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part of the RSFSR. Founded on Oct. 20, 1932, as a part of Khabarovsk Krai, from which it was detached to be constituted as a separate oblast on Aug. 2, 1948. It is located in the Far East between the Stanovoi Range in the north and the Amur River in the south and is mostly within the upper Amur River basin. In the southwest it borders China. Area, 363,700 sq km. Population, 796,000 (1969). The oblast has 20 administrative raions, eight cities, and 31 urban-type settlements. Its center is the city of Blagoveshchensk.
Natural features The greater part of the territory is mountainous. The lowlands, located primarily in the south, cover approximately 40 percent of the total territory. Between the Amur, Zeia, and Selemdzha rivers and the Turana Mountain Range lies the vast Zeia-Bureia lowland; farther north is the Amur-Zeia plateau. The Upper Zeia plain is located in the north of the oblast, in a mountainous area.
The mountain region begins with a chain of alpine tundra peaks: the Iankan, Tukuringra, Soktakhan, and Dzhagdy (with heights up to 1,400–1,600 m). In the north the Stanovoi Range extends along the border of the oblast. In the east are the Dzhugdyr, Selemdzha, Iam-Alin’, Ezop, and Turana ranges. In the northwest are the Southern and Northern Dyryndin, Chel’baus, Chernyshev, and Dzhel-tulinskii Stanovik ranges (reaching a height of 1,582 m).
The most important gold deposits are found mainly along the upper reaches of the Zeia and Selemdzha rivers, such as in the Zeia-Urkan, Nizhneselemdzhinskii and Verkhnii Myn raions. Major mineral deposits have been opened for exploitation under Soviet rule: soft and hard coal at Raichikhinsk, Erkovtsk, and Svobodnoe; iron ore at Gar’; quartz sand and kaolins at Chalgany; limestone at Chagoian and elsewhere; as well as hard clays, tuff, and quartzite. The oblast has some mineral springs.
The climate of Amur Oblast is regulated by monsoons. The winter is cold, dry, and sunny, with little snow. The average temperature in January goes from –24.3°C in the south to –32.8°C in the north. There is little precipitation. The snow cover varies in depth from 20 cm in the south to 35–40 cm in the north. In the south, the summer is hot and rainy. The average temperature in July goes from 21.4°C in the south to 17.6°C in the north. The annual precipitation decreases from 800–900 mm in the east to 456 mm in the west. The growing season is between 126 and 171 days long, with temperatures totaling between 1,734° and 2,610°.
The Amur is the longest river of the oblast, extending for 1,246 km within its boundaries. Its main tributaries are the Ol’doi, Zeia, Bureia, and Arkhara. The major tributaries of the Zeia are, from the right, the Tok, Brianta, Giliui, and Urkan, and from the left, the Argi, Dep, Selemdzha, and Tom’. In the northwest the rivers drain into the Lena River basin—these being the Olekma River and its tributary, the Niukzhei. In the northeast, the Maia River drains into the Uda River basin. The variations of river level are considerable: in the winter the rivers are quite low, while spring and summer are times of high water, the highest being in the summer when flooding occurs. Hydroelectric power reserves amount to 8,671,000 kw.
Brown forest soils predominate, a significant proportion having been podzolized. In the southern part of the oblast the soils are of the chernozem type.
In the oblast, subzones of taiga and mixed forest are found. Forests cover 65 percent of the territory. In the taiga, larch predominates with a certain admixture of pine in some areas. In the east the Yeddo spruce and Khingan fir prevail in some places. A kind of bog with sparse larch forest that is called mari is widespread. In the mixed forest zone, Mongolian oak, pine, and Daurian larch predominate, with an underbrush of hazel. In the east these are supplemented by the Korean cedar (Pinus koraiensis), the Amur cork, and woody creepers (wild grape, schizandra, and Actinidia). In the mountains there are Japanese stone pine and mountain tundra. Timber reserves amount to 2.3 billion cubic meters.
In the taiga zone, squirrel, bear, sable, musk deer, elk, willow ptarmigans, capercaillies, Siberian spruce grouse, and woodpeckers are found. In the mixed forest zone there are white hares and Far Eastern hares, foxes, black and brown bears, wild boar, Manchurian red deer, and roe deer, as well as game birds such as black grouse, cuckoo, and azure-winged magpie. There are many kinds of water birds. Varieties of muskrat and mink have adapted to the climate; the sable has readapted. The most important river fish are the long-snouted sturgeon, the white Amur, the carp, the sazan carp, burbot (L. lota), and tolstolobik (Hyp-ophthalmichthys molitrix of the carp family). In 1963 the Zeia and Khingan preserves were established for the protection of species of plants and animals peculiar to the Far East.
Population Compared to 1913 figures, population has increased 2.2 times. The national composition in 1959 was Russians, 87.8 percent; Ukrainians, 7.8 percent; Byelorussians, 1.3 percent; and Tatars, Latvians, and others, the remainder. In the north there are Evenki and Iakuts. The average population density is 2.2 persons per sq km. In the southern part of the oblast it is approximately six persons per sq km. About 63 percent of the total population is urban.
