Central Economic Region

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Central Economic Region


a major economic region of the USSR, encompassing Moscow, Briansk, Vladimir, Ivanovo, Kalinin, Kaluga, Kostroma, Orel, Riazan’, Smolensk, Tula, and Yaroslavl oblasts. The region has an area of 485,100 sq km. At the beginning of 1975 its population was 28.3 million; Russians accounted for 94 percent of this figure. As of Jan. 1, 1977, the Central Economic Region had 237 cities and 369 urban-type settlements. The administrative center is the capital of the Soviet Union, Moscow, with 7.8 million inhabitants. A dense network of cities and settlements around Moscow forms the city’s metropolitan area. Aside from Moscow, the region’s largest cities are, in order of population, Yaroslavl (584,000), Tula (510,000), Ivanovo (461,000), Kalinin (401,000), Briansk (385,000), Orel (289,000), Vladimir (284,000), Smolensk (264,000), Kaluga (262,000), Kostroma (250,000), and Rybinsk (237,000).

The Central Economic Region lies in the center of the European USSR. The western part of the region, which is at a higher elevation than the eastern part, contains the Valdai Hills and the Smolensk, Moscow, and Central Russian uplands; a plains relief predominates in the north and east, in the Upper Volga and Meshchera lowlands. The region has a moderate continental climate, with relatively mild winters and warm summers. A large part of the region belongs to the Volga River basin and lies primarily in the forest zone, with coniferous and broad-leaved forests. Only the region’s southern margins, in Tula and Riazan’ oblasts, cross over into the forest-steppe zone. Forests occupy about 40 percent of the region, that is, about 18 million hectares (ha).

The region’s mineral resources include the brown coals of the Moscow Coal Basin and peat. Phosphorites are found in Moscow Oblast, and iron ore in Tula Oblast. The region’s other resources include limestones, refractory and brick clays, and construction, glass, and molding sands.

Partly because of its central location at the intersection of major transportation routes in the past, the region became the location of the political and economic nucleus of the Russian state. By the 18th century a large-scale manufacturing industry and various trades and handicrafts had emerged in the region; in the second half of the 19th century this economic base fostered the rapid development of capitalist forms of industrial production. During the period of socialist construction the Central Economic Region has been the principal base for the technological modernization of the economy of the USSR. The region’s favorable location with respect to transportation, its possession of a skilled labor force and of trained scientists and engineers, and its concentration of fixed capital stock promoted the rapid growth of its diversified economy and transformed it into a major area of industrial development and scientific and technological progress. Numerous industries, scientific and scholarly institutions, and cultural and educational organizations and institutions are located in Moscow.

In the national territorial division of labor, the region is noted for its manufacturing industries, which include various types of machine building and metalworking. Also manufactured are chemical products, textiles, garments, and consumer goods. The manufacturing industries make extensive use of the resources of other economic regions.

The region receives much of its electricity from power plants fueled by coal from the Moscow, Don, and Kuznets coal basins, by natural gas, by mazut, and by peat. The principal power plants are the Kashira, Novomoskovsk, Cherepet’, Shchekino, Riazan’, Konakovo, Kostroma, and Shatura state regional power plants and the Moscow district heat and power plants. In addition, hydroelectric power plants have been built on the Upper Volga, and two large atomic power plants are under construction at Smolensk and Kalinin. Part of the region’s electricity comes from the high-capacity hydroelectric power plants of the Volga Region.

The Central Economic Region has a highly developed machine-building industry, which produces transportation equipment, electrical products, instruments, machine tools, industrial equipment, agricultural machinery, and road-building machinery. The predominant types of machine building are those that contribute to the technological development of the country’s economy. Numerous products are designed, planned, and manufactured on an experimental basis and are then turned over, together with the production technology, to other regions of the country for lot and mass production. Such products include electronic goods, control computers, computing machines, automatic transfer machines, automatic machine tools, instruments, and tools.

