Volga River

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Volga
Volga Ulyanovsk-oliv.jpg
The Volga at Ulyanovsk
Volgarivermap.png
Map of the Volga drainage basin
Native nameВолга
Location
Country Russia
Cities Tver, Yaroslavl, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Ulyanovsk, Samara, Saratov, Volgograd, Astrakhan
Physical characteristics
Source 
  location Valdai Hills, Tver Oblast
  coordinates 57°9′N32°36′E / 57.150°N 32.600°E / 57.150; 32.600
  elevation228 [1]  m (748 ft)
Mouth Caspian Sea
  location
Astrakhan Oblast
  coordinates
45°50′N47°58′E / 45.833°N 47.967°E / 45.833; 47.967 Coordinates: 45°50′N47°58′E / 45.833°N 47.967°E / 45.833; 47.967 [2]
  elevation
−28 [1]  m (−92 ft)
Length3,530 [1]  km (2,190 mi)
Basin size1,380,000 km2 (530,000 sq mi)
Discharge 
  location Astrakhan
  average8,060 m3/s (285,000 cu ft/s)
Basin features
Tributaries 
  left Kama
  right Oka

The Volga ( /ˈvɒlɡə, ˈvlɡə/ ; Russian :Во́лга,IPA:  [ˈvoɫɡə] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) is the longest river in Europe with a catchment area of 1,350,000 square kilometres. It is also Europe's largest river in terms of discharge and drainage basin. The river flows through central Russia and into the Caspian Sea, and is widely regarded as the national river of Russia, being an important river for both Slavs and Turks.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

River Natural flowing watercourse

A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of water. Small rivers can be referred to using names such as stream, creek, brook, rivulet, and rill. There are no official definitions for the generic term river as applied to geographic features, although in some countries or communities a stream is defined by its size. Many names for small rivers are specific to geographic location; examples are "run" in some parts of the United States, "burn" in Scotland and northeast England, and "beck" in northern England. Sometimes a river is defined as being larger than a creek, but not always: the language is vague.

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Asia to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.

Contents

Eleven of the twenty largest cities of Russia, including the capital, Moscow, are located in the Volga's drainage basin.

Moscow Capital city of Russia

Moscow is the capital and most populous city of Russia, with 13.2 million residents within the city limits, 17 million within the urban area and 20 million within the metropolitan area. Moscow is one of Russia's federal cities.

Some of the largest reservoirs in the world are located along the Volga. The river has a symbolic meaning in Russian culture and is often referred to as Волга-матушка Volga-Matushka (Mother Volga) in Russian literature and folklore.

Reservoir A storage space for fluids

A reservoir is, most commonly, an enlarged natural or artificial lake, pond or impoundment created using a dam or lock to store water.

Russian culture Culture of peoples and nationalities of Russia

The culture of the ethnic Russian people has a long tradition of achievement in many fields, especially when it comes to literature, folk dancing, philosophy, classical music, traditional folk music, ballet, architecture, painting, cinema, animation and politics, which all have had considerable influence on world culture. Russia also has a rich material culture and a tradition in technology.

Russian literature

Russian literature refers to the literature of Russia and its émigrés and to the Russian-language literature. The roots of Russian literature can be traced to the Middle Ages, when epics and chronicles in Old East Slavic were composed. By the Age of Enlightenment, literature had grown in importance, and from the early 1830s, Russian literature underwent an astounding golden age in poetry, prose and drama. Romanticism permitted a flowering of poetic talent: Vasily Zhukovsky and later his protégé Alexander Pushkin came to the fore. Prose was flourishing as well. The first great Russian novelist was Nikolai Gogol. Then came Ivan Turgenev, who mastered both short stories and novels. Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky soon became internationally renowned. In the second half of the century Anton Chekhov excelled in short stories and became a leading dramatist. The beginning of the 20th century ranks as the Silver Age of Russian poetry. The poets most often associated with the "Silver Age" are Konstantin Balmont, Valery Bryusov, Alexander Blok, Anna Akhmatova, Nikolay Gumilyov, Osip Mandelstam, Sergei Yesenin, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Marina Tsvetaeva and Boris Pasternak. This era produced some first-rate novelists and short-story writers, such as Aleksandr Kuprin, Nobel Prize winner Ivan Bunin, Leonid Andreyev, Fyodor Sologub, Aleksey Remizov, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Dmitry Merezhkovsky and Andrei Bely.

