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Related to population: population control


the inhabitants of a given area, but perhaps most importantly, the human inhabitants of the earth (numbering about 7.5 billion in 2017), who by their increasing numbers and corresponding increasing needs can seriously affect the global ecosystem.

Population Growth

History and Evolution

General population increase in the world was negligible until the Industrial Revolution. From the time of the Roman Empire to the colonization of America, the world population grew from about a quarter billion to a half billion persons. By the early 19th cent., however, it had grown to one billion, and subsequently rose to more than 2 billion by 1930, 3 billion by 1960, 4 billion by 1975, more than 5 billion by 1990, and more than 6 billion by 2000; the United Nations estimates the world population could reach more than 11 billion around 2100. In world terms, the population is growing at about 1.1% annually (compared with 0.1% in ancient times and a rate of 1.75% as recently as the 1990s) in population. Although a 1.1% growth rate may appear small, it adds annually some 82 million persons—and even more than that as the population continues to grow—to the world's population, with nearly all of this growth taking place in less developed nations (as it has since the 1950s).

During the Industrial Revolution, advancements in sanitation, technology, and the means of food distribution made possible a drop in the death rate so significant that between 1650 and 1900 the population of Europe almost quadrupled (from about 100 million to about 400 million) in spite of considerable emigration. As the rate of population growth increased, so did concern that the earth might not be able to sustain future populations. The phenomenal increase in numbers led Thomas Robert MalthusMalthus, Thomas Robert
, 1766–1834, English economist, sociologist, and pioneer in modern population study. A graduate of Cambridge, he was a professor at the East India College, London, from 1805 until his death.
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 to predict that the population would eventually outstrip the food supply. Karl Marx emphatically rejected this view and argued that the problem was not one of overpopulation but of unequal distribution of goods, a problem that even a declining population would not solve.

Modern Population Growth

In the late 20th cent., a major population difference arose in the comparative growth rates of the developed (0.6%) and developing (2.1%) nations. Africa's annual growth rate is now about 2.4%, compared to 0.9% for Asia, 0.9% in Latin America, and 0.4% in Europe. If current rates hold steady, many developing countries will double their populations in 25 years or less, compared to 50 years or more for industrialized nations.

Great Britain, for example, has accomplished what is known as demographic transition, i.e., it has moved from a condition of high birthrate and high death rate (before the Industrial Revolution), to one of high birthrate and low death rate (during industrialization), and finally to one of low birthrate and low death rate (as a postindustrial society). Most developing countries, especially in Africa, are in a condition of high birthrate and declining death rate, contributing to what is known as the population explosion.

Population Control

A declining birthrate depends to a large extent on the availability and use of birth controlbirth control,
practice of contraception for the purpose of limiting reproduction. Methods of Birth Control

Male birth control methods include withdrawal of the male before ejaculation (the oldest contraceptive technique) and use of the condom, a rubber sheath
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 and on high living standards that make unnecessary the production of additional children to provide necessary and inexpensive labor. Family planning is national policy in many industrial countries, such as Japan and most of Europe. As a result, in most cases the birthrate has declined. Many developing countries have followed the lead of India (which has since 1952 conducted an extensive, but not totally successful, birth control program) in trying to promote family planning as national policy. These countries include China, Kenya, Pakistan, Taiwan, Turkey, Egypt, and Chile.

In the United States, aspects of the population question, such as birth control and abortionabortion,
expulsion of the products of conception before the embryo or fetus is viable. Any interruption of human pregnancy prior to the 28th week is known as abortion. The term spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage, is used to signify delivery of a nonviable embryo or fetus due
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, are among the most bitterly debated subjects. The United States has opposed at times the use of foreign aid appropriations for family planning overseas; domestic family planning is mainly run by private groups such as Planned Parenthood.

A number of nongovernmental organizations concerned with population growth have also appeared. Zero Population Growth, an educational group founded in 1970, aims to stop population growth, first in the United States and then in other countries. On the international level, besides the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the United Nations Economic and Social Council provides birth control aid to underdeveloped nations.


See D. Glass and D. Eversley, Population in History (1965); W. D. Borrie, The Growth and Control of World Population (1970); N. W. Chamberlain, Beyond Malthus (1970); D. Fraser, The People Problem (1971); P. Hauser, Population and the Urban Future (1982); K. Davis, Resources, Environment and Population (1991).


  1. the totality of persons inhabiting a given location.
  2. (STATISTICS) the aggregate of individuals or items from which a SAMPLE is drawn.
Quantitative aspects of the study of population are the subject matter of DEMOGRAPHY. Sociologists have been interested in moving beyond merely arithmetical analysis of population to achieve theories which can explain patterns of population change (e.g. variations in levels of FERTILITY, or ‘push and pull’factors explaining MIGRATION). The study of tendencies in world population growth is a particularly important aspect, as is study of the social implications of particular national population profiles (e.g. an ageing population). See also MALTHUS, DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION, HISTORICAL DEMOGRAPHY.



all the people living on earth (humanity) or within a specific territory, continent, country, region, or city. Unlike the general term naselenie (population), the Russian term narodonaselenie, which is the subject of this article, is ordinarily used in socioeconomic contexts. The special science of demography studies population.

Changes in population are caused by biological, geographic, and socioeconomic factors, of which the last group exerts the most decisive influence on population development. Population problems are associated with the biological nature of human beings, human interaction with the environment, and the development of social formations, to the extent that the able-bodied population is the main productive force in a society.

Scientific, systematic study of population began in the 17th century. Regular population records were organized in Europe and America in the 19th century. In the rest of the world, systematic records were not kept until the first quarter of the 20th century. (In some Asian and African countries the first population censuses were taken after World War II. No census has ever been taken in Afghanistan, Bhutan, and a number of countries on the Arabian Peninsula, as well as in certain African countries.)

The development of capitalism and the intensification of the class struggle gave rise to distorted, oversimplified demographic theories, of which Malthusianism was the most widely known. The antiscientific, petit bourgeois essence of Malthusianism was exposed by Marxist science. The contemporary study of population problems is conducted in an atmosphere of sharp ideological conflict between bourgeois and Marxist scholars. The Marxist-Leninist theory of population investigates the influence of productive forces and production relations on living conditions, working conditions, and reproduction, as well as the effect of social, economic, political, cultural, legal, religious, and domestic factors on demographic indexes.

The chief population indexes are reproduction figures (birthrate, marriage rate, mortality, and natural increase); pattern of settlement, urbanization, and migration (population geography); composition by age and sex, and marital status; level of education; and racial, linguistic, ethnic, and religious composition. Demographic indexes that reflect the socioeconomic structure of the population are employment, the size of the labor force, and the occupational and class composition of the population.

The total world population depends on the natural increase (or decrease) in population. The population of particular countries and regions also depends on migration. The indexes of natural increase (or decrease) and of population differ, depending on the country and, to a significant degree, on the socioeconomic system. The population of the globe and its overall growth rate are steadily increasing. The rate of growth decreases temporarily, or, in some cases, the absolute population drops, only in certain places or during certain periods characterized by wars, epidemics, or natural disasters. About 15 million people died from the plague in the 14th century, and 20 million died in the flu epidemic after World War I. In the 19th century, 25 million people in India and even greater numbers of Chinese starved to death. More than 60 million lives were lost in the two world wars. Indirect losses owing to a declining birthrate and rising mortality were even more significant.

For many millennia the population increased very slowly. According to rough calculations, at the end of the Paleolithic period (about the 15th millennium B.C.) the population reached 3 million. At the end of the Mesolithic period (7000 B.C.) it was 10 million, and by the end of the Neolithic period (2000 B.C.), 50 million. At the beginning of the Common Era the earth’s population was about 230 million. During the Mesolithic period the population increased by approximately 15 percent every 1,000 years. With the emergence of herding and farming during the Neolithic period, the rate of population growth accelerated sharply, and the population increased by 40 percent every 1,000 years. In the last 2,000 years B.C. the population increased by more than 4.5 times.

In the first millennium A.D. continued population growth came into conflict with the low level of development of productive forces. The growth rate declined, and the population rose by only 20 percent in 1,000 years. By the year 1000 the earth’s population was 275 million; by 1500 it had increased to 450

Table 1. World population dynamics in the 20th century
    Population (millions)   Ratio of 1974 to 1900 population
1Territory now part of the USSR
USSR ..........132115811951802142432521.91
Europe (excluding the USSR) ..........3003293803924254624741.58
Asia (excluding the USSR) ..........9159661,2441,3561,6452,0562,2402.45
Africa ..........1201411912172703443873.23
North America and Central America ..........1051471842182673213403.24
South America ..........3961901101451902165.54
Australia and Oceania ..........6911131619213.50
Total ..........1,6171,8112,2952,4862,9823,6353,9302.43

million (an increase of 64 percent in 500 years). During the epoch of the primitive accumulation of capital the population growth rate was more significant than in previous epochs. Population grew particularly in the 19th century, in the epoch of the flowering of capitalism. In 1650 the earth’s population was 550 million—that is, it had increased by 22 percent in 150 years. By 1800 it was 906 million (a 65 percent increase in 150 years); by 1850, 1.17 billion; and by 1900, 1.617 billion. In the late 19th century and the early 20th the growth rate declined, but after World War II it rose.

In the last three and a quarter centuries (1650–1974) the population of the earth has increased sevenfold. The first doubling of population took almost 200 years; the second, less than 100 years; and the last (despite the negative consequences of World War II), just 50 years. At the present rate of growth, the earth’s population may double again in about 35 years. According to forecasts made by the UN, the world population will reach 6–7 billion by the year 2000.

The sharply increased rate of world population growth is due to the steady drop in the mortality, accompanied by the maintenance of a high birthrate in the countries liberated from colonial and semicolonial dependence, which account for up to 80 percent of world population growth. From 1968 to 1973 the average birthrate for the entire world was 34 per 1,000 inhabitants; the average mortality was 14 per 1,000; and the natural increase was 20 per 1,000, or about 75 million a year. In most of the Asian, African, and Latin American countries the birthrate is higher than 35–45 per 1,000, the mortality is 12—20 per 1,000, and the natural increase is 20–30 per 1,000, and in some countries, even higher. In the developed countries of Europe and America the birthrate is two to three times lower, the mortality is steady at ten to 12 per 1,000, and the natural increase ranges from two to ten per 1,000.

The mortality is closely associated with a country’s level of socioeconomic development, the material condition of the population, and the quality of the public health system. A decline in mortality was first observed in Europe, which had surpassed other parts of the world in its development. The USSR has one of the world’s lowest death rates. In the developing countries a sharp decrease (more than half) in the mortality was achieved in a relatively short time after World War II, primarily as a result of the fight against infant mortality, epidemics, and acute infectious illnesses.

