(ʊd'mʊrt, Rus. ʊdmōrt') or Udmurtia, constituent republic (1990 pop. 1,620,000), 16,255 sq mi (42,100 sq km), European Russia, in the forested foothills of the Urals, between the Kama and Vyatka rivers. Izhevsk (the capital), Sarapul, and Votkinsk are the chief cities. The terrain is mostly low and hilly, with wide river valleys. Railroads are the main form of transportation; but the Kama is navigable, and the Cheptsa and Kilmez rivers are used for lumber flotage. Although soil fertility is low, grain (especially rye), flax, hemp, sugar beets, peas, and potatoes are cultivated. The republic's extensive timber, peat, and oil shale resources are only partially exploited because of transportation difficulties. There are also deposits of quartz sand, clays, limestone, coal, and other minerals. The Udmurt Republic is an important part of the Urals industrial area; its growth was particularly spurred by the evacuation during World War II of many industries from W Russia to the less vulnerable Urals region. Engineering, steel milling, metallurgy, lumbering, machine building, and food and flax processing are important industries.
The republic is one of the most heavily populated areas of the Urals. Udmurts (formerly known as Votyaks or Votiaks) make up around 30% of the population; Russians constitute some 60%, and there are Mari and Tatar minorities. The Udmurts, representing the eastern branch of the Finno-Ugrian nationalities, are related to the Mari and the Komi. They are known for their embroidery, weaving, and wood carving. Some Udmurts are Orthodox Christians; others belong to an ancestor-worshiping cult.
The predecessors of the Udmurts inhabited the region between the Kama and the Vyatka in Neolithic times. They were controlled by the Bulgar state from the 8th to 13th cent. The S Udmurts were subject to the Kazan khanate from the 13th to the late 15th cent., while the northern territory constituted the Vyatka republic. The Russians gradually brought the Udmurts under their rule in the 16th cent., particularly after Czar Ivan IV's conquest of Kazan in 1552. The area became the Votyak Autonomous Region in 1920, the Udmurt Autonomous Region in 1932, and an autonomous republic in 1934. It was a signatory to the Mar. 31, 1992, treaty that created the Russian Federation (see Russia). The republic has a 200-member parliament.