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part of the RSFSR. It was formed on Jan. 6, 1954. The oblast covers an area of 27,100 sq km and has a population of 1,261,000 (1970). Belgorod Oblast has 18 administrative raions, nine cities, and 11 urban-type settlements. The center is the city of Belgorod.
Natural features. Belgorod Oblast is located on the southwestern slopes of the Central Russian Upland. Its surface is a hilly plain (maximum altitude 276 m, in the north of the oblast) strongly dissected by ravines and gullies (in the eastern part, more than 10 percent of the total land surface). It has a temperate continental climate. The average January temperature is –8.1° C in the west and –8.7° C in the east, and the July temperature, 19.6° C and 21° C, respectively. The precipitation is more than 500 mm a year in the northwest and about 450 mm a year in the southeast (maximum in the spring and summer period). The length of the vegetation period (temperature over 5° C) is between 185 and 190 days, with a total temperature of 2800–3000° C. The main rivers are the Severskii Donets, Oskol, and Tikhaia Sosna, all in the basin of the Don, and the Vorskla, in the basin of the Dnieper. Most of the rivers are shallow; their waters are used to supply the population and the economy.
Chernozem soils predominate in the oblast: podzolized and leached out soils in the northwest, the typical fertile soils in the central part, ordinary soils in the southeast, gray soil in the forest areas, and alluvial soils in the river valleys. The greater part of the oblast is in the forest steppe zone, and the smaller, southeastern part is in the steppe zone. The forests (mainly oaks) cover about 9 percent of the area. Pine forests grow on the left bank sandy terraces of the Severskii Donets, Oskol, and other rivers. Steppe forb and meadow vegetation has been preserved on the slopes of the ravines and gullies and in the river floodlands. Animals are represented by the elk, the roe deer, and the wild boar. There are also wolves, foxes, badgers, and martens. There are many hare (blue and brown hare), spotted sousliks, and birds typical of the central zone.
The Iamskaia steppe, a protected sector of forb meadow steppe that is part of the V. V. Alekhin Central Chernozem Reservation, is located in the Starooskol Raion; there are also forest preserves: the Woods on the Vorskla (Borisovka Raion), a sector of shipbuilding forest that has been preserved since the time of Peter I, and relict Cretaceous forests: the Stenki Izgor’e (Novooskol Raion), and the Bekariukov (Shebekino Raion).
Population. Russians predominate, as do Ukrainians in the raions bordering on the Ukraine. The population density is 46.5 persons per sq km (1970). The greatest density is in the northern and western raions, the smallest in the eastern and southeastern ones. About 35 percent of the population is urban. The most important cities are Belgorod (151,000), Staryi Oskol, Valuiki, and the cities formed in the period of the Soviet regime: Gubkin, Alekseevka, and Shebekino.
Economy. Belgorod Oblast is a region of the mining industry (7 percent of the oblast gross industrial output in 1968), machine building and metal working (more than 15 percent), the production of building materials (9 percent), food industry (more than 53 percent), and intensive agriculture. Gross industrial output increased 8.9 times between 1940 and 1968.
The major part of the Kursk magnetic anomaly (KMA) is located in Belgorod Oblast. The anomaly consists of three iron ore regions: Belgorod (the Iakovlevo, Gostishchevo, Bol’shetroitskoe, and Shebekino-Melikhovskoe deposits), Novooskol (the Pogrometskoe and Chernianka deposits), and Starooskol (the Lebedino, Stoilenskoe, Saltykovka, and Oskoletskoe deposits). The A, class B, and class C1 reserves total 10,649,000,000 tons (1968), including rich ores of 5,290,000,000 tons and ferrous quartzites of 5,359,000,000 tons. There are big chalk deposits in Belgorod, Shebekino, Staryi Oskol, and other raions; clay and sand deposits are found all over the oblast. The KMA Ore Combine has been set up based on the Lebedino Quarry (open mining) and the Gubkin Mine (underground mining). Their ore is processed at the Lipetsk and Tula metallurgical plants.
