The Republic of Chuvashia
The Chuvash Republic is located in the centre of European part of Russia. The area is about 18.3 thousands km². Population is 1360,4 thousand people, about 40% of them are living in rural area. The density of population is 74,3 people per 1 km² – one of the highest in Russia. The Chuvash Republic consists of 21 administrative districts, 9 cities, 8 towns, and 1727 villages. The capital of the republic is city of Cheboksary with the population approximately 500 thousand people. Chuvashia is surrounded by the industrially developed centres of Russia: on the west it borders with the Nizhnyi Novgorod Region, on the north – with the republic of Mary El, on the east – with the Republic of Tatarstan, on the south it neighbours with the Mordvinian Republic and the Ulyanovsk Region. Distance from Cheboksary to Moscow is approximately 650 km.
The Chuvash Republic possesses unique natural resources. Water resources are the beauty of the Volga, Sura, Tsivil’ rivers, and also four hundred lakes. One of the treasures of the republic is forests, which cover a third of the territory, mainly along the Sura and in the Volga area. The forests of Chuvashia consist of oak grove, mixed forests, and coniferous forest. Climate of the republic is moderate-continental, and averages temperature is +20°C (68F) in summer and -12° (10F) in winter.
By the ancestors Chuvash people are semi-nomadic tribes of ancient Bulgars and Suvar, which lived in 5th-8th centuries on the northern Caucasus. In 7th-8th centuries one part of the Bulgars left the Balkans and was dissolved among the Slavs, another part migrated in the middle part of the Volga Region and had composed the ethnic basis of Chuvashs and Kazan Tatars. The formation of the Chuvashs in the united nation occurred on the basis of the population of those rural Bulgars, who did not accept Islam, and it was completed in 15th-16th centuries. In 1551 the Chuvashs became part of Russia. The Chuvash language relates to Bulgar subgroup of Turkish group of Altai language family. The first primer in Russian drawings was published in 1871. Before that, in ancient times, runic written language was used. In the period from the middle 18th to the middle 19th centuries the Chuvashs were forcibly inverted into the Orthodox Christianity. Now the Chuvash Republic is the sovereign republic of the Russian Federation. In the tsarist Russia the territory of contemporary Chuvashia was a part of two provinces – Kazan gubernia and Simbirsk gubernia. In 1920, the Chuvash Autonomic region was established, which then was converted in the Chuvash ASSR, and in 1992 – in the Chuvash Republic as a part of Russian Federation.
The tourism attractions of the Chuvash Republic have various nature. The main groups are: monuments of Orthodox Christianity, monuments of ancient Russian culture, historical and cultural monuments, museums and exhibitions, and the unique Neolithic sites (a list of some tourism attractions see in Appendix 8).
The monuments of Orthodox Christianity include monasteries and churches through the republic. Other monuments represent history and culture of Chuvashia from different ethnic and historical perspectives. Many of them were rebuilt or restored.
The museum offers its collections of unique original paintings by Russian artists Shishkin, Levitan, Repin, Serov, etc. There is a rich collection of Chuvash artists. The administration of museum arranges thematic workshops, musical evening and many different exhibitions.
The most important museums are Chuvash National museums and Chuvash State art museum. There are also the museum of V.Chapaev, the national hero, the museum of beer, the museum of Natural Production which offers expositions about traditional countryside life of the area, and the Volga islands where the unique Neolithic sites are located.
- visiting the open air filial of the Chuvash National museum;
- visiting handicrafts manufactures and farms;
- visiting the embroidering manufacture "Pakha Tere";
- the "village route" around Chuvash countryside with its festivals, handicrafts traditions, cloth, etc.;
- visits to horse riding farms;
- the beer route including observing process of traditional brewery and local beer-tasting;
- recreational and sport routes around national parks "Chuvash Varmane" and "Zavolzh’e";
- excursions along the Volga and Sura.