Because the margins for decreasing the mortality are relatively small, especially in the developed countries, changes in the natural increase in population depend on changes in the birthrate. The attitude toward the birthrate depends primarily on traditions, which often remain powerful even after the socioeconomic conditions that engendered them have undergone fundamental change. The main reason for the high and virtually unchanging birthrates in the developing countries is that these countries have preserved the tradition of having large numbers of children. This tradition, which arose as a natural reaction to very high death rates in past historical periods, has been maintained by the religions that took hold in the developing countries. The tradition of early marriage, which is universally encountered in these countries, also has an important effect on the birthrate. The decline in the birthrate in the developed countries can be explained by the increase in the urban population, the more extensive involvement of women in social production, a rise in women’s educational and cultural level, a decrease in infant mortality, and the trend toward late marriage.

Some bourgeois scholars describe the accelerated growth of population after World War II as a “population explosion” and point to the unsubstantiated overpopulation problem. According to them, the disproportion between population growth and the rate of increase in economic potential raises doubts as to whether it will be possible to provide the world’s population with food. Such “theories” are based on lack of confidence in scientific advances and the social transformation of society. Of course, in the developing countries the backwardness of the agricultural economy, low national income, mass unemployment, and illiteracy make the rapid growth of population a source of difficulties in economic transformations. Many of these countries are developing programs to control the birthrate. But the fundamental solution to the problem of controlling birthrates and ensuring food for the population of these countries is linked with radical socioeconomic transformations, with freeing national economies from dependence on foreign countries, with the growth of industry and cities, with the development of education, with scientific progress, and with the elimination of archaic holdovers in everyday life, as well as with many other factors.

It is possible that in the future, humanity will be forced to stabilize its population, but that will not be very difficult if certain social relations have been established. This was pointed out by Engels: “There is, of course, an abstract possibility that the human race will grow so large that it will be forced to put an end to this growth. But if communist society is ever forced to regulate the production of people, just as it will already have regulated the production of things, then it and it alone will be able to do this without difficulty” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 35, p. 124).

With the decrease in the mortality and especially in the infant mortality rate, the average life expectancy increases. As recently as the 19th century the average life expectancy was only 35 years in Europe. Today it is 68–70 years in North America and Europe, 50–55 years in Latin America, 40–50 years in Asia, and under 40 years in Africa. In a large majority of countries the average life expectancy of women is greater than that of men. The increase in life expectancy has led to a rise in the proportion of older people in the population—that is, the population as a whole is aging.

The sex and age composition of population varies a great deal, depending on the country. The number of men in the world slightly exceeds the number of women. (Men account for 50.2 percent of the world population, and women for 49.8 percent.) In most of the economically developed countries, however, there are more women than men. In Europe (excluding the Soviet Union) there are 18 million more women than men, and in the Soviet Union, 18.6 million more (Jan. 1, 1973). To a considerable extent, this is a result of losses of male population during the two world wars. Characteristic of most of the developing countries is a greater number of men than women. (For example, there are 55 million more men in Asia than women.) The number of men markedly exceeds the number of women in the countries of Southern and Eastern Asia (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, and China).

The proportion of young people (age zero to 14) in the world population is 37 percent; of people age 15–60, 55 percent; and of people over 60, 8 percent. Countries with high birth and death rates (that is, with low life expectancies) are characterized by a higher percentage of young people and a lower percentage of old people. In Africa, for example, 43 percent of the population is between age zero and 14, but only 5 percent is over 60. In South and Central America the corresponding figures are 43 percent and 6 percent, and in Asia, 42 percent and 5 percent. For the countries of North America the corresponding figures are 29 percent and 14 percent; for Europe, 25 percent and 16 percent; and for the USSR, 29 percent and 12 percent.

Migrations have played a very important part in the settlement of the earth and in the formation of races and peoples, as well as in the geographic redistribution of population.

About 35 percent of the world population lives in cities. The proportion of the urban population is rising steadily because its growth rate is more than twice that of the population as a whole. In Australia and Oceania, 62 percent of the population is urban; in Europe (excluding the Soviet Union), 59 percent; in America, 59 percent; in non-Soviet Asia, 23 percent; and in Africa, 20 percent. For individual countries, the highest urban population figures are 83 percent in Great Britain and Australia, followed by 82 percent in the Federal Republic of Germany and 74 percent in the USA. The world’s more than 1,960 large cities (more than 100,000 inhabitants) are inhabited by about 20 percent of the entire human race.

The average population density of the world is 27 inhabitants per sq km, but the population is very unevenly distributed. In Australia and Oceania, for example, the average population density is two per sq km, and in Europe (excluding the USSR), 97. The lowest population density in Europe is in Iceland (two per sq km), and the highest is in the Netherlands (365 per sq km). In Asia the Mongolian People’s Republic has the lowest density (0.8), and Bangladesh has the highest (about 500). The range of population densities is even greater within particular countries. Seventy percent of the entire world population lives in the most densely populated regions, which occupy 7 percent of the earth’s land area. About 30 percent of the land area is not inhabited at all.

There are about 2,000 peoples in the world, including more than 100 in the USSR. As a result of long historical development some of them have become nations inatsii, nations in the historical sense), others are nationalities (narodnosti), and still others are groups of tribes. National and ethnic groups vary widely in population, from hundreds of millions (the Chinese, Hindustani, Russians, Americans, Bengals, and Japanese) to a few hundred or even a few dozen (the Andamanese [Mincopie] in India, the Toala in Indonesia, the Botocudos in Brazil, and the Alacalufs and Yahgans in Argentina and Chile). Fifty-six national and ethnic groups, each of which has a population of more than 10 million, constitute 76 percent of the entire human race.

All peoples belong to linguistic families and groups. The largest of the linguistic families are the Indo-European (47 percent of the world population), the Sino-Tibetan (22 percent), the Austronesian (5 percent), the Hamito-Semitic (4.4 percent), the Dravidian (4 percent), and the Bantu (3 percent). More than 40 percent of the entire human race speaks one of the five most common languages (Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish, and Russian). The Russian language, which has been voluntarily chosen by all the peoples of the USSR as the common language for communication, is the native language of 142 million people. In the 1970 census an additional 42 million inhabitants of the USSR named Russian as a second language, in which they were fluent.

Most of the countries of the world are multinational. In certain countries there are between a few dozen and hundreds of peoples (for examples, the USSR, India, Indonesia, China, Pakistan, and Iran). Countries inhabited by a single nation are comparatively rare (Japan, Korea, Bangladesh, the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, and several European countries). Many peoples (the Kurds, the Baluchis, the Bengals, and the Punjabis in Asia and the Malinke [Mandingo] and the Ewe in Africa) live in two or more different countries.

Because religion has exercised and continues to exercise a notable influence on the society and politics of many countries, analysis of the number of believers and the geographic distribution of religions is very important. Although records of religious affiliation are kept in many countries, the reliability of available data is doubtful, because many estimates are rough and tendentious. The most widespread world religion is Christianity, which is subdivided into three main branches: Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism. (The last of these includes many groups and sects, such as the Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, Baptists, and Methodists.) Islam, which has two main branches (Sunnism and Shiism), and Buddhism are also considered world religions. Hinduism (practiced primarily in India) and Shintoism (Japan) are also very important religions. Many tribal religions are found among the peoples of the interior regions of Asia, Africa, and South America. Although there is complete freedom of religion in the USSR and other socialist countries, most of the people are nonbelievers. The number of nonbelievers is growing in the capitalist countries (for example, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark).

An overwhelming majority of the peoples of the world live in monogamous families. In some (primarily Muslim) countries in Asia and Africa polygyny (more than one wife) is permitted. Among several numerically small peoples in southern India and Nepal polyandry (more than one husband) is allowed. However, polygyny and polyandry are gradually disappearing. In all countries rural people marry younger than urban people. Almost everywhere, women marry younger than urban men. The percentage of men and women who do not marry at all ranges in different countries from 3–5 percent to 10–12 percent, reaching 18–20 percent in countries where there is a disproportion between the sexes.

The level of education and literacy of the population is an important sign of a country’s socioeconomic development. Between 1960 and 1970 the percentage of illiterates in the adult world population (people over 15 years of age) dropped from 40 to 35, but the absolute number of illiterates increased by 70 million. There are more than 800 million illiterates in the world. In most of the Asian and African countries more than 50 percent of the population is illiterate, and in some countries, 80–90 percent. In the socialist countries illiteracy has been virtually eradicated.

The level of participation of the population in labor and the distribution of working people in various branches of the economy depend on the social system and the condition of the country’s productive forces. The statistical systems of the socialist countries divide the entire population into persons who receive wages or have income from their occupations, persons who are dependent on the state and cooperative organizations, and persons who are dependent on private individuals. The statistical systems of the capitalist countries deal primarily with the labor force, which usually includes entrepreneurs and large landowners, as well as working people and small producers. Because there is no unemployment in the socialist countries, the category of economically active population is synonymous with the employed population. In 1970 the world labor force was estimated to be 1.5 billion, or 41.3 percent of the world population (54.1 percent of the men and 28.5 percent of the women). Between 1950 and 1970 this figure increased by 435 million. The main reason for the rise in the percentage of employed persons is the entry of women into production. By countries, the employed population ranges from 25 percent to 50 percent of the total. The capitalist countries are characterized by chronic unemployment and underemployment.

Almost three-fifths of the world’s labor force is employed in agriculture; about a fifth in industry; and more than a fifth in trade, transportation, communications, and the service industries.

The class structure of the world population is constantly changing. Exploiter classes have been eliminated in the socialist countries. In the capitalist countries class polarization is becoming more extreme. About 70 percent of the labor force in the developed capitalist countries consists of workers and office employees (about 35 percent workers); 10–15 percent are peasants; 5–10 percent, members of the petite bourgeoisie; and 3–4 percent, members of the large and middle bourgeoisie and landed aristocracy. In the developing countries the peasantry is the largest class, and the main group in the working class is the agricultural proletariat.

In mid-1974 the population of the USSR was more than 252 million. Despite the grave consequences of the wars imposed on the country, since 1913 the population has grown by 93 million persons, or 58.5 percent. Between 1913 and 1974 the urban population rose from 18 percent to 59 percent of the total population. The ratio of men to women, which was disturbed as a result of World War II, has begun to level out: in 1973 there was an equal number of men and women in the age brackets up to 46, and 83 percent of the total population had been born after the Great October Revolution. The mortality had dropped by almost 3.5 times since the prerevolutionary period, infant mortality had declined more than 11 times, and the average life expectancy had increased from 32 to 70 years.

The socialist law of population, which provides by plan for complete employment and for the rational use of labor resources, is in operation in the USSR. According to the 1970 census, the number of persons employed in the national economy was 115.5 million, or 47.8 percent of the total population. In the able-bodied age groups, 92.4 percent of the people were engaged in study or in work in the national economy in 1970 (82 percent in 1959). Workers and office employees accounted for more than two-thirds of the population; the remaining third is made up of kolkhoz peasants.

