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Constituent republic of the Russian Federation. Its capital, Cheboksary (pop. 440,000), lies 670 km east of Moscow on the Volga and on the Trans-Siberian railroad. The adjacent territories are the Mari Republic, the Republic of Tatarstan and the districts of Nizhni-Novgorod and Uljansk.

Other towns of note include Novacheboksary and Kanash. Most of the electricity in the region is produced by a large hydroelectric dam. One third of the territory is afforested. There are also peat bogs, phosphor and gypsum deposits. These minerals have supported a large chemical industry since Soviet-led industrialization. The other industries include machine building (e.g. earthmovers) and light industry.

The Chuvash people make up 68% of the population (the rest are mainly Russian). They are descended from medieval Bulgars. Scholars believe their lineage includes elements of Mongolian and Finno-Ugrian. There is a Chuvash language which is Turkic but also the sole surviving member of the old-Bulgaric branch. However, most people here speak Russian. They are mainly Orthodox Christians.

Settlements were founded here in the fifteenth century and a fortress was built in 1555. From the sixteenth century Chuvasia was part of the Russian empire. In 1920 it became part of communist Russia. Originally it was given the status of oblast (province) but was promoted to autonomous republic in 1925.

Chuvashia became an Autonomous Oblast on 24 June 1920 and an ASSR on 21 April 1925. With the break-up of the Soviet Union it became one of the fifteen autonomous republics within Russia.

The flags of the communist period were mainly boring: from 1931 to 1937 red with hammer and sickle, "ChASSR", and the Chuvash for "proletarian s of the world, unite!" in gold ("PÊTÊM TÊNChÊRI PROLETTARISEM, PÊRLEShÊR!"); from 1937 to 1954 red with "RSFSR" and the "Chuvash ASSR" in Chuvash and Russian in gold; and after 1954 the hammer and sickle, "Chuvash ASSR", and a blue stripe at the hoist.

But the 1927-1931 flag had the ChASSR and hammer and sickle on a very large white canton surrounded by an ornate border of geometrical ornament in red, white, gold, blue, and green.

The post-USSR flag adopted on 29 April 1992 has a yellow background with a red base, and a red stylized tree of life symbol under three suns (eight-pointed stars). This is a traditional element for the local people. Curiously, descriptions of the flag make the red something other, such as purple, pink, or maroon; but the only flags actually seen flying in Chuvash-en have ordinary red.

The name Chuvashia is Russian; the native Chuvash name is Chuvash-en. Although this is how it is always written in English (in the few publications that use this form), in fact the first vowel is written with a short vowel sign (breve) over an A: here I write Châvash-en.

Chuvash has several vowels whose exact quality I can't tell. It also has a sibilant normally transcribed S-acute, which I'll write S'. This sound is a key to understanding the position of Chuvash among the Turkic languages. It is unclear what its origin is, but it normally corresponds to a common Turkic Y. For example, the usual Turkic root for 'to write' is yaz-, which corresponds to Chuvash s'ïr-. Often the s-form is the one that was borrowed into Finno-Ugrian languages such as Mordvin and Zyryen, Chuvash being their closes neighbour of the Turkic group.

The word for 'one hundred' is s'êr, corresponding to yüz in other members of the Turkic group. But comparison of this to Finnish sata and Hungarian száz, which may be plausibly connected with the Indo-Iranian satem, suggest that in this case at least Chuvash preserves an original S, and the Y in the other branches is secondary.

The alternation z ~ r seen in these words is also characteristic of Chuvash, as is a correspondence r ~ l. As this is to some degree shared with Mongol, it suggests that the Chuvash homeland might have been closer to Mongolia before they settled on the Volga.

The plural suffix is -sam ~ -sem (depending on the previous vowel: this is vowel harmony). Before other case endings this has the forms -san- ~ -sen-, as in

    kil       house
    kile      to a house
    kilsem    houses
    kilsene   to houses
The change of final Turkic -n to -m is another mark of Chuvash.

The Turkic languages also have possessive suffixes:

    kilëm     my house        kilëmër    our house
    kilü      thy house       kilër      your house
where Ë is a neutral vowel (schwa).

It happens that kil- is also the root of the verb 'to come'. The pluralizer -ër shows up in personal conjugation:

    kilëp     I shall come    kilëpër    we shall come
The independent personal pronouns are: epë 'I', epër 'we', esë 'thou', esër 'you'. (Cf. modern Turkish ben, biz, sen, siz.)

The Upper Chuvash dialect is called Viryal and the Lower dialect is Anatri. The first grammar of the language was published in 1769.

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