Chuvash Republic (Чува́шская Респу́блика; Чăваш Республики), or Chuvashia (Чува́шия) is a federal subject of Russia (a republic) located in central Russia. It is the homeland of Turkic Chuvash people.
It is bordered to the north and west by the Volga River, with the Mari El Republic to the north and Nizhny Novgorod Oblast to the west. To the south it borders Mordovia and Ulyanovsk Oblast, to the east Tatarstan. The capital city of Cheboksary is the republic’s major industrial center. Cheboksary is situated on the banks of the Volga River, approximately 650 km east of Moscow.
Chuvashia’s central location gives companies located here easy access to some of the most industrially developed regions of the country. The majority of the republic is rural in character, with Cheboksary (population 453,700 in 2004) and Novocheboksarsk (population 125,600 in 2004) in the north along the Volga River being the major industrialized cities. Forests, mostly in the south along the Sura River, cover approximately 30 percent of the land.
According to the 2002 Census, Chuvashia's total population was 1,346,300. 794,800, or 60.9% of the population were living in urban areas. 510,200, or 39.1% of the population were living in rural areas. The largest city is the capital, Cheboksary, followed by nearby Novocheboksarsk.
According to the 2002 Census, ethnic Chuvash make up 67.7% of the republic's population. Other groups include Russians (26.5%), Tatars (2.8%), Mordvins (1.2%), Ukrainians (0.5%), and a host of smaller groups, each accounting for less than 0.5% of the total population.
|census 1926||census 1939||census 1959||census 1970||census 1979||census 1989||census 2002|
|Chuvash||667,695 (74.6%)||777,202 (72.2%)||770,351 (70.2%)||856,246 (70.0%)||887,738 (68.4%)||906,922 (67.8%)||889,268 (67.7%)|
|Russians||178,890 (20.0%)||241,386 (22.4%)||263,692 (24.0%)||299,241 (24.5%)||338,150 (26.0%)||357,120 (26.7%)||348,515 (26.5%)|
|Tatars||22,635 (2.5%)||29,007 (2.7%)||31,357 (2.9%)||36,217 (3.0%)||37,573 (2.9%)||35,689 (2.7%)||36,379 (2.8%)|
|Mordvins||23,958 (2.7%)||22,512 (2.1%)||23,863 (2.2%)||21,041 (1.7%)||20,276 (1.6%)||18,686 (1.4%)||15,993 (1.2%)|
|Ukrainians||149 (0.0%)||3,629 (0.3%)||3,837 (0.3%)||4,487 (0.4%)||6,122 (0.5%)||7,302 (0.5%)||6,422 (0.5%)|
|Others||1,152 (0.1%)||3,074 (0.3%)||4,759 (0.4%)||6,443 (0.5%)||8,752 (0.7%)||12,304 (0.9%)||17,177 (1.3%)|
The first inhabitants to leave a trace in the area, later knows as Chuvashia, were of the Finno Ugric Comb Ceramic Culture. Later, the Battle Axe Culture moved into the area and established several villages. These two peoples assimilated to become the Hillfort Culture in the Middle Volga Area.
The Chuvash ancestors Huns, Bulgars, and Suars residing in the Northern Caucasus in the 5th to the 8th centuries. In the 7th and 8th centuries, one part of the Bulgars left for the Balkans, where, together with the local Slavs, they established the state of modern Bulgaria. Another part moved to the Middle Volga Region (see Volga Bulgaria), where they formed the ethnic foundation for the Chuvash people. The Chuvash nationality was formed from the Bulgar population that did not adopt Islam. During the Mongol invasion to Volga Bulgaria the rest of the steppe-dwelling Chuvash population migrated north, where Finnic tribes, such as the Merdi Erza and Kuruk Mari lived. The Chuvashians claim to be descendants of Suars assimilated with the Finno Ugric Maris. They became vassals of the Golden Horde after a bloody uprising and revolt, which the Mongols brutally suppressed with an army of 40.000 warriors in 1242. Later Mongol and Tatar rulers did not intervene in local internal affairs as long as the annual tributes were paid to Sarai. The wars between Khan Toktamis and Pulat Timur 1361–1395 devastated 80% of the Suar people. When the power of Golden Horde began to diminish, the local Mishär Tatar Murzas from Piana and Temnikov tried to gain influence to rule also the Chuvash area. The Chuvashian Orsai and Kuruk Mari Akpar (Ak-par-sin) Tokari (Russian Togajeff). Princes swore their loyalty to the Grand Duchy of Muscovy in early August 1552 at Alatyr, located on the Suvarlej River, during the Ivan IV (The Cruel's) conquer war against the Khanate of Qazan, after nearly 120 years within the rule of Khanate of Kazan (Qazan) (see Chalem).
