One of the 21 ethnically-based autonomous
republics within Russia
, the home of the Tatar
people, who speak a Turkic
language. It is in the centre of the East European Plain, about 700 km east of Moscow, with an area of 68 000 km2
and a population of 3.7 million (1992).
To the north is the autonomous republic of Udmurtia, to the west are Mari-El and Chuvash-en, and to the east is Bashkortostan in the Urals. The capital, Kazan, lies on the River Volga (Tatar Idel), just north of where it joins two other rivers, the Vyatka (Tatar Nokrat) and the Kama, to form the enormous confluence of the Kuybyshev Reservoir, which dominates much of the heart of Tatarstan.
The Tatars as a distinct nation existed before Russia itself, and much of their history was of conflict. The Khanate of Kazan was finally absorbed into Russia in 1552. In 1920 they were established as an ASSR within the USSR.
With the break-up of the Soviet Union, they were one of the first ASSRs to elevate themselves to full republic status, in 1990, under the leadership of President Mintimer Shaimiyev, who is still in power. They then went further than any other Russian republic and proclaimed full sovereignty; however, rather than fighting for independence like Chechnya, they declared that they agreed to be in an equal union with the rest of the Russian Federation, giving priority to their own laws.
The Tatarstan flag is horizontally red above green, separated by a thin white stripe (proportions 7:1:7).
The coat of arms is a red disk, featuring the national emblem of the ak bars or winged white snow leopard (Panthera uncia, except the Linnaean one doesn't have wings). Around this is a green band ornamented in yellow, and with the (Cyrillic) name TATAPCTAH at the bottom.