Volga Federal District
Republic of Mari El
Time: Moscow Time Zone (MSK/MSD). UTC offset is UTC+3 (MSK)/UTC+4 (MSD).
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Federal district: Volga Federal District.
Main cities: Kozmodemyansk, Volzhsk.
Land and Resources: The Republic of Mari El is located in the eastern part of the East European Plain in the central Volga River basin. It borders on Kirov Region in the north, northeast, and east; on the Republic of Tatarstan and Chuvashia on the southeast and east; and on Nizhny Novgorod Region on the west and northwest. The Mari El Republic is situated in the basin of the middle Volga River. Extending north from the left bank of the Volga and drained by its tributaries, the Vetluga, Bolshaya and Malaya Kokshaga, and Ilet, the republic consists of a level, often swampy, plain that rises gently toward the east, where it merges with the low Vyatka Hills. Total area of the republic is 23 300 km2 (57% forests, 38.9% farmlands, 1% swamps, 3% water). There are 476 large and small rivers, 11 rivers of economic importance and over 200 large lakes.
Climate: The climate is temperate continental with long cold winters and warm summers. Average summer temperatures are from +18 to +20°C. The hottest weather is in July, when air temperatures reach +34 to +36°C. Fall weather is cold and damp with a predominance of chilly winds and rain. Early frosts and snow are likely. November is the windiest month. Winter generally begins in November; average winter temperatures are -18 to -19°C. January is the coldest month. The Republic of Mari El is an excellent place for winter sports like skiing and skating. Spring is usually cool and dry.
Transportation: Eight airports operate in the republic, including an interrepublican airport. There is a railway terminal and a bus depot, 17 railway stations, 30 bus stations, a river port in the city of Kozmodemyansk on the Volga, five local ports, and facilities for unloading barges. A well-developed transportation network including all forms of transport is at the service of tourists. This network includes river transport along the Volga and Vetluga rivers with landings in the cities of Zvenigovo, Volzhsk, and Kozmodemyansk and the villages of Yurino and Kokshaisk. The Yoshkar-Ola airport is connected to airports in Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, and Saratov. There are also rail connections to Moscow, Kazan, and Yaransk. Highways have been built to Cheboksary and Kazan.
Yoshkar-Ola means red city in Mari. The city was known as Tsaryovokokshaysk before 1919 and as Krasnokokshaisk between the years of 1919 and 1927. These names were derived from the river Small Kokshaga, which runs through the city.
The museums of the city of Kozmodemyansk and Sheremetevo Castle in the village of Yurino are located on the banks of the Volga.
Mari El is one of the more ecologically pure areas of the European part of Russia with numerous lakes, rivers, and forests. As a result, it is a popular destination for tourists looking to enjoy nature. One of the most popular destinations is Marii Chodra national park in the Ilet valley, where visitors can enjoy various activities such as boating, horseback riding, fishing, and mushrooming. Another is the Bolshaya Kokshaga National Reserve, where visitors can walk through virgin forests and observe local wildlife.
Mari El is also the site of several mineral springs, many of which are located in the Ilet valley. Many small resorts and children`s camps are also located on the various lakes throughout the republic.
The deepest sink lake in the Republic of Mari El is Lake Zryv, with depths of up to 56 m. Most of the plunge-basin lakes found in forests are very picturesque. Tourist facilities, sports and recreation camps, and health and vacation centers are located on their shores.
Mari Chodra National Park on Maple Mountain (Klenovaya Gora) is an interesting natural area. The Klenovaya Gora health center is located here, as well as popular tourist spots like Green Spring (Zeleny Klyuch) and Yalchik, Mashiner, Glukhoe, and Konaner lakes. The Ilet, Yushut, and Petyalka rivers flow through the park. An ancient oak, known as the Pugachevsky oak, is preserved here. According to tradition, Emelyan Pugachev and his troops camped for the night under the canopy of this oak. The oak stands out from the rest of the grove because of its size. This gigantic tree with a mighty truck 159 cm in diameter reaches into the upper layer of the canopy. The Pugachevsky oak by itself represents a precious natural monument.
The republic has five recreational areas set aside for sports and leisure and educational tourism. There are also organized active recreational tours, for example, boat tours on the Malaya and Bolshaya Kokshaga, Bolshoi Kundysh, Ilet, Nemda, and Volga rivers; hiking and horseback riding in the southwestern, southern, and northeastern parts of the republic; and cycling and skiing throughout the territory.
Pilgrimages to holy sites (monasteries, churches, sacred springs) and sacred groves are always popular. The national culture of Mari El is rich and varied. Cultural and economic ties have traditionally been developed with other Finno-Ugric nations. Hungary, Finland, and the Baltic countries are long-standing stable partners of the Republic of Mari El.
There are many museums located throughout the Mari El territory. The largest ones include the National Museum, the Museum of History, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Yoshkar-Ola; the Museum of Arts and History, the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, and the Merchant Life Museum in Kozmodemyansk; and the Sheremetevo Castle Museum-reserve in Yurino. There are also museums dedicated to the poet Nikolay Mukhin and the composer Ivan Klyuchnikov-Palantay in Yoshkar-Ola and the house-museum of writer Sergei Chavayn in Chavaynur.
Five theaters are located in Yoshkar-Ola with performances in both the Russian and Mari languages.
Encarta World Atlas