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Theme: Languages of the World
Tatar (Tatar tele, Tatarça, Татар теле, Татарча) belongs to the Western Turkic branch of the Altaic language family. Its closest relatives are Bashkir (Bashkort) and Chulym. It is not the same language as Crimean Tatar. There are 5.2 million speakers of Kazan Tatar most of whom live in the Russian Federation and in the former Soviet republics. Majority of the Tatar-speaking population is concentrated in the Republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan in the central Volga region as well as in Moscow, St.Petersburg and elsewhere. Tatar is the largest minority language of the Russian Federation.
There are two main theories concerning the origins of Tatars of Tatarstan. According to one theory, the Volga-region Tatars are direct descendants of the Tatars of the Golden Horde. Another theory holds that the ancestors of these Tatars were Bulgars, a Turkic people who were displaced from the Azov steppes by Arab raiders and who settled in the Middle Volga region in the 8th century and converted to Islam in 922. After the Mongol invasion of Europe in 1241, Volga Bulgars were absorbed into the Golden Horde. The Kazan Khanate which succeeded the Golden Horde was annexed by Russia in 1552.
Fascinating facts about Tatarstan
Tatarstan (510 miles southeast of Moscow) is one of 21 internal republics in Russia. Located in the Volga-Urals region, it covers 27,100 square miles (roughly the size of Ireland) and is home to 4 million people and lies on the middle part of Volga River.
Efforts are being made to bring back the Tatar language and culture.
Tatarstan is rich in oil.
Tatarstan was established as an autonomous republic in 1920 for one segment of the large and widespread Tatar population of the Russian Republic. In the 1980s, less than one-third of Russia’s Tatars lived in the republic designated for them. The population of Tatarstan, about 3.8 million in 1995, is second only to that of Bashkortostan among Russia’s republics.
Kazan (on the Volga River, 550 miles southeast of Moscow) is a city of 1.1 million and the capital of the Tatar Republic. Founded in the 13th century and capital of the Tatar state in the 15th and 16th centuries, it was claimed for Russia by Ivan the Terrible in 1552 and later developed as the gateway to Siberia. Both Lenin and Tolstoy studied at Kazan University, one of Russia’s oldest. Lenin was thrown out for his revolutionary activities.
Kazan is an old historical city of Moslem minarets, Christian domes and military fortresses. Dominating a large hill, the kremlin has been built, destroyed and rebuilt several times. The current white limestone walls were built under Ivan the Terrible.
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