Nomenclature

Cruise ships on the Volga. Kruiznye korabli na Volge.jpg
Cruise ships on the Volga.

The Russian hydronym Volga (Волга) derives from Proto-Slavic *vòlga "wetness, moisture", which is preserved in many Slavic languages, including Ukrainian volóha (воло́га) "moisture", Russian vlaga (влага) "moisture", Bulgarian vlaga (влага) "moisture", Czech vláha "dampness", Serbian vlaga (влага ) "moisture", Croatian vlaga "moisture" and Slovene vlaga "moisture" among others. [3]

A hydronym is a proper name of a body of water. Hydronymy, a subset of toponymy, the taxonomic study of place-names, is the study of the names of bodies of water, the origins of those names, and how they are transmitted through history. Hydronyms may include the names of rivers (potamonyms), lakes, and even oceanic elements.

Proto-Slavic proto-language

Proto-Slavic is the unattested, reconstructed proto-language of all the Slavic languages. It represents Slavic speech approximately from the 5th to 9th centuries AD. As with most other proto-languages, no attested writings have been found; scholars have reconstructed the language by applying the comparative method to all the attested Slavic languages and by taking into account other Indo-European languages.

Ukrainian language language member of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages

Ukrainian is an East Slavic language. It is the official state language of Ukraine and one of the three official languages in the unrecognized state of Transnistria, the other two being Romanian and Russian. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic script.

The Slavic name is a loan translation of earlier Scythian (Ῥᾶ) "Volga", [4] literally "wetness", cognate with Avestan Raŋhā "mythical stream" (also compare the derivation Sogdian r’k "vein, blood vessel" (*raha-ka), [5] Persian رگ rag "vein" [6] ) and Vedic Sanskrit rasā́ (रसा) "dew, liquid, juice; mythical river". [7] The Scythian name survives in modern Mordvin Rav (Рав) "Volga".

Sogdian language extinct language from Central Asia

The Sogdian language was an Eastern Iranian language spoken in the Central Asian region of Sogdia, located in modern-day Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, as well as some Sogdian immigrant communities in ancient China. Sogdian is one of the most important Middle Iranian languages, along with Bactrian, Khotanese Saka, Middle Persian, and Parthian. It possesses a large literary corpus.

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is a Western Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is a pluricentric language primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

Vedic Sanskrit is an Indo-European language, more specifically one branch of the Indo-Iranian group. It is the ancient language of the Vedas of Hinduism, texts compiled over the period of the mid-2nd to mid-1st millennium BCE. It was orally preserved, predating the advent of Brahmi script by several centuries. Vedic Sanskrit is an archaic language, whose consensus translation has been challenging.

The Turkic peoples living along the river formerly referred to it as Itil or Atil . In modern Turkic languages, the Volga is known as İdel (Идел) in Tatar, Атăл (Atăl) in Chuvash, Idhel in Bashkir, Edil in Kazakh, and İdil in Turkish. The Turkic names go back to the ancient Turkic form “Etil/ Ertil”, the origin and meaning of which are not clear. Perhaps this form has a connection with the hydronym Irtesh. [8]

Atil, literally meaning "Big River", was the capital of Khazaria from the middle of the 8th century until the end of the 10th century. The word is also a Turkic name for the Volga River.

Turkic languages Language family

The Turkic languages are a language family of at least thirty-five documented languages, spoken by the Turkic peoples of Eurasia from Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and West Asia all the way to North Asia and East Asia. The Turkic languages originated in a region of East Asia spanning Western China to Mongolia, where Proto-Turkic is thought to have been spoken, according to one estimate, around 2,500 years ago, from where they expanded to Central Asia and farther west during the first millennium.

The Tatar language is a Turkic language spoken by Tatars mainly located in modern Tatarstan, as well as Siberia. It should not be confused with the Crimean Tatar language which is closely related, but belongs to another, the Cuman subgroup of the Kipchak languages.

