In the northern half of the district the Tatar element predominates (40,000) and there are a number of villages occupied by Russian Raskolniks (Nonconformists).
Raskolniks or Nonconformists in the second half of the 17th century, rebel stryeltsy under Peter the Great, courtiers of rank during the reigns of the empresses, Polish confederates under Catherine II., the " Decembrists " under Nicholas I., nearly 50,000 Poles after the insurrection of 1863, and later on whole generations of socialists were sent to Siberia; while the number of common-law convicts and exiles transported thither increased steadily from the end of the 18th century.
There are accordingly parts of Siberia, especially among the Raskolniks or Nonconformists, where the north Russian, the Great Russian and the Ukrainian (or southern) types have maintained themselves in their full purity, and only some differences in domestic architecture, in the disposition of their villages and in the language and character of the population remind the traveller that he is in Siberia.
The prevailing religion is the Lutheran (79.8%); 1 4.3% belong to the Orthodox Greek Church; of the Russians, however, a considerable proportion are Raskolniks (Nonconformists); the Roman Catholics amount to 2.3%, and the Jews to 2%.
During the 17th century the country around Nizhniy became the seat of a vigorous religious agitation, and in its forests the Raskolniks established hundreds of their monasteries and communities, those of the Kerzhenets playing an important part in the history of Russian Nonconformity even to the present time.
The middle and lower parts of ' the Bukhtarma valley have been colonized since the 18th century by runaway Russian peasants - serfs and nonconformists (Raskolniks) - who created there a free republic on Chinese territory; and after this part of the valley was annexed to Russia in 1869, it was rapidly colonized.