In return, Ivan IV (The Cruel), gave his word "as the Tsar (Duke of Dukes) of all Russians" to honour all historical land owning rights to the Chuvash and Kuruk Maris on both sides of the Volga River from Kerzhenets to Sviyaga River. In addition, Ivan gave, as a memory of Agreement of Alatyr, his golden seal to Chuvashians. The Chuvashians gave 15,000 soldiers, and Kuruk Maris 10,000 warriors to Ivan's army for the final attack against the Khan of Qazan/Kazan, giving Ivan's a force of 100,000 warriors against Khan's 30,000 Nogai Tatars, defending the fortified city of Qazan. In addition, Ivan IV ordered a five year period, free of all annual tributes to Grand Duchy of Muscovy, to the Chuvash and Kuruk Mari Princes and Tribal Elders. This Agreement of Alatyr has not been mentioned in later written Russian history.
Disappointed by Russian rule, part of the Chuvash population started to rebel against the Muscovites and joined with Maris during the Tsheremiss Wars of 1552–1594. During the Time of Troubles, they joined the troops of False Dmitri.
In Imperial Russia, the territory of modern Chuvashia belonged to two administrative districts – Kazan and Simbirsk. The border ran roughly from Kurmish to Buinsk. The northern part was under Gubernyi (Governorate) Kazan and the southern part was under Gubernyi (Governorate) Simbirsk. The Chuvashians and Kuruk Maris joined the Stenka Razin and Emiljan Pugachev uprisings in 1667–1671 and 1773–1775, when the Volga area from Astrakhan to Nizhni Novgorod was in open rebellion against the "Muscovy Vojevod" rule. During these years, many Chuvashians escaped east into the Southern Urals area. The Russian Orthodox Church worked among the Chuvasians to convert them to Orthodox faith during the period of 1650–1850. The Russians sent missionaries who spoke Chuvash to work with the Chuvashians.
A group of these missionaries worked to create written Chuvash language. The first Chuvash grammar was published in 1769. Chuvash had been written with Runic script and the Arabic alphabet until then. The Cyrillic alphabet for Chuvash was first introduced in 1873 by Ivan Yakovlevich Yakovlev. Since then it has undergone a number of revisions, in 1937 - 1939. The Latin alphabet has been used as well, though there is no standard alphabet.
Most of the Chuvasians who stayed in the area chose Orthodox Christianity, but some remained pagan. This ethnic conflict caused violence and open revolts. The old Russian noble families received, as reward for their services to Tsars, large estates in the lands of Chuvashes and the independent land owning Chuvash peasants became Serfs to rich Russian land owners. Russian language become the official language. Few attempts were made to provide primary education in Chuvashian language and higher education was in Russian language.
After Alexander II abolished Serfdom in the Russian Empire, many land hungered Chuvasian peasants moved to other areas to gain their own land. Nearly half of the Chuvashian population left their home areas between 1860–1914. The final wave took place during Stolypin´s Land Reform Program. During the last era of Imperial Russia, national feelings started to rise among Chuvashian intelligentsia. They connected with other minority pro-independence movements in the Middle Volga Area. Marxist ideology arose among the poorest peasant population and industrial workers. On May 15, 1917, the Chuvashians joined in the Idel Ural Movement and in December 1917 to the short lived League of States of Idel Ural, when an agreement was reached with Tatar representatives to draw the eastern border of Chuvasia to Sviaga River.
The Chuvashians promised to respect the Islamic Tatars' religion and grant them local and cultural autonomy inside the League of Idel Ural States. The border between Mordvians was set along the Sura River with similar rights guaranteed to the Chuvash population living west of Sura. In the south the "natural" border was lined to Barysh, Bolshoi Akla and Tsilna Rivers between Sura and Sviaga. In the north there was a dispute with Mari representantives of Kuruk Mari populated Tsykma (Kozmodemjansk) and other areas in Chuvashia. In 1918–1919, there was a bitter civil war in the area between the "White supporters" and the "Red supporters". This battle ended when the Bolsheviks, mainly of ethnic Russian origin, with strong support from Bolshevik troops from Nizhni Novgorod by autumn 1919. The local Chuvash independence oriented politicians were eliminated by the Bolsheviks. To gain support from local population Lenin ordered Stalin to create a Soviet Minority Population State ruled by the local Bolsheviks inside Soviet Russia for Chuvash population, but Stalin, acting as the Commissar of National Affairs, watered the original plan by creating a "Stub" Chuvashia as it is today.
