Bashkortostan Republic, Russia
the land of the oldest rock formations in Europe
(...named after the Bashkir people...)
The first people came to the territory of today’s Bashkiria at the beginning of the Palaeolithic. The population began to grow rapidly in the Bronze Age. The first permanent settlements in the southern part of the Ural Mountains were founded by people of Abashevo culture.
The word “Bashkirs” was first mentioned in the 9th century. Islam began to spread among the Bashkir population in the 10th century. It became the dominant religion in the region in the 14th century.
In the 13th-14th centuries, the territory on which Bashkirs lived was part of the Golden Horde. The Bashkirs had territorial autonomy as part of the Mongol Empire. After the collapse of the Golden Horde, the Bashkirs lived in the Nogai Horde, Kazan and Siberian khanates.
Distribution of R1b showing Bashkorostan as a genetic isolate
Bashkiria has deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, iron ore, copper, zinc, gold, salt. Forests cover more than 40% of the territory. There are more than 12,000 rivers and 2,700 lakes, ponds and reservoirs on the territory of Bashkiria.
The climate is continental with humid, warm summers and moderately cold winters. The average temperature in January is minus 18 degrees Celsius, in July - plus 18 degrees Celsius.
The Republic of Bashkortostan has three reserves (Bashkir Reserve, South Ural Reserve, “Shulgan-Tash”), 12 medical plants reserves, 15 game reserves, the national park “Bashkiria”, two nature parks and over 150 natural monuments. The total area of protected areas is 1,226 thous. hectares (8.5% of the area of the region).
In 2010, there were more than 1,000 functioning mosques in Bashkiria, over 200 Orthodox churches and more than 60 places of worship of other faiths.
Bashkortostan is one of the most economically developed regions of Russia. The most important industries are oil production and refining, chemical and petrochemical, power engineering, wood processing and production of building materials.
Agriculture of Bashkiria includes cultivation of wheat, rye, oats, barley, sugar beets and sunflowers, cattle breeding, meat and wool sheep breeding, poultry farming, horse breeding, bee-keeping. Bashkir honey is well known throughout Russia.
Ufa is connected with Samara, Chelyabinsk, Orenburg, Ulyanovsk and other large Russian cities by railways. The highway M5 “Ural” crosses the region, M7 “Volga” ends in Ufa. The Belaya and the Ufa rivers are navigable.
Tourism resources of Bashkortostan: the monuments of culture and art in Ufa, Sterlitamak, Ishimbay, Salavat; about 300 karst caves, 600 rivers, 800 lakes; the ridges of the Ural Mountains (the oldest rock formations in Europe), three national reserves and the national park “Bashkiria”.
The first report about the Bashkirs is found in the Chinese chronicles of the Sui dynasty: 45 tribes called by originators Tiele people are listed in the "Book of Sui" (636 AD) in "A Narration about a Tiele people", Bashkirs being mentioned among them. The Bashkirs are also mentioned in "Ashkharatsuyts" (7th century).
Starting from the 9th century, first written reports about Bashkirs by Arab and Persian authors began to appear. Sallam al-Tardzhuman (9th century); Ahmad ibn Fadlan, Al-Masudi, and Abu Zayd al-Balkhi (10th century); Said Al-Andalusi and Muhammad al-Idrisi (12th century); Ibn Sa'id al-Maghribi Yaqut al-Hamawi and Qazvini (13th century); Al-Dimashqi and Abu'l-Fida (14th century) wrote about Bashkirs.
The first written Arab source on the Bashkirs belongs to the traveler Sallam an at-Tardzhuman. About 840 he visited the country of the Bashkir and roughly described its borders. Abu Zayd al-Balkhi (10th century) described Bashkirs as a people divided into two groups, one inhabiting the Southern Urals, the other living on the Danube plain near the boundaries of Byzantium. Ibn Rustah, a contemporary of Abu Zayd al-Balkhi, observed that Bashkirs were an independent people occupying territories on both sides of the Ural mountains ridge between Volga, Kama, and Tobol Rivers and upstream of the Yaik river.
The first ethnographic description of the Bashkir was made by Ahmad ibn Fadlan — the ambassador of the Baghdad Caliph Al-Muqtadir to the governor of Volga Bulgaria. He visited the Bashkir lands in 922. The Bashkirs, according to Ibn Fadlan, were a warlike and powerful people, which he and his companions (a total of five thousand people, including military protection) "bewared... with the greatest threat". They were engaged in cattle breeding.
Bashkirs worshipped twelve gods: winter, summer, rain, wind, trees, people, horses, water, night, day, death, heaven and earth, the one above all being the sky god. Apparently, Islam had already began its spread among the Bashkirs, as one of the ambassadors was a Muslim Bashkir. According to the testimony of Ibn Fadlan, the Bashkirs were Turks, living on the southern slopes of the Urals, and occupying a vast territory up to the Volga. They were bordered by Pechenegs on the south-east, by Bulgars on the west, and by Oghuz Turks on the south.
In the middle of the 16th century, Bashkirs joined the Tsardom of Russia. Charters of Ivan the Terrible to Bashkir tribes became the basis of their contractual relationship with the tsar’s government. Primary documents pertaining to the Bashkirs during this period have been lost, although some are mentioned in the shezhere (family trees) of the Bashkir.