Brest Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Brest Oblast


an administrative unit of the Byelorussian SSR. Organized Dec. 4, 1939. Brest Oblast is located in the southwest of the republic near the USSR-Polish border. Area, 32, 300 sq km; population, 1, 295, 000 (1970). Brest Oblast is divided into 16 raions, and it has 14 cities and 15 urban-type settlements. The administrative center is the city of Brest.

Natural features. Brest Oblast is located in the western part of the East European Plain, in broad-leaved and pine and broad-leaved forest subzones. The southern and southeastern regions are covered by the western part of Poles’e, a marshy flat depression with scattered morainic ridges, from which rises the Zagorod’e range (maximum elevation, 173 m) west of Pinsk. In the northwest, the Poles’e lowland gradually passes into the gently rolling terrain of the Bug area lowland. To the northeast, the Poles’e passes into the Baranovichi plains.

The climate is temperately continental, with mild winters and moderately warm summers. The average temperature of the coldest month, January, is -4.5° C in the southwest and -5.5° C in the northeast; the average for the warmest month, July, is 18.5° C. The annual precipitation fluctuates between 550 and 650 mm, decreasing from northeast to southwest. The growing season lasts 195 to 205 days. The river network belongs to the Dnieper, Neman, and Bug basins. The most important river, the Pripiat’ (flowing into the Dnieper), and its tributaries, including the Styr’, Goryn’, Pina, and Iasel’da rivers, have great economic and transport importance. Through the Dnieper-Bug Canal and the Mukhavets River these rivers are connected with the Bug. They are also important as water receptors for the numerous drainage canals being used to reclaim the marshlands. The Poles’e has many lakes, of which the largest are Vygonovskoe, Chernoe, Sporovskoe, and Bobrovitskoe.

Weakly podzolic sandy soils and peat and peat-bog soils predominate in the southern and eastern Poles’e regions. Sizable sections of podzolic turf gley soils are found west of Pinsk. Fertile humus-carbonate soils are found in the southeast (Stolin Raion). Podzolic turf-loam soils and sandy-loam soils on morainic deposits are more common in the west and north. Mineral resources include peat, bog iron ore, chalk, various clays, and vitreous sand. Large peat-bog tracts are located in the southeast of the oblast (in the Drogichin, Ivanovo, Pinsk, and Luninets raions).

About 35 percent of the territory of the oblast is covered by forests. The main forest masses are in the northeast and east (where the forest area in some raions reaches 40 or 50 percent). Pine accounts for 54 percent, birch for 18 percent, alder for 18 percent, and oak for 5 percent of the forest trees. Mixed coniferous and broad-leaved forests predominate; there are many pine groves. Marshes are widely distributed (covering 20.2 percent of the territory of the oblast); of these 93.2 percent are lowland bogs.

Fauna is primarily that characteristic of mixed forests. Game animals are represented by the rabbit, squirrel, fox, raccoon dog, marten, and otter; fowl include the hazel hen, capercaillie, and black grouse. The beaver is under protection. In the northwest of the oblast is the Belovezh Forest, a state sanctuary for the aurochs, red deer, roe, boar, and other valuable animals.

Population. Byelorussians constitute 86 percent of the population (1959 census). Russians (7.4 percent), Poles (3.5 percent), Ukrainians (2.2 percent), and Jews (0.5 percent) also live in the oblast. The average population density is 40.1 persons per sq km. The northern and southern parts of the oblast are the most densely populated, with the eastern, central, and some western Poles’e areas being more sparsely populated. About 35 percent (1970) of the population is urban. The most important cities and towns are Brest (population, 122, 000), Baranovichi, Pinsk, Kobrin, Luninets, and Pruzhany. The new cities of Ivatsevichi and Drogichin have grown up.

Economy. The structure of industrial production is characterized by the predominance of food processing (35 percent), light industry (33 percent), metalworking (12 percent), and forestry and woodworking (8 percent). The production of building materials and the peat industry are also significant. Before Brest was joined to the Byelorussian SSR (in 1939), its economy consisted of backward agriculture and petty cottage enterprises for the processing of agricultural raw materials and lumber. Despite the tremendous losses inflicted on the economy of Brest Oblast by the fascist German invaders from 1941 to 1944, total gross industrial output in 1969 exceeded the output of 1940 by 21 times. The share of Brest Oblast in the industrial output of the Byelorussian SSR reached 10 percent in 1969. Brest Oblast produced (in 1969) 100 percent of all the Byelorussian SSR’s output of gas stoves, 82 percent of its output of cotton cloth, 53 percent of its knitted outerwear, and 40 percent of its electrical energy. The Bereza State Regional Electric Power Plant has been completed. The chief type of local fuel is peat (Brest Oblast ranks third in Byelorussia for peat reserves). The Berezovskoe and Kolpenitsa peat enterprises are noteworthy. Natural gas, received via the Dashava-Minsk pipeline, and coal from the L’vov-Volyn’ basin are of great importance in the fuel balance of the oblast.

The machine-building and metalworking industries have been reconstructed; they are represented by plants specializing in motor vehicle repair; the production of milling equipment; the manufacture of business machines (Baranovichi), gas equipment, electrical lighting fixtures (Brest), and instruments (Kobrin); ship repair (Pinsk); and excavators (Pinsk). The lumber and woodworking industries have become highly mechanized. There are furniture factories (Brest, Baranovichi, and Pinsk), a plywood and matchstick combine (Pinsk), and a ski factory (Telekhany).