On June 24, 1920, the Chuvash Autonomous Oblast was formed, which was transformed into Chuvash ASSR in April of 1925. The Communist campaign against the rich Kulak peasant class, which resulted in their transport to Gulag prison camps in 1930–1931 and elimination of independent peasant farms, hit hard in Chuvash ASSR agricultural production. The Great Purge in 1936–1938 hit hard the Chuvash intelligentsia. Most of the local Chuvash teachers were shot which made it difficult to teach Chuvash in the schools, as the Russian replacements did not know that language. Many other members of intelligentsia were also shot and the rest transferred to Gulag prison camps. The ethnic Russians kept control of the area and the Russification of the Chuvashian and Mari peoples was intensified. The foundation to change Chuvash ASSR from mainly agriculture to industry, was laid down during the period 1930–1940. By 1940, Chuvash ASSR was produced: Electricity: 35 million kW hours, Timber: 848 thousand cubic meters, Sawn timber: 369 thousand cubic meters, Cotton cloth: 40.000 metres, Hosiery: 200 thousand pairs, Leather footwear: 184 thousand pairs, Animal fats: 600 tons.
According to the Ukaza dated May 28, 1940 by the Central Committee of Communist Party, 20,000 Kolkhose peasant families of Belorussian, Chuvashian, Mordvin, and Tatar origin were transferred to the "new districts in Leningrad Oblast and Karelian Finnish ASSR". In 1941, another 20,000 Kolkhose families were to be followed. (One family: an average of five persons). Lavrenti Berija even suggested the transfer the whole Chuvash population from Chuvashia to Karelian Isthmus and Ladoga´s Karelia in addition to the former Gulag White Sea-Baltic Sea (Stalin) Canal now emptied settlements to form a population security belt "against the Finnish Fascists". During the Great Patriotic War and post war industrialization period more and more Russians moved into Chuvashia. They populated the expanding towns, but the rural population remained mostly agriculturally oriented Chuvashians and Kuruk Maris. Only in the south of the Republic, Russians, and other minority peoples, just as the Ukrainians, moved to work in new created Chuvashles Forest Industry Combinate as a result of expanding the forest industry in Chuvashia. In 1964 Chuvash ASSR produced: Electricity: 350 million kW hours, Timber: 1,073 thousand cubic metres, Sawn timber: 760 thousand cubic metres, Cotton cloth: 113.1 million metres, Hosiery: 28.8 million pairs, Leather footwear: 1.800 thousand pairs, Animal fats: 3.2 thousand tons.
The population of Chuvash ASSR was on January 15, 1959 1,098.000 (rounded to the nearest thousand), and on January 1, 1966 1.178.000 (rounded to the nearest thousand).
Chuvasia is the most populated and fertile country in Middle Volga Region. There are deciduous woodlands on fertile degraded black earth soils. In agriculture wheat and sugar-beet, pigs and beef cattle become more important than rye, oats, barley and dairy cattle which are typical for the whole area.
Chuvashia is Russia's center for hops growing and is famous throughout the country for its long history of beer brewing. It is also a major center for electrical engineering, especially in the area of power transmission and control systems. Other leading industries are metalworking, electricity generation, and chemical manufacturing. There are also a large Chuvashles timber-working mills at Shumerlin.
Autos, trucks, and buses carry the majority of transportation, as the republic ranks fourth in highway density in all of Russia. Cheboksary is situated on one of the main highways of the Russian Federation leading from Moscow to the industrial areas of Tatarstan, the Southern Urals, and Siberia. Furthermore, a recently completed bridge across the Volga to the north connects the republic to the developed Ural-Volga Federal Districts. To the south, highways connect Chuvashia with Saratov and Volgograd. Extensive public and private bus systems connect all towns within the republic with each other and with surrounding regions.
Standard speed for transportation of containers by road is 400 km per day. Average time of delivery from Cheboksary to Moscow is 1.5 days; to Saint Petersburg, 2.5 days; and to Western Europe, 10 to 15 days.
