Donetsk Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Donetsk Oblast


(until 1961, Stalino Oblast), a part of the Ukrainian SSR. Located in the southeastern region of the Ukrainian SSR. Formed on July 17, 1932. Area, 26,500 sq km. Population, 4,934,000 (1971). Donetsk Oblast is divided into 18 raions and has 49 cities and 139 urban-type settlements. Its center is the city of Donetsk. The oblast has been awarded two Orders of Lenin (Feb. 26, 1958, and Dec. 2, 1970).

Natural features. Donetsk Oblast is occupied primarily by a gently rolling plain (maximum elevation, 200 m) dissected by ravines and gullies. The northeastern part of the oblast is occupied by the Donets Ridge, which runs into the Azov Upland to the south. The upland declines as it approaches the Sea of Azov and ends sharply in a precipitous bank (as high as 20 m). Donetsk Oblast possesses extremely abundant reserves of high-quality coal (anthracites and coking coals), deposits of which make up part of the Donbas, as well as large industrial reserves of rock salts (the Artem deposit), fluxing and construction limestones, marls, gypsum, refractory clays, and mercury (the Nikitov deposit).

The climate is moderately continental. The average January temperature ranges from -7.8° C in the northeast to -5.4° C in the south, and the average July temperature ranges from 20.8° C in the northeast to 22.8° C in the south. The annual precipitation ranges from 450 mm in the south to 500 mm in the area of the Donets Ridge. During the spring there are dry winds and sometimes dust storms. The principal rivers include the Severskii Donets (with its tributaries, the Kazennyi Torets, Bakhmut, and Lugan’), Samara, Volch’ia, Kal’mius, andGruzskii Elanchik. Many of the streams in the oblast dry up during the summer. In order to supply the population and industrial enterprises with water, a number of reservoirs have been constructed, as well as the Severskii Donets-Donbas Canal. The ninth five-year plan provides for the continued construction of the Dnieper-Donbas Canal.

Fertile soils prevail—chernozems with light and medium humus contents. There is a narrow band of weakly saline chernozems and solonets. Donetsk Oblast is located in the steppe zone. The steppes are cultivated, and sections of steppe vegetation are preserved only in reserves. Bay and oak forests are found in some areas (for example, in the Donets Ridge), and there are pine forests along the banks of the Severskii Donets. Typical of the oblast’s fauna are rodents, as well as European hares and foxes. Birds include steppe and field larks, the great bustard, and the little bustard.

Population. Donetsk Oblast was settled by Ukrainians, who made up 53.1 percent of the population in 1970. The population also includes Russians (40.6 percent), Greeks (1.9 percent), Byelorussians (1.6 percent), and Jews (0.8 percent). The average population density is 186.2 inhabitants per sq km (1971). Donetsk Oblast is one of the most densely populated and highly industrialized regions of the USSR, with a high degree of urbanization. (The urban population is 4.3 million, or 88 percent.) Associated with industrial development was the establishment of several major urban complexes, including Donetsk-Makeevka, Gorlovka-Enakievo, and Kramatorsk-Konstantinovka. The most important cities are Donetsk, Makeevka Zhdanov, Gorlovka, Kramatorsk, and Slaviansk. Since 1939 a number of new cities have been built, including Shakhtersk, Avdeevka, Kirovskoe, Dobropol’e, Ukrainsk, Gorniak, Selidovo, Kurakhovo, Uglegorsk, Lunokommunarovsk, Rodinskoe, and Novogrodovka.

Economy. Donetsk is one of the country’s most industrially developed oblasts, with a comprehensive mining industry (shaft mining and dressing of coal), as well as large-scale metallurgical, machine-building, chemical, and building-materials industries. There is a strong power industry and transportation system.

Under Soviet power the oblast’s narrow specialization in coal production has been overcome by creating other branches of heavy and light industry, as well as a food-processing industry.

