Constituent republic of the Russian Federation. Its capital, Cheboksary (pop. 440,000), lies 670 km east of Moscow on the Volga and on the Trans-Siberian railroad. The adjacent territories are the Mari Republic, the Republic of Tatarstan and the districts of Nizhni-Novgorod and Uljansk.
Other towns of note include Novacheboksary and Kanash. Most of the electricity in the region is produced by a large hydroelectric dam. One third of the territory is afforested. There are also peat bogs, phosphor and gypsum deposits. These minerals have supported a large chemical industry since Soviet-led industrialization. The other industries include machine building (e.g. earthmovers) and light industry.
The Chuvash people make up 68% of the population (the rest are mainly Russian). They are descended from medieval Bulgars. Scholars believe their lineage includes elements of Mongolian and Finno-Ugrian. There is a Chuvash language which is Turkic but also the sole surviving member of the old-Bulgaric branch. However, most people here speak Russian. They are mainly Orthodox Christians.
Settlements were founded here in the fifteenth century and a fortress was built in 1555. From the sixteenth century Chuvasia was part of the Russian empire. In 1920 it became part of communist Russia. Originally it was given the status of oblast (province) but was promoted to autonomous republic in 1925.