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Jewish Autonomous Region

Jewish Autonomous Region or Birobidzhan (bērōbējänˈ), autonomous region (1995 pop. 211,900), c.13,800 sq mi (35,700 sq km), Khabarovsk Territory, Russian Far East, in the basins of the Biro and Bidzhan rivers, tributaries of the Amur. The capital is Birobidzhan. The region is bounded on the south by China (Heilongjinag prov.) and on the north by the Bureya and Hinggan (Khingan) mts., which yield gold, tin, iron ore, and graphite. Mining, agriculture (chiefly on the Amur plain), lumbering, and light manufacturing are the major economic activities.

Formed in 1928 to give Soviet Jews a home territory and to increase settlement along the vulnerable borders of the Soviet Far East, the area was raised to the status of an autonomous region in 1934. The Jewish population peaked in 1948 at about 30,000 (one fourth of the total population). Despite some remaining Yiddish influences—including a Yiddish newspaper—Jewish cultural activity in the region has declined enormously since Stalin's anticosmopolitanism campaigns and since the liberalization of Jewish emigration in the 1970s. Jews now make up less than 2% of the region's population.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(named for the Bira and Bidzhan rivers), a city, center of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai, RSFSR. Located on the Bira River (tributary of the Amur). Railroad station on the Trans-Siberian Railway, 175 km west of Khabarovsk. Population, 56,000 (1970; in 1939, 30,000). There is light industry (production of knit and sewn articles, footwear, and others). The Dal’sel’mash Agricultural Machinery Plant and a power transformer plant are located in Birobidzhan, as are enterprises of the woodworking and food industries. There are evening mechanical and mechanical engineering technicums and medical, pedagogical, and cultural enlightenment colleges. There is a museum of regional studies and two national theaters (Jewish and Russian). Birobidzhan arose in 1928 on the location of the small Tikhon’kaia station. It has been a city since 1937.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


, Birobijan
1. a city in SE Russia: capital of the Jewish Autonomous Region. Pop.: 82 000 (1994)
2. another name for the Jewish Autonomous Region
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005