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Mordovia (Russian: Мордо́вия mahr-DOH-vee-yuh) is a region in the Middle Volga, bordering Ryazan Oblast to the west, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast to the north, Chuvashia to the east, Ulyanovsk Oblast to the southeast, and Penza Oblast to the south.



  • Saransk — the capital and only large city in the region; its museums make it the principal destination for travelers interested in Mordvin culture
  • Ruzayevka — the only other (small) city in the region
  • Temnikov — a small town near the 18th century Sanaksar Monastery

Other destinations[edit]

  • Mordovsky Nature Reserve
  • Smolny National Park


Mordovia is named for its native Finno-Ugric minority, the Mordvin people. The Mordvin see themselves as two distinct nationalities, the Moksha and the Erzya, based on their related but distinct languages. The Moksha live primarily in the west of the republic; the Erzya in the north and northeast. Ethnic Russians, however, comprise the majority of Mordovia's population.

Mordovia is mostly flat, heavily forested, and dotted with lakes. The main rivers cutting through the region are the Sura and the Moksha.

In the first half of 1990s the level of social and economical development of the republic declined and by mid 1990s the livestock farming was in crisis. In the second half of 90s the situation began stabilizing, a part of plants adjusted to changing economic relations.


Russian is spoken by all, although the lucky or persistent traveler might get to hear some Moksha or Erzya, both languages related to Finnish and in danger of becoming extinct.

Get in[edit]

Trains arrive to Saransk from Moscow (through Ryazan), Ulyanovsk, Penza, Nizhny Novgorod, Kanash, and Ulyanovsk. The overnight train from Moscow departs daily in the evening and arrives in Saransk around 8:00am.

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