(Krasny Usel) -Kanash-(Sviyazhsk) line:
(Raz. Basovo) in Mordovia, Alatyr, Altyshevo, km Post 199, Atrat, km Post 215, Kirya, km Post 235, Ibresi, km Post 265, km Post 275, Yanglitshi, km Post 289, Kanash, Aleshevo, Kibertshi, km Post 684, Shorkistry, Bateyevo, Chubayevo, Urmary, Tansarino, Cheslama, km Post 722, Tyurlama, Vorobyovsky, Shirdary in Tatarstan.
Kanash-Cheboksary II-Cheboksary I, Cheboksary II-Novocheboksarsk line:
Kanash, Platform km 91, Maly Shivil, Atbykovo, Platform km 74, Traki, Shivlinsk, km Post 46, Platform km 38, Khornvary, km Post 32, km Post 28, Shorkino, Mizhery, Izhley, km Post 9, Cheboksary II, Cheboksary I, Cheboksary II, Novocheboksarsk.
In addition to these lines, there is 26 km 1520 mm gauge industrial line running from Altyshevo station, on Alatyr-Kanash section, to Pervomaysky, located just west of Starye Aybesi in Alatyrsky District.
All railway lines in Chuvashia are operated by MPS Gorky Railway Division. Steam locomotives were mostly replaced up to 1970 by diesel locomotives and when the main line Arzamas-Kanash-Sviyazhsk was electrified, the diesel motive power in main line service was replaced by electric locomotives.
The Arzamas-Kanash-Sviyazhsk line is double track main line, others are single track lines. The 84 km section Sviyazhsk-Kanash was opened to electric traction in 1986. The 142 km section Kanash-Sergach in 1987.
In 1967 there were four passenger trains in both directions using Alatyr-Kanash line. One of them semifast Sochi-Sverdlovsk-Sochi long distance through trains calling only at Alatyr, Buinsk, and Kanash. Cheboksary was connected by daily semi fast passenger train to Moscow. Journey time was 17 h 30 minutes for 758 km journey. The Arzamas-Kanash-Sviyazhsk main line was used in summer high season by 21 express and passenger trains in both directions. Of these four did not at all call in Chuvashia. Most of the remaining semifast trains called at Shumerlya, Piner, Burnary, and Kanash. Four pair of semifast trains called also at Tyurmari. In 1999 / 2000 timetable 11 pairs of Moscow-Kanash-Kazan express trains called at Kanash on their way to Kazan and beyond. The Chuvashia express trains 53 / 54 took between Moscow and Kanash11 hours 23 minutes and 10 hours 57 minutes, the journey time to Moscow being faster one.
The railway network is now also developed, convenient, and accessible year-round. One of the largest railway junctions of Russia—Kanash—is in the center of the republic. Via Kanash, the rail system connects the major towns in Chuvashia with the big industrial centers of Eastern Siberia, the Urals, and Moscow. Express trains are reliable and almost always on time, presenting a low-cost, comfortable way to travel. Express trains to and from Moscow are available everyday, and the overnight journey is approximately fourteen hours each way.
In addition to Russian 1524 mm gauge railways, there has been six separate 750 mm narrow gauge lines. Two peat briquete industry's short lines at Severny and Sosnovka on the north side of Volga. Four Chuvashles-owned forest railways located at Shumerlya, Atrat and Kirya. All opened in 1930s. In 1965 their total length was 145 km.
Shumerlya-Kabanovo-Rechnoy-Burak / Krasnobar forest railway. Total length 72 km.
Shumerlya-Kumashka / Salantshik / Yakhaykino forest railway. Total length 46 km.
Kirya-Lesopunkt Lyulya forest railway. Total length 13 km.
Atrat-Dolnaya Polyana-Lesozavod Gart forest railway. Total length 14 km.
All lines were closed in the economic uncertainty after the break up of Soviet Union.
The international Cheboksary Airport receives both cargo and passenger aircraft of practically all types and sizes. There are regularly scheduled flights to Moscow and other destinations. Cheboksary is also about a four-hour drive from Nizhny Novgorod, a city with international air connections through Lufthansa.
While Russian is the predominant business language, the Chuvash language is still spoken by many, especially in the country. The Chuvash language belongs to the Bolgar subgroup of the Turkic language group. In ancient times a runic system of writing was used. Chuvashi now uses a modified Cyrillic script that was adopted in 1871.
Today, people living in Chuvashia are very proud of their region and take care of their city. As a result, Cheboksary is known as one of the cleanest cities in Russia. There is also a resurgence of native Chuvash pride and many people are looking back to their Chuvash roots and exploring the culture and heritage and relearning the language. Most building signs, road signs, and announcements are in both Russian and Chuvashi.