There are around 570,000 Maris, and 380,000 of them are native Mari speakers.
Maris have a republic of their own, the Mari El Republic, which is located by the Volga River. The total population of Mari El Republic is around 700,000, but around half of them are Russians. Many Maris live elsewhere than in their titular republic. The capital of the Mari El Republic is Yoshkar-Ola.
Mari El Republic has a lot of forests and mires, which is why its key economic activity is agriculture, in particular livestock farming. The region also has industries including forest and paper industry. Beekeeping used to be an important livelihood in the Volga region.
Mari culture features a lot of song and dance, with traditional Mari poetry being sung poetry. Sergei Chavain, the writer of the first poem in Mari, is regarded as the founder of Mari literature. He also wrote novels including Elnet, which has been translated into Finnish.
A national museum, book publishing house and national theatre were established in Yoshkar-Ola in the 1920s and are still operating. Plays in Mari language are performed at the national theatre as well as other theatres. A film version of at least one play has also been made. This first Mari feature-length film, Salika, was released in 2010.
Mari is home to the newspaper Mari El, the children’s and youth newspaper Kugarnya and the magazine Onchyko. There are also some smaller rural newspapers.
Nature religion is also an important part of Mari culture.
Mari literature translated into Finnish is available on the M. A. Castrén Society website.
Laulajainen, Leena 1995: Marilaiset: Laulun ja uhritulien kansa [Maris: People of Songs and Sacrificial Fires]. Otava.
In Murros – Suomalais-ugrilaiset kielet ja kulttuurit globalisaation paineissa [Transformation – Finno-Ugric Cultures and Languages Facing Pressures of Globalisation]. Eds. Sirkka Saarinen & Eeva Herrala. Uralica Helsingensia 3. Helsinki University Department of Finno-Ugrian Studies – Finnish Academy of Science and Letters – Société Finno-Ougrienne – Finno-Ugrian Society.
Uralilaiset kansat – tietoa suomen sukukielistä ja niiden puhujista [Uralic Peoples – Information about Languages Related to Finnish and Their Speakers]. Ed. Johanna Laakso. WSOY 1991.
From the Volga to Siberia. The Finno-Ugric Peoples in Today’s Russia. Ed. Ildikó Lehtinen. Finnish Literature Society 2012.