The principal center of machine building is Moscow. Many of the capital’s production associations cooperate on a large scale with enterprises located in the Moscow area and in other oblasts of the region, where numerous branches of the associations have been established. Other leading producers of machinery are Yaroslavl (engines), Ivanovo (machinery for the textile and peat industries), Tula (agricultural machinery and metalwork), Vladimir (tractors), Kalinin (railroad cars), Briansk (diesel locomotives, diesel locomotive engines, and railroad cars), Kolomna (diesel locomotive engines and machine tools), Riazan’ (machine tools and radio-electronic equipment), Elektrostal’ (heavy machine building products), Rybinsk (machinery for the construction and printing industries), Kaluga (transportation equipment), Kovrov (motorcycles and excavators), and Smolensk (electrical products).

Machine building draws on the region’s metallurgical industry, chiefly the Novotul’skii and Kosaia Gora plants, the Serp i Molot Moscow Metallurgical Plant, and plants in the cities of Elektrostal’ and Stupino. The local metallurgical industry meets only one-tenth the region’s need for rolled products and one-fifth of the need for ferrous metals. The remainder is brought from the Ural, Donets-Dnieper, and Central Chernozem regions. The Central Economic Region ships approximately 80 percent of its machine-building and metalworking output to other economic regions of the country and to 60 foreign countries.

The textile industry uses nonlocal raw materials, except for flax and chemical fibers. More so than in other regions, it is oriented toward the production of high-quality consumer articles. Major centers of concentration of the textile industry have existed for many years in the oblasts of the Central Economic Region. The cotton industry is concentrated in Ivanovo Oblast (Ivanovo, Shuia, Furmanov, and Vichuga), Moscow Oblast (Moscow, Reutov, Orekhovo-Zuevo, Shchelkovo, Ozery, and Serpukhov), Kalinin Oblast (Kalinin and Vyshnii Volochek), and Vladimir Oblast (Kovrov, Lakinsk, and Strunino). Linen is produced mainly in Kostroma Oblast (Kostroma and Nerekhta), Vladimir Oblast (Viazniki, Murom, and Melenki), Ivanovo Oblast (Puchezh and Privolzhsk), and Yaroslavl Oblast (Yaroslavl and Tutaev). The wool industry is centered in Moscow Oblast (Moscow, Kupavna, Pavlovskii Posad, Monino, and Dmitrov), as is the silk industry (Moscow and the surrounding area). The prevalent form of organization is the large production association with a fairly broad distribution of branches in small cities and rural settlements; these branches are particularly numerous in Ivanovo and Vladimir oblasts. The region ships out more than half of its textile output.

The leading producers of leather goods and footwear—Kalinin, Kimry, Taldom, and Kaliazin—are long-established centers. Large footwear factories have been built in Moscow, Yaroslavl, Smolensk, Briansk, Orel, Egor’evsk, Klintsy, and Zaraisk.

The Central Economic Region occupies a leading position in the development of the chemical and petrochemical industry. The mining of chemical raw materials is represented by the extraction of phosphorites at deposits in Moscow Oblast (Egor’evsk) and Briansk Oblast (Polpinskoe). Products include mineral fertilizers, plastic goods, and chemical fibers. Numerous plants manufacture pharmaceuticals, paints, varnishes, chemical reagents, substances of high purity, photographic chemicals, and consumer chemical products.

The production of consumer goods is highly developed. The region’s enterprises for the production of glass, porcelain, and earthenware have long been famous; they are concentrated north of Moscow (Klin, Verbilki, and Konakovo), in Meshchera (Gus’-Khrustal’nyi and Likino-Dulevo), near Briansk (Diat’kovo and Star’), and in the vicinity of Vyshnyi Volochek (Velikooktiabr’-skii and Krasnomaiskii).

In the Central Economic Region are located the country’s principal centers of the printing industry; large enterprises are in Moscow, Kalinin, Chekhov, and Smolensk.

