part of the Turkmen SSR. Formed on Dec. 14, 1970 (existed earlier from Nov. 21, 1939, through Jan. 10, 1963). Located in the eastern part of the republic. Area, 93,800 sq km. Population, 565,000 (Jan. 1, 1977). Chardzhou Oblast is divided into 11 raions and has two cities and 22 urbantype settlements. The administrative center is the city of Chardzhou. The oblast was awarded the Order of Lenin on Jan. 10, 1974.
Natural features. Chardzhou Oblast lies along the middle course of the Amu Darya. The area along the left bank is occupied by part of the Karakum, which in the extreme southwest adjoins the northern periphery of the Karabil’ Uplands. The northwestern part of the area along the right bank is occupied by the periphery of the Kyzylkum. The sands of the Sundukli lie in the central part of the oblast, and part of the Kugitangtau Range, with elevations to 3,139 m, occupies the southeast.
The climate is markedly continental and extremely arid. Summers are hot, and winters moderately cold; the average July temperature is 29.5°C, and the average January temperature ranges from –4° to 2°C. Annual precipitation ranges from 100 mm in the north at Dargan-Ata to 160 mm in the southeast at Kerki. The growing season lasts 203–235 days. The oblast’s principal river is the Amu Darya, whose waters are used extensively for irrigation.
The soils of the desert regions are sierozems, solonchaks, and takyr-like soils. The Amu Darya valley has meadow sierozems, alluvial-meadow soils, and cultivated and irrigated soils; the mountains have light sierozems, mountain cinnamon-colored soils, and mountain meadow soils. The sparse vegetation of the desert expanses includes sand sedge, the saxaul Haloxylon persicum, Ammodendron, and Calligonum. In the Amu Darya valley there is tugai (gallery-forest) vegetation, including Euphrates poplar, willow, cattail, licorice, and Elaeagnus. There are juniper forests in the mountains.
The deserts are inhabited by such mammals as the goitered gazelle, the African wildcat (Felis libyca), Felis margarita, fox, wolf, golden jackal, and various rodents, including gerbils and susliks. The desert contains such birds as Pander’s ground jay and the white-winged woodpecker, and reptiles are represented by snakes, lizards, and turtles. Mammals encountered in the Amu Darya valley include the Bukhara deer and wild boar.
Population. According to the 1970 census, Turkmens constituted 68.8 percent of the oblast’s population, Russians, 12.5 percent, and Uzbeks, 11.2 percent; the oblast is also inhabited by such peoples as Tatars, Ukrainians, and Kazakhs. The average population density is six persons per sq km (Jan. 1, 1977) and ranges from less than one person per sq km in the Karakum to 100 persons per sq km in parts of the Amu Darya valley. As of Jan. 1, 1977, the urban population made up 46 percent of the total. The oblast’s cities are Chardzhou and Kerki.
Economy. The economy of Chardzhou Oblast is dominated by light industry and the food-processing industry, which is devoted to the processing of agricultural products. Of particular importance are cotton ginning, silk winding, the initial processing of Karakul sheepskins, and the production of vegetable oil. The extraction of natural gas and sulfur and the production of mineral fertilizers are developing rapidly. The oblast’s largest enterprises are located in Chardzhou, and there are cotton-ginning mills in Kerki, Kerkichi, Moskovsk, Saiat, and Sakar. Kerki has a meatpacking plant, a carpet factory, and a repair shop for agricultural machinery; a sulfur plant is located in Gaurdak. A large petrochemical complex is being built north of Chardzhou.
Of the total land, 1.8 percent is under cultivation, and 76.3 percent is pastureland. As of Jan. 1, 1977, the oblast had 81 kolkhozes and eight sovkhozes. Agriculture is based on irrigation farming: large tracts of land are irrigated directly from the Amu Darya and from such canals as the Karakum, Bosaga-Kerki, and Karabekaul. The principal crop grown on irrigated land is long-staple and medium-staple cotton. The total sown area in 1976 was 161,100 hectares (ha), of which 100,900 ha were planted to cotton; in that year 250,000 tons of raw cotton were harvested. The cotton yield is 29.1 quintals per ha, as compared to 21.3 quintals per ha for the republic as a whole. Perennial grasses, including medic, take up 23,300 ha and are used in crop rotation with cotton. Grains, including maize, Sorghum cernuum, and barley, occupy 18,600 ha; melons and gourds, including the famous Guliabi varieties, occupy 4,700 ha; and vegetables occupy 2,500 ha. There is viticulture and the cultivation of such fruits as peaches, apricots, apples, and pears.
Animal husbandry is dominated by the raising of Karakul sheep in desert regions and of cattle and swine in areas along the Amu Darya. As of Jan. 1, 1977, the livestock population included 910,000 sheep and goats, 180,000 cattle (including 65,000 cows), and 38,000 swine. Chardzhou Oblast is the principal sericultural region of the Turkmen SSR.
In 1976 the oblast had 680 km of railroads; it is crossed by the Krasnovodsk-Tashkent, Chardzhou-Kungrad-Makat, and Karshi-Dushanbe lines. In 1976 there were 2,324 km of roads, including 1,613 km of hard-surface roads. The principal motor-vehicle routes are Chardzhou-Mary, Chardzhou-Tashauz, and Chardzhou-Kerki. There is navigation on the Amu Darya and the Karakum Canal; the main landings are at Kerkichi and Chardzhou. The city of Chardzhou is linked by air with various cities, including Moscow and the major cities of Middle Asia and the Caucasus.
Education, cultural affairs, and public health. In 1914 the territory that is now Chardzhou Oblast had 2 general-education schools, with a total of 430 students, and no secondary or higher educational institutions. In the 1976–77 academic year there were 386 general-education schools of all types, with 146,800 students, and nine vocational-technical educational institutions, with more than 5,000 students; in the latter category were six secondary vocational-technical educational institutions, with 3,702 students. There were seven specialized secondary educational institutions, with 3,900 students; in addition, 6,100 students attended the Turkmen Pedagogical Institute. In 1976 more than 29,900 children were enrolled in 259 preschool institutions.
As of Jan. 1,1977, the oblast’s educational and cultural institutions and facilities included 361 public libraries, with 1,786,000 copies of books and periodicals; a museum of history and local lore in Chardzhou; 259 clubs; 322 motion-picture projection units; and 23 extracurricular institutions.
Chardzhou Oblast has two oblast-level newspapers: the Turkmen-language Lenin yolï (Leninist Path), founded in 1931, and the Russian-language Chardzhouskaia pravda, founded in 1938. Two programs of All-Union Radio are broadcast for a total of 19 hours daily; they are supplemented by republic and oblast broadcasts in Turkmen and Russian, which are transmitted for a total of 24 hours daily. With regard to television, the program East of Central Television is broadcast for 12.9 hours daily, the Orbita system carries broadcasts for 8 hours daily, and republic broadcasts are offered in Russian, Kazakh, and Turkmen for 24 hours daily.
As of Jan. 1,1977, the oblast had 52 hospitals, with 5,800 beds, or 10.2 beds per 1,000 inhabitants; there were 1,500 physicians, or one physician per 388 inhabitants. Chardzhou Oblast has a children’s sanatorium.
REFERENCESTurkmenistan. Moscow, 1969. (In the series Sovetskii Soiuz.)
Narodnoe khoziaistvo Turkmenskoi SSR v 1974: Statisticheskii ezhegodnik. Ashkhabad, 1976.