The USSR, where as late as 1926, 43.4 percent of the population over nine years of age was illiterate, has completely eliminated illiteracy. One of the greatest achievements of socialism has been implementation by the Communist Party of the Leninist nationality policy, a policy of equality and friendship among peoples. A new historical community, the Soviet people, has emerged in the USSR.


Marx, K. Kapital, vol. 1, chap. 23. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 23.
Engels, F. Proiskhozhdenie sem’i chastnoi sobstvennosti i gosudarstva. Ibid., vol. 21.
Engels, F. “K. Kautskomu 1 fevr., 1881.” (Letter.) Ibid., vol. 35.
Lenin, V. I. “Rabochii klass i neomal’tuzianstvo.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 23.
Urlanis, B. Ts. Voiny i narodonaselenie Evropy. Moscow, 1960.
Valentei, D. I. Problemy narodonaseleniia, Moscow, 1961.
Chislennost’ i rasselenie narodov mira. Edited by S. I. Bruk. Moscow, 1962.
Naselenie zemnogo shara: Spravochnik po stranam. Edited by S. I. Bruk. Moscow, 1965.
Naselenie mira: Spravochnik Edited by B. Is. Urlanis. Moscow, 1965.
Kurs demografii. Edited by A. Ia. Boiarskii. Moscow, 1967.
Valentei, D. I. Teoriia i politika narodonaseleniia. Moscow, 1967.
Kozlov, V. I. Dinamika chislennosti narodov. Moscow, 1969.
Marksistsko-leninskaia teoriia narodonaseleniia. Edited by D. I. Valentei. Moscow, 1971.
Narodnoe khoziaistvo SSSR v 1972 g. Moscow, 1973.
Osnovy teorii narodonaseleniia. Edited by D. I. Valentei. Moscow, 1973.
Narodonaselenie stran mira. Spravochnik Edited by B. Is. Urlanis. Moscow, 1974.
United Nations Statistical Office. Demographic Yearbook. New York, 1958—.




in genetics, ecology, and evolutionary theory, the totality of individuals of a single species that occupy a certain space for a relatively long period of time and that reproduce over many generations. Individuals of a single population have a greater probability of interbreeding with one another than with individuals of another population. This probability is connected with the segregation of the given community of individuals from other such communities as a result of some form of isolation.

The main characteristic of a population that determines its central position as an elementary unit of the evolutionary process is its genetic unity. This permits a degree of panmixia within a population. At the same time, the individuals constituting a population are characterized by genetic heterogeneity, within the limits of a single gene pool. This heterogeneity determines a population’s capacity to adapt to various conditions of the environment and creates a reserve of genetic variations, which are of great importance for evolution. A population has a complex structure because of genetic, morphological, and physiological differences among individuals and because of environmental heterogeneity. Individuals differ in sex and age, belong to different and usually overlapping generations, and are distributed over all phases in the life cycle. Individuals also differ with respect to membership in various unstable groupings within a population, such as herds, colonies, and families.

A biological species usually consists of a great many interacting populations. The number of individuals in a population, always quite large, varies widely, not only from species to species but within a single species as well. There are usually at least several hundred individuals in a population, but in some species, populations may contain hundreds, thousands, and perhaps even millions of individuals. It is often difficult to determine the boundaries of the space occupied by a population. Because of such factors as fluctuations in population size and density, these boundaries are constantly changing.

The effect of all the other principal levels of the organization of life—the molecular-genetic, the organismic, and the biogeocenotic—is constantly felt at the population level. In the process of individual development the genetically determined processes of cell metabolism create differences in the capacity of individuals to adapt to abiotic and biotic conditions in the habitat. The nature of the relations between individuals, specifically, the place of a particular individual in the established hierarchy within a population, determines important characteristics of the population. Changes in the biogeocenotic environment give rise to changes in the genetic composition and structure of a population and in the size of the population and of the space it occupies. A population, in turn, acts on all levels of the environment in the course of carrying out its vital activities. In particular, by influencing the size and structure of the populations of other species, it affects the dynamics of biogeocenosis.

Microevolution, the basis of the evolutionary process as a whole, occurs within a population and within different interacting populations. Therefore, the dynamics of the genetic composition, size, and structure of a population, as well as the exchange of materials and energy between a population and the environment, are intensively studied by population genetics, population ecology, and biogeocenology. Awareness of population dynamics is also essential in many areas of general biology. Comprehensive study of a given population, and especially of the dynamics and determinants of population size, is the basis both for rational exploitation of economically important animals and for control of agricultural pests and carriers of infectious diseases. The study of the gene pools of natural plant populations, that is, relatives of cultivated plants and of trees, is indispensable for the solution of many problems in breeding, introduction of new varieties, and silviculture. Both natural populations and experimentally created laboratory populations are studied. For example, laboratory populations of fruit flies (Drosophila), mouselike rodents, and some plants have been used for research.

In current Anglo-American literature, the term “deme” is often used instead of “population.” In Soviet scientific literature “deme” usually refers to internal population familial groupings. The term “population” is also applied to isolated groups of domestic animals (breeds, herds) and cultivated plants (varieties, clones, strains). It is used in histology, medicine, and microbiology to designate homogeneous groups of cells in the tissues of multicellular organisms or in cell cultures.


Elton, C. Ekologiia nashestvii zhivotnykh i rastenii. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from English.)
McFadyen, A. Ekologiia zhivotnykh. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from English.)
Mayr, E. Populiatsiia, vidy i evoliutsiia. Moscow, 1974. (Translated from English.)
Timofeev-Resovskii, N.V., A. V. Iablokov, and N. V. Glotov. Ocherk ucheniia o populiatsii. Moscow, 1973.
Dobzhansky, T. Genetics of the Evolutionary Process. New York, 1970.
Ford, E. B. Ecological Genetics, 3rd ed. London, 1971.
Schwerdtfeger, F. Ôkologie der Tiere, vol. 2. Demökologie: Struktur und: Dynamik tierischer Populationen. Hamburg-Berlin, 1968.


Human populations. Human populations are communities whose members choose each other as marriage partners more frequently than they choose partners from other communities. The differences between populations are always of a group nature, relating to the frequency and geographic distribution of some morphological, physiological, and genetic traits, including harmful mutations. This is very important for medical genetics and the study of hereditary diseases. In human society, populations are included in the system of qualitatively unique social structures that are peculiar to human beings. Therefore, the general trend, tempo, and concrete forms of the history of a population depend on the laws of social and economic development. This development has a powerful effect on all the factors of microevolution, that is, on frequency of mutations, on periodic fluctuation in the number of individuals in the population, and on the nature of a population’s isolation and boundaries between populations created by this isolation. It has also greatly influenced natural selection, whose significance steadily declined in the course of anthropogenesis. The complex interaction of neighboring populations led to the development of human races. Geographic isolation, which played a major role in the early stages of the history of human populations, was replaced by other forms of isolation, resulting from social, ethnolinguistic, occupational, class, and religious differences. Human populations may also be isolated from each other as a result of state policy. Accordingly, the boundaries that separate a human population often coincide with the boundaries between various social communities, primarily between peoples or ethnoses.


Arutiunov, S. A., and N. N. Cheboksarov. “Etnicheskie protsessy i informatsiia.” Priroda, 1972, no. 7.
Bromlei, Iu. V. Etnos i etnografiia. Moscow, 1973. Pages 114–24.
Biologiia cheloveka. Moscow, 1968. Pages 165–246. (Translated from English.)




In early 1981 the USSR accounted for 6 percent of the world’s total population. The population of the USSR changed as follows over the years: 86.3 million on Jan. 1, 1870, 124.6 million on Jan. 28, 1897, 159.2 million at the end of 1913,147 million on Dec. 17, 1926, 194.1 million on Jan. 1, 1940, 178.5 million on Jan. 1, 1950, 208.8 million on Jan. 15, 1959, 241.7 million on Jan. 15, 1970, 262.4 million on Jan. 17, 1979, and 266.6 million on Jan. 1, 1981. Despite the enormous loss of life as a result of the two world wars and the Civil War, the population grew quite rapidly. By 1940, the population of the USSR was 22 percent higher than that of Russia in 1913. More than 20 million people of the USSR died during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45; indirect losses to the population through a lower birthrate and increased mortality were also considerable. It was not until 1955 that the prewar population figure was attained. In the subsequent 26 years, the population increased by 72.2 million, or by a factor of 1.4. By 1981 the population of the USSR was 1.7 times greater than in 1913. The rate of increase differs from Union republic to Union republic (see Table 1).

Table 1. Population of the USSR and the Union republics
  TotalUrban populationpercentage of urban population
USSR ...............194,077,000266,599,000168,919,00063
RSFSR ...............110,098,000139,165,00098,153,00071
Ukrainian SSR ...............41,340,00050,135,00031,423,00063
Byelorussian SSR ...............9,046,0009,675,0005,550,00057
Uzbek SSR ...............6,551,00016,158,0006,706,00042
Kazakh SSR ...............6,148,00015,053,0008,267,00055
Georgian SSR ...............3,612,0005,071,0002,659,00052
Azerbaijan SSR ...............3,274,0006,202,0003,313,00053
Lithuanian SSR ...............2,925,0003,445,0002,156,00063
Moldavian SSR ...............2,468,0003,995,0001,635,00041
Latvian SSR ...............1,886,0002,539,0001,762,00069
Kirghiz SSR ...............1,528,0003,653,0001,418,00039
Tadzhik SSR ...............1,525,0004,007,0001,376,00034
Armenian SSR ...............1,320,0003,119,0002,069,00066
Turkmen SSR ...............1,302,0002,897,0001,385,00048
Estonian SSR ...............1,054,0001,485,0001,047,00070

Population growth. The Russian Empire had a high rate of natural increase, with a high birthrate and a high death rate. After the October Revolution, until 1941, the rate of natural increase rose still higher, primarily through a decline in the death rate (see Table 2). More significant changes took place in the structure of the population after the Great Patriotic War. By 1950 the death rate had declined by a factor of nearly 2, compared to 1940, primarily as a result of a drop in infant mortality. The period 1950–59 was characterized by a stable birthrate and a fairly high rate of natural increase, between 16 and 17.4 per 1,000 population. Beginning in 1960, the demographic picture altered dramatically. Between 1960 and 1970 the number of births dropped from 24.9 to 17.4 per 1,000 population and the number of deaths rose slightly, reflecting a marked increase in the number of people of advanced age; the rate of natural increase dropped from 17.8 in 1960 to 8.0 in 1980. In 1980 the birthrate was 18.3 per 1,000 population, and the death rate, 10.3.

Table 2. Natural increase of the population of the USSR (rates per 1,000 population)
 BirthDeathNatural increase
1913 ...............45.529.116.4
1926 ...............44.020.323.7
1939 ...............36.517.319.2
1940 ...............
1950 ...............26.79.717.0
1960 ...............
1970 ...............
1980 ...............18.310.38.0

The crude death rate in the Soviet Union has declined by a factor of 3 compared to the prerevolutionary period. A characteristic feature has been the steady increase in the average life expectancy—from 32 years in 1896–97 to 44 in 1926–27, to 47 in 1938–39, and to 70 in 1971–72 (64 years for men and 74 for women).