Before the October Revolution there were three cities in the oblast: Blagoveshchensk, Zeia, and Svobodnyi. Under Soviet rule the following new cities have been built: Raichikhinsk, Belogorsk, Zavitinsk, Shimanovsk, and Skovorodino.
Economy Amur Oblast is the most important agricultural region of the Far East, containing 60 percent of its cultivated area. More than 60 percent of all soybeans.produced in the RSFSR come from there. Industry is being developed, with these branches playing the main role: food processing, coal and gold mining, machine building, lumber and woodworking. New branches of industry have been created: power production, metal processing, and construction materials. By comparison with 1913 the gross industrial product grew 61 times as of 1967, and the area under cultivation increased by 3.5 times. In 1966, Amur Oblast mined 44 percent of the coal and manufactured 100 percent of the window glass and matches in the Soviet Far East. The state regional power plant at Raichikhinsk is the main electric power plant. In 1969 the Zeia hydroelectric power plant was being built. About 12 million tons of coal per year is mined at the Raichikhinsk deposit. Gold is mined at sites in the mountains bordering the flatlands on the north, northwest, and northeast. The metal-processing and machine-building enterprises at Blagoveshchensk, Svobodnyi, Belogorsk, Novobureiskii, and Takhtamygda manufacture drills, pneumatic hammers, machine presses, river boats, oceangoing ships, electric bridge cranes, and the like. There are plants producing silica brick, reinforced concrete structures, and glass. A kaolin complex was being built at Chalgany in 1969. The marketing of commercial lumber and firewood increased by 41.5 percent from 1940 to 1966. There are ten lumber industry collectives, a match factory, sawmills, and other woodworking enterprises. A garment-making factory has been built in Blagoveshchensk and a meat-packing complex in Belogorsk. From 1940 to 1968 meat production increased 19 times, vegetable oil production increased 11 times, butter production increased by 51.6 times, and production of confectionaries rose by 173.5 times.
The main branches of agriculture are cereal grains and beef and dairy cattle raising. In 1967 there were 74 kolkhozes and 98 sovkhozes, all with electricity. The basic crops are wheat and soybeans. In 1968 the area under cultivation in Amur Oblast was 1,523,000 hectares (ha), including 450,000 ha sown to spring wheat, 578,000 ha to soybeans, and 104,000 ha to corn for ensilage and other ensilage crops. Livestock statistics as of Jan. 1,1969, were 421,000 cattle, 98,000 sheep and goats, and 235,000 hogs. The chief agricultural region is the Zeia-Bureia lowland. Reindeer are raised in the northern part of Amur Oblast. Beekeeping is found in the southeast and in some parts of the central region. In the forest areas people engage in the fur trade, and northern collective farms raise fur-bearing animals.
The Trans-Siberian Railroad passes through Amur Oblast and from it run branches to Reinovo, Blagoveshchensk, Poiarkovo, and Raichikhinsk. The total length of railroad track in the oblast is 1,423 km. Motor vehicle transportation plays an important role, and there is navigation on the Amur, Zeia, Selemdzha, and Bureia rivers. The extent of navigable waterways is approximately 2,500 km. There is a regular air connection between Blagoveshchensk and Moscow.
In Amur Oblast three economic regions can be distinguished: (1) the Zeia-Bureia agricultural and industrial region, (2) the Amur lumbering region, and (3) the mountain and taiga hunting region with centers of mining industry.
N. K. SHUL’MAN
Cultural affairs and public health In the school year 1968–69 there were 763 schools for general education in Amur Oblast, with 161,200 pupils. (In the 1914–15 school year there were 263 schools with 15,800 pupils.) There were over 26,400 children attending preschool facilities. Twenty-one intermediate special schools were in operation, with 16,000 students, and in Blagoveshchensk there were three institutes (agricultural, pedagogic, and medical), with 11,000 students, and three local branches of larger institutes. There were two theaters, 477 circulating libraries with 3,734,600 books and magazines, 634 clubs, 889 film projectors, including 677 rural ones, and a museum of local history in Blagoveshchensk.
The oblast has two newspapers: Amurskaia pravda, the organ of the Amur Oblast Party committee and of the oblast Soviet, published since 1918, and Amurskii komsomolets, the organ of the Amur Oblast committee of the Young Communist League, published since 1953. The oblast radio broadcasts two different program schedules, and there is one television channel. Broadcasting includes programs relayed from Moscow. There are television stations in Blagoveshchensk and Raichikhinsk.
As of Jan. 1,1968, Amur Oblast had 1,694 doctors (one doctor for every 462 inhabitants) and 8, 825 hospital beds (113 for every 10, 000 inhabitants).
REFERENCESPriroda Amurskoi oblasti. Blagoveshchensk, 1959.
Konoplev, I. I. Promyshlennost’ Amurskoi oblasti v razvitii, 2nd ed. [Khabarovsk,] 1966.
Palenko, I. A. Amurskaia oblast’, 2nd ed. Khabarovsk, 1966.
Priamur’e: Geograficheskii slovar’ Amurskoi oblasti. Khabarovsk, 1968.