Because of the destruction of main historical and culture attraction of republic during the Cheboksary hydroelectric station in 70s, the republican authorities decided to develop another potential of Chuvashia – recreation. The republic is situated in a part of geographical area – Zavolzh’e – the left bank of Volga. The area is famous for its unique untouched nature: clean air, beautiful forests, small and big rivers and lakes. All year around it is the best place for hunting and fishing, or just walking. In summer the area attracts by many beaches and long swimming season, collecting mushrooms and wild berries. During wintertime there are all possibilities for skiing, skating, driving in a sleigh, etc. Chuvashia has there many sanatoriums, resorts, and holiday camps. This fact influence the profile of the main flow of visitors to republic – people who are coming because of health or recreational purposes.
The republic does not have a big amount of accommodation, but existing hotels (in the Cheboksary city) are quite developed and modern. There are seven hotels "Chuvashia", "Sport", Promtractor Hotel", U Iriny", "Kurortnaya", "Rossiya", and "Utro". All of them offer additional services: restaurants, bar, hairdresser/barber shop, sauna with swimming pool, massage, billiard, banquet and conference halls, shops, parking space, etc. Some of the hotels have personnel speaking foreign languages. Now the city administration of Cheboksary conducts certification and modernisation of all hotel system. Accommodation of resorts and camps also can be count because of its good quality. The provincial accommodation system has not yet changed from Soviet times when standards were not high, and needs total reconstruction and, subsequently, investments.
Travelling by air
The republic has an airport in Cheboksary. It arranges flights to Moscow (every day) and Surgut. From 1995 the international sector is functioning.
Travelling by train
Chuvashia has railway connection with west and east parts of Russia, Siberia, southern Russia, and Europe. There are everyday trains to Moscow.
Travelling by car/bus
Due to the location the republic has access to the most important highways of the Russian Federation: the first one is from Moscow to the west of Russia, the second one connects Moscow with the southern part of Russia. Public transport of the republic is developed very well: there are 4 central stations and 31 local stations. They arrange travel inside of living areas of Chuvashia and all neighbouring areas and regions, every day to Moscow.
Travelling by ship/riverboat
The republic has water connection to all ports along the Volga, Caspian, Azov and Black sees, the west and north regions of Russia. The biggest port of the republic is "CheboksArsky" in the capital. But passenger service is not developed because of tremendous coast changes in 70s.
The republican tourism facilities and services are in a developing stage now. But there is more or less everything to provide good service to both domestic and foreign tourists. The receptive service is still forming but already has high standard: it includes travel and tour operations, interpreter and guide services, good offer of maps, guidebooks, etc. Restaurants and other eating establishments mainly offer modest but good quality services. Certainly, there are some fashionable and expensive restaurants. Retail outlets of handicrafts, souvenirs and specialities are arranged at many places, especially at museums, manufactures and tourist sites. There are developed facilities for financial operations: foreign exchange offices, banks both state and private proceed operations with bankcards from all over the world. Personal facilities are developed, it is possible to find them everywhere and on any demand. The republic has really good medical facilities and services: there are unique medical centres and hospitals of different specialisation with modern medical equipment. The emergency telephone access to medical service is "03". Public safety is run by the state service "milicia"(police), the emergency telephone access is "02". Fire protection is a concern of special department, the emergency telephone access is "01".
There does not exist so-called tourist and travel information offices network, but their functions local travel agencies arrange. The disadvantage of their work is in their non-systematisation. To develop tourism in Cheboksary, particularly tourist facilities and services, in 1998 the Centre of Tourism "Cheboksary" was established by the city administration, some industrial enterprises and travel agencies. Travel agencies in co-operation with the local museums are planning archaeological expeditions and excursions, building the "archaeological village", and establishing the Repression’s museum, dedicated to victims of Stalin repressive politics.
The Chuvash Republic has developed communication and public services like water supply, electric power, sewage and solid waste disposal, telegraph, telex, and telefax (run by the municipal authorities), and radio, telecommunications, and telephone (run by the state or private companies). There is TV and radio broadcasting companies both state and private, satellite TV is not yet spread widely (working only in the capital). The state telephone network connects all districts of the republic as well as Russia and the rest of the world. Cell telephone system is developing rapidly, and there are the republican and Russian companies on that market. Post offices are open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., there anyone can use fax, telefax, call in Russia or abroad, send and get letters and parcels. There is DHL office in Cheboksary.