(until 1962, Iuzhnyi Kazakhstan Oblast; until 1964, part of Iuzhnyi Kazakhstan Krai), an oblast in the southern part of the Kazakh SSR. Formed Mar. 10, 1932; present boundaries established 1973. Area, 116,300 sq km. Population, 1.501 million (1977). Chimkent Oblast has 15 administrative raions, eight cities, and seven urban-type settlements. The administrative center is the city of Chimkent. The oblast was awarded the Order of Lenin on Aug. 12, 1967.
Natural features. Chimkent Oblast lies in the eastern part of the Turan Lowland and the western spurs of the Tien-Shan. Most of the territory is a slightly hilly plain, with elevations of 200 to 300 m. The sandy ridges of the Kyzylkum are in the southwest, on the left bank of the Syr Darya, and the Muiunkum desert lies in the north, on the left bank of the Chu. In the extreme south is Golodnaia Steppe, and in the extreme north, the Betpak-Dala desert. The Karatau mountain range, with Mount Bessaz, which rises to an elevation of 2,176 m, stretches across the central part of the oblast. The southeast is occupied by the western edge of the Talas Alatau and by the Karzhantau and Ugam ranges, with elevations to 2,824 m and 4,238 m, respectively.
The climate is sharply continental and dry, with long hot, dry summers and short warm, virtually snowless winters, characterized by frequent periods of thaw and rain. The average July temperature is 26° to 29°C in the north and southwest and 19° to 25°C in the southeast. The average January temperature ranges from –11°C in the north to –2°C in the south. Annual precipitation amounts to about 100 mm in the Betpak-Dala in the north, 100 to 400 mm on the plains in the southwest, with sharp fluctuations from year to year, 400 to 800 mm in the foothills in the southeast, and as much as 1,000 mm and more in the high mountains. The growing season ranges from 230 days in the mountains to 320 days on the plains.
The largest river is the Syr Darya, which crosses the oblast from south to northwest; its tributaries include the Keles, Kuruk-keles, and Arys’. These rivers flow down from the mountains and are extensively used for irrigation. The Chardara Reservoir was constructed on the Syr Darya; the principal irrigation channels are the Kirov channel, with the Dzhetysai branch in Golodnaia Steppe, the Arys’ channel, and the Turkestan channel, with the Bugunskoe Reservoir in the foothills of the Karatau. The Chu River, which disappears in the sands of the Muiunkum Desert and breaks up into arms in the summer, flows through the northern part of the oblast. The Syr Darya floodplain abounds in small freshwater lakes; there are a number of salt lakes, including Lake Akzhaikyn, along the lower Chu River.
Deserts predominate on the plains, with sandy and sandy-loam brown and gray-brown soils and with grass-wormwood and saltwort vegetation, interspersed with thickets of the saxauls Haloxylon aphyllum and H. persicum, tamarisk, and other shrubs. The floodplains of the Syr Darya and the Chu have floodplain meadow, often saline, soils with thickets of reeds and belts of tugai forest (a type of gallery forest) of willow and poplar. High-altitude belts are widely represented in the mountains, ranging from deserts, at the foot, to alpine meadows and glaciers; the soil cover ranges from mountain-steppe sierozem, chestnut, and chernozem soils to mountain brown and gray-brown soils and, still higher, to mountain-meadow soils.
Rodents, including susliks, sand launces, and jerboas, live in the deserts. The mountains are inhabited by mountain goats (tau-teke) and sheep (argali); snow leopards, bears, and vultures are also encountered. The tugai areas are inhabited by wolves, foxes, ermines, polecats, and wild boars, as well as by pheasants; geese and ducks are found around the lakes. Reptiles include snakes, turtles, and lizards. The Aksu-Dzhabagli Reserve is located in the spurs of the Talas Alatau.