Differences in the population growth are observed in the various Union republics, particularly with respect to the birthrate (see Table 3). They are less pronounced with respect to the death rate: in 1980 mortality was 5.5–8.6 persons per 1,000 population in the Transcaucasian and Middle Asian republics and Kazakhstan, 9.9–11.4 in the Byelorussian SSR, the Moldavian SSR, the RSFSR, and the Ukrainian SSR, and 10.5–12.7 in the Baltic republics. As a result, the differences in the natural increase in the population (see Table 4) depend basically on the level of the birthrate. The drop in the number of births is attributable to the rapid growth in the proportion of urban population and to the increased

Table 3. Birthrate in the Union republics (rates per 1,000 population)
Union republic194019701980
RSFSR ...............33.014.615.9
Ukrainian SSR ...............27.315.214.8
Byelorussian SSR ...............26.816.216.0
Uzbek SSR ...............33.833.633.8
Kazakh SSR ...............40.823.423.8
Georgian SSR ...............27.419.217.7
Azerbaijan SSR ...............29.429.225.2
Lithuanian SSR ...............23.017.615.1
Moldavian SSR ...............26.619.420.0
Latvlan SSR ...............19.314.514.0
Kirghiz SSR ...............33.030.529.6
Tadzhik SSR ...............30.634.837.0
Armenian SSR ...............
Turkmen SSR ...............36.935.234.3
Estonian SSR ...............16.115.815.0

number of later marriages. Other factors that have exerted a marked influence include national traditions, way of life, the family structure of certain peoples, and sociopsychological factors. In particular, the republics with a high birthrate are characterized by a higher rural population and the prevalence of early

Table 4. Natural increase of the population of the Union republics (per 1,000 population)
Union republic194019701980
RSFSR ...............
Ukrainian SSR ...............
Byelorussian SSR ...............
Uzbek SSR ...............20.628.126.4
Kazakh SSR ...............19.417.415.8
Georgian SSR ...............18.611.99.1
Azerbaijan SSR ...............14.722.518.2
Lithuanian SSR ...............
Moldavian SSR ...............9.712.09.8
Latvian SSR ...............
Kirghiz SSR ...............16.723.121.2
Tadzhik SSR ...............16.528.429.0
Armenian SSR ...............27.417.017.2
Turkmen SSR ...............17.428.626.0
Estonian SSR ...............–

marriages, especially among women. Early marriages are a traditional feature of the Middle Asian republics and Azerbaijan, while later marriages are characteristic of the Baltic republics.

Factors responsible for later marriages, especially among women, include the expansion of universal education, increased enrollments at higher educational institutions, and the higher level of culture (see Table 4).

Sex structure. In the USSR, as elsewhere in the world, more males are born than females. However, owing to the relatively lower death rate of females, the proportion of men and women evens out by the age of 27–28. Before the October Revolution, the difference between the number of men and women was comparatively small; for example, in 1913 there were only 1 million more women than men. World War I (1914–18) and, particularly, the Great Patriotic War caused enormous loss of life, especially among the male population. According to the 1926 census, there were 5 million more women than men, and according to the 1959 census, 20.8 million more women. The 1970 and 1979 censuses revealed a decrease in the gap between the number of women and men (see Table 5).

Table 5. Proportion of men and women in the USSR (percent)
1913 ...............49.750.3
1939 ...............47.952.1
1951 ...............44.056.0
1959 ...............45.055.0
1961 ...............45.354.7
1970 ...............46.153.9
1979 ...............46.653.4
1981 ...............46.753.3

The disproportion between the sexes exists only in the older age groups. The number of men and women below the age of 50 was about the same, while in the age groups above 50 women accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total (this is not just because of the war but also because of the significantly higher life expectancy of women).

As in the country as a whole, women outnumber men in all the Union republics; however, the disproportion is not as great in Middle Asia and Transcaucasia (with the exception of Georgia) as in other regions. In 1980 women constituted 54 percent of the population in the RSFSR and in the Ukrainian, Latvian, and Estonian SSR’s, 53 percent in the Georgian, Byelorussian, Lithuanian, and Moldavian SSR’s, 52 percent in the Kazakh SSR, and 51 percent in the Azerbaijan, Armenian, Uzbek, Kirghiz, Tadzhik, and Turkmen SSR’s. There are regions in the USSR In which the number of men exceeds the number of women, such as the Komi and Yakut ASSR’s and parts of Kamchatka and Magadan oblasts, regions where climatic conditions are harsh and where various branches of heavy industry are developing rapidly.

Social composition. Soviet society comprises the working class, kolkhoz peasants, and the people’s intelligentsia. Table 6 shows the changes that have taken place over the years in the class structure.

In early 1981, there were more than 40 million workers engaged in intellectual work, compared to about 13 million in 1939.

Migration. The geographic redistribution of the population through the internal colonization of sparsely settled lands of the Russian state was evident as early as the 17th and 18th centuries. Beginning in the mid-19th century, particularly after the abolition of serfdom in 1861, internal migration increased, dictated by the needs of the ruined peasants and the search for work. International migration was of little importance in prerevolutionary Russia. After the victory of the October Revolution of 1917, internal migration was motivated by positive goals: the development of natural and economic resources and the organized distribution of the population and labor resources according to the plans for the territorial redistribution of production.

Migratory processes in the USSR show two major trends: the steady movement of the population from rural areas to the cities and the movement of the population eastward. As a result, more than one-fourth of the entire population now lives in the eastern part of the country, whereas before the October Revolution only one-fifth did. The role of international migration is of even less significance in the USSR than in prerevolutionary Russia.

Table 6. Class composition in the USSR (percent)
Total population (including nonworking family members) ...............100.0100.0100.0
Industrial and officeworkers ...............
industrial workers ...............14.633.760.5
Kolkhoz peasants and cooperative artisans ...............47.213.8
Individual peasants and noncooperative artisans ...............
Bourgeosie, large landowners, merchants, and kulaks ...............16.3

Population distribution. The average population density in the USSR is 12 persons per square kilometer. In the European part of the country it is 35 (early 1981), and there is considerable variation among the Union republics and various regions (see Table 7).

The most densely settled areas are the central regions of the European USSR, especially the area between the Oka and Volga rivers, as well as certain parts of the Donets Basin, Right-bank Ukraine, and the Moldavian SSR and many regions in Transcaucasia

Table 7. Average population density by republic (1981)
RepublicPersons per sq km
RSFSR ...............8.2
Ukrainian SSR ...............83.0
Byelorussian SSR ...............46.6
Uzbek SSR ...............36.1
Kazakh SSR ...............5.5
Georgian SSR ...............72.8
Azerbaijan SSR ...............71.6
Lithuanian SSR ...............52.8
Moldavian SSR ...............118.6
Latvian SSR ...............39.9
Kirghiz SSR ...............18.4
Tadzhik SSR ...............28.0
Armenian SSR ...............104.7
Turkmen SSR ...............5.9
Estonian SSR ...............32.9

and Middle Asia. The average density of the most densely settled oblasts is as follows: Moscow Oblast, including the city of Moscow, 311.7 persons per sq km; Andizhan Oblast, 335.6; Fergana Oblast, 249.5; Tashkent Oblast, with the city of Tashkent, 238.2; Donetsk Oblast, 196.9; Khorezm Oblast, 175.2; Kiev Oblast, with the city of Kiev, 144.4; and L’vov Oblast, 119.3. The least densely populated areas are the northern part of the country: Evenki Autonomous Okrug (formerly, national okrug), 0.02 per sq km; Taimyr (Dolgan-Nenets) Autonomous Okrug, 0.06; Koriak Autonomous Okrug, 0.1; and Chukchi Autonomous Okrug, 0.2. Other areas with very low densities are the Yakut ASSR, the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug, and the Nenets Autonomous Okrug with 0.3 persons per sq km, Magadan Oblast with 0.4, Kamchatka Oblast with 0.8, and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug with 1.3.

The more densely populated geographic space in the middle zone of the USSR forms a kind of wedge that tapers toward the east; this is known as the main zone of distribution. The base of the wedge is the western border of the USSR, from Leningrad to Moldavia. In the European part of the USSR the northern boundary passes through Cherepovets, Vologda, Kirov, and Perm’, and the southern boundary, Kherson, Rostov on-Don, Volgograd, Kuibyshev, and Cheliabinsk. In Siberia the main zone of distribution encompasses Tomsk, Novosibirsk, and the cities of the Kuznetsk Coal Basin and then continues on in a narrow strip through Krasnoiarsk, Irkutsk, and Khabarovsk, reaching the Pacific Ocean at Vladivostok and Nakhodka. Outside this zone, significant population clusters are found only in Transcaucasia and Middle Asia. Virtually all the major cities of the USSR lie within the main zone of distribution or the aforementioned areas.

Urban population. The USSR is a country with a predominantly urban population. The extremely rapid growth in the proportion of urban population (see Table 8) is attributable to the USSR’s transformation from an agrarian country into an industrial country.

Table 8. Changes in the ratio of urban and rural population
 Total population  Percentage of total population
1913 ...............159,200,00028,500,000130,700,0001882
1940 ...............194,100,00063,100,000131,000,0003367
1959 ...............208,800,000100,000,000108,800,0004852
1970 ...............241,700,000136,000,000105,700,0005644
1979 ...............262,400,000163,600,00098,800,0006238
1981 ...............266,600,000168,900,00097,700,0006337

The highest percentage of urban population as of 1981 is found in the old industrial regions (Leningrad Oblast, with the city of Leningrad, 91 percent; Donetsk Oblast, 90; Moscow Oblast, with the city of Moscow, 89; Sverdlovsk Oblast, 86; and Cheliabinsk Oblast, 82) and in areas of the northern and Asiatic parts of the USSR that are unsuitable for agriculture and whose industrial development was begun during the Soviet years (Murmansk Oblast, 91 percent; Kemerovo Oblast, 87; Karaganda Oblast, 86; Kamchatka Oblast, 83; and Magadan Oblast, 79). In oblasts where agriculture predominates, the urban population does not exceed 40 percent of the total population.

In 1939 the USSR had two cities with more than 1 million inhabitants; in 1959 it had three, and in 1979,18. By 1981, the number of cities with 1 million inhabitants reached 21 (see Table 9).

In 1981 the USSR had 27 cities with a population between 500,000 and 1 million, 226 cities with a population between 100,000 and 500,000, 227 cities with a population between 50,000 and 100,000, and 1,588 cities with a population of less than 50,000. In addition, there were 3,863 urban-type settlements. For changes in the makeup of the urban population, see Table 10.

More than 1,200 cities have been established during the years of Soviet power. The principal role in their formation was played by the development of various branches of industry. The exploitation of new coal deposits led to the appearance of such cities as Karaganda, Vorkuta, and Angren. Associated with the extraction and processing of petroleum was the emergence of such cities as Nebit-Dag, Al’met’evsk, Surgut, Nizhnevartovsk, and Shevchenko. The development of ferrous metallurgy was responsible for the establishment of Magnitogorsk, Novokuznetsk, Rustavi, and Temirtau, and the development of nonferrous metallurgy

Table 9. Cities in the USSR with population of more than 1 million (Jan. 1, 1981)
1Figures include all settlements under the jurisdiction of city soviets
Moscow1 ...............8,203,000
Leningrad1 ...............4,676,000
Kiev ...............2,248,000
Tashkent ...............1,858,000
Baku1 ...............1,595,000
Kharkov ...............1,485,000
Gorky ...............1,367,000
Novosibirsk ...............1,343,000
Minsk ...............1,333,000
Sverdlovsk ...............1,239,000
Kuibyshev ...............1,221,000
Dnepropetrovsk ...............1,100,000
Tbilisi ...............1,095,000
Odessa ...............1,072,000
Yerevan ...............1,055,000
Cheliabinsk ...............1,055,000
Omsk ...............1,044,000
Donetsk ...............1,040,000
Perm’ ...............1,018,000
Kazan ...............1,011,000
Ufa ...............1,009,000

for the establishment of Noril’sk, Balkhash, and Almalyk. Associated with the development of the chemical industry are Dzerzhinsk, Kirovsk, Angarsk, Novokuibyshevsk, Nizhnekamsk, and Soligorsk. Bratsk, Volzhskii, and Ust’-Ilimsk appeared together with large electric power plants. Tol’iatti, Naberezhnye Chelny, and Komsomol’sk-na-Amure became important machine-building centers. Dushanbe, Abakan, and Nukus were established as administrative centers, and Obninsk, Dubna, and Pushchino as scientific centers. Many old cities have grown markedly—in particular, the capitals of Union and autonomous republics (between 1939 and 1981 the population of Alma-Ata increased by a factor of more than 4, the population of Yerevan, Minsk, and Kishinev by a factor of more than 5, the population of Dushanbe and Frunze by a factor of 6, and the population of Ioshkar-Ola, Saransk, Syktyvkar, and Cheboksary by factors of 7–11).

Table 10. Changes in the urban population of the USSR (percent)
1Urban settlements consist of cities and urban-type settlements
Inhabitants of urban settlements1 with population up to 100,000 ...............52551.445.139.6
Inhabitants of cities with population of 100,000–500,000 ...............26.024.427.328.7
Inhabitants of cities with population of 500,000–1,000 000 ...............9.415.212.211.4
Inhabitants of cities with population of 1 million or more ...............
Total ...............100.0100.0100.0100.0

Old cities with developing industry have also grown rapidly in the Soviet period. In general, the populations of the principal industrial centers have at least doubled: the populations of Kuibyshev, Cheliabinsk, Krasnoiarsk, and Krivoi Rog have increased by a factor of 3 or 4, the populations of Ul’ianovsk, Riazan’, and Tiumen’ by a factor of 5, Lipetsk and Kurgan by a factor of more than 6, and the population of Cherepovets by a factor of about 9. Other cities have also grown significantly. Since the early 1960’s, a considerable increase in population has been characteristic of nearly all administrative centers of krais and ob-lasts. At the same time, because the continued concentration of population in the large cities may generate various negative consequences, steps are being taken to limit the growth of the largest cities, for example, by developing urban agglomerations.

Rural population. Urbanization in the USSR has been accompanied by a decline, both relative and absolute, in the rural population (see Table 8). Most of the rural population is concentrated in the southern and central parts of the European SSR; high densities of more than 100 persons per sq km are found in the Dnestr River valley and certain parts of the Ukraine. The density of the rural population is much lower in the zone of the taiga forests and, particularly, in the tundra of the European North, where the population is concentrated almost entirely in the valleys of the large rivers. The dry steppes and semideserts of the southeastern part of the European USSR are also sparsely populated. In the Caucasus, the river valleys and the Black Sea coast are densely populated, with more than 150 persons per sq km.

The Asiatic part of the USSR is comparatively densely populated along the Trans-Siberian Railroad, in the foothills of the Urals and the Altai, in the Amur River region, in southern Primor’e Krai, and in the valleys and foothills of the Middle Asian republics; the last have the highest density of rural population in the USSR, more than 200 persons per sq km. The remaining areas—the taigas and tundras of Siberia and the Far East, the deserts and semideserts of Middle Asia, and the dry steppes of Kazakhstan—are sparsely populated, with less than one person per sq km.

In the USSR, there are more than 400,000 rural settlements, predominantly rural populated points, in which most of the population is engaged in agriculture. In the European part of the USSR, the sizes of villages typically increase from north to south. The rural settlements in the northwestern USSR are particularly small; for example, in Pskov Oblast a large part of the rural population lives in settlements with populations of 100 or less. The opposite is true in the southern part of the European SSR; for example, almost all the rural population is concentrated in settlements of 500 or more. The typical villages of the middle belt of the European USSR, Urals, and Siberia are of medium size.

One of the tasks faced by the socialist reorganization of the rural population distribution is that of increasing the population. The creation of conditions necessary for sociocultural development and the provision of adequate services presuppose rural settlements with at least 1,000–2,000 inhabitants. In view of this, a systematic mass resettlement of rural inhabitants to larger settlements is under way, and inconveniently located and small and tiny settlements (khutora) with little prospect are being systematically phased out. The cultural aspects and everyday life in rural and urban settlements are gradually becoming equalized.


The Soviet Union is a multinational state, with more than 100 nations (natsii, nations in the historical sense) and nationalities, which differ in language, culture, and way of life but which are closely linked by a common historical destiny (see Table 11).

The national policy of the Soviet socialist state is based on the Leninist principle of the voluntary union of peoples. With the elimination of the exploitative classes, the peoples of the country were granted every opportunity for free and all-round economic, political, and cultural development. The Soviet order helped raise to the level of the most advanced peoples the peoples whose development lagged behind in prerevolutionary Russia and enabled them to achieve overall economic and cultural prosperity. Under the leadership of the Communist Party, the socialist nations and nationalities of the Soviet Union, with their common goal of building communism, are gradually coming closer together. In the Soviet Union a developed socialist society has been built in which, according to the Constitution of the USSR (1977), “on the basis of ... the juridical and factual equality of all its nations and nationalities and their fraternal cooperation, a new historical community of people has been formed—the Soviet people.”

The forms of socialist culture of the peoples of the USSR are highly diverse, as is evident from the language, literature, fine arts, and folk arts of the peoples. Each ethnic group has its own unique historically developed material and nonmaterial culture. While preserving and developing the best national traditions and eliminating outdated ones, each national culture makes creative use of the achievements of other nations and nationalities. Multinational Union-wide forms of culture and everyday life are developing. In these processes, an enormous role is played by such factors as the interaction between different peoples in industry and agriculture, the development of bilingualism and trilingualism, with Russian acquiring ever-increasing importance, and the growing number of mixed marriages. The overcoming of national prejudices, the decreasing influence of religion in everyday life, and the development of new traditions were also instrumental in bringing the different peoples together, with respect to culture and the way of life.

Almost all the peoples of the USSR have their own state systems, represented by the Union or autonomous republics, autonomous oblasts, or autonomous okrugs (formerly national okrugs), whose boundaries usually coincide with the principal areas in which these peoples live.

Anthropologically, most of the population belongs to the Europeoid race, represented by its principal branches: the northern branch (the peoples of the Baltic and northwestern groups of Russians), the southern branch (most of the peoples of the Caucasus), and the transitional branch (a large part of the Russians and Ukrainians). The indigenous peoples of Eastern Siberia and the Far East belong to the northern branch of the Mongoloid race. The peoples of Middle Asia and Kazakhstan have characteristics that are transitional between the Europeoid and Mongoloid races. Europeoid characteristics become less pronounced as one moves from west to east; they are strongest among the Turkmens and least pronounced among the Kirghiz. The indigenous peoples of the northern part of the European USSR and Western Siberia (Nentsi, Khanty, and others) belong to mixed Mongoloid-Europeoid types.

The largest ethnic group in the USSR is the Russians, who account for 52.12 percent of the total population (1979 census). They constitute the absolute majority in the RSFSR and a significant percentage in the other republics. Closely related to the Russians are two other East Slavic peoples, the Ukrainians and Byelorussians, who constitute the principal populations of the Ukrainian SSR and Byelorussian SSR, respectively, and who also live in other parts of the country. The largest groups of Ukrainians outside the Ukraine live in regions adjacent to the Ukrainian SSR, in the Northern Caucasus, in the southern parts of the Urals and Siberia, and in Kazakhstan; Byelorussians also live in the Karelian ASSR and Kaliningrad Oblast.

The non-Slavic peoples of the European USSR live chiefly on the periphery of this region. As neighbors of the East Slavs, they have come to resemble them with respect to economic aspects, culture, and way of life as a result of many centuries of cultural interaction. The Lithuanians and Latvians, who live in the Baltic Region, linguistically belong to the Baltic group, which is genetically linked to the Slavic group. Peoples belonging to the Finno-Ugric language group live in the northwestern and northeastern parts of the European USSR and along the middle Volga; among them are the Estonians, Karelians, Veps, Lapps, Komi, Udmurts, Mari, and Mordovians. The Turkic-language Chuvash, Bashkirs, and Tatars live in other regions of the middle Volga and in the southern Urals. The Mongolian-language Kalmyks live on the right bank of the lower Volga. The Moldavians, who are culturally close to the Ukrainians, live in the extreme southwestern USSR; their language belongs to the Romance group. Living in the southern part of the Moldavian SSR are the Gagauz, whose culture closely resembles that of the neighboring Bulgarians, Moldavians, and Ukrainians, although they speak a Turkic language. There are small groups of Gypsies in the southwestern USSR, as well as in many other regions: their language is classified in the Neo-Indic group. Jews live in many cities; the Yiddish language (Germanic group) was formerly widespread among them, but, according to the 1979 census, only 14.2 percent of the Jews considered it their native language. Other peoples living in various parts of the country include Germans, Koreans, Bulgarians, Greeks, Hungarians, Rumanians, Finns, Iranians (Persians), Czechs, Slovaks, Albanians, Afghans, and French.

The Caucasus, with three Union republics and 11 autonomous republics and oblasts, has the greatest diversity of nationalities in the Soviet Union. Most of the peoples of the Caucasus speak languages of the Caucasian (Ibero-Caucasian) family, which includes the languages of the Kartvelian group (spoken by the Georgians), the Abkhazo-Adyg group (Abkhazians, Abazas, and Adygeians), Nakh group (Chechen and Ingush), and Dagestan group (Avars, Darghins, and Lezghians). The Azerbaijanis, Karachais, Balkars, Kumyks, and Nogai speak various Turkic languages. The language of the Armenians occupies a special position within the Indo-European family. Among the people who speak languages of the Iranian group are the Ossets, Kurds, Tats, and Talyshin (the last have merged almost completely with the Azerbaijanis, who live in the Caucasus.

Six ethnic groups—Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tadzhiks, Kirghiz, Turkmens, and Kara-Kalpaks—have their own state territorial formations in Middle Asia and Kazakhstan. Of these, the Tadzhiks speak an Iranian language, while the others speak various Turkic languages. The Yagnobi and small nationalities of the Pamirs (Wakhi, Ishkashmi, Roshani, Shughni, Bartangi, and Yazgulami) are merging with the Tadzhiks. The Uighurs, Dungans, and certain other peoples also live in Middle Asia.

Most of the population of Siberia and the Far East consists of Russians, who first settled there in the 17th century, as well as Ukrainians and Byelorussians. The indigenous population is represented by comparatively small nationalities (totaling barely over 1.1 million) that are spread out over an enormous area. The language of the Yakuts belongs to the Turkic group, as do the languages of Altáis, Shory, Khakass, Tuvinians, and Tofalar, who live in the Altai Mountains, Gornaia Shoriia, and the Saian Mountains. The Buriat language belongs to the Mongolian group. The other peoples of the Asiatic part of the USSR are usually referred to collectively as the small peoples of the North or as the nationalities of the North, Siberia, and the Far East and, according to ethnolinguistic characteristics, belong to different

Table 11. Ethnic composition of the USSR (1979 census1)
1Total population of USSR according to 1979 census was 262,085,000
Russians ...............137,397,000
Ukrainians ...............42,347,000
Uzbeks ...............12,456,000
Byelorussians ...............9,463,000
Kazakhs ...............6,556,000
Tatars ...............6,317,000
Azerbaijanis ...............5,477,000
Armenians ...............4,151,000
Georgians ...............3,571,000
Moldavians ...............2,968,000
Tadzhiks ...............2,898,000
Lithuanians ...............2,851,000
Turkmens ...............2,028,000
Germans ...............1,936,000
Kirghiz ...............1,906,000
Jews ...............1,811,000
Chuvash ...............1,751,000
Peoples of Dagestan ...............1,657,000
Avars ...............483,000
Lezghians ...............383,000
Darghins ...............287,000
Kumyks ...............228,000
Laks ...............100,000
Tabasarans ...............75,000
Nogai ...............60,000
Rutuls ...............15,000
Tsakhurs ...............14,000
Aguls ...............12,000
Latvians ...............1,439,000
Bashkirs ...............1,371,000
Mordovians ...............1,192,000
Poles ...............1,151,000
Estonians ...............1,020,000
Chechen ...............756,000
Udmurts ...............714,000
Mari ...............622,000
Ossets ...............542,000
Komi and Komi-Permiaks ...............478,000
Komi ...............327,000
Komi-Permiaks ...............151,000
Koreans ...............389,000
Bulgarians ...............361,000
Buriats ...............353,000
Greeks ...............344,000
Yakut ...............328,000
Kabardins ...............322,000
Kara-Kalpaks ...............303,000
Uighurs ...............211,000
Gypsies ...............209,000
Ingush ...............186,000
Gagauz ...............173,000
Hungarians ...............171,000
Tuvinians ...............166,000
Peoples of the North, Siberia, andthe Far East ...............158,000
Nentsi ...............30,000
Evenkl ...............28,000
Khanty ...............21,000
Chukchi ...............14,000
Eveny ...............12,000
Nanai ...............10,500
Koriaks ...............7,900
Mansi ...............7,600
Dolgan ...............5,100
Nivkh ...............4,400
Selkups ...............3,600
Ul’chi ...............2,600
Lapps ...............1,900
Udegei ...............1,600
Eskimo ...............1,500
Itel’meny ...............1,400
Orochi ...............1,200
Ket ...............1,100
Nganasani ...............900
Yukaghir(lukagir) ...............800
Tofalar ...............800
Aleuts ...............500
Negidal ...............500
Kalmyks ...............147,000
Karelians ...............138,000
Karachais ...............131,000
Rumanians ...............129,000
Kurds ...............116,000
Adygeians ...............109,000
Turks ...............93,000
Abkhazians ...............91,000
Finns ...............77,000
Khakass ...............71,000
Balkars ...............66,000
Altais ...............60,000
Dungans ...............52,000
Cherkess ...............46,000
Iranians (Persians) ...............31,000
Abazas ...............29,000
Assyrians ...............25,000
Tats ...............22,000
Baluchi ...............19,000
Czechs ...............17,800
Shory ...............16,000
Slovaks ...............9,400
Veps ...............8,100
Udins ...............6,900
Karaites ...............3,300
Khalkha Mongols ...............3,200
Ingrians ...............700
Other nationalities ...............66,400

groups. The Khanty and Mansi peoples, who live in the northern part of Western Siberia, speak languages of the Ugric group, while the Nentsi, Nganansani, and Selkups speak languages of the Samoyed group. The Tungus-language Evenki, Eveny, Nanai, Ul’chi, Udegei, and Orochi are scattered throughout Eastern Siberia and Primor’e Krai. Some peoples, such as the Chukchi, Koriaks, Itel’meny, Yukaghir (Iukagir), and Nivkh, presumably the remnants of the ancient population of northern Asia, are conventionally grouped together under the name Paleo-Asiatics; the Ket are sometimes also classified as such. Small groups of Eskimo and Aleuts, who speak languages of the Eskimo-Aleut family, live in the extreme northeastern part of the USSR.

Before the October Revolution of 1917, many peoples of Siberia and the Far East were at a low level of socioeconomic development and were doomed to extinction. Soviet power offered them broad opportunities for economic and cultural development. The path traversed by these peoples of the USSR with the aid of other peoples, particularly the Russians, demonstrates that it is possible, even for the most economically and culturally back-ward ethnic groups, to attain socialism while bypassing capitalism.


About 130 languages of the indigenous peoples are represented in the USSR, including about 70 literary languages, of which 50 were formed relatively recently, as well as languages of peoples who are descendants of peoples from other countries. The languages are distributed in the 15 Union republics, 20 autonomous republics, eight autonomous oblasts, and ten autonomous okrugs (formerly national okrugs).

The languages of the peoples of the USSR belong to various language families and groups. Among the Indo-European language groups represented in the USSR are the Slavic, Baltic, Romance (Moldavian), and Iranian groups, the Armenian language, which constitutes a separate group, and the Germanic group (Yiddish) and Neo-Indic group (Romany).

Russian, Ukrainian, and Byelorussian make up the group of East Slavic languages. Russian is the language of the Russian people; it is also the language by which the peoples of the USSR communicate with one another and one of the six official languages of the United Nations. It is one of the most widespread languages of the world. According to the 1979 census, 137.2 million Russians and 16.3 million members of other ethnic groups considered it to be their native language; 61.3 million people whose first language is not Russian speak it fluently.

Ukrainian is the language of the Ukrainians, the principal population of the Ukrainian SSR; 35 million people consider it their native language. (In the rest of this section, the figures given in parentheses represent the number of people who consider a particular language as their native language.)

Byelorussian is the language of the Byelorussian people, the principal population of the Byelorussian SSR (7 million persons).

The Baltic language group includes Lithuanian, the language of the Lithuanians, the principal population of the Lithuanian SSR (2.8 million persons), and Latvian, the language of the Latvians, the principal population of the Latvian SSR (1.4 million persons).

The Romance group includes Moldavian, the language of the Moldavians, the principal population of the Moldavian SSR (2.8 million persons).

The Iranian group includes Tadzhik, Ossetic, Kurdish, Tat, Talyshi, and Baluchi. Tadzhik is the language of the principal population of the Tadzhik SSR (2.8 million persons). Ossetic is the language of the Ossets, the principal population of the Severnaia Osetiia ASSR of the RSFSR and the Iuzhnaia Osetiia Autonomous Oblast of the Georgian SSR (477,800 persons). Kurdish is the language of the Kurds, who live in the Armenian, Georgian, and Azerbaijan SSR’s (96,800 persons). Tat is the language of the Tats, who live in various parts of the Dagestan ASSR, as well as in the Azerbaijan SSR, in the city of Nal’chik (Kabarda-Balkar ASSR), and on the Apsheron Peninsula (15,100 persons). Talyshi is the language of the Talyshin, a small nationality living in the southeastern part of the Azerbaijan SSR. Baluchi is the language of the Baluchi people, who live in the Turkmen SSR (18,600 persons).

The Iranian group also includes the eastern Iranian languages of the Pamirs, namely, Yagnobi, the language of the Yagnobi people, a small nationality living in the valleys of the lagnob and Varzob rivers in the Tadzhik SSR, and the Pamir languages, spoken by various nationalities of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast of the Tadzhik SSR. The latter include the Shughni-Roshani group (the Shughni, Roshani, Bartangi, and Oroshori languages) and the Wakhni, Ishkashmi, and Yazgulami languages. These languages are spoken primarily in the home; in administrative practice, Tadzhik and Russian are used, and they are the ones taught at school.

Among the Indo-European languages, Armenian constitutes a separate branch. It is the language of the Armenians, the principal population of the Armenian SSR (3.8 million persons). The Neo-Indic group includes Romany, the language of the Gypsies, who are scattered throughout the USSR (154,900 persons). The Germanic group includes Yiddish, the language spoken by part of the Jewish population living in the USSR (257,800 persons).

The Caucasian (Ibero-Caucasian) languages include languages of the Kartvelian, Abkhazo-Adyg, and Nakho-Dagestanian groups; some scholars view the last group as two separate groups—the Nakh group and the Dagestan group. The Kartvelian group includes Georgian, the language of the Georgians, the principal population of the Georgian SSR (3.5 million persons), and the Zan Mingrelo-Chan) and Svanetian languages, spoken by the Mingrelians, Laz, and Svans, who live in Georgia.

The Abkhazo-Adyg group includes the Abkhaz, Abaza, Adygei, and Kabarda-Cherkess languages. The Abkhaz language is spoken by the Abkhazians, who live in the Abkhazian ASSR (85,800 persons). The Abaza language is spoken by the Abazas, who live in the Karachai-Cherkess Autonomous Oblast of Stavropol’ Krai (28,100 persons). Adygei is the language of the Adygeians, who live in the Adygei Autonomous Oblast and in certain parts of Krasnodar Krai (104,000 persons). Kabarda-Cherkess is spoken by the Kabardins, who live in the Kabarda-Balkar ASSR (315,000 persons); it is also spoken by the Cherkess, who live in the Karachai-Cherkess Autonomous Oblast, the city of Mozdok, and some raions of Stavropol’ Krai, and the Besleneevtsy, who live in the Karachai-Cherkess Autonomous Oblast, Krasnodar Krai, and some auls (villages) in the Adygei Autonomous Oblast (42,500 persons).

The Nakho-Dagestanian group comprises the Nakh and Dagestan branches. The Nakh branch includes Chechen, Ingush, and Batsbi. Chechen is the language of the Chechen people, who live in the Chechen-Ingush ASSR (745,300 persons). Ingush is the language of the Ingush people, who live in the western part of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR (181,300 persons). Batsbi (or Bats) is the language of the Batsbiitsy, who live in the village of Zemo Alvani in Akhmeta Raion, Georgian SSR.

The Dagestan branch of the Nakho-Dagestanian group comprises about 30 languages, including Avar (471,900 persons), the Andi languages, the Tsez languages, Lak (95,200 persons), Darghin (282,200 persons), and the Lezghian languages. The Andi subgroup comprises Andi, Botlikh, Godoberi, Chamalal, Bagulal (or Kvanadin), Tindi, Karata, and Akhvakh. The Tsez subgroup comprises languages of various small nationalities, including the Tsez (or Dido or Tsuntin), Khvarshi, Ginukh, Bezhita (or Kapuchi), and Gunzib (or Khunzal or Nakhadin) languages. The Lezghian group includes Lezghian (347,600 persons), Tabasaran (73,200 persons), Agul (11,900 persons), Rutul (14,900 persons), Tsakhur (12,800 persons), Udin (6,200), Kryz, Budukh, Archi, and Khinalug. The Dagestan languages are distributed in the Dagestan ASSR and adjacent areas in the Georgian SSR, Azerbaijan SSR, and Chechen-Ingush ASSR. The total number of people speaking the Dagestan languages is 1.6 million. Of these languages, Avar, Darghin, Lak, Lezghian, and Tabasaran have writing systems.

The Turkic languages rank second, after the Slavic languages, in area of distribution and number of speakers. They are organized into several groups: the Bulgar group, the Oghuz group, the Kipchak (or Kypchak) group, and the Karluk group.

The Bulgar group includes the Chuvash language, spoken by the Chuvash, the principal population of the Chuvash ASSR (1.4 million persons).

The Oghuz group comprises Azerbaijani, the language of the Azerbaijanis, the principal population of the Azerbaijan SSR (5.4 million persons); Turkmen, the language of the Turkmens, the principal population of the Turkmen SSR (2 million); and Gagauz, the language of the Gagauz people, who live in the Moldavian and Ukrainian SSR’s (154,700 persons).

The Kipchak (Kypchak) group includes Kazakh, Kara-Kalpak, Nogai, Tatar, Bashkir, Karaite, Kumyk, Karachai-Balkar, and Crimean Tatar. Kazakh is the language of the Kazakhs, the indigenous population of the Kazakh SSR (6.4 million persons). Kara-Kalpak is the language of the Kara-Kalpaks, the principal population of the Kara-Kalpak ASSR (290,700 persons). Nogai is the language of the Nogai people, who live in Stavropol’ Krai, Karachai Cherkess Autonomous Oblast, Krasnodar Krai, and the Dagestan ASSR (53,800 persons). Tatar is the language of the Tatars, who live in the Tatar ASSR, in the Bashkir, Udmurt, Chuvash, Mordovian, and Mari ASSR’s, in various parts of the Middle and Lower Volga regions, Western Siberia, and other regions of the RSFSR, and in various parts of other Union republics (5.4 million persons). Bashkir is the language of the Bashkirs, the principal population of the Bashkir ASSR (919,000 persons). Karaite is spoken by the Karaites, who live in the Lithuanian and Ukrainian SSR’s (535 persons). Kumyk is the language of the Kumyks, who live in the Dagestan ASSR, and is one of the literary languages of Dagestan (224,200 persons). Karachai-Balkar is the language of the Karachais, who live in the Karachai Cherkess Autonomous Oblast (128,000 persons), and of the Balkars, who live in the Kabarda-Balkar ASSR and the Kirghiz, Kazakh, and Uzbek SSR’s (64,300 persons). Crimean Tatar is the language of the Crimean Tatars, most of whom live in the Uzbek and Kazakh SSR’s.

The Karluk group of the Turkic languages comprises Uzbek, the language of the Uzbeks, the principal population of the Uzbek SSR (12.3 million persons), the Uighur (or New-Uighur), the language of the Uighurs, who live in the Kazakh, Uzbek, and Kirghiz SSR’s (181,300 persons).

Other Turkic languages spoken in the USSR include Altai, Kirghiz, Tuvinian, Tofalar (or Karagas), Yakut, Khakass, Shory, and Kiuerik (or Chulym-Turkic). Altai is the language of the Altais, the principal population of the Gorno-Altai Autonomous Oblast and Altai Krai (51,900 persons). Kirghiz is the language of the Kirghiz people, the principal population of the Kirghiz SSR (1.9 million persons). Tuvinian is the language of the Tuvinians, the principal population of the Tuva ASSR (164,000 persons). Tofalar (Karagas) is the language of the Tofalars, a small nationality living in Irkutsk Oblast (474 persons). Yakut is the language of the Yakut people, the principal population of the Yakut ASSR (312,700 persons), and of the Dolgan people, who live in the Taimyr (Dolgan-Nenets) Autonomous Okrug. Khakass is the language of the Khakass people, who live in the Khakass Autonomous Oblast (57,300 persons). Shory is the language of the Shory people, who live in the Kuznetskii Alatau, in areas along the Tom’ River and its tributaries the Kondoma and Mras-Su, and in regions bordering on the Khakass Autonomous Oblast and Gorno-Altai Autonomous Oblast (9,800 persons). Kiuerik is the language of the Chulyms (Chulyma Tatars), who live in Tomsk Oblast.

The Finno-Ugric (or Ugro-Finnic) languages, together with the Samoyedic languages, constitute the family of Uralic languages. The Finno-Ugric group comprises the Balto-Finnic languages, Lapp, the Mordovian languages, Mari, the Permian languages, and the Ob’-Ugric languages.

The Balto-Finnic languages include Estonian, the language of the Estonians, the principal population of the Estonian SSR (972,200 persons), and Karelian, the language of the Karelians, who constitute the principal population of the Karelian ASSR (77,000 persons) and who also live in various parts of Kalinin Oblast and in other parts of the RSFSR (the Karelians use Russian and Finnish as the literary languages). Other Balto-Finnic languages are Veps, the language of the Veps, a nationality living along the border between Leningrad and Vologda oblasts and the Karelian SSR (3,100 persons); Ingrian, the language of the Ingrians (or Izhora), a nationality living in Kingisepp and Lomonosov raions of Leningrad Oblast (244 persons); and Livonian, the language of the Livs, a small nationality living in the Latvian SSR.

Lapp is the language of the Lapps, who in the USSR live on the Kola Peninsula (1,000 persons); most of the Lapps live in the northern parts of Norway, Finland, and Sweden.

The Mordovian languages include Erzia and Moksha. Erzia is the language of the Erzia people, who live in the eastern part of the Mordovian SSR, as well as in Kuibyshev, Gorky, Orenburg, Penza, Saratov, Ul’ianovsk, Cheliabinsk, and several other oblasts of the RSFSR; they also live in the Bashkir, Tatar, and Chuvash ASSR’s. Moksha is the language of the Moksha people, who live in the western part of the Mordovian SSR, as well as in Kuibyshev, Orenburg, Kazan, Saratov, and Ul’ianovsk oblasts of the RSFSR and in the Bashkir, Tatar, and Chuvash ASSR’s; a small number is also found in Cheliabinsk, Sverdlovsk, and other oblasts (the total number of speakers of the Mordovian languages is 864,800).

Mari, which includes the Meadow, Eastern, and Mountain (or Hill) variants of the literary language, is the language of the Mari people, the principal population of the Mari ASSR (539,300 persons).

The Permian languages include Udmurt, the language of the Udmurts, the principal population of the Udmurt ASSR (545,600 persons); Komi (or Zyrian), the language of the Komi people, the principal population of the Komi ASSR (249,000 persons); and Komi-Permiak, the language of the Komi-Permiaks, who live primarily in the Komi-Permiak Autonomous Okrug (116,200 persons).

The Ob’-Ugric languages, which belong to the Ugric branch of the Finno-Ugric languages, include two languages: Khanty (or Ostyak), the language of the Khanty people, who live in the Khanty-Mansi and Yamal-Nenets autonomous okrugs, as well as in Aleksandrovskoe and Kargasok raions of Tomsk Oblast (14,200 persons), and Mansi (or Vogul), spoken by the Mansi, who live in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug (3,700 persons).

The Samoyedic group of the Uralic languages comprises Nenets, Selkup, Nganasani, and Entsi. Nenets is the language of the Nentsi, who live in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, and the western part of the Taimyr Dolgan-Nenets) Autonomous Okrug (24,000 persons). Selkup is spoken by the Selkups, who live in Krasnosel’kup and Tazovskii raions of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (2,000 persons). Nganasani is the language of the Nganasani (or Tavgi) people, who live on the Taimyr Peninsula in Avam and Khatanga raions of the Taimyr Autonomous Okrug and in parts of Ust’-Eniseisk (782 persons). Entsi is the language of the Entsi people, a small nationality living in the western part of the Taimyr Autonomous Okrug.

The Mongolian languages include Buriat, the language of the Buriats, who live in the Buriat ASSR, Ust’-Orda Buriat Autonomous Okrug, and Aga-Buriat Autonomous Okrug (317,900 persons), and Kalmyk, the language of the Kalmyks, who constitute the principal population of the Kalmyk ASSR and who also live in Astrakhan and Volgograd oblasts (133,900 persons).

The Manchu-Tungus languages include Evenki, Eveny, Negidal, Nanai, Ul’chi, the Orok and Oroch languages, and Udegei. Evenki is the language of the Evenki people, who live in the Evenki Autonomous Okrug and other parts of Krasnoiarsk Krai, in the north of Irkutsk Oblast, in the western and southern parts of the Yakut ASSR, in the Taimyr Autonomous Okrug, in the Buriat ASSR, in Khabarovsk Krai, and on the island of Sakhalin (11,700 persons). Eveny is the language of the Eveny people, who live in small concentrations in Magadan and Kamchatka oblasts, in the Chukchi Autonomous Okrug, in Okhotsk Raion of Khabarovsk Krai, and in the northeastern parts of the Yakut ASSR (7,000 persons). Negidal is the language of the Negidal people, who live in Khabarovsk Krai (224 persons). Nanai is spoken by the Nanai people, who in the USSR live primarily in Khabarovsk and Primor’e krais of the RSFSR (5,900 persons). Ul’chi is the language of the Ul’chi people, who live in Ul’chi Raion of Khabarovsk Krai (991 persons). The Orok language is spoken by the Oroki, a small nationality living in the island of Sakhalin. The Oroch language is spoken by the Orochi, who live in Khabarovsk Krai (487 persons), and Udegei is spoken by the Udegei people, who live in Khabarovsk and Primor’e krais (481 persons).

