a constituent part of the Kazakh SSR. Established Mar. 10, 1932. Located in the western part of the republic. Area, 299,800 sq km. Population, 554,000 (1969). Aktiubinsk Oblast consists of 13 raions, seven cities, and four urban-type settlements. Its center is the city of Aktiubinsk.
Natural features Aktiubinsk Oblast is located between the Caspian Depression to the west, the Ustiurt Plateau to the south, the Turansk Plain to the southeast, and the southern spurs of the Urals to the north. The greater part of the oblast is a plain 100–200 m high, broken by river valleys; in the central part of the oblast are the Mugodzhary Hills, of which the highest point is the Bol’shoi Baktybai (657 m). The western part of the oblast is occupied by the Urals Plateau, which becomes the Caspian Depression toward the southwest; to the southeast are the dunes of the Aral Karakums and the Malye and Bol’shie Barsuki. To the northeast the Turgai Plateau, broken by ravines, extends into Aktiubinsk Oblast.
The climate is sharply continental, arid with hot and dry summers and cold winters. In summer there are often dry winds and dust storms, while in winter there are snowstorms. In July the average temperature in the northwest is 22.5°C, in the southeast 25°C, and in January -16 and -15.5°C respectively. Precipitation in the northwest is about 300 mm a year; and in the center and south, 125–200 mm. The growing season is from 175 days in the northwest to 190 days in the southeast.
All the rivers of the oblast belong to the closed-drainage basins of the Caspian Sea and smaller lakes. The biggest rivers are the Emba, two tributaries of the Ural (the Or’ and the Ilek), the Irgiz, the Uil, the Turgai, and the Sagiz. Many of the rivers are shallow and dry up or break up into pools during the summer. There are more than 150 lakes, mostly shallow and salty, some of which form salt marshes when they dry up; Shalkarteniz, for example, is full only in spring. The shallow rivers and salty lakes are almost useless for economic purposes. Because of this there is widespread use of underground fresh water.
The northwestern part of the oblast consists of steppes, some covered by feather grass and various other grasses and others by wormwood and cereals, with chernozem and dark chestnut-colored soil and patches of salt marsh. In the river valleys are found meadowland vegetation, groves of poplars, aspen, and birches, and thickets of shrubs.
The central and the northeastern parts are cereal and wormwood dry steppe on weakly salinated light chestnut and gray earth. In the south are wormwood and salt-marsh semideserts and deserts on brown salty soils with sand dunes and salt marshes. There are many rodents (steppe lemmings, susliks, jerboas), beasts of prey (wolves, cor-sacs), and still some saiga antelopes and Central Asian gazelles.
Population About 5 percent of the population of the Kazakh SSR lives in Aktiubinsk Oblast according to the 1959 census, with Kazakhs constituting 43 percent of the population, Russians 26 percent, Ukrainians 17 percent, and Tatars 3 percent. Average population density is 1.8 per sq km. The northwestern part of the oblast is the most heavily populated, with up to ten people per sq km, while in the deserts of the southeast the density drops to 0.1 people per sq km. Urban dwellers constitute 44 percent of the total (1969). Until the October Revolution there were only three cities in the oblast: Aktiubinsk, Chelkar, and Temir. The rest of the cities and urban-type settlements developed during the Soviet period, primarily because of the exploitation of useful minerals. The health resort of Berchogur, where mud and koumiss treatment is available, is in the Mugodzhary Hills.
Economy Aktiubinsk Oblast includes both heavy industry—mainly mining, chemicals, machine building, and processing of agricultural raw materials—and agriculture, consisting mostly of sheep husbandry and grains that do not require irrigation. Between 1940 and 1968 gross industrial production of the oblast increased 17.6 times. Industrial energy is supplied by coal transported from Karaganda and natural gas from the Bukhara-Urals pipeline.
There are great reserves of useful minerals—such as large deposits of chromite, copper, nickel-cobalt ores, titanium, and gold—as well as phosphorites, oil, and natural gas. Many industries are based on these resources, including mining, chemicals, and iron alloy production. Most of the mining enterprises are concentrated in the Mugodzhary region—chromite and nickel mines are located near the city of Khromtau and the Batamshinskii urban-type settlement—and oil and gas are found in the central and the southern parts of the oblast. Most of the processing enterprises are located in or near the city of Aktiubinsk, including plants for iron alloys, chrome alloys, X-ray equipment, and agricultural machine-building; there are also mechanical and automobile repair enterprises, light industries, and food industries in Aktiubinsk proper and a chemical complex in the city of Alga (near Aktiubinsk).
Among the agricultural natural resources pasturelands clearly dominate: in 1968 out of 26.6 million hectares of agricultural land only 2 million were cultivated arable land; 500,000 were hay meadows, and 23.8 million were pasture-land, in the northern steppe region for the summer season and in the southern desert for winter. Between 1956 and 1958 more than 1.6 million hectares of virgin and long-fallow land were put under cultivation, with creation of cereal grain sovkhozes.
In 1968 there were 91 sovkhozes and 45 kolkhozes. The area under cultivation was 1,824,000 hectares, of which 1,463,000 were under grain, 700 under industrial crops (mostly sunflower), 8,400 under melons and potatoes and other vegetables, and 351,000 under fodder crops. Animal population included a high number of sheep and goats (2,597,800 in 1968), with cattle (452,600), pigs (39,200), horses (83,400), and camels (13,700). In the northwest large-scale grain farming predominates, with cultivation of drought-resistant varieties of crops, such as spring wheat, to some extent barley and millet, and sunflower. This is combined with semifenced cattle raising for meat and milk products and pig and poultry farming. On the remaining more arid territory distant-pasture animal husbandry predominates (meat and tallow and meat and wool sheep husbandry, horse and camel herding), with centers of estuary irrigation (small areas under millet, watermelons, and muskmelons). There are fisheries on Lake Shalkar.
There are about 1,140 km of railroad. The main lines are Orenburg-Aktiubinsk-Tashkent and Gur’ev-Kandagach (Oktiabrsk)-Orsk, with many feeder lines connecting with mines. The most important center of highway and air routes is Aktiubinsk. Air service connects it with Moscow, Alma-Ata, and other cities, as well as the rest of the oblast. The Gur’ev-Orsk oil pipeline and the Bukhara-Urals and Central Asia-Central Zone gas pipelines pass through the oblast.
O. R. NAZAREVSKII
Cultural affairs and public health In the 1968–69 school year the 573 general education schools had 122,300 students; 13,000 children were cared for in preschool institutions. In nine secondary special schools 6,700 students were being trained. In the pedagogical and medical institutes there were 3,700 students. There are 388 public libraries with 2,306,300 books and journals, 355 clubs, 459 movie houses, a museum of local lore, and a planetarium in Aktiubinsk.
The oblast newspapers are the Kazakh-language Kommunizm zholy (Road to Communism), published since 1932, and Put’ k kommunizmu, founded in 1919. Local radio and television stations broadcast in Kazakh and Russian; programs are also relayed from Moscow and Alma-Ata. There is a television center in Aktiubinsk.
As of Jan. 1, 1968, there were 1,009 doctors in Aktiubinsk Oblast (1 doctor per 500 inhabitants) and 5,902 hospital beds (106 beds per 10,000 inhabitants).
REFERENCESKazakhskaia SSR. Ekonomiko-geograficheskaia kharakteristika. Moscow, 1957.
Iarmukhamedov, M. Sh. Ekonomicheskaia geografiia Kazakhskoi SSR. Alma-Ata, 1964.
Zovut Aktiubinskie stepi. Alma-Ata, 1966.