Donetsk Oblast is characterized not only by considerably large-scale mining of high-quality coal, particularly coking coal, with which it supplies the entire metallurgical industry of the southern USSR and other regions of the country, but also by an extensively developed metallurgical industry, machine building, chemical industry, and other branches of heavy industry. Its energy-producing base, which has grown during the postwar period, includes several heavy-duty district hydroelectric power plants located in Starobeshevo, Slaviansk, where the first 800,000-kilowatt power unit in the USSR and Europe was installed in 1967, Mironovskii, Kurakovo, and Zuevka. These are connected with electric power plants in Voroshilovgrad Oblast, forming the Donbassenergo System, and they are part of the unified power system of the European USSR. In 1972 the Uglegorsk Raion Hydroelectric Power Plant was under construction.

Between 1940 and 1970 the industrial output of Donetsk Oblast increased 5.4 times, and between 1950 and 1970, 4.4 times. Under Soviet power many large-scale mining and processing enterprises have been built. More than 34 percent of the oblast’s industrial workers and 20 percent of its total industrial output (1970) are concentrated in various branches of mining, including coal, limestones, refractory clays, and rock salt. There are 137 mines in the oblast (average depth, more than 370 m; some mines, 700-1,200 m deep) and 29 ore-dressing plants with new technical equipment. They are located in the Donetsk-Makeevka and Gorlovka-Enakievo industrial complexes, as well as in Torez-Snezhnoe, Krasnoarmeisk, and Selidovo, where 70-75 percent of the workers are employed in the coal industry. The cutting, hewing, and loading of coal has been completely mechanized. Outstanding among the processing branches of mining are ferrous metallurgy (19 percent of the workers in the entire industry; 35 percent of the oblast’s industrial output), machine building, and metalworking (23 percent of the workers in the entire industry).

Ferrous metallurgy uses local coke, ores shipped from Krivoi Rog and Kerch’, and manganese from Nikopol’. It is represented by a number of heavy-duty, full-cycle metallurgical plants, including the Kirov Makeevka, the Lenin Donetsk, the Ordzhonikidze and Il’ich Zhdanov Azovstal, the Enakievo, the Kuibyshev Kramatorsk, and the Frunze Konstantinovka. There are also pipe-rolling plants. Nonferrous metallurgy is represented by a mercury combine, a zinc plant, and other enterprises.

In addition to ferrous metallurgy and the coal industry, the chemical and coke by-products chemical industries have, been greatly developed, particularly the production of acids, mineral fertilizers, and styrene. The largest coke by-products chemical plants are located in Gorlovka, Enakievo Donetsk, Zhdanov, Makeevka, Lasinovka, and Avdeevka. In 1970 the production of coke was five times that of 1913. Also located in Donetsk Oblast are the Gorlovka Chemical Combine, the Slaviansk Soda Combine, and the Donetsk and Konstantinovka chemical plants.

Branches of the machine-building industry that use metal have been established in Donetsk Oblast (production of equipment for the mining industry of the Donbas and other regions of the country), as well as metal-using branches of the machine-tool, transportation equipment, and instrument industries. The principal types of products are coal combines, heavy metal-cutting machine tools, hoisting machines, mine-shaft, metallurgical, and chemical equipment, excavators, and electric locomotives for use in mining ores. Major plants include the Kramatorsk Machine-Building Plant, the Kramatorsk Heavy Machine-Tool Plant, the Zhdanov Heavy Machine-Building Plant, the Gorlovka Machine-Building Plant, and a number of plants in Donetsk, Druzhkovka, Lasinovataia, Debal’tsevo, and Slaviansk.

Table 1. Output of principal heavy industrial products
Coal (million tons).............15.148.6101.8106.8
Pig iron (million tons).............1.54.313.618.4
Steel (million tons).............
Rolled metals (million tons).............1.1313.515.5
Coke (6 percent moisture; million tons).............3.48.415.817.5
Metallurgical equipment (thousand tons).............15.151.371.8
Coal combines (units).............229701,083
Electric locomotives for mining (units).............1947825
Cement (million tons).............

The building materials industry is represented by the production of cement (Amvrosievka, Enakievo, Kramatorsk) and industrial glass (Konstantinovka and Artemovsk), and one-third of the country’s need for refractory materials is supplied by the refractory materials combine in Chasov lar, as well as by plants in Krasnoarmeisk and Krasnogorovka. There is a pencil factory in Slaviansk.