The Turkic peoples associated the Itil's origin with the Kama. Thus, a left tributary to the Kama was named the Aq Itil "White Itil" which unites with the Kara Itil "Black Itil" at the modern city of Ufa. The name Indyl (Indɨl) is used in Adyge (Cherkess) language.

Among Asians,[ clarification needed ] the river was known by its other Turkic name Sarı-su "yellow water", but the Oirats also used their own name, Ijil mörön or "adaptation river". Presently the Mari, another Uralic group, call the river Jul (Юл), meaning "way" in Tatar. Formerly, they called the river Volgydo, a borrowing from Old East Slavic.

Description

The Volga is the longest river in Europe, and its catchment area is almost entirely inside Russia, though the longest river in Russia is the ObIrtysh river system. [1] It belongs to the closed basin of the Caspian Sea, being the longest river to flow into a closed basin. Rising in the Valdai Hills 225 meters (738 ft) above sea level northwest of Moscow and about 320 kilometers (200 mi) southeast of Saint Petersburg, the Volga heads east past Lake Sterzh, Tver, Dubna, Rybinsk, Yaroslavl, Nizhny Novgorod, and Kazan. From there it turns south, flows past Ulyanovsk, Tolyatti, Samara, Saratov and Volgograd, and discharges into the Caspian Sea below Astrakhan at 28 meters (92 ft) below sea level. [1] At its most strategic point, it bends toward the Don ("the big bend"). Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, is located there.

The Saratov Bridge, Saratov Oblast Saratov-avto-most.jpg
The Saratov Bridge, Saratov Oblast

The Volga has many tributaries, most importantly the rivers Kama, the Oka, the Vetluga, and the Sura. The Volga and its tributaries form the Volga river system, which flows through an area of about 1,350,000 square kilometres (521,238 square miles) in the most heavily populated part of Russia. [1] The Volga Delta has a length of about 160 kilometres (99 miles) and includes as many as 500 channels and smaller rivers. The largest estuary in Europe, it is the only place in Russia where pelicans, flamingos, and lotuses may be found.[ citation needed ] The Volga freezes for most of its length for three months each year. [1]

The Volga drains most of Western Russia. Its many large reservoirs provide irrigation and hydroelectric power. The Moscow Canal, the Volga–Don Canal, and the Volga–Baltic Waterway form navigable waterways connecting Moscow to the White Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. High levels of chemical pollution have adversely affected the river and its habitats.

The fertile river valley provides large quantities of wheat, and also has many mineral riches. A substantial petroleum industry centers on the Volga valley. Other resources include natural gas, salt, and potash. The Volga Delta and the nearby Caspian Sea offer superb fishing grounds. Astrakhan, at the delta, is the center of the caviar industry.

Confluences (downstream to upstream)

Rzhev is the uppermost town situated on the Volga (photographed c. 1910) Rzhev.jpg
Rzhev is the uppermost town situated on the Volga (photographed c. 1910)
A suspension bridge (Stariy Most/Staryi Most) across the Volga in Tver (built 1897-1900, damaged during the war, repaired in 1947 and rebuilt in 1980) Tver dusk 3.jpg
A suspension bridge (Stariy Most/Старый Мост) across the Volga in Tver (built 1897–1900, damaged during the war, repaired in 1947 and rebuilt in 1980)
Volga near Nizhny Novgorod, 2010 Smoke over the river Volga.jpg
Volga near Nizhny Novgorod, 2010

Reservoirs (downstream to upstream)

A number of large hydroelectric reservoirs were constructed on the Volga during the Soviet era. They are:

Biggest cities on the shore of Volga

Human history

Many Orthodox shrines and monasteries are located along the banks of the Volga Volga tolga.jpg
Many Orthodox shrines and monasteries are located along the banks of the Volga

The area downstream of the Volga, widely believed to have been a cradle of the Proto-Indo-European civilization. The river ranges from the Caspian Sea, whhere especially Asian-Oriental cultures (Turkic, Caucasian and Persian) at that time were already widespread in steppe regions, to the northern lands in western Russia where in the East European Plain Slavic culture existed with Germanic and Finno-Ugric tribes. More precisely, the area around the Volga was inhabited by the Slavic tribes of Vyatichs and Buzhans, by Finno-Ugrics, Scandinavians and Balts, by Huns, Byzantine people and Turkic peoples (Tatars, Kipchaks) in the first millennium AD, replacing the Scythians. [9] The ancient scholar Ptolemy of Alexandria mentions the lower Volga in his Geography (Book 5, Chapter 8, 2nd Map of Asia). He calls it the Rha, which was the Scythian name for the river. Ptolemy believed the Don and the Volga shared the same upper branch, which flowed from the Hyperborean Mountains. Between 2nd and 5th centuries Baltic people were very widespread in todays European Russia. Baltic people were widespread from Sozh River till todays Moscow and covered much of todays Central Russia and intermingled with the East Slavs. [10] . The Russian ethnicity in Western Russia and around the Volga river evolved to a very large extent, next to other tribes, out of the East Slavic tribe of the Buzhans and Vyatichis. The Vyatichis were originally concentrated on the Oka river. [11] Furthermore several localities in Russia are connected to the Slavic Buzhan tribe, like for example Sredniy Buzhan in the Orenburg Oblast, Buzan and the Buzan river in the Astrakhan Oblast. [12] [13] Buzhan (Persian: بوژان‎, also Romanized as Būzhān; also known as Būzān) is also a village in Nishapur, Iran.

Subsequently, the river basin played an important role in the movements of peoples from Asia to Europe. A powerful polity of Volga Bulgaria once flourished where the Kama joins the Volga, while Khazaria controlled the lower stretches of the river. Such Volga cities as Atil, Saqsin, or Sarai were among the largest in the medieval world. The river served as an important trade route connecting Scandinavia, Finno-Ugric areas with the various Slavic tribes and Turkic, Germanic, Finnic and other people in Old Rus', and Volga Bulgaria with Khazaria, Persia and the Arab world.

Ilya Yefimovich Repin's painting Barge Haulers on the Volga Ilia Efimovich Repin (1844-1930) - Volga Boatmen (1870-1873).jpg
Ilya Yefimovich Repin's painting Barge Haulers on the Volga

From 6th till 8th century the Alans settled in the Middle Volga region and in the steppes of Russias southern region in the Pontic–Caspian steppe. [14]

Khazars were replaced by Kipchaks, Kimeks and Mongols, who founded the Golden Horde in the lower reaches of the Volga. Later their empire divided into the Khanate of Kazan and Khanate of Astrakhan, both of which were conquered by the Russians in the course of the 16th century Russo-Kazan Wars. The Russian people's deep feeling for the Volga echoes in national culture and literature, starting from the 12th-century Lay of Igor's Campaign. [15] The Volga Boatman's Song is one of many songs devoted to the national river of Russia.

Construction of Soviet Union-era dams often involved enforced resettlement of huge numbers of people, as well as destruction of their historical heritage. For instance, the town of Mologa was flooded for the purpose of constructing the Rybinsk Reservoir (then the largest artificial lake in the world). The construction of the Uglich Reservoir caused the flooding of several monasteries with buildings dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. In such cases the ecological and cultural damage often outbalanced any economic advantage. [16]

20th-century conflicts

Soviet Marines charge the Volga river bank. Soviet marines-in the battle of stalingrad volga banks.jpg
Soviet Marines charge the Volga river bank.

During the Russian Civil War, both sides fielded warships on the Volga. In 1918, the Red Volga Flotilla participated in driving the Whites eastward, from the Middle Volga at Kazan to the Kama and eventually to Ufa on the Belaya. [17]

In modern times, the city on the big bend of the Volga, currently known as Volgograd, witnessed the Battle of Stalingrad, possibly the bloodiest battle in human history, in which the Soviet Union and the German forces were deadlocked in a stalemate battle for access to the river. The Volga was (and still is) a vital transport route between central Russia and the Caspian Sea, which provides access to the oil fields of the Apsheron Peninsula. Hitler planned to use access to the oil fields of Azerbaijan to fuel future German conquests. Apart from that, whoever held both sides of the river could move forces across the river, to defeat the enemy's fortifications beyond the river. [18] By taking the river, Hitler's Germany would have been able to move supplies, guns, and men into the northern part of Russia. At the same time, Germany could permanently deny this transport route by the Soviet Union, hampering its access to oil and to supplies via the Persian Corridor.

For this reason, many amphibious military assaults were brought about in an attempt to remove the other side from the banks of the river. In these battles, the Soviet Union was the main offensive side, while the German troops used a more defensive stance, though much of the fighting was close quarters combat, with no clear offensive or defensive side.

Ethnic groups

The Volga in the Zhiguli Mountains. Volga u Zhigulei osen'iu.jpg
The Volga in the Zhiguli Mountains.

Many different ethnicities lived on the Volga river. Numerous were the Eastern Slavic Vyatchi tribes which took a decisive role in the development of modern Russians. [19] [20] Among the first recorded people along the upper Volga were also the Finno-Ugric people Mari (Мари) and their west ethnic group named Merya (Мäрӹ). Where the Volga flows through the steppes the area was also inhabited by the Iranian people of the Sarmatians from 200 BC. [21] [22] Since ancient times, even before Rus' states developed, the Volga river was a important trade route where not only Slavic, Turkic and Finno-Ugric people lived, but also Arab world of the Middle East met the Varangian people of the Nordic countries through trading. [23] [24] In the 8th and 9th centuries colonization also began from Kievan Rus'. Slavs from Kievan Rus' brought Christianity to the upper Volga, and a portion of non-Slavic local people adopted Christianity and gradually became East Slavs. The remainder of the Mari people migrated to the east far inland. In the course of several centuries the Slavs assimilated the indigenous Finnic populations, such as the Merya and Meshchera peoples. The surviving peoples of Volga Finnic ethnicity include the Maris and Mordvins of the middle Volga. Also Khazar and Bulgar peoples inhabited the upper, middle and lower of the Volga River basin. [25]

Apart from the Huns, the earliest Turkic tribes arrived in the 7th century and assimilated some Finnic and Indo-European population on the middle and lower Volga. The Christian Chuvash and Muslim Tatars are descendants of the population of medieval Volga Bulgaria. Another Turkic group, the Nogais, formerly inhabited the lower Volga steppes.

The Volga region is home to a German minority group, the Volga Germans. Catherine the Great had issued a Manifesto in 1763 inviting all foreigners to come and populate the region, offering them numerous incentives to do so. This was partly to develop the region but also to provide a buffer zone between the Russians and the Mongols to the East. Because of conditions in German territories, Germans responded in the largest numbers. Under the Soviet Union a slice of the region was turned into the Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Others were executed or dispersed throughout the Soviet Union prior to and after World War II.[ citation needed ]

The Volga at Volgograd Sild Volgogradis ule Volga joe.jpg
The Volga at Volgograd
In some locations, the Volga has a rocky west bank. Utes step raz2.jpg
In some locations, the Volga has a rocky west bank.

The Volga, widened for navigation purposes with construction of huge dams during the years of Joseph Stalin's industrialization, is of great importance to inland shipping and transport in Russia: all the dams in the river have been equipped with large (double) ship locks, so that vessels of considerable dimensions can travel from the Caspian Sea almost to the upstream end of the river.

Connections with the river Don and the Black Sea are possible through the Volga–Don Canal. Connections with the lakes of the North (Lake Ladoga, Lake Onega), Saint Petersburg and the Baltic Sea are possible through the Volga–Baltic Waterway; and commerce with Moscow has been realised by the Moscow Canal connecting the Volga and the Moskva River.

This infrastructure has been designed for vessels of a relatively large scale (lock dimensions of 290 by 30 metres (951 ft × 98 ft) on the Volga, slightly smaller on some of the other rivers and canals) and it spans many thousands of kilometers. A number of formerly state-run, now mostly privatized, companies operate passenger and cargo vessels on the river; Volgotanker, with over 200 petroleum tankers, is one of them.

