Mordovia, autonomous republic in west central Russia, located between Moscow and the Volga and bordered by the republic of Chuvashia on the east. Mordovia is one of the 21 Russian republics, which are the administrative units with the greatest amount of autonomy within the Russian Federation. Saransk is the capital of the republic.

Mordovia covers an area of 26

Mordovia covers an area of 26,200 sq km (10,100 sq mi). The northwestern part of the republic is marked by the Oka-Don Plain, and the southeastern section forms part of the Volga Upland. The climate is moderately continental, with temperatures averaging -12C (11F) in January and 19C (67F) in July. Average annual precipitation ranges from 450 to 525 mm (18 to 21 in). Slow-moving rivers, such as the Moksha and its tributaries, meander through Mordovia. Forests of birch, oak, aspen, and alder, located largely in the north and west, cover about one-quarter of the republic.

Mordovia has a population (2002 estimate)

Mordovia has a population (2002 estimate) of about 910,000. The population of Saransk, the capital, is about 310,000. About 60 percent of the republic`s inhabitants live in urban areas. Russians represent about 61 percent of the republic`s population, Mordvins constitute about 32 percent, and Tatars account for about 5 percent. Smaller groups make up the remainder. The Mordvin speak two distinct languages of the Finno-Ugric language group, Moksha and Erzya, which are not mutually intelligible and in turn have numerous dialects. Moksha is spoken primarily in the west and north, while Erzya is spoken in the east.

The earliest Mordvin writing used a Roman

The earliest Mordvin writing used a Roman alphabet and dates from the late 17th century. From the mid-18th century a Cyrillic alphabet was used. A literary language based on the Erzya language was established in 1922, and another based on Moksha was created in 1923, both using the Cyrillic alphabet. The primary religion in Mordovia is Orthodox Christianity, introduced by Russian missionaries beginning in the middle of the 18th century. Saransk houses the Mordovian State University (founded in 1957) and a teacher-training institute.

Mordovia is a largely agricultural region

Mordovia is a largely agricultural region, producing potatoes, vegetables, and grain. Manufactures include machines, metal products, timber, semiconductors, dump trucks, excavators, processed food, and hemp. The republic is connected by rail, road, and air with other parts of Russia.

The earliest archaeological signs of human

The earliest archaeological signs of human habitation in the region date from the Neolithic period, or New Stone Age (about 8000 to 2000 bc), and the Mordvins are first mentioned in a literary source in the 6th century ad. Descendants of earlier Finno-Ugric tribes, the Mordvins were conquered by the Mongol Empire in the 13th century. They later allied themselves with the Russians against the Mongols and Tatars. With the fall of the Tatar Kazan` Khanate (state) in 1552, Mordovia became part of Russia. The upper levels of Mordvin society quickly assimilated into the Russian community, and education was largely in Russian. Mordvin culture was preserved among the peasants in their village communes.

During the Russian Revolution (1917) Mordovia

During the Russian Revolution (1917) Mordovia fell under the influence of the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, the opponents of the Communists. After the victory of the Communists, the Soviet government set up a Mordvin section within the People`s Commissariat for Nationalities, the ministry dealing with ethnic groups. In 1925 the government established autonomous districts and village councils for the Mordvins. In 1928 a Mordovia (national area) was set up, with Saransk as its center. In January 1930, it was elevated in status to the Mordovia, and in December 1934, to the Mordovia Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR). Following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Mordovia became a republic within newly independent Russia.

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