Bashkortostan bäshkôr´tĭstän˝ [key] or Bashkir Republicbăshkĭr´ [key], constituent republic (1990 pop. 4,100,100), 55,444 sq mi (143,600 sq km), E European Russia, in the S Urals, occupying the Belaya River basin. Ufa is the capital; other important cities are Sterlitamak, Beloretsk, and Ishimbay. The Trans-Siberian and South Siberian railroads cross the republic. Bashkortostan forms the eastern part of the Volga-Ural petroleum region and also has natural gas, coal, salt, iron, gold, copper, zinc, bauxite, and manganese deposits. The drilling, refining, and processing of oil is the predominant economic activity. About 40% of the land is forested, and sawmilling and the production of plywood and paper are important. Grains (especially wheat, rye, and oats) are the chief agricultural products. The republic's population is made up of Bashkirs (about 21%), Russians (about 40%), and Tatars (about 25%). The Bashkirs, a mixture of Finno-Ugric, Turkic, and Mongolian tribes, are a Muslim people who speak a Turkic language very close to Tatar. Historically, the Bashkirs were controlled by the Volga Bulgars and the Golden Horde, and later by the khanates of Kazan, Nogai, and Siberia. In 1557, during the reign of Ivan IV, they came under Muscovite rule. The Russians founded Ufa in 1574 and began colonization, dispossessing the Bashkirs, who revolted numerous times during the next two centuries (notably under Pugachev in 1773–75). In 1917 a Bashkir national government was formed, but the region experienced heavy fighting between the Red and White armies in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. In 1919, the region was made the first autonomous Soviet republic. In 1990 the republic passed a declaration of sovereignty, and in 1991 it declared itself independent, although this declaration was not recognized by any other government. It was a signatory, under the name Republic of Bashkortostan, to the Mar. 31, 1992, treaty that created the Russian Federation (see Russia).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: CIS and Baltic Political Geography