Population. Chimkent Oblast is populated by Kazakhs (47 percent, according to the 1970 census), as well as by Russians (22 percent), Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Tatars, Azerbaijanis, Tadzhiks, and Koreans. The urban population totals 40 percent. The average population density is 12.9 persons per sq km. The most densely populated areas are the irrigated lands of the oases in the foothills and in the Golodnaia Steppe, with 30 to 40 persons per sq km. There are a number of individual seasonal settlements in the deserts. With the exception of Chimkent and Turkestan, all of the towns have sprung up in Soviet times in connection with the exploitation of deposits of minerals (for example, Kentau and Lenger), around railroad stations (for example, Arys’), or in connection with irrigation construction (for example, Dzhetysai, Chardara, and Saryagach).
Economy. The economy combines branches of industry associated with the mining of minerals and the processing of raw agricultural products with intensive, primarily irrigated, farming and diverse stock raising.
Power production is based mainly on natural gas from the Uzbek SSR, coal from the Kirghiz SSR, local lignite from Lenger, and mazut. The oblast is part of the electric power system of southern Kazakhstan and Middle Asia.
The developed branches of industry include mining, nonferrous metallurgy, machine building, the production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, light industry, and food processing. The mining industry is represented by complex-ore mines and ore-dressing plants in the urban-type settlement of Achisai and elsewhere. Nonferrous metallurgy is represented by the lead-processing plant in Chimkent. Machine-building enterprises include the M. I. Kalinin Automated Press Plant and plants for the production of Cardan shafts, automobile and tractor parts, and power shovels. The chemical and pharmaceutical industry is represented by a chemical-pharmaceutical plant, an antibiotic feed plant, and the Fosfor production association. Light industry enterprises include a cotton combine, a cotton-ginning plant, a karakul plant, the Elastik hosiery and knitwear production association, and clothing and footwear factories. The food-processing industry is represented by meat-packing plants, a combine for the production of oils and fats, butter factories, canned-milk and fruit plants, and wineries. The most important building-materials enterprises are cement plants (in Sastobe), brickyards, a plant for the production of keramzit (in Saryagach), and an asbestos roofing combine. Most of the industrial enterprises are located in Chimkent; other important centers are Turkestan, Kentau, and Dzhetysai. An oil refinery is under construction (1978) in Chimkent.
In 1976, Chimkent oblast had 116 sovkhozes and 54 kolkhozes. Agricultural lands, which total 11.4 million hectares (ha), are dominated by pastures, which occupy about 9 million ha. There are winter pastures in the deserts in the north and southwest, summer pastures in the mountains, and year-round pastures in the floodplains of the Syr Darya and Chu rivers. About 180,000 ha are occupied by natural hayfields—dry hayfields in the foothills and flooded hayfields in the Syr Darya floodplain. Arable lands occupy 1.148 million ha (1976), of which 332,000 are irrigated. The sown area totals 1,104,500 ha (1976), of which 57 percent, or 633,000 ha, are under cereal grains, primarily winter wheat and barley, as well as rice; some spring wheat, rice, and corn for grain are also planted. More than 11 percent of the sown area, or 123,700 ha, is under industrial crops, mainly cotton and oil-yielding plants. About one-third of the sown area, or 330,500 ha, is under forage crops, mainly perennial grasses, silage corn, and green fodder. Potatoes (2,600 ha), vegetables (7,900 ha), and melons and gourds (5,200 ha) are cultivated. Also developed is the growing of grapes (9,200 ha) and such fruits as apricots, peaches, pears, and apples. Chimkent Oblast is the Kazakh SSR’s leading region of irrigated farming, cotton growing, viticulture, and fruit growing.
Stock raising is dominated by transhumant raising of karakul, fine-wooled, and meat and tallow breeds of sheep; the raising of beef and dairy cattle in stables and on pastures is also developed. Sheep and goats, which number 3.668 million (1976), account for most of the livestock. Cattle (320,600 head, including 136,200 cows), swine (140,700), horses (67,800), camels (10,900), donkeys, and poultry are also raised.
Intensive farming predominates in the oases of the foothill irrigated zone of Chimkent Oblast and along the irrigation channels of the Golodnaia Steppe; here, cotton, forage and grain crops, fruits, grapes, melons, gourds, and various vegetables are cultivated, and sericulture is practiced. Dairy cattle are raised, both in stables and on pastures, as are swine and poultry. Rice growing is the main occupation in the Syr Darya valley, combined with the transhumant raising of sheep, including karakuls, and camels. Nonirrigated grain farming, beef and dairy farming, and horse-breeding on summer pastures are practiced in the mountains. In the deserts, hunting and the gathering of saxaul are common, with some farming and cattle grazing on winter pastures.
Chimkent Oblast has 673 km of railroads, including a section of the Orenburg-Tashkent and Arys’-Alma-Ata main lines. Automobile roads total 5,657 km (1976), of which 4,449 km are hard-surfaced. The most important highways are the Chimkent-Tashkent, Chimkent-Dzhambul, and Chimkent-Turkestan-Kzyl-Orda highways. The city of Chimkent is linked by air with Moscow, Tashkent, Frunze, Alma-Ata, and Karatau and with various parts of the oblast.
The Bukhara-Tashkent-Chimkent-Frunze-Alma-Ata main gas pipeline passes through the oblast.
O. R. NAZAREVSKII
Education, cultural affairs, and public health. In the 1914–15 academic year, there were 99 general-education schools, with 5,156 pupils and students. There were no specialized secondary or higher educational institutions. In the 1976–77 academic year, there were 404,600 pupils and students in 995 general-education schools of all types, 19,300 students in 33 vocational-technical educational institutions, including more than 9,000 students in 16 secondary vocational-technical schools, 22,200 students in 19 specialized secondary educational institutions, and more than 12,000 students at the Kazakh Institute of Chemical Technology, a pedagogical institute, a pedagogical institute of culture, and a branch of the Alma-Ata Institute of the National Economy, all in Chimkent. In 1976 more than 55,000 children were attending 395 preschool institutions
Scientific institutions in Chimkent Oblast include the Kazakh Scientific Research Institute of Karakul Raising, the Southern Kazakhstan Scientific Research Veterinary Station, and the Southern Kazakhstan Interbranch Territorial Center of Scientific and Technical Information. As of Jan. 1, 1977, the oblast had 905 public libraries, with 6.114 million books and journals; the Chimkent Oblast Museum of Local Lore, with a branch in the city of Kentau; the Oblast Kazakh Drama and Russian Oblast Drama theaters in Chimkent and the Oblast Musical Drama Theater in Dzhetysai; and 781 clubs, 602 motion-picture projection units, and 92 extracurricular institutions.
The oblast newspapers Ontustik Kazakstan (Southern Kazakhstan, published in Kazakh since 1932) and Iuzhnyi Kazakhstan (Southern Kazakhstan, since 1925) are published. All-Union radio broadcasts are transmitted 28.5 hours per day; republic and oblast broadcasts are transmitted in Kazakh and Russian nine hours per day and 1.5 hours per day, respectively. Television programs from Vostok are relayed from Moscow 12.9 hours per day; the oblast also receives republic programs from Alma-Ata in Kazakh and Russian, totaling eight hours, and from Tashkent in Uzbek and Russian, totaling seven hours.
As of Jan. 1, 1977, the oblast had 154 hospitals, with 16,200 beds (10.8 beds per 1,000 inhabitants), and 2,900 physicians (one physician per 525 inhabitants). The balneological health resort of Saryagach is located in the oblast.
REFERENCESKazakhstan. Moscow, 1969. (AN SSSR: Prirodnye usloviia i estestvennye resursy SSSR.)
Kazakhstan. Moscow, 1970. (Sovetskii Soiuz series.)
Iarmukhamedov, M. Sh. Geografiia ekonomicheskikh raionov Kazakhstana. Alma-Ata, 1972.
Iarmukhamedov, M. Sh. Ekonomicheskaia geografiia Kazakhskoi SSSR. 2nd ed. Alma-Ata, 1975.