Tatarstan is an autonomous republic of the Russian federation, in the Privolzhsky District. It is located in the centre of the East European Plain, approximately 700 km east of Moscow. It has an area of 67,800 km˛ and a population of 3.7 million (1992 estimate) of whom 48.5% are Tartars. It lies, between the Volga River and its tributary, the Kama River, and extends east to the Ural mountains. Its capital is the city of Kazan.
The state has existed from the 9th century as Volga Bulgaria or Great Bolgaria. They were converted to Islam by missionaries from Baghdad around 925. They were conquered by the Mongols of the Golden Horde under Batu Khan in the 1230s, they were named Tartars by their conquerers. In the 15th century the area became part of the Kazan Khanate. The area was conquered by the troops of Tsar Ivan IV in the 1550s, with Kazan being taken in 1552. The Islamic people were forcibly converted to Christianity and cathedrals were built in Kazan, from 1593 all mosques in the area were destroyed. The prohibition against mosques was not ended until the 18th century by Catherine II and the first mosque was built from 1766-1770.
The boundaries of the current state were set in 1920 as the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which did not include the majority of the Volga Tartars. Tartarstan declared itself a independent republic on August 30, 1990 and was recognized by the Russian Federation in 1994.