The production of building materials has been developed significantly: bricks, prefabricated reinforced concrete (Brest and Baranovichi), lime (Bereza), facing and facade ceramics (Goryn’), slate, and soft roofing. The lumber mill in Ivatsevichi produces wood-chip panels. In the postwar period paint and lacquer production and a wood chemicals industry were organized. Light industry has been greatly developed. A cotton combine went into operation in Baranovichi in 1963. A rug combine and a hosiery factory have been built in Brest and a knitted outerwear factory in Pinsk; there are knitted goods, garment, and shoe factories in Brest, Baranovichi, and Pinsk, a cloth mill in Brest, and an artificial leather factory in Pinsk.

A varied food-processing industry has been developed, supplied by local agricultural produce. There are meat combines in Brest, Baranovichi, and Pinsk; a poultry combine in Kobrin; grain mills in Baranovichi, Pinsk, and Brest; fruit and vegetable canneries in Kobrin, Liakhovichi, Malorit, and Gantsevichi; creameries, starch and molasses factories, distilleries, wineries, and breweries located in many raions; and a sugar refinery in Zhabinka.

In 1970 the oblast had 323 kolkhozes and 65 sovkhozes. Agricultural lands constitute 1, 482, 700 hectares (ha), or 45.1 percent of all land resources in the oblast, with 25.2 percent represented by ploughed land, 9.9 percent by hayfields, and 9.4 percent by pasture lands. The agricultural land resources are characterized by their excessive moisture content and marshiness. In 1969 the area of drained lands at the disposal of kolkhozes and sovkhozes amounted to 306, 100 ha, of which 290, 200 ha are used in agricultural production. Sub-drainage predominates.

The sown area of all agricultural crops amounted to 802, 300 ha in 1969 (almost 34 percent more than in 1940). Grain crops account for 45.9 percent (17.9 percent being rye and 11.7 percent being wheat); industrial crops, 5.8 percent; potatoes and vegetables, 18.5 percent; and feed crops, 29.8 percent. Flax acreage increased in the postwar years, and sugar beet production was developed. The oblast occupies fifth place in the Byelorussian SSR for potato fields. The potato crop has particularly expanded in suburban zones and around distilleries and starch and molasses factories. In animal husbandry, which occupies a leading place in agriculture (accounting for over 60 percent of the commercial products of the kolkhozes and sovkhozes), the chief role belongs to the raising of horned cattle (milk and meat) and pigs. On Jan. 1, 1970, the livestock population of the oblast was as follows: 767, 900 cattle (including 388, 200 cows), 504, 300 pigs, and 114, 800 sheep and goats. There were 53 head of cattle (including 27 cows) and 61 pigs per 100 ha of agricultural land.

The chief form of transport is by rail. The total length of railroad lines in 1969 was 1, 050 km. Major railroad main lines—Moscow-Brest, Gomel’-Brest, and Vilnius-Rovno—crisscross the territory of Brest Oblast in various directions. Motor vehicle transport occupies second place in total freight hauling and first place in passenger transport. In 1968 there were 10, 500 km of motor roads, of which 3, 000 km were hardtop roads (including the Moscow-Brest main highway).

River transport plays an important role, especially in hauling of transit loads, Three-fourths of all the river tonnage of the republic is shipped via the Pripiat’ Rive., Dnieper-Bug Canal, and Mukhavets River.

The Friendship oil pipeline crosses the territory of the oblast from east to west, and the Dashava-Minsk gas pipeline crosses from southwest to northeast. Air transportation connecting Brest and Pinsk with Minsk and other large cities in the country is being developed.


Education, cultural affairs, and public health. In the 1968-69 school year, there were 268, 800 students in 1, 620 general-educational schools of all types, 8, 000 students in 15 vocational-technical schools and training institutions, 19, 200 students in 18 specialized secondary institutions, and 6, 100 students in two higher educational institutions (engineering-construction and pedagogical institutes in Brest). In 1968 there were about 20, 000 children in 310 kindergartens and nursery schools.

Brest Oblast has (Jan. 1, 1970) 1, 181 general libraries (with total resources of about 8 million books and journals), 772 clubs, and 957 movie projectors; the Byelorussian Komsomol Brest Theater; and museums, including museums of local lore in Brest (oblast), Baranovichi, Pinsk, and Stolina, the museum of the defense of Brest fortress, the historical-revolutionary museum in Bereza, the A. V. Suvorov Military-Historical Museum in Kobrin, and the Belovezh Forest Nature Museum (Kamenets Raion).

The oblast newspaper Zaria has been published since 1939. Oblast radio and television stations broadcast in Byelorussian and Russian; they also retransmit broadcasts from Minsk and Moscow. There is a television center in Brest.

On Jan. 1, 1970, there were 2, 300 doctors (that is, one doctor for every 554 people) and 12, 300 hospital beds (that is, 95 beds for every 10, 000 people).


Akinchits, A. S. Brestskaia oblast’. Minsk, 1962.
Geografiia Belorussii. Minsk, 1965.
Ekonomicheskaia geografia BSSR. Minsk, 1967.
Belorussiia. Moscow, 1967.
Rashevskii, N. Belorusskaia SSR: Brestskaia oblast’. Minsk, 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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There was a performance of the Presidential Orchestra and the National Academic People's Orchestra named after Iosif Zhinovich conducted by Viktor Babarikin with the state flag of Belarus brought in by 14 children in national costumes representing the six regions of the country - Brest Oblast, Vitebsk Oblast, Gomel Oblast, Grodno Oblast, Minsk Oblast, Mogilev Oblast - and the city of Minsk.