The Republic of Tatarstan is situated around the River Volga in between the Kirov, Ulyanovsk, Samara and Orenburg regions and the republics of Bashkortostan, Mari El, Udmurtia and Chuvashia. The republic forms the homeland of the Volga Tatars and over half of the population are ethnic Tatars. The capital of the republic is the city of Kazan which is also said to be the Third Capital of Russia. The city is rich in history and famous for its white stone kremlin which is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tatarstan is an interesting part of Russia for tourists as it is a land where European culture mingles with Asian culture with main interesting monuments of Bulgar, Tatar and Russian culture. The government of Tatarstan has also invested a great deal in promoting tourism in the republic. The small city of Bulgar was once the capital of the Volga Bulgars and now considered the spiritual heart of Tatarstan. Chistopol and Yelabuga have both been named as a Historical Cities of Russia and both have literary connections. The island-settlement of Sviyazhsk was founded by Ivan the Terrible and has two monasteries.