It is conventional to include among the Paleo-Asiatic languages various genetically unrelated groups and various individual languages of the small nationalities of Siberia. They include the Chukchi-Kamchatka group and the Eskimo-Aleut group. The Chukchi-Kamchatka group comprises Chukchi (or Luorawetlan), Koriak (or Nymylan), Aliutor, Kerek, and the Itel’men (or Kamchadal) language. Chukchi (Luorawetlan) is the language of the Chukchi people, who live in the Chukchi Autonomous Okrug, the northeastern part of the Koriak Autonomous Okrug of the RSFSR, and Nizhnekolymskii Raion of the Yakut ASSR (11,000 persons). Koriak (Nymylan) is the language of the Koriaks, the principal population of the Koriak Autonomous Okrug (5,400 persons). Aliutor is spoken by the Aliutor people, a small nationality living along the northeastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Kerek is spoken by the Kerek people, a small nationality living in the south of the Chukchi Autonomous Okrug. Itel’men (Kamchadal) is the language of the Itel’meny, who live in Tigil’ Raion of the Koriak Autonomous Okrug (334 persons).

The Eskimo-Aleut group comprises Eskimo, the language of the Asiatic Eskimo, who live in the Chukchi Autonomous Okrug (917 persons), and Aleutian (or Unangan), the language of the Aleuts, who live on the Komandorskie (or Commander) Islands (97 persons).

Genetically unrelated Paleo-Asiatic languages include Nivkh, Yukaghir (Iukagir), and Ket. Nivkh is the language of the Nivkh (or Giliak) people, who live along the lower Amur and on the island of Sakhalin (1,300 persons). Yukaghir is the language of the Yukaghir people, who live in the northeast of the Yakut ASSR and along the upper Kolyma River in the north of Magadan Oblast (313 persons). Ket is the language of the Ket people, who live in Turukhansk and Baikitskii raions of Krasnoiarsk Krai (684 persons).

In addition to all the foregoing languages spoken in the USSR, there are Dungan and Assyrian (or Neo-Syriac). Dungan, which belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family, is spoken by the Dungans, who live in the Kazakh and Kirghiz SSR’s (49,000 persons). Assyrian, which belongs to the Semitic group of languages, is spoken by the Assyrians, who in the USSR live in Transcaucasia and in the major cities of the RSFSR (13,800 persons); historically, most have lived in northwestern Iran and in eastern Turkey.

The languages of peoples who are descendants of peoples from other countries include various languages of the Indo-European family, such as the Slavic, Germanic, Romance, and Iranian languages. The Slavic languages include Polish, the language of the Polish people (335,100 persons), Czech, the language of the Czechs (5,800 persons), Slovak, the language of the Slovaks (3,900 persons), and Bulgarian, the language of the Bulgarians (245,600 persons). In the USSR the Germanic languages are represented by German, the language of the Germans (1.1 million persons), the Romance languages by Rumanian, the language of the Rumanians (52,900 persons), and the Iranian languages by Persian, the language of the Persians (9,600 persons). Isolated Indo-European languages include Greek, the language of the Greeks (130,600 persons). Finno-Ugric languages spoken in the USSR include Hungarian, the language of the Hungarian people (162,800 persons), and Finnish, the language of the Finns (31,500 persons). The Turkic languages are represented by Turkish, the language of the Turks (78,500 persons). The Mongolian group includes Mongolian (Khalkha dialect, the language of the Khalkha Mongols; 2,900 persons). Among the isolated languages is Korean, the language of the Koreans (215,500 persons).

Before the October Revolution of 1917, the level of development of the languages of the people of the Russian Empire differed. Many languages had a long writing tradition. Thus, for example, the Armenian and Georgian alphabet systems date from the fifth century. Russian, Ukrainian, and Byelorussian had a common writing system based on the Cyrillic alphabet, dating from the tenth century. The writing systems of Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian, based on the Latin alphabet, appeared in the 16th century. The Turkic languages had writing systems based on the Arabic alphabet: Azerbaijani from the 14th century, Uzbek and Turkmen from the 15th century, Tatar from the 16th century, and Kazakh from the 19th century. The Mongolian peoples had their own national writing systems—the Buriats, Kalmyks, and Mongolians in the Mongolian alphabet, the Jews in the Hebrew alphabet, and the Assyrians in the Syriac alphabet. The Tadzhik language had an alphabet based on the Arabic alphabet from the ninth century; in 1930 a Latin-alphabet-based writing system was introduced, and in 1940, a Cyrillic-alphabet-based system. Stephen of Perm’ (Stepan Khrap) in the 14th century created a unique old Permian writing system, which was used by the church until the 17th century.

Most languages of the Russian Empire, however, lacked writing systems, and writing systems were created for these languages only after the Great October Socialist Revolution. For example, writing systems were created for the Kirghiz, Bashkir, and Kara-Kalpak languages using the Arabic alphabet in the period 1923–28, the Latin alphabet in 1928–40, and the Russian alphabet in 1938–40. Between 1936 and 1941, the writing systems of many peoples of the USSR were changed over to the Russian script. For languages that previously had no writing systems, alphabets based on the Russian script were created with the addition of the necessary letters and diacritics for sounds unique to the various language groups. Armenian, Georgian, and Yiddish have retained their writing systems, and Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian, and Finnish have retained the Latin alphabet.

Small nationalities or nationalities that are scattered throughout the country, such as the various ethnic groups in the Far East and Dagestan, the Gypsies, and the Assyrians, use the writing systems of the people among whom they live, although folk and literary works have been published in the languages of some of these nationalities, for example, in Karelian, Negidal, Yukaghir, Romany, and Tat.

Writing systems exist for many languages of the peoples of the USSR, including Abaza, Abkhaz, Adygei, Avar, Altai, Armenian, Assyrian, Azerbaijani, Bashkir, Byelorussian, Buriat, Chechen, Chukchi, Chuvash, Crimean Tatar, Darghin, Dungan, Eskimo, Estonian, Evenki, Eveny, Finnish, Gagauz, Georgian, Ingush, Kabardin-Cherkess, Kalmyk, Karachai-Balkar, Kara-Kalpak, Kazakh, Khakass, Khanty, Komi (Zyrian), Komi-Permiak, Koriak, Kumyk, Kurdish, Lak, Latvian, Lezghian, Lithuanian, Mansi, Mari (Meadow and Mountain), Moldavian, Mordovian (Erzia and Moksha), Nanai, Nenets, Nivkh, Nogai, Ossetic, Russian, Selkup, Tabasaran, Tadzhik, Tat, Tatar, Turkmen, Tuvinian, Udmurt, Uighur, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Yakut, and Yiddish.

The construction of a developed socialist society and the advent of the scientific and technological revolution promoted the development of the social function of literary languages, helped strengthen the mutual interaction of the languages, and contributed to the emergence of new concepts in the languages reflecting the advanced social order. This led to the expansion of the vocabularies of the national languages, both by means of word formation in the individual languages and the reinterpretation and expansion of word meanings and by means of borrowings from the Russian language and internationally accepted terminology. A terminology common to all the languages has emerged.

The development and mutual influence of the languages of the peoples of the USSR were aided not only by the national cultural features but also by the Soviet socialist culture, whose development proceeds on the basis of the political and socioeconomic unity of the peoples of the USSR.

Bilingualism—the use of a native language and Russian—is of considerable importance. Russian, the language used for communication between nationalities, has become a means of cooperation of the peoples of the USSR in social, political, economic, cultural, and scientific affairs and a means of cultural exchange between the nations of the republics and the world. The use of Russian has made it possible to acquaint all the peoples of the country with the best in Soviet and world culture. All nations and nationalities of the USSR voluntarily selected Russian as the language of communication and cooperation.

Much attention is devoted in the USSR to the scholarly study of the languages of the peoples of the USSR, both the highly developed languages and the little studied languages of the small nationalities. Monographs, scholarly grammars, and dialectal at lases have been compiled, as well as various dictionaries, such as defining dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries for Russian and the various national languages, and orthographic, terminological, and dialectal dictionaries.



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Desheriev, Iu. D. Razvitie obshchestvennykh funktsii literaturnykh iazykov. Moscow, 1976.
Klimov, G. A. Kavkazskie iazyki. Moscow, 1965.
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Razvitie natsional’no-russkogo dvuiazychiia. Moscow, 1976.


A group of organisms occupying a specific geographic area or biome.
(computer science)
A collection of records in a data base that share one or more characteristics in common.
The set of electronic components on a printed circuit board.
A specified set of objects or outcomes to be measured or observed.


1. Ecology a group of individuals of the same species inhabiting a given area
2. Astronomy either of two main groups of stars classified according to age and location. Population I consists of younger metal-rich hot white stars, many occurring in galactic clusters and forming the arms of spiral galaxies. Stars of population II are older, the brightest being red giants, and are found in the centre of spiral and elliptical galaxies in globular clusters
References in classic literature ?
The pay-envelope army that moves to work every morning in Telephonia would be a host of one hundred and ten thousand men and girls, mostly girls,--as many girls as would fill Vassar College a hundred times and more, or double the population of Nevada.
One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it.
They would endeavor to supply the inferiority of population and resources by a more regular and effective system of defense, by disciplined troops, and by fortifications.
But we may form very mistaken ideas on this subject, if we do not call to mind in our calculations, that the extent of revenue drawn from foreign commerce must vary with the variations, both in the extent and the kind of imports; and that these variations do not correspond with the progress of population, which must be the general measure of the public wants.
It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.
But, about three centuries afterwards, the Law decided that in all towns containing a population above ten thousand, the angle of a Pentagon was the smallest house-angle that could be allowed consistently with the public safety.
Everybody knows that the great reversed triangle of land, with its base in the north and its apex in the south, which is called India, embraces fourteen hundred thousand square miles, upon which is spread unequally a population of one hundred and eighty millions of souls.
Seeing the ease and security in which these people were living, I felt that this close resemblance of the sexes was after all what one would expect; for the strength of a man and the softness of a woman, the institution of the family, and the differentiation of occupations are mere militant necessities of an age of physical force; where population is balanced and abundant, much childbearing becomes an evil rather than a blessing to the State; where violence comes but rarely and off-spring are secure, there is less necessity--indeed there is no necessity--for an efficient family, and the specialization of the sexes with reference to their children's needs disappears.
In this manner was the whole male part of the population of the District of Minas put on board the five transports, stationed in the river Gaspereaux, each vessel being guarded by six non-commissioned officers, and eighty privates.
THE whole population of the valley seemed to be gathered within the precincts of the grove.
It possessed a motley population, composed of the creole descendants of the original French colonists; the keen traders from the Atlantic States; the backwoodsmen of Kentucky and Tennessee; the Indians and half- breeds of the prairies; together with a singular aquatic race that had grown up from the navigation of the rivers - the "boatmen of the Mississippi;- who possessed habits, manners, and almost a language, peculiarly their own, and strongly technical.
Generally, it is to be foreseen that the population of a kingdom (especially if it be not mown down by wars) do not exceed the stock of the kingdom, which should maintain them.

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