Grodno Oblast

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Grodno Oblast

 

part of the Byelorussian SSR. Created on Sept. 20, 1944. It is located in the western part of the republic along the USSR-Polish border. Area, 25,000 sq km. Population, 1,123,000 (1971). It is divided into 17 raions. It has nine cities and 23 urban-type settlements. Its center is the city of Grodno.

On July 8, 1967, Grodno Oblast was awarded the Order of Lenin.

Natural features. Grodno Oblast is located in the western part of the East European Plain. The glaciofluvial Neman Depression is located in the center of the oblast (altitude up to 90–150 m); the gently undulating Lida Plain stretches to the north of the Neman Depression; to the southwest are the Grodno and Volkovysk hills; to the southeast rise the Novo-grudok Hills (up to 323 m): and the Oshmiany Hills are to the northeast.

The climate of the oblast is moderately warm and moist, with warm summers and relatively short and mild winters. The average temperature of the coldest month (January) is -4.5° C in the west and -6.5° C in the east; the warmest month (July) has temperatures of 18° C and 17.5°C, correspondingly. The annual precipitation ranges from 550 mm in the low areas to 650 mm in the hills. The growing season is from 190 to 200 days. The rivers, with the exception of the Narev, belong to the basin of the Neman, which is the main waterway of the oblast. Its right tributaries are the Berezina, Gav’ia, Ditva, Lebeda, and Kotra; the left tributaries are the Usha, Servech’, Molchad’, Shchara, Zel’vianka, Ross’, and Svisloch’. The rivers are used mainly for transporting logs and for water supply. There are few lakes (the most significant is Lake Beloe).

The soils are mainly soddy podzolic. In the western and southwestern parts of the oblast (in the elevated areas) there are moderately podzolic loamy and sandy soils. In the valley of the Neman there are bog and meadow alluvial soils. To the southwest and in various parts of the Novogrudok Hills there are significant areas of fertile humus-carbonaceous soils.

One-fifth of the territory of the oblast is covered by forest. The forests occur in island-like patches and are distributed throughout the oblast. Dense virgin forests that are mostly coniferous (72 percent) are located in Grodno, Slonim, and other raions. The northern part of the Belovezh virgin forest is in Svisloch’ Raion. One-fifth of the oblast is covered by swamps and marshes; the swamps are mainly of the low-lying type.

There are more than 50 species of mammals and about 200 species of birds in Grodno Oblast. There are many blue and European hares, foxes, squirrels, European polecats, moles, wild boars, and elk. The oblast abounds in marten, badgers, and ermine, and in the southeast (along the Neman, Servech’, and Berezina) in beaver. Aurochs and red deer are preserved in the Belovezh virgin forest.

Population. Byelorussians constitute 65 percent of the population of the oblast; the remainder consists of Poles, Russians, Ukrainians. Lithuanians, Jews, and Tatars. There are an average of 45 persons per sq km, and the population is rather evenly distributed. In 1971, 34 percent of the population was urban. The most important cities are Grodno (population 139,000), Lida, Slonim, Volkovysk, and Novogrudok. Mosty and Shchuchin are cities that have arisen since the Revolution.

Economy. Grodno Oblast is noted for its production of building materials (cement, reinforced concrete, and lime), mineral fertilizers, agricultural machines, cardboard, plywood, shoes, and food products. Gross industrial output increased 12-fold from 1940 to 1965, and by 1.9 times from 1965 to 1970. Power is obtained from local fuel, such as peat, and imported fuels, such as coal and natural gas from the Ukraine and oil products from Novopolotsk. Most of the electricity of the oblast comes from the Byelorussian power grid. The construction of the Grodno Heat and Electric Power Plant No. 2 was completed in 1970. In 1970 more than 1 million tons of fuel peat were extracted (as compared with only 78,000 tons in 1940), as well as 201,000 tons of peat briquettes. Machine-building and metal-working industry has been built up anew (the proportion of these industries has grown from 3.9 percent in 1940 to 12.7 percent in 1970); it is represented by a plant for agricultural machines in Lida, for automobile parts and assemblies in Grodno, for founding equipment in Volkovysk, and for electrical parts in Grodno and Lida. A chemical industry is developing in the oblast; there is a chemical combine that is known for its production of nitrogen fertilizers and caproate-lactam in Grodno and a plant producing paint and varnish in Lida. The food industry (meat, production of butter and cheese, milk, distilling, starch hydrolysis) of Grodno Oblast, which is the most productive sector of its economy in terms of industrial output (38 percent in 1970), has important enterprises in Grodno, Lida, and Slonim. The oblast has new industries, such as sugar in Skidel’ and food concentrates in Lida. Light industry holds second place in terms of gross industrial output (24 percent in 1969 versus 8.3 percent in 1940); leather and footwear factories in Grodno and Lida and garment factories in Grodno and Novogrudok are especially important. Grodno Oblast contributes 36.5 percent of the leather shoe production of the republic. It is also developing a textile industry (wool textiles, cotton cloth, and processing of flax). The construction materials industry, which accounts for 6 percent of the gross industrial output of Grodno Oblast, is based on local deposits of chalk, sand, clay, and limestone. The cement industry of Volkovysk Raion is especially important and accounts for 35 percent of the cement produced in the Byelorussian SSR. The production of reinforced concrete, large blocks, and panels is developing in Grodno. Brick and limestone plants are located throughout the oblast. The woodworking industry (sawing and the production of furniture, plywood, cardboard, and paper) is concentrated in Grodno, Slonim, Mosty, and Smorgon’. Grodno Oblast produced 22.9 percent of the republic’s plywood and 67.4 percent of its cardboard; in 1970 it exported 260,000 cu m of wood.

Agriculture. In 1970, Grodno Oblast had 400 kolkhozes and 92 sovkhozes. Of the oblast’s state land fund, 50.54 percent is used for agriculture. Of all the agricultural land in the oblast 71.5 percent is used for tillage, 11.7 percent for hay, and 15.3 percent for pasture. In 1970, 158,800 hectares of land were being drained, primarily by open drainage. In 1970, 867,900 hectares were under crops, 39.3 percent of which were under grain (including 13.4 percent under rye), 4.2 percent under flax, 1.5 percent under sugar beets, 14.8 percent under potatoes, and 35.3 percent under fodder crops. The grain, fodder, and potato crops are distributed rather evenly throughout the oblast. The sugar beet crop of Grodno Oblast, which is the third largest in the Byelorussian SSR, is concentrated in the western regions, while the flax crop is concentrated in the northern and northeastern regions. The main forms of animal husbandry, which plays the most important role in the oblast’s agriculture, are breeding cattle for milk and meat and breeding hogs. In 1971 the oblast had 814,900 head of cattle (including 366,800 cows), 628,100 hogs, and 92,300 sheep.

In 1970 the overall length of the railroads was 666 km. Among the important railroad lines are Molodechno-Lida-Mosty-Grodno and Vilnius-Lida-Novoel’naia-Baranovichi. In 1969 the oblast had 5,400 km of paved highways. Ships of small tonnage are able to navigate the Neman and Shchara rivers.

Education, cultural affairs, and public health. In the 1970–71 academic year, 227,400 pupils studied in 1,584 schools for general education; 7,100 persons studied in 12 industrial trade schools; 17,500 students studied in 17 secondary specialized educational institutions; and 8,618 students studied in medical, pedagogical, and agricultural higher educational institutions in Grodno. In 1970, 22,400 children attended 226 preschool institutions.

On Jan. 1,1971. Grodno Oblast had 1,052 public libraries (with 7,968,000 books and magazines), and 832 clubs. It also had seven museums, including the Grodno Historical and Archaeological Museum; museums of local lore in Lida, Slonim. and Oshmiany; the Museum-Home of A. Mic-kiewicz in Novogrudok; the P. I. Bagration Historical Museum in Volkovysk; and the Diatlovo Museum of the People’s Glory. The oblast also has a Russian drama theater in Grodno and various extracurricular institutions—23 palaces and homes of pioneers, five stations for young technicians, two stations for young naturalists, and two tourist-excursion stations.

The Grodno Oblast newspaper Grodnenskaia pravda is published in Byelorussian (Grodzenskaia prauda, since Sept. 25, 1939) and in Russian (since 1945). The oblast broadcasts on one radio band and two television channels and also relays broadcasts from Minsk and Moscow.

On Jan. 1, 1971, the oblast had 2,500 doctors (one doctor for every 457 inhabitants) and 12,500 hospital beds (11.2 beds for every thousand inhabitants).

REFERENCES

Belorusskaia SSR: Grodnenskaia oblast’. Minsk. 1968.
Geografiia Belorussii. Minsk, 1965.
Ekonomicheskaia geografiia BSSR. Minsk, 1967.
Belorussiia. Moscow, 1967. (The series Sovetskii Soiuz.)

N. T. ROMANOVSKII