There are three main ethno-territorial
groups: Volga-Ural Tatars (including among others the Kazan Tatars,
the Kasimov Tatars and the Mishars), Siberian Tatars (Tobol Tatars,
Tara Tatars, Tyumen Tatars and more) and Astrakhan Tatars (Yurtovsk
and Kundrovsk Tatars ).
Religion: Mostly sunni-muslims, some Orthodox Christians.
They live mostly in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Udmyrtiya, Mari-El,
Mordovia, Chuvashiya, Volga-Ural region, West and East Siberia,
Russian far east.
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan,
Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia
The term "Tatar" has been
used in a variety of ways since it appeared for the first time among
Mongolian and Turkic tribes in the 6th to 9th c. For centuries it
was used by Russians to describe anybody of Asian descent or anybody
of Muslim or Turkic descent. More specifically, however, "Tatar"
denominates the descendants of Kypchak and other Turkic tribes that
migrated west out of Southern Siberia between the 10th and the 13th
centuries. They formed an important part of the Mongol "Golden
Horde" armies that invaded Russia in the 13th century.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, by some
complex ethnic process, the dominating group, the Kypchaks, assimilated
the other Turkic-Mongolian tribes. Some mixed with the indigenous
groups in the area where they settled, while those who retained
their Kypchak identity and converted to Islam, adopted the name
"Tatar". When the "Golden Horde" disintegrated,
new Tatar states like the Astrakhan Khanate and the Kazan Khanate
emerged. Russia conquered these states in 1556 and 1552 respectively,
and eventually, the Tatars spread east and west in the Russian empire
and became divided into a variety of tribal and territorial groups.
It was not until the fall of the Khanates that the name "Tatar"
became common also to denominate the poorer parts of the population.
Local self-denominations dominated, however, until the end of the
19th c., when there was a renaissance of Tatar nationalism.
Between 1917 and 1919, many Tatar nationalists
had camaigned for creation of a Volga-Urals state, which would have
included the Tatars, Maris, Chuvash, and Bashkirs, but in 1920,
the Bolsheviks established the smaller Tatar ASSR, as part of RSFSR.
In the late 1980s, in the period of Perestroyka, Tatar nationalism
again grew strong, and a variety of nationalist groups and movements
appeared. In 1991, the most radical Tatar leaders called for a truly
independent Tatar republic, including lands ever controlled historically
by Tatars. Other groups advocated the creation af a greater Tataria
to Unite the Tatar autonomous republic with other ethnically defined
neighbouring regions (much like the dreams of the Tatar nationalists
in 1917-19). In 1991, the Republic of Tatarstan replaced the former
ASSR. As one of the Russian Federation's 89 subjects, it is struggling
to increase its independence. In 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the
Tatar ASSR adopted the "Declaration on the State Sovereignty
of the Republic of Tatarstan". In February 1992, Tatarstan
stopped sending tax revenues to Russia and in March the same year
a referendum was held, in which 61% of the 2,132,000 participating
voters approved the resolution for state sovereignty and absolute
control of natural resources. Also in 1992, Tatarstan President,
Mintimer Shaymiyev, refused to sign the new Union Treaty for the