Machine building is represented by the following plants: boiler-making (in Belgorod), motor vehicle and tractor electric apparatus (in Staryi Oskol), equipment for the food industry (in Shebekino and Rakitnoe), and tractor and motor vehicle spare parts (in Volokonovka). Several plants were under construction in 1970: chemical equipment (Alekseevka), sugar (Valuiki), and cutting instruments (Belgorod). The building materials industry produces cement (Belgorod, Staryi Oskol), asbestos-cement products and lime (Belgorod), reinforced-concrete structural components and mineral batting (Iakovlevo), and chalk extraction (Belgorod, Logovoe). The Shebekino chemical combine produces washing materials. Within the food industry sugar production predominates (ten large plants): granulated sugar output was 323,000 tons in 1969, up from 74,200 tons in 1940. Other big enterprises are an essential oil extraction combine in Alek-seeva and in Belgorod a citric acid plant and fruit and vegetable canning and vitamin combines.
Belgorod Oblast has 284 kolkhozes and 32 sovkhozes (the end of 1969). The area of agricultural fields is 2,205,000 hectares (ha), including 1,734,000 ha of plowland, 76,000 ha of hay fields and 352,000 ha of pastures. The sowing area of all the agricultural crops is 1,695,000 ha (1969), of which 857,400 ha are planted with grain crops. The chief grain crops are barley and wheat; rye, buckwheat, millet, and corn for grain and silage are also grown. In terms of sugar beet plantings (144,000 ha), Belgorod Oblast holds the fourth place in the RSFSR (after Krasnodar Krai and Voronezh and Kursk oblasts); for coriander the oblast occupies first place in the USSR; sunflowers are also grown (more than 76,000 ha). Sugar beets are grown throughout the oblast, sunflowers and coriander in the eastern raions. Vegetable growing (13,500 ha) and horticulture (about 4,000 ha) are practiced. The Strigunovskii onions and the Korocha, Bol’shetroitskoe, and Shebekino orchards are well known.
The leading branches of animal husbandry are meat and dairy production (724,000 head of cattle in 1969) and pig raising (684,000). Poultry raising is practiced. Cattle, pigs, and poultry are raised throughout the oblast, and sheep are raised in the eastern raions.
In 1968 the operating length of the railroad lines was 711 km (26.2 km per 1,000 sq km). The major lines are Moscow-Kharkov, Penza-Kharkov (both electrified), Moscow-Donbas, and Kharkov-Briansk. The Moscow-Simferopol’ highway and sections of the Shebelinka-Moscow and Stavropol’-Moscow trunk gas pipelines pass through Belgorod Oblast.
E. F. FEDOROVA
Cultural affairs and public health. In the 1969–70 school year, there were 1,470 general education schools of all types with 247,500 pupils, 27 vocational and technical schools with 10,300 students, 21 specialized secondary educational institutions with 20,500 students, and a pedagogical institute with 5,200 students. In 1969 there were 275 preschool institutions with over 24,000 children in them. In early 1970, Belgorod Oblast had 724 people’s libraries (7,338,000 copies of books and magazines), 1,137 club institutions, a drama theater and a puppet theater (in Belgorod), 1,327 motion picture installations, and three museums (the Belgorod Oblast regional study museum, the Starooskol regional study museum, and the First Cavalry army museum in Velikomikhai-lovka).
The oblast newspapers include Belgorodskaia pravda (since 1917) and Lenin’s Rising Generation (since 1956), a Komsomol newspaper. The oblast radio and television originate one broadcast and also relay radio and television programs from Moscow.
On Jan. 1, 1970, Belgorod Oblast had 2,200 doctors (one doctor per 578 population) and 11,500 hospital beds (91.4 beds per 10,000 population).
REFERENCESAntimonov, N. A. Priroda Belgorodskoi oblasti. Belgorod, 1959.
Dolgopolov, K. V. Tsentral’no-Chernozemnyi raion: Ekonomikogeograficheskaia kharakteristika. Moscow, 1961.
Tsentral’noe Chernozem’e za gody Sovetskoi vlasti. Voronezh, 1967.
Belgorodskaia oblast’: Priroda, istoriia, promyshlennost’, sel’skoe khoziaistvo, kul’tura. Voronezh, 1967.