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Bashkortostan is an independent republic of the Russian Federation, and it was declared on 11 October, 1990, and is ruled by President Murtaza G Rakhimov. It is situated in the south of the Ural mountains and the neighbouring steppes1.

The republic covers an area of 143 600 km2, with a population of 4 million, which is made up of several different nationalities. The three largest ethnic groups are the Russians, the Tatars and the Bashkirians, the last of these being the native population.

Ufa is one of the five biggest cities along with Sterlitamak, Salvat, Neftekamsk and Oktyabrski, and it is also the capital, with a population of 1.1 million. Ufa was founded in 1574 by Tsar Ivan IV, 22 years after he had conquered the Bashkirians and seized their country.

Bashkortostan has a varied landscape that stretches from the steppe lands in the west to the Ural mountains in the east. There are more than 800 lakes and 600 rivers in the republic. Many of them - including the two largest, the Ural and the Aghidel - are in the Caspian Sea area. One third of the republic is covered by forests, dominated by birch, oak and maple.

In the south-eastern parts of the republic there are approximately 750 various species of plants and almost 200 various species of birds. In the same area you will find a multitude of bears, moose, foxes, hares and other wildlife. The fragrant air on these slopes as well as the steppes, the water (rich in minerals) and the healing mud make the republic a leading health resort.

Tourism in Bashkortostan offers a variety of activities, for example hiking in areas of beautiful scenery, horse-trekking, horse-sleigh rides and going down the river Aghidel on rafts or in canoes.

Bashkortostan is rich in natural resources such as iron, copper, coal and natural gas, but the main and most important asset is oil. Farming has also been of great importance to the republic, and Bashkortostan is one of the five biggest farming producers in all of Russia.

Most of the stockraising is concentrated on milk and meat, usually cattle, pigs, sheep and chickens, but horse farming is also profitable. The horse has been of great importance to the Bashkirians, and they have been breeding horses for more than 1000 years. Today you will find more than 30 horse farms across the republic. These farms have concentrated on four horse breeds: the Bashkir horse, Russian coldblood, Russian trotter and Orlov trotter. Bashkortostan has one of the densest populations of horses in all Russia.

1A vast and usually level and treeless area in southeastern Europe or Asia.

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