kazakh and Bashkir, and more distantly to Turkish, Uzbek, and Uyghur, among others.
Tatar is the third most spoken language in the Russian Federation, with 3,26 million speakers (2021 Russian census), only behind Russian and English. About 2 million Tatar speakers live in Tatarstan.
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.
Since 2018, and after a legal amendment, learning Tatar has ceased to be compulsory in schools.
Apart from Tatar and Russian, there are minorities of speakers of Chuvash, Udmurt, and other languages.
(Last updated July 2023.)