The Republic of Tatarstan is situated in the middle of the Volga basin at the confluence of the Volga and Kama rivers. In the north, it borders upon Udmurtia, in the west - Mari and Chuvashia, in the east - Bashkkortostan, and in the south - Samara Region. Area: 68,000 km2.
The climate in the Republic of Tatarstan is moderate-continental with warm, sometimes hot, summer and moderate cold winter. The average temperature of the coldest month (January) is -14°C (7°F), of the warmest (July) +19°C (66°F), the annual average temperature is +2.5°C (36.5°F). The annual average amount of precipitation comes to 500 mm, of which 2/3 fall on summer and autumn and 1/3 - oin winter and spring. Moderate climate favours development of all kinds of agriculture.
The population of Tatarstan is 3,7 million, of which 48% are Tatars and 43% are Russians. Only 23% of Tatars live in Tatarstan. The Tatars descends from nomadic tribes that migrated westward from southern Siberia between the 10th and the 13th centuries. The term "Tatar" refers to a nation which is rooted in three main ethnic groups of Turkic origin.
Tatarstan is economically very important region. The region produces oil, gas and has many highly developed industries for machine-building products such as heavy trucks and bombers. Its economic and strategic value is possibly the primary reason for the special position of Tatarstan within the Russian Federation.
1552 Ivan the Terrible conquered the Empire of the Kazan Khanate and incorporated it into the Russian Empire. The Tatars made numerous attempts to throw off Tsarist rule, they did not succeed.
1918 A Tatar-Bashkir Soviet Republic was set up within the Russian Federation. The borders of the two republics were drawn arbitrarily, and 75% of the Tatar population were left outside their nominal republic.
1990 Tatarstan became the first of the autonomous republics to adopt a declaration of sovereignty. This declaration was not recognized by the Russian Federation.
1992 The Tatarstan government organized a referendum on the sovereignty of Tatarstan. 61% voted in favour of state sovereignty and adopted its own republican constitution.
1994 The presidents of Russia and Tatarstan signed a bilateral power-sharing treaty on behalf of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Tatarstan, respectively. The treaty recognizes extensive self-government rights of Tatarstan, apparently beyond those enjoyed under the Russian Constitution, yet it falls short of recognizing state sovereignty.
1995 The economy of Tatarstan began to improve and the standard of living in Tatarstan became higher than in other parts of the Russian Federation.
1996 Over 1 000 companies which supplied about 75% of the consumer production within Tatarstan were privatised.
Turkic writing has ancient traditions dated back to tile 5th-7th centuries, when people started to use common-Turkic runic writing. Together with the Moslem religion since 10th century the Arabic script came to the Volga-Kama Bulgaria, till the year of 1928. In 1928-1938 the Roman-based alphabet was used, since 1938 the Tatar written language is based on Cyrillic script.
The history of Bulgar-Tatar literature numbers ten centuries; the first printed book in the Tatar language was published in the middle of 18th century. At present, about 600 books with total edition of some 8 mln copies are published in the Republic annually with 170 issues of periodicals and 30 magazines. Several dozens of periodicals are also issued in the Tatar language.
In the Republic there are 16 professional theatres, conservatory, State Symphonic Orchestra, 27 museums, 1800 libraries with 20 min books. Traditional festivals are: the International Opera Festival named after F.I.Shalyapin (who was born in Kazan), the Festival of Classic Ballet named after Rudolf Nuriev.
In Tatarstan operate 7 "creative communions" - Writers Union, Journalists Union, Composers Union, Cinernatography Union, Theatre Workers Union, Architectors Union. Under the Presidential authority the Fund for Culture Development and Support is established.