In the later Soviet era, up to the modern times, grain and oil have been among the largest cargo exports transported on the Volga. [26] Until recently access to the Russian waterways was granted to foreign vessels on a very limited scale. The increasing contacts between the European Union and Russia have led to new policies with regard to the access to the Russian inland waterways. It is expected that vessels of other nations will be allowed on Russian rivers soon. [27]

Satellite imagery

Cultural significance

Literature:

Cinema:

See also

Related Research Articles

The Tatars are a Turkic-speaking people living mainly in Russia and other post-Soviet countries. The name Tatar first appears in written form on the Kul Tigin monument as 𐱃𐱃𐰺 (Ta-tar). Historically, the term Tatars was applied to anyone originating from the vast Northern and Central Asian landmass then known as the Tartary, which was dominated by various mostly Turco-Mongol semi-nomadic empires and kingdoms. More recently, however, the term refers more narrowly to people who speak one of the Turkic languages.

Volga Bulgaria or Volga–Kama Bulghar, was a historic Bulgar state that existed between the 7th and 13th centuries around the confluence of the Volga and Kama River, in what is now European Russia.

Chuvash people ethnic group

The Chuvash people are a Turkic ethnic group, native to an area stretching from the Volga Region to Siberia. Most of them live in the Republic of Chuvashia and surrounding areas, although Chuvash communities may be found throughout the Russian Federation.

Khanate of Kazan former country

The Khanate of Kazan was a medieval Tatar Turkic state that occupied the territory of former Volga Bulgaria between 1438 and 1552. Its khans were the patrilineal descendants of Jayaatu Khan Tugh Temür, the thirteenth son of Jochi and grandson of Genghis Khan. The khanate covered contemporary Tatarstan, Mari El, Chuvashia, Mordovia, and parts of Udmurtia and Bashkortostan; its capital was the city of Kazan. It was one of the successor states of the Golden Horde, and it came to an end when it was conquered by the Tsardom of Russia.

Astrakhan Khanate Medieval Tatar khanate

The Khanate of Astrakhan, also referred to as the Xacitarxan Khanate, was a Tatar state that arose during the break-up of the Golden Horde. The Khanate existed in the 15th and 16th centuries in the area adjacent to the mouth of the Volga river, around the modern city of Astrakhan. Its khans claimed patrilineal descent from Toqa Temür ), the thirteenth son of Jochi and grandson of Genghis Khan.

European Russia Part of Russia in Europe

European Russia is the western part of the Russian Federation, which is part of Eastern Europe. With a population of 110 million people, European Russia has about 77% of Russia's population, but covers less than 25% of Russia's territory. European Russia includes Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the two largest cities in Russia.

The Mongol invasion of Volga Bulgaria lasted from 1223 to 1236. The Bulgar state, centered in lower Volga and Kama, was the center of the fur trade in Eurasia throughout most of its history. Before the Mongol conquest, Russians of Novgorod and Vladimir repeatedly looted and attacked the area, thereby weakening the Bulgar state's economy and military power. The latter ambushed the Mongols in the later 1223 or in 1224. Several clashes occurred between 1229–1234, and the Mongol Empire conquered the Bulgars in 1236.

Nogai Horde former country

Nogay Horde, Nohai Horde or Nogay Yortu was a confederation of about eighteen Turkic and Mongol tribes that occupied the Pontic-Caspian steppe from about 1500 until they were pushed west by the Kalmyks and south by the Russians in the 17th century. The Mongol tribe called the Manghits constituted a core of the Nogay Horde.

The region of Tatarstan, now within the Russian Federation, was inhabited by different groups during prehistory. The state of Volga Bulgaria grew up during the Middle Ages and for a time was subject to the Khazars. The Volga Bulgars became Muslim and incorporated various Turkic peoples to form the modern Volga Tatar ethnic group.

Nağaybäks are an indigenous Turkic people in Russia recognized as a separate people under Russian legislation. The majority of the Nağaybäks live in the Nagaybaksky and Chebarkulsky Districts of the Chelyabinsk Oblast. They speak a sub-dialect of the Tatar language's Middle dialect. Russian and Tatar historians usually treat the Nağaybäks as an integral part of Volga Tatars; a minority considers Nağaybäks a separate ethnicity in their own right. In the 1989 Russian census, 11,200 people identified themselves as Nağaybäks, falling to 9,600 in 2002.

