Bukhara Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bukhara Oblast


part of the Uzbek SSR. Formed on Jan. 15, 1938. Located in the central part of the republic. Area, 143,200 sq km (about 32 percent of the area of the Uzbek SSR); population (1970), 934,000 (7.8 percent of the population of the republic). Bukhara Oblast has 11 raions, three cities, and nine urban-type settlements. Its center is the city of Bukhara.

Natural features. The terrain of the oblast is an undulating plain, inclined slightly to the northwest; for the most part, it occupies the Kyzyl Kum desert, with sand hills and ridges secured by vegetation, and isolated elevations—Mounts Tamdytau (elevation to 922 m), Bukantau (elevation to 764 m), Kul’dzhuktau (785 m), and others. The broad valley of the Zeravshan River is located in the southern section of the oblast. The climate is markedly continental. The average January temperature varies from −8 ° C in the north to −2 ° C in the south. Summers are long, hot, and dry; the average July temperature is 28°-30° C. The frost-free period is 217 days. Annual precipitation is 125-175 mm. The main river, the Zeravshan, disappears in the sands in its lower course, forming salt lakes. The Amu Darya runs along the oblast’s border with the Turkmen SSR in the west; its waters, like those of the Zeravshan, are used for irrigation.

In the irrigated regions (1.6 percent of the land supply), there are meadow, alluvial, and swampy-meadow soils; light sierozems (gray desert soils), sandy, and gypsiferous soils predominate in desert-pasture regions. The desert has shrubs (Calligonum, Astragalus, and others), ephemerals and ephemeroids (sand sedge, viviparous meadow grass), grasses (Selinum, wheat-grass, and brome), and saxaul forests. Animals encountered in the desert include the Persian and saiga antelopes, wolves, corsac fox, numerous rodents (suslik, jerboa, sand eel), and reptiles (lizards, snakes, and tortoises); birds include the saxaul jay, desert warbler, and steppe grouse.

Population. Uzbeks make up the bulk of the population (75 percent according to the 1959 census); Russians, Kazakhs, Tatars, Tadzhiks, Kara-Kalpaks, Turkomans, Jews, and others also live here. The average population density is 6.5 persons per sq km (1970); nine-tenths of the population inhabits the irrigated Zeravshan valley (densities up to 100 per sq km). The proportion of the urban population is 31 percent; cities include Bukhara, Kagan, and Navoi.

Economy. During the Soviet regime, Bukhara Oblast has become a developed industrial-agrarian region. The oblast’s industry is based on the treatment and processing of seed cotton and other agricultural raw materials and the exploitation of minerals—natural gas, petroleum, precious metals, and building materials. The gross industrial output in 1969 had grown by a factor of 4.7 compared to 1940. Light industry includes cotton ginning, silk-reeling, knitwear, garments, and shoes; food industry includes butter and fat, fruit and vegetable canning, wine-making, and meat and dairy. A karakul farm is in operation in Bukhara, and a cotton-textile combine is under construction (1971).

With the discovery of extremely rich deposits of natural gas in the 1950’s, Bukhara Oblast has become one of the major regions for the fuel/power engineering and chemical industries in the USSR. The Bukhara-Khiva gas- and oil-bearing province is the site of 71.6 percent of the known natural-gas reserves of Uzbekistan. The largest deposits are those of Gazli, Uchkyr, Urtabulak, Dzharkak, Karaulbazar, and Sary-Tash. The total balanced reserves of gas amount to 855 billion cu m. In 1969, 27.5 billion cu m of gas (89 percent of the total gas extracted in the Uzbek SSR) and 445,000 tons of petroleum (24.7 percent) were extracted in the oblast. Gas pipelines have been laid from Bukhara Oblast to the Urals and the Central Zone, as well as to southern Kazakhstan and Kirghizia via Tashkent. The Navoi State Regional Electric Power Plant was put into service in 1963. During 1969, 2, 905, 200,000 kilowatt-hours (kW-hr) of electric power were produced in Bukhara Oblast (24.6 million kW-hr in 1940); the oblast is second in the republic (after Tashkent Oblast) in terms of production of electric power (18.4 percent). The operation of the Navoi Chemical Combine (which produces nitrogen fertilizers and other products) is based on the comprehensive utilization of natural gas and cheap electric power. Graphite (the Tas-Kazgan deposit), bentonites (Azkamar), gypsum (Mama-Dzhurgata), and other building materials are mined in the oblast. The extremely rich Muryntau gold deposit was discovered in the Central Kyzyl Kum in 1958. There are building-materials enterprises in Navoi, Bukhara, Kagan, and other cities.

