The population in what is now the Russian Federation has undergone several major shocks in the twentieth century, including large-scale rural famines in the 1920s and 1930s and the loss of millions of citizens in World War II. According to demographic experts, the early 1990s may be the start of a more gradual but potentially powerful new shift. Beginning in 1992, the population has suffered a net loss that is projected to continue at least through the first decade of the next century. This phenomenon is caused by a combination of economic, political, and ethnographic factors.
In the mid-1990s, Russians constituted about 82 percent of the population of the Russian Federation, and they dominate virtually all regions of the country except for the North Caucasus and parts of the middle Volga region (see Minority Peoples and Their Territories, ch. 4). The major ethnic minorities are Tatars (3.8 percent), Ukrainians (3.0 percent), Chuvash (1.2 percent), Bashkirs (0.9 percent), Belarusians (0.8 percent), and Mordovians (0.7 percent). The total population of the twenty-one ethnic republics, all designated for one or more of the minority groups in the federation, was about 24 million. However, only in eight of the republics was the population of the titular group (or groups, in the case of Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachayevo-Cherkessia) larger than the population of Russians, and Russians constitute more than half the population in nine republics. One other ethnic jurisdiction, the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region in the West Siberian Plain, has a population of more than 1 million; however, two-thirds of the autonomous region's population are Russian settlers, and the Khanty and Mansi, the tribes for which the region is named, together constitute less than 2 percent of the population.