During the postwar years the food-processing industry has become more extensive in Donetsk Oblast. Outstanding branches of the industry are meat packing (eight combines), dairy products, confectioneries, breweries, and fish-processing. The footwear, textiles, knit goods, and garment industries have developed, especially in Donetsk, Makeevka, Zhdanov, Kramatorsk, and Artemovsk. In 1968 a polyvinyl chloride film plant was put into operation in Slaviansk.

Agriculture is intensive and has many branches. In addition to grain farming and dairy animal husbandry, there has been considerable development of industrial crops, vegetables, and orchards. In 1970 there were 312 kolkhozes and 131 sovkhozes. The number of tractors used in agriculture increased from 13,500 in 1960 to 28,800 in 1970 (computed on the basis of 15-horsepower units). Basic agricultural operations have been mechanized. Between 1960 and 1970 the consumption of electric power on kolkhozes and sovkhozes increased 4.9 times, and all kolkhozes and sovkhozes have been electrified. Agricultural areas make up 78 percent of the oblast’s land (1970), including 63.5 percent plowed lands, 2.8 percent orchards and vineyards, 0.6 percent hay fields, 10.9 percent pastures, and 6.6 percent forests and shrub growths. In 1970 the total sown area was 1,582,000 hectares (ha), of which 48.9 percent was planted with cereal crops (winter wheat, barley, and corn), 10.8 percent with industrial crops (sunflowers), 6.1 percent with potatoes and melons, and 34.2 percent with fodder crops.

In the central and northern industrial parts of the oblast there is suburban farming, with well-developed vegetable gardening (including hothouse farming), as well as dairy and meat animal husbandry (Lasinovataia, Mar’inka, Artemovsk, and Konstantinovka raions). The area of orchards, and berry fields is 84,500 ha, and 2,900 ha are planted with vineyards. The harvest of fruits and berries is 2.4 million centners. Orchards are well developed in Artemovsk, Velikaia Novoselka, Volnovakha, Krasnoarmeisk, and Mar’inka raions. In 1970 an area of 103,200 ha was irrigated.

Animal husbandry is primarily for dairy and meat products. At the beginning of 1971 there were 1,028,300 cattle (including 409,600 cows), 1,002,700 pigs, and 268,900 sheep and goats. Poultry raising and fishing have developed in the region of the Sea of Azov.

Donetsk Oblast has a dense network of railroads (1,618 km in 1970). Moreover, there are 2,361 km of tracks serving mines, plants, and other enterprises. The oblast is first in the USSR in railroad density (61.1 km per 1,000 sq km) and freight traffic. The main trunk lines and routes have been electrified—including the Donbas-Moscow line (Donetsk-Slaviansk-Lozovaia-Kharkov) and the Donbas-Dnieper Region line (Lasnovataia-Chaplino-Dnepropetrovsk-Krivoi Rog).

Of the freight turnover, 50 percent is shipped out (in 1970, coal, as well as metal, machinery, refractory materials, cement, glass, and chemicals). Among the goods shipped into Donetsk Oblast are iron ore, petroleum products, lumber, machinery and equipment, products of light and food-processing industries, and agricultural products.

In 1970 there were 8,000 km of motor vehicle roads, including 5,400 km of paved roads. Pipelines are well developed. (Gas is brought to Donetsk, Zhdanov, and other cities from Krasnodar Krai and into Slaviansk from Kharkov Oblast.) There are airports at Donetsk and Zhdanov, and there is a major maritime port at Zhdanov on the Sea of Azov.

Education, cultural affairs, and public health. During the academic year 1914-15 the territory of Donetsk Oblast had 1,003 schools with an enrollment of 94,700 pupils. By comparison, during the academic year 1970-71 there were 1,783 general education schools with an enrollment of 878,500 pupils, 139 vocational technical schools with 68,000 pupils, and 85 specialized secondary educational institutions with an enrollment of more than 104,000 pupils. There are approximately 70,000 students in nine higher educational institutions—Donetsk University, Donetsk Polytechnic Institute, medical, Soviet trade, and music pedagogical institutes in Donetsