part of the Kazakh SSR. Formed on July 29,1936. Located in the northern part of the republic in the basin of the upper Tobol. Area, 114,600 sq km. Population, 911,000 (1972). Kustanai Oblast is divided into 13 raions and has four cities and 12 urban-type settlements. Its center is the city of Kustanai. The oblast has been awarded two Orders of Lenin (1966 and 1970).
Natural features. Kustanai Oblast is located in the Trans-Ural Region, primarily in the steppe zone. Most of it lies within the Turgai and Trans-Ural plateaus (elevations of 200–300 m), where steep slopes and dissected ravines alternate with extensive hollows and broad valleys. The largest hollow is the Turgai, which stretches from north to south, is traversed by the Ubagan River, and includes a chain of lakes. To the west lies the deeply dissected Tobol Valley. Northwestern Kustanai Oblast is occupied by piedmont plains and spurs of the Urals. The northeastern part of the oblast slopes down toward the north. The southwestern part of the West Siberian Plain—the Cisturgai Plain, a flat area with elevations of 120 to 150 m—is located in the oblast. There are many small lakes on the Cisturgai Plain.
Kustanai Oblast is rich in mineral resources, especially iron ore (deposits of magnetite ores at Sokolovskaia, Sarbai, and Kacharsk, for example, and brown oolitic iron ores in the Aiat Iron-Ore Basin and the Lisakovsk Deposit, for example). In addition, there are bauxite deposits in the Upper Tobol and Ubagan bauxite-bearing regions, as well as nickel and titanium. Deposits of nonore minerals have been found in Kustanai Oblast: asbestos (Dzhetygara), brown coal (the region around Lake Kushmurun), and various building materials.
The climate of Kustanai Oblast is sharply continental, with hot, dry summers and cold winters with little snow. The average July temperature ranges from 18° to 19°C in the north and from 21° to 22°C in the south. In January the average temperature ranges from −18° to −19°C in the north. The average January temperature in the south is – 17°C. Strong winds are characteristic of the region: in the summers, dry winds and dust storms, and in the winters, snowstorms and blizzards. The average annual precipitation is 300–350 mm in the north and 240–280 mm in the south. The maximum precipitation occurs during the summer. Over the years there have been sharp fluctuations in the total precipitation. The growing season is 150 to 175 days long in the north and 180 days long in the south.
The river network is sparse. The only important river is the Tobol (part of the Ob’ Basin), which originates in the spurs of the Southern Urals. Its left tributaries are the Syntasty, the Aiat, and the Ui, which borders on Kurgan Oblast, and its right tributary is the Ubagan. All these rivers flood heavily during the spring, when they carry 90–95 percent of their annual flow. During the summer they grow shallow or dwindle into separated stretches of water. To hold back the floodwaters and create reservoirs, dams and dikes have been constructed along the rivers. In eroded hollows there are many small lakes, both freshwater (for example, Lakes Alabota, Koibagar, Sarykol’, Bozshakol’,, and Teniz) and salt (Kushmurun, Zhaksy-Alakol’and Karasor, for example). They are full in the spring, but their levels drop sharply during the summer. Many of the lakes are used as reservoirs.
Chernozems have developed on more than 40 percent of the territory of northern Kustanai Oblast. In untilled areas they are overgrown with feather and mixed grass steppe vegetation, which alternates in the north (in the forest steppe) with birch and aspen clumps and pine forests. Fescue and feather grass grow on chestnut soils in the southern part of the oblast, where small pine groves are found on sandy soils in the Naurzum Steppe Preserve and the Amankargaisk Pine Forest. Located in the floodplains are wooded areas of scrub undergrowth and flooded meadows. Cane grows on the lakeshores. Forests cover 143,000 hectares (ha). Since the virgin lands were opened for cultivation, almost the entire chernozem and chestnut soil area has been plowed up.
Among the animals that inhabit the oblast are the wolf, fox, roe deer, badger, and blue hare, which are commercially important, as well as small rodents. Common birds of the steppe are the lark and crane. The underbrush and forests are inhabited by black grouse, woodpeckers, willow ptarmigans, Hungarian partridges, and birds of the genus Parus. There are many species of waterfowl.
Population. The population of Kustanai Oblast includes Kazakhs, Russians, Ukrainians, Germans, Byelorussians, and Tatars. The average population density is 7.9 persons per sq km. The population density decreases from northeast to southwest. With the cultivation of the virgin lands and the construction of new industrial enterprises and railroad lines between 1950 and 1970, the population grew at a particularly high rate. The urban population accounts for 43 percent of the total (393,000 in 1972). Among the oblast’s urban areas are industrial and transportation centers (for example, the city of Kustanai and the smaller settlements of Borovskoi, Komsomolets, Zatobol’sk, Uritskii, and Fedorovka), centers of mining and the primary processing of minerals (for example, Rudnyi, Dzhetygara, and Lisakovsk), and transportation junctions (Kushmurun, Amankaragai, Tobol, and Troebratskii).
Economy. Large-scale, nonirrigated grain agriculture dominates the oblast’s economy. Wheat is the chief cereal crop. Dairy-and-meat animal husbandry is also important (the cattle are kept in stalls for only part of the year). In addition, a number of industries for the processing of agricultural raw materials and the extraction and treatment of minerals have developed. Kustanai Oblast is one of the USSR’s major domestic sources of grain, meat, iron ore, asbestos, and bauxite.
For the production of electric power the oblast needs coal, mazut, and natural gas, which are brought in from other areas of the country. The principal branch of industry is mining, especially the extraction and dressing of iron ore. Iron is produced in Rudnyi, site of the Sokolovskaia-Sarbai Ore-dressing Combine, whose output of iron ore was 15.7 million tons in 1972. Construction of the Lisakovsk Ore-dressing Complex was begun in 1973. Asbestos mining is also important (Dzhetygara). Metal-working has developed (repair plants for motor vehicles and engines in Kustanai, a mechanics plant in the settlement of Komsomolets, and a number of repair shops), as has the chemicals industry (a synthetic fiber plant in Kustanai), the building materials industry, and, in particular, light industry (textiles, footwear, and clothing) and food processing (flour mills, breweries, meat-packing plants, and creameries), which uses local agricultural raw materials. Most of the oblast’s industrial enterprises are located in the city of Kustanai, but there are a few in Rudnyi, Dzhetygara, Lisakovsk, and the raion centers.
Most of the agricultural land (9.9 million ha in 1971) is cultivated (5.5 million ha, or 55 percent of the total). Between 1954 and 1958, when the virgin lands were opened up on a large scale, the cultivated area increased several times over, and 117 sovkhozes were established. Of the usable agricultural lands, 102,000. ha are occupied by hayfields (1 percent of the total usable area), and 4.2 million ha (43 percent of the total), by pastures. There are summer pastures in the north and winter pastures in the south. In 1972 the sown area totaled 5,337,000 ha, of which 4,032,000 ha (approximately 76 percent of the total) were planted with cereal crops, chiefly spring wheat (3,382,000 ha).
Other crops include barley (376,000 ha), millet (87,000 ha), oats (104,000 ha), buckwheat (19,000 ha), and some industrial crops (57,000 ha)—mustard and sunflowers, as well as exceptionally drought-resistant oil-producing plants, particularly linseed (51,000 ha). Fodder and food crops, which occupy a considerable area (1,217,000 ha, or about 23 percent of the sown area), include corn for green silage (382,000 ha), annual grasses (165,000 ha), perennial grasses (638,000 ha), potatoes (23,000 ha), and vegetables (3,800 ha).
Dairy-and-meat cattle raising is a highly productive branch of animal husbandry in Kustanai Oblast. Pig farming and poultry farming are also important. Fine-fleeced sheep are raised. In the more arid, extreme southern part of the oblast the method of transhumance is used in raising sheep, which are important sources of meat and fatty products. A high proportion of the oblast’s livestock are cattle (1,007,000 head in 1973). There were 723,000 sheep and goats, 343,000 pigs, 1,317,000 domestic fowl (in sovkhozes and kolkhozes), and 50,000 horses in Kustanai Oblast in 1973. Fishing has become important on the lakes.
As of 1971 there were 835 km of railroads. The principal lines are the Troitsk-Kustanai-Uritskii-Kokchetav and Magnito-gorsk-Kartaly-Tobol-Kushmurun-Atbasar-Tselinograd lines, which are part of the extensive Trans-Kazakhstan trunk line, and the Kustanai-Tobol-Dzhetygara line. There are 8,300 km of motor vehicle roads, of which 2,900 km are paved. The most important of them run from Kustanai to the raion centers. The principal transportation junctions are Kustanai and Tobol. Airlines connect Kustanai with Moscow, Alma-Ata, other major cities, and all the raion centers.
Education, cultural affairs, and public health. During the academic year 1914–15 the territory of present-day Kustanai Oblast had 153 general education schools with an enrollment of 8,248 pupils, and seven specialized secondary educational institutions with 302 students. There were no higher educational institutions. During the academic year 1971–72, 234,000 pupils were enrolled in 912 general education schools of all types, 14,500 pupils in 30 vocational and technical educational institutions, and 17,500 in 15 specialized secondary educational institutions. The pedagogical institute in Kustanai had 6,000 students, and the branch of the Kazakh Polytechnic Institute in Rudnyi and a branch of the Tselinograd Agricultural Institute in Kustanai had more than 1,000 students. At the end of 1971, 51,100 children were enrolled in 571 preschool institutions.
Located in Kustanai Oblast are the Tselinnyi Scientific Research Institute of Agricultural Mechanization and Electrification, three experimental agricultural stations, and a scientific research veterinary station.
As of Jan. 1, 1972, there were 604 public libraries in Kustanai Oblast, with holdings of 5,629,000 copies of books and journals. Located in the city of Kustanai are the oblast museum of local lore, the M. Gorky Oblast Drama Theater, and a philharmonic society. There are 453 club-type institutions and 755 permanent motion-picture projectors. Extracurricular institutions include 15 Pioneer Palaces and Homes, four Stations for Young Technicians and Young Naturalists, a children’s excursion and camping station, and 15 children’s sports schools.
The oblast newspapers are Kommunizm tanï (Dawn of Communism, published in Kazakh since 1923) and Leninskii put’ (since 1918). Oblast radio broadcasting is carried for 1 hour 30 minutes per day in Kazakh and Russian, and the first program of the Central Television is relayed to Kustanai.
By Jan. 1, 1972, Kustanai Oblast had 152 hospital-type institutions with 10,700 beds (11.7 per 1,000 inhabitants), and there were 1,200 practicing physicians in the oblast (one per 764 inhabitants).
REFERENCESKazakhskaia SSR: Ekonomiko-geograficheskaia kharakteristika. Moscow, 1957.
Bazarbaev, K. Geografiia sel’skogo khoziaistva Kustanaiskoi oblasti. Alma-Ata, 1958.
Bazarbaev, K. Kustanaiskaia oblast. Alma-Ata, 1959.
Adamchuk, V. A. Bol’shoi Turgai. Moscow, 1959. (Prirodnye usloviia i estestvennye resursy SSSR.)
Narodnoe khoziaistvo Kazakhstana v 1968 g.: Stat. sb. Alma-Ata, 1970.
Kazakhstan. Moscow, 1970. (Sovetskii Soiuz series.)