Chita Oblast

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Chita Oblast


part of the RSFSR. Formed on Sept. 26,1937. Located in Transbaikalia. Area, 431,500 sq km. Population, 1.227 million (Jan. 1, 1977). Chita Oblast, which includes the Aga-Buriat Autonomous Okrug (formerly Aga-Buriat National Okrug), is divided into 30 raions and has ten cities and 42 urban-type settlements. The administrative center is the city of Chita. Chita Oblast was awarded the Order of Lenin on Dec. 14,1957.

Natural features. Most of the oblast lies between the Iablonovo Range in the west and the Argun’ River in the east. The relief is dominated by mountains of medium elevation (600–700 m). Among the ranges east of the Iablonovo Range are the Cherskii, Borshchovochnyi, and Daurian ranges, which are separated by intermontane basins. The vast Onon Plain lies in the south. In the north, the mountains rise to an elevation of 3,000 m, in the Kodar Range, and are extremely dissected; there are alpine-type peaks.

The climate is sharply continental. The winters are long and dry, with average January temperatures between –26° and –33°C. Summers are very warm and short, with average July temperatures of 17° to 21°C. Annual precipitation ranges between 240 and 400 mm, most of which occurs in the summer. The growing season lasts 120 to 160 days. Permafrost is widespread.

The largest rivers are the Shilka and the Argun’ (the sources of the Amur). The other major rivers, the Khilok and the Chikoi, belong to the Lake Baikal basin. The Vitim and the Olemka flow into the Lena River. The potential hydroelectric power resources are 9.4 gigawatts. The largest lakes are Bol’shoi Leprindo, Lep-rindokan, Nichatka, the Chita Lakes group, Kenon, Zun-Torei, and Barun-Torei. There are several mineral springs in the oblast.

Mountain taiga podzolic soils predominate in Chita Oblast. There are chernozems and chestnut soils in the steppes and meadow-frost and meadow-chernozem soils in the intermontane basins. Forests cover about one-half of the oblast’s area. The total timber reserves are 2.3 billion cu m; 78.6 percent of the forested area is covered by Dahurian larch, 12 percent by pine, 4.9 percent by cedar, and 3.2 percent by birch. The steppes are covered with various grasses and forbs.

The forests abound in various valuable fur-bearing animals, including the sable, squirrel, Siberian weasel, ermine, fox, brown bear, and lynx. Ungulates include the elk, roe deer, wild boar, reindeer, and Manchurian deer. Badgers, wolves, chipmunks, hares, and susliks inhabit the forest-steppe and steppe regions. Muskrats have been acclimatized. Common birds include caper-caillies, hazel hens, grouse, woodpeckers, cuckoos, larks, ducks, cranes, and bustards. The rivers contain such valuable fish as the cisco, sturgeon, taimen (Hucho taimen), and common whitefish.

The Sokhondo Wildlife Preserve is located in Chita Oblast.

Population. Among the peoples living in Chita Oblast are Russians (89.6 percent; 1970 census), Buriats (4.5 percent), Ukrainians (2.2 percent), and Tatars (1.3 percent). The average population density is 2.8 persons per sq km (1977). The most densely populated areas are along the Trans-Siberian Railroad and in the valleys of the Ingoda, Shilka, and Argun’ rivers.

The urban population constitutes 63 percent. The principal cities are Nerchinsk and Sretensk: Petrovsk-Zabaikal’skii, Balei, Borzia, Shilka, Mogocha, Khilok, and Krasnokamensk have been built during the years of Soviet power.

Economy. The economy is dominated by industry. Between 1940 and 1976 the gross industrial product increased by a factor of 7.

Mining is an important branch of industry. The mines and ore-dressing combines are highly mechanized. Gold (at the Balei and other deposits), fluorite and molybdenum (at Davenda), tin (at Sherlovaia Gora), and lead-zinc ores (at Khapcheranga) are mined. Ferrous metallurgy is represented by the Petrovsk-Zabaikal’skii Metallurgical Works. Coal is mined at the Kharanor and other deposits. The Chita State District Power Plant produces 530 megawatts of electricity, and the Kharanor State District Power Plant is under construction (1978). There are thermal steam-turbine power plants in Krasnokamensk, Sherlovaia Gora, Priargunsk, and Petrovsk-Zabaikal’skii.

The lumber industry is well developed. Various wood products are manufactured by the Olengui Combine, including lumber, sleepers, and crates. The Amazar Wood-products Combine is under construction (1978). Machine building specializes in “northern style” automobile assembly and in the production of mobile compressor units, refrigeration units, drilling equipment, rock-loading machines, metal-cutting machine tools, diesel boats, fishing vessels, bridge cranes, and saw frames (plants in Chita, Nerchinsk, and the settlements of Darasun, Kokui, Oloviannaia, and Tarbagatai).

The principal enterprises of light industry are the worsted-wool combine, leather-footwear combine, chrome-leather tannery, and sheepskin and fur factory in Chita and the boot factory in Sretensk. The food-processing industry is also developed, with meat-packing plants in Chita, Borzia, Oloviannaia, Petrovsk-Zabaikal’skii, Nerchinsk, Sretensk, and Pervomaisk; there are a number of enterprises of the butter and milk industry. Mineral water is bottled (Darasun, Kuka, and Molokovka mineral waters).

The main branch of agriculture is stock raising, which is dominated by the raising of fine-wooled and semifine-wooled sheep. Cattle are also raised, as are reindeer (in the north). The oblast has (Jan. 1,1977) 4.311 million sheep and goats, 664,000 head of cattle, and 128,000 hogs. The major stock-raising regions are the Aga-Buriat Autonomous Okrug and the southern and southeastern parts of the oblast. The hunting and trapping of sable, squirrel, and muskrat for fur is important in the mountain and taiga regions.