The agriculture of Bukhara Oblast produces 9.5 percent of the gross agricultural output of the republic. The main branches are cotton-growing, sericulture, and karakul raising. Almost all farming is on irrigated land. Under the Soviet regime, a system of irrigation canals has been built (Shakhrud, Kanimekh, Shafirkan, and Amu-Karakul’) and the Kuiumazar Reservoir was created. The large Amu-Bukhara mechanized canal has been built. Bukhara Oblast has 111 kolkhozes and 26 sovkhozes (1969). Land under cultivation accounts for only 1.8 percent (217, 400 ha in 1969) of the land supply; the rest is used primarily as pasture. Cotton occupies 73 percent of the sown area. In 1969, 402,000 tons of seed cotton was harvested—10.4 percent of the state purchases of the republic. Between 1950 and 1969, the production of cotton increased from 15.8 to 25.2 centners per ha. Alfalfa is sown (14.2 percent of the plowed area). Cereals cover only 8.5 percent of the sown area. Vegetable and melon crops are raised. Orchards and vineyards occupy more than 11,000 ha.

Bukhara Oblast is the largest karakul-raising region of the USSR. Thirteen karakul-raising sovkhozes and pedigree farms have been established; many kolkhozes also engage in karakul raising. The livestock population as of Jan. 1, 1970, was as follows: sheep and goats, 1, 662, 700 heads; cattle, 247, 400; and swine, 8,000. Silkworm breeding is well developed (11.8 percent of the silk cocoons in the republic).

The total length of railroads is 648 km (1969). The Tashkent-Krasnovodsk and Kagan-Dushanbe lines pass through Bukhara Oblast. The oblast has access to the Aral Sea through the Chardzhou-Kungrad railroad line. There are 2, 656 km of automobile roads.


Cultural construction and public health. In 1969 there were 55, 600 children in preschool institutions. During the 1969-70 academic year there were 248, 100 students in 777 general-educational schools, 7, 300 in nine technicums, and 10, 400 in the pedagogical institute in Bukhara. A general-technical department of the Tashkent Polytechnical Institute is in operation in Navoi. As of Jan. 1, 1970, a musical drama and comedy theater, 581 people’s libraries (over 26,000 copies of books and magazines), 311 club institutions, 382 motion-picture projectors, and a museum of local lore were in operation in Bukhara. There are numerous monuments of Middle Asian culture; among them is the mausoleum of Ismail Samani (ninth to tenth centuries).

The oblast newspapers Bukhoro khakikati (Bukhara Pravda; in Uzbek, since 1920) and Sovetskaia Bukhara (Soviet Bukhara; since 1938) are published. Oblast radio and television broadcasting is in Uzbek and Russian, with two radio and two television channels; in addition, broadcasts are relayed from Tashkent and Moscow.

On Jan. 1, 1970, there were over 1,000 doctors in Bukhara Oblast (that is, one doctor for every 903 residents); there were 7, 500 hospital beds (about eight per thousand residents).


Uzbekistan. Moscow, 1967. (Sovetskii Soiuz series.)
Narodnoe khoziaistvo Uzbekskoi SSR v 1967: Statisticheskii ezhegodnik. Tashkent, 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.