The Mari people are a Finno-Ugric ethnic group living in Russia. According to a recent census, they number just under 700,000. Almost half of all Maris live in the state of Mari-El which is located in the eastern part of the East European Plain of Russia, along the Volga River.However, a large group, about 30,000, live far from Mari-El’s capital city of Yoshkar-Ola, in the south of Sverdlovsk. Their ancestors began migrating to the Urals during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, to avoid Christianization. Today, after centuries of pressure from Christianity, and also from socialism, these Mari are discovering a new way of living: back to basics, in the wake of a powerful outflow of young people to the cities.