Volga Bulgaria or Volga–Kama Bulghar, was a historic Bulgar state that existed between the 7th and 13th centuries around the confluence of the Volga and Kama River, in what is now European Russia. It is believed the territory of Volga Bulgaria was originally settled by Finno-Ugric peoples, including Mari people. The original Bulgars were Turkic tribes, who settled north of the Black Sea. During their westward migration across the Eurasian steppe, they absorbed other ethnic groups, including Hunnic and Iranian. About 630 they founded Old Great Bulgaria which was destroyed by the Khazars in 668. Kubrat's son and appointed heir Batbayan Bezmer moved from the Azov region in about AD 660, commanded by the Kazarig Khagan Kotrag to whom he had surrendered. They reached Idel-Ural in the eighth century, where they became the dominant population at the end of the 9th century, uniting other tribes of different origin which lived in the area. Most scholars agree that the Volga Bulgars were subject to the Khazarian Khaganate until the mid 10th century, when the Bulgars no longer paid tribute to them. The threat from Khazaria was completely gone after Khazaria's destruction and conquest by Sviatoslav in the late 10th century, after which Volga Bulgaria grew greatly in size and power. Sometime in the late 9th century unification processes started, and the capital was established at Bolghar (also spelled Bulgar) city, 160 km south from modern Kazan. Abu al-Ghazi Bahadur named the Volga Bulgar people as Ulak. Volga Bulgaria adopted Islam in 922 – 66 years before Russia became Christian. In 921 Almış sent an ambassador to the Caliph requesting religious instruction. Next year an embassy returned with Ibn Fadlan as secretary. In 1236, the Mongols subjugated the whole country, which at that time was suffering from internal war. Henceforth Volga Bulgaria became a part of the Ulus Jochi, later known as the Golden Horde. It was divided into several principalities. By the 1430s, the Khanate of Kazan was established as the most important of these principalities. No official coinage was discovered, but khans from Volga Bulgaria often used Samanid imitations and crude similar dirhams.
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