The Maris are a Finno-Ugric people who at the time of the 1989 Soviet census numbered some 670,000, of whom some 43 percent lived in their titular republic.
The total population of the then Mari ASSR at that time was 749,332, of whom 47.5 percent were Russians and 43.3 percent Maris. In 1989, 80.9 percent of the Maris in the USSR claimed to be able to speak their native language, while in the Mari ASSR itself, the percentage was even higher -- 88.4 percent. More recent data posted on the suri.ee website gave the number of speakers of Lowland Mari at 500,000 and those of Hill Mari at 42,000, designating both dialects as endangered. (Liz Fuller)