The Komi people come in two closely related flavours, the Zyrian
and the Permyak
. They speak Finno-Ugrian
languages. Each group has its own region in European Russia
, the very large Komi Republic for the Zyrian branch, and the small Komi-Permyak
to its south.
Komi, meaning the main Komi Republic (Komintasavalta), has an area of about 420 000 km2 and a population of 1.3 million, the majority Russian. The capital is Syktyvkar (known until 1930 as Ust'-Sysol'sk). The area is now very important for its Vorkuta coal-mining region and its oil. It extends to the Arctic Circle but is separated from the coast by the Nenets autonomous region.
The Komi people were absorbed by the Novgorod republic in Russia in the Middle Ages, and were converted to Christianity in the fourteenth century by St Stephen of Perm, who also devised an alphabet and translated parts of the Bible. Komi became an ASSR in 1930 and became one of the constuent members of Russia on the breakup of the USSR. The presidents since then have been Yuri Spiridonov 1990-2002 and Vladimir Torlopov 2002-.
The flag is a horizontal tricolor of light blue over green over white.
Komi-Permyak has an area of 33 000 km2 and a population of 160 000; its capital is Kudymkar.