The Republic of Marij El is a constituent entity of the Russian Federation. Its area amounts to 23 thousand sq km, its population to 700 thousand.
The capital of the republic is the town of Ioshkar-Ola, situated in the Moscow time zone, 640 km away from Moscow (in a straight line). 50% of the territory is covered with mixed forests. The main rivers are the Volga, the Vyatka, the Bolshaya Kokshaga.
The climate is moderately continental, with a long cold winter (the average temperature —190) and a hot summer (the average temperature +250). Winter attracts those fond of mountain skiing, and summer is a perfect season for visiting historical and cultural points of interest. Marij El is considered a region with a very good environmental status. Rafting on Volga, you will be in a position to visit a lot of museums and old castles in the town of Kosmodemyansk and in the settlement of Yurino.
Those fond of kayak journeys will value high the picturesque banks of the Bolshaya Kokshaga or numerous lakes, for example, the Lake Shchuchye (Lake of Pikes). The end of summer is considered the optimal time for rafting on rivers and lakes. You may choose any of numerous routes: on the Studenka River, on Lake Churkan, or on the Bolhaya Kokshaga, which is ranked among the purest European rivers.
When rafting, you can also enjoy fishing: sturgeons, sterlets, carps, Caspian roaches are waiting for you.
Those attracted more by mountainous landscapes should visit «Switzerland in Marij El», as the Vyatskiy Uval is referred to.
One of the Marij El reserves is the Bolshaya Kokshaga reserve, established for the purpose of nature preservation. Another large reserve is the Marij Chondra national park, where elks and bears harbour. Tourist paths are laid over the park; one of its main points of interest is an old oak with the trunk 159 cm in diameter, under which, according to the tradition, Emelyan Pugachev with his men stopped over. Hunting is permitted in certain parts of the park, and an elk, a bear, or other animal may become your trophy.
An original view of history at the crossing of various civilizations and tribes is represented in the National Museum of the Republic of Marij El named after T. Evseev. The exhibition displayed to the tourists is devoted to the flora and fauna of the area, to its history and ethnography, to material and spiritual culture of its native peoples — the Russians, the Tatars, the Chuvashs, the Udmurts. Traces history may be found here and there in the streets of Ioshkar-Ola. These are the house of a merchant Pchelkin, a baroque-style Voznesenskaya Church, the houses of merchants Lokhanov and Chulkov and a number of other buildings.
Not far from Ioshkar-Ola, villages are situated that have attracted ethnographists and tourists from long ago. These are the village of Ezhovo, with its monastery buildings of the 18th century, and the settlement of Medvedevo, where a highly interesting section is opened in the local history museum, devoted to the legends and tales of the Mari.
For more detailed information on the Republic, please refer to Internet resources of governmental authorities of the constituent entity of the Russian Federation.