BASHKORTOSTAN

Geographical Features
The Republic of Bashkortostan lies in the South Ural mountains bordering with Tatarstan, the Udmurt Republic and the provinces of Perm, Yekaterinburg, Cheliabinsk and Orenburg. Area: 143,600 km˛. Capital: Ufa.

Population
The population of Bashkortostan is nearly 4 million and one third of them is Bashkir. A great number of Bashkirs live in other parts of the Russian Federation.

Ethnic Diversity
Russians, Chuvash, Udmurts, Mari and others inhabit 40% of the territory.

Languages
The Bashkir language is the second language in the Republic and belongs to the Turkic group of languages, while Russian remains the official language. Beside Turkic tribes, the Bashkir ethnicity includes Mongol, Finnic and Hungarian elements.

Political system
Parliament of the Republic is the highest representative body of Bashkortostan, which is a two- chamber parliament.

Economy
Wood exports and domestic demand for timber. Bashkortostan is one of the largest agricultural regions in Russian Federation. The industrial potential is second in the Ural economic region after the province of Yekaterinburg. The main natural resources are oil, gas, copper, iron, chromium and manganese. More than one third of the territory is covered by forest.

Brief History
The name "Bashkort" has been known since the 9th c. The Bashkirs are descendants of Turkic tribes of Central Asian and South Siberian origin, living in the southern Urals and the surrounding steppes for over 1000 years. Their physical and linguistic characteristics suggest that they emerged as a self-concious ethnic group in the 16th c. from a mix of Tatar, Mongol, Volga Bulgarian, Oguz, Pechenegs, and Kypchak peoples. After the fall of the Tatar Khanate of Kazan in 1552, the Bashkirs came under Russia's sovereignty. Various forms of exploitation by tsarist administration led to several unsuccessful Bashkir revolts in the 17th and 18th c., the biggest one in 1773, led by Salavat Yulay.

  • 1921 Bashkortostan was forced to become an Autonomous Soviet Republic as part of the Russian Federation.
  • 1937 Bashkortostan accepted the constitution of the USSR, in which the republic was declared a state. This status was a formality due to the absence of sovereign rights. A new constitution was adopted, which reduced the political-legal status of the republic.
  • 1980 A movement for improving the political-legal status for an autonomous Bashkortostan was formed.
  • 1990 Bashkortostan declared its state sovereignty. A treaty was signed between the Republic of Bashkortostan and the Russian Federation. Under this treaty, the sovereignty of Bashkortostan was partially recognized by Russia.
  • 1994 extended economic and political independence within the Russian Federation.
  • 1995 Parliament of the Republic of Bashkortostan was elected.
  • 1996 Bashkortostan became a member of UNPO, represented by the Government and Parliament of the Republic of Bashkortostan.

Current situation
Today the Bashkirs are outnumbered by ethnic Tatars and Russians who began to settle in the area during the late 19th c. Decline in the population has happened as a result of hunger and repression in the 1930s, World War II losses and assimilation efforts by Russians. Not until 1989 did the Bashkirs equal the pre-Revolution population. Changes in the demographic and social structure of the Bashkir population: ca. 42 percent live in towns (1989). Important petroleum-producing area, petroleum-refining industry. The absence of Bashkir public schools and the narrowing of the sphere where the Bashkir language functions contributed to the assimilation of the Bashkirs. In recent years various Bashkir culture clubs promoting the Bashkir culture and language came into being both in and outside Bashkiria.

Sources:
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO)
Norwegian Institute of International Affairs [NUPI] - Centre for Russian Studies
Photos: Aidar Rakhmatoulline, Igor Shpilenok, Hendrik Zeitler


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