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Komi-Zyrians and Komi-Permyaks are two related peoples according to descent, language, and culture. The native name of these peoples ― “komi” ― comes from the ancient Perm word “koma (kom)” ― “man, person”, that is, Komi are “people”. In the Middle Ages, the Komi were chronicled as the people of Perm, and the territory of their settlement was Perm Vychegodskaya (the modern Komi Republic) and Perm Velikaya (Perm Territory).

Nowadays, the Komi live in the Komi Republic, the Perm Territory, the Kirov Region, the Nenets Autonomous Area of the Arkhangelsk Region, on the Kola Peninsula, in the Bolshezemelskaya Tundra, in Western Siberia.

The racial type of Komi-Zyrian is heterogeneous. Anthropologists say that in ancient times the Komi, like all Finno-Ugric peoples, belonged to the Ural racial type ― the transition between the Caucasoid and Mongoloid races.

But in the historical process, the Komi mixed with other peoples, while maintaining their cultural identity and language. Now several anthropological types: Vyatka-Kama, White Sea and East Baltic are dominated among the Komi-Zyrians.

The Komi-Zyrians are Orthodox Christians. Christianity was adopted in the 14th century as a result of the missionary activity of Stephen of Perm. Previously, the Komi were mainly hunters and fishers, they were engaged in agriculture, but it wasn’t their prevailing activity. After the adoption of Christianity, the Komi mastered agriculture and new types of settlements, close to the North Russian.

Many neighboring peoples took part in the formation of the Komi ― Vepsians, ancient Mari, ancestors of the Ob Ugrians, Eastern Slavs and others. In the 16th – 17th centuries the boundaries of the Komi settlement were changed. The upper reaches of the Mezen and Vychegda were settled, the Komi appeared in the Izhma basin, on the Pechora. The major ethnographic groups of the Komi were united: Vym Sysola, Priluzie, Udora. In the 17th – 18th centuries, as a result of the further resettlement of the Komi, ethnographic groups of the Upper Vychegda, Izhma and Pechora were formed. The consolidation of the Komi into the nationality came to an end.

The expansion of ethnic territory to the north continued until the late 19th century. In the 19th century, the Komi population rose significantly. Over the first half of the century the population almost doubled and amounted to about 125,000 people by the middle of the century. The outflow of the population beyond the borders of the main ethnic territory increased. In the late 19th century, the Komi population reached 153,600 people, with 17,000 of them living outside the Komi territory (according to the census of 1897). In Siberia and the European North, in areas of compact settlement, several cradles of the Komi migration were formed. 

In the 19th century, the range of Komi occupations also expanded. Tailoring, wool-beating, fulling, veterinary art, coal charring and ore mining for the needs of metallurgical plants have been developed. In the late 19th century, harvesting and timber rafting were of prime importance.

On August 22, 1921, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the RSFSR adopted the decree "On the Autonomous Region of Komi (Zyrian)". In 1936, the Komi Region was transformed into the Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. The administrative disunity of the Komi living in the Vologda and Arkhangelsk Governorates was eliminated.

On November 23, 1990, the Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was transformed into the Komi Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1992, the Komi Republic was established. It is a national state entity in the Russian Federation with an area of 416,774 km2 and about 130 nationalities and two state languages ― Russian and Komi. 

The Komi people have the proverb “chuzhan posyd bydonly dona” ― “Every bird likes its own nest”. Both the people and the “nest” ― the Komi Republic, have their own complex history which has been built for several centuries...


The Komi language (native name ― komi kyv) refers to the Perm branch of the Finno-Ugric family of the Uralic languages. The closest ancestors of the Komi lived in the 1st millennium within the Pechora River basin from the western slopes of the Urals to the banks of the Northern Dvina. They maintained cultural and trade ties with the Scythians, the peoples of Egypt, Central Asia and Iran. Komi is one of two Perm languages with three major dialects. Each of them has its own literary standard: northern (Komi-Zyrian), southern (Komi-Perm), northeastern (Komi-Yazva).

The Komi language has ten dialects

The Komi language is based on the primitive Perm language. In the pre-Christian era, the Komi used runic patrimonial signs ― passes, carved on wooden hunting calendars and spinning wheels. Ancient Perm writing (abur, anbur) was created by missionary Stephen of Perm in the second half of the 14th century and supplanted by writing based on the Russian alphabet in the 17th-18th centuries. After 1917, two literary standards developed: Komi-Zyrian and Komi-Perm. Republican and district newspapers, magazines, textbooks, social and political materials and fiction are published in the Komi language.

The names of settlements, streets, squares, road signs in the Komi Republic are drawn up in both state languages ― Komi and Russian. 

Russian-Komi phrasebook