Volga Tatars ethnic group

The Volga Tatars are a Turkic ethnic group native to the Volga-Ural region of Russia. They are in turn subdivided into various subgroups. Volga Tatars are Russia's second-largest ethnicity, composing 53% of the population of Tatarstan and 25% of the population of Bashkortostan.

Volga region geographic region

The Volga Region is a historical region in Russia that encompasses the drainage basin of the Volga River, the longest river in Europe, in central and southern European Russia.

Volga Finns

The Volga Finns are a historical group of indigenous peoples of Russia living in the vicinity of the Volga, who speak Uralic languages. Their modern representatives are the Mari people, the Erzya and the Moksha Mordvins, as well as extinct Merya, Muromian and Meshchera people. The Permians are sometimes also grouped as Volga Finns.

The Kulyagash is the biggest wetland in Tatarstan, Russian Federation. It consists of Kulyagash swamp and several lakes. It is situated in Belaya and Ik Rivers interfluvial, Aktanyshsky District, at the east of Tatarstan, near the border with Bashkortostan. The area of the wetland is estimated as 22,000 ha. Kulyagash stretches from west to east 17.5 kilometers (10.9 mi), from north to south 10 kilometers (6.2 mi). The most notable lakes in the wetland are Atyr, Kinder-Kul, Azybeyevskoye, Syulyale-Kul, the biggest being, however elongate Kulyagash Lake. There are forests at the several islands in the swamp.

The history of Chuvashia spans from the region's earliest habitation by Finno-Ugric peoples to its incorporation into the Russian Empire and its successor states.

Expansion of Russia 1500–1800

The steppe and forest-steppe of Ukraine and southern Russia is good agricultural land, but it was traditionally held by pastoral nomads. Any state that could drive off the nomads and fill the land with tax-paying peasants would expand its power enormously. During the period 1500–1800, this region was taken under Russian control.

The Mishar Tatars are a subgroup of the Volga Tatars of Tatars and the indigenous people of the Mordovia, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Chuvashia of Russian Federation, Penza, Ulyanovsk, Orenburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Volgograd, Saratov Oblasts of Russia and immigrant minority of Finland. The majority of Finnish Tatars are Mishar Tatars. The Mishar Tatar dialect is one of the two Volga Tatar dialects.

Black Sea–Caspian Steppe

The Black Sea-Caspian Steppe is an informal name for that part of the Eurasian Steppe that extends south between the Black and Caspian Seas. It is usually treated as part of the Pontic-Caspian steppe which includes the area north of the Black and Caspian Seas, but there is some reason to treat it as a distinct place. Its natural boundaries are the Sea of Azov and Black Sea on the west, the Caucasus Mountains on the south and the Caspian Sea on the east. Its northern boundary may be taken as the triangle formed by the lower Don River and Volga River which are about 60 km apart to the west of Volgograd. This article excludes the north slope of the Caucasus which is not steppe and has a distinct geography and history.

Volga-Kama Nature Reserve "Biosphere reserve in Russian Federation | designated in 2005. Composed of Raifa, Sarali, Spassky and Sviyazhsky units"

Volga-Kama Nature Reserve is a Russian 'zapovednik' at the confluence of the Volga River, the Kama River, and the Myosha River. There are two sections to the reserve, one on the left bank terraces of the Volga, at the actual meeting point of the rivers, the other section about 100 km up the Volga on the western outskirts of the city of Kazan. The reserve is situated in the Zelenodolsky Districts and Laishevsky District of Tatarstan. It was formally established in 1960 to protect remaining forest and forest-steppe habitat of the middle Volga region, and has an area of 8,024 ha (30.98 sq mi). A particular focus of scientific study is the effects of the Kuybyshev Reservoir on the local environment. The reservoir was completed in the mid-1950s, and is the largest reservoir in Europe. The Volga-Kama Reserve is part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

History of the western steppe

This article summarizes the History of the western steppe, which is the western third of the Eurasian steppe, that is, the grasslands of Ukraine and southern Russia. It is intended as a summary and an index to the more-detailed linked articles. It is a companion to History of the central steppe and History of the eastern steppe. All dates are approximate since there are few exact starting and ending dates. This summary article does not list the uncertainties, which are many. For these, see the linked articles.

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