The building-materials, wood-products and food-processing industries are of importance within the region. The building-materials industry has a particularly high output.

Agriculture is oriented toward production for the urban market and provides the population with agricultural products that are difficult to ship, such as milk, vegetables, potatoes, and meat. In 1975 agricultural land occupied 22 million ha, that is, 45 percent of the region’s total area; 15 million ha was sown to crops, and 3.6 million ha was pasture. The southern part of the region—Orel, Tula, Riazan’, and Briansk oblasts—is the most heavily farmed. In 1976,14.5 million ha were planted to crops: 52 percent to grain, 4 percent to industrial crops, 9 percent to potatoes and vegetables, and 35 percent to feed crops. Grain crops, primarily winter rye and wheat, are common in the southern oblasts, where they grow alongside large fields of legumes, potatoes, and sugar beets. The leading crop in the north and west is flax, but grains, legumes, and potatoes are also raised. The region leads the country in output of flax fiber (109,000 tons in 1976), potatoes (10.2 million tons), and vegetables (1.5 million tons).

Animal husbandry is oriented toward meat and dairy production; the high-yield Yaroslavl and Kostroma breeds are the most common. Swine raising is also important. In 1976 the livestock population included 8.8 million cattle, 3.8 million hogs, and 3.4 million sheep and goats. In that year the region produced 9 million tons of whole-milk products, 1 million tons of meat, and 6.2 billion eggs.

Industrialized agricultural enterprises have developed extensively around Moscow and many oblast and industrial centers; they include poultry farms, feedlot complexes for hogs and cattle, and dairy farms.

The Central Economic Region has an extensive transportation system with a radial-ring configuration. The region has 13,000 km of railroads, approximately 50,000 km of hard-surface roads, 5,500 km of navigable waterways and several thousand kilometers of trunk natural-gas and petroleum pipelines.

The heart of the transportation system is the Moscow transportation junction, which includes 11 railroad main lines and 15 highways extending in all directions from Moscow, as well as six trunk natural-gas pipelines joined by circular connecting pipelines, two petroleum pipelines, three river ports, and four large airports.

Several railroad main lines and highways encircle the Moscow transportation junction at various distances, an arrangement that facilitates the flow of freight and influences the territorial organization of production throughout the region. The radial-ring transportation system exerts a considerable influence on the industrial centers and urban-type settlements near Moscow that are served by the system and on the adjacent agricultural zones. It determines the specialization and the integrated economic development of these centers, settlements and zones in accordance with the region’s intricate system of economic links with other economic regions.

Most raw materials enter the region from the north and east. Apatite concentrate, wood, and wood products are shipped from the northern European USSR. Natural gas comes from the Komi ASSR, Tiumen’ Oblast, Orenburg Oblast, and Middle Asia, and petroleum from the Volga Region and the Komi ASSR. Hard coal is brought from the Kuznetsk Coal Basin, nonferrous metals from the Urals and Siberia, ferrous metals from the Urals, cotton from Middle Asia, and wool and leather from Kazakhstan and Siberia. The region also receives raw materials from the south, including natural gas from the Northern Caucasus, hard coal from the Donbas, and ferrous metals from the Ukraine. The Central Economic Region ships various types of industrial output to the country’s other economic regions; these products include machinery, instruments, equipment, chemicals, fabrics, clothing, and footwear.


Tsentral’nyi ekonomicheskii raion. Moscow, 1973.
Gokhberg, M. Ia., and N. A. Solov’ev. Problemy razvitiia i razmeshcheniia proizvoditel’nykh sil Tsentral’nogo raiona. Moscow, 1975.
Mints, A. A. Tsentral’nyi raion: Ekonomiko-geograficheskii ocherk. Moscow, 1963.
Rossiiskaia Federatsiia: Tsentral’naia Rossiia. Moscow, 1970. (In the Sovetskii Soiuz series.)


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