Agricultural lands total (1976) 6.8 million hectares (ha), of which the sown area accounts for 31.8 percent, pastures for 50.4 percent, and hayfields for 17.8 percent. The oblast has (1976) 151 kolkhozes and 99 sovkhozes. The lands under cultivation total (1976) 1.8 million ha, with grains, occupying 1.2 million ha, predominating. Potatoes and vegetables occupy 30,000 ha, and fodder crops, 60,000 ha. Grains include wheat (400,000 ha in 1976), oats, barley, and buckwheat.

Transportation. The oblast has 2,126 km of railroads (1976). It is crossed from west to east by the Trans-Siberian Railroad, of which the Petrovskii Zavod-Karymskaia section is electrified; there is a branch line to Mongolia and China. Plans are under way to construct a section of the Baikal-Amur Railroad in northern Chita Oblast.

Motor vehicles provide local transportation. The total length of roads is 13,400 km (1976), of which 7,000 km are hard-surfaced. The main highways are Ulan-Ude-Chita-Zabaikal’sk, Chita-Darasun-Khapcheranga, Chita-Aginskoe-Nerchinsk-Sretensk, Borzia-Nerchinskii Zavod-Sretensk, and Petrovsk-Zabaikal’skii-Krasnyi Chikoi-Iamarovka.

The Shilka River is the principal artery. There are 2,100 km of waterways. The city of Chita is linked by air with Moscow, Irkutsk, Khabarovsk, and other cities.

INTERNAL DIFFERENCES. The Khilok-Ingoda Region is noted for ferrous metallurgy, machine building, light industry, the food-processing industry, logging, timber processing, and the mining of lignite. Agriculture is dominated by the production of dairy products and vegetables. There is also fur trapping.

The Shilka-Argun’ Region is the center of the ore-mining (nonferrrous metals) industry. Coal and lignite are also mined. Meat, wool, and other agricultural products are processed. Sheep are raised on pastures, and grains are grown.

The Vitim-Amur Region is known for gold and molybdenum mining and logging. There is also hunting and reindeer breeding. The area abounds in mineral and water resources. Preparations are under way for the construction of a section of the Baikal-Amur Railroad and for exploitation of the Udokan Mining Region.

Education, cultural affairs, and public health. In the 1914–15 academic year, the area that is now Chita Oblast had 637 general-education schools, with 32,600 pupils and students, and one specialized secondary educational institution, with 76 students. There were no higher educational institutions. In the 1976–77 academic year, Chita Oblast had 779 general-education schools of all types, with about 191,500 pupils and students, 40 vocational-technical educational institutions, with more than 14,900 students, and 21 specialized secondary educational institutions, with about 21,700 students. Its higher educational institutions, including polytechnic, medical, and pedagogical institutes, a branch of the Khabarovsk Institute of Railroad Engineers, and the correspondence law school of the University of Irkutsk, all located in Chita, had an enrollment of 11,800.

The largest scientific establishments are the Transbaikalia Integrated Scientific Research Institute of the Ministry of Geology of the USSR, the Transbaikalia Scientific Research Technological Institute of Sheep and Beef Cattle Raising, and a branch of the institute of experimental veterinary medicine of Siberia and the Far East.

Chita Oblast has (Jan. 1,1977) 734 public libraries, with 7.094 million books and journals, and four museums of local lore—the Chita Oblast Museum of Local Lore, the Aga Okrug Museum of Local Lore, the Nerchinsk Interraion Museum of Local Lore, and the Sretensk Raion Museum of Local Lore. It also has an oblast dramatic theater and an oblast puppet theater, both in Chita, as well as 879 clubs and 1,096 motion-picture projection units.

The oblast newspapers Zabaikal’skii rabochii (Transbaikal Worker; since 1905) and Komsomolets Zabaikal’ia (Transbaikal Komsomol; since 1951) are published. Broadcasts from the All-Union Radio, totaling 38 hours per day, are relayed. Local broadcasts total 11 hours, including seven hours of basic programming and seven hours of VHF and FM. Television broadcasts over two programs total 15.5 hours per day, of which 12 hours are programs relayed by way of the Orbita system and 3.5 hours are local programs.

As of Jan. 1,1977, Chita Oblast had 191 hospitals, with 14,100 beds (11.5 beds per 1,000 inhabitants), and 3,400 physicians (one physician per 364 inhabitants). Health resorts include the balneological and balneoclimatic resorts Kurort-Darasun, Shivanda, Kuka, Urguchan, Iamkun, Molokovka, Olentui, and Iamarovka, the Ugdan pelotherapeutic resort, the Shiviia and Darasun-Nerchinsk balneological therapeutic districts, and 11 sanatoriums. Tourist sites include the Chary Depression and the Kodar and Udokan ranges. There are five tourist centers, near Chita and at Kuka and the settlement of Arei.


Atlas Zabaikal’ia. (Buriatskaia ASSR i Chitinskaia oblast’.) Moscow-Irkutsk, 1967.
Vostochnoe Zabaikal’e. (Perspektivy razvitiia proizvoditel’nykh sil Chitinskoi oblast.) Irkutsk-Chita, 1968.
Vostochnaia Sibir’. Moscow, 1969. (Sovetskii Soiuz series.)
Narodnoe khoziaistvo Chitinskoi oblasti: Statistich. sb. Irkutsk, 1976.
Osokin, I. M., and A. A. Nedeshev. Geografiia Chitinskoi oblasti. Chita, 1969.
Morozova, T. G. Ekonimicheskaia geografiia Sibiri. Moscow, 1975.


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Once we had left the lake behind and had begun to explore the enormous segment of the watershed within Buryatia and the Chita Oblast, most of the American team members had crossed the mental Rubicon.
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