One of the 22 republics of the Russian Federation. It is located in the center of the European part of Russia, in the east of the East European Plain, in the middle part of the basin of the Volga river.
The Mari Autonomous Oblast was established in 1920, and in 1936 it was reorganized into the Mari Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1990, the Declaration on State Sovereignty of the Republic was adopted, and since 1992 it officially became known as the Republic of Mari El.
The titular ethnic group is the Mari (formerly called Cheremis ). They are subdivided into three subgroups: Mountain Mari (right bank of the Volga), Meadow Mari (left bank of the Volga) and Eastern Mari, living mainly in the territory of Bashkiria. Language is the defining marker of their differences from the titular nation of the country. The Mari language belongs to the Finno-Ugric group of the family Uralic language family. Mari are predominantly Orthodox, but there are many adherents of the so-called "Mari faith", which combines Christianity and traditional (pagan) beliefs.
According to the results of the 2010 All-Russia Population Census, the Mari and Russians have roughly the same share in the population of the republic: 43.9% and 47.4%, respectively.
Interethnic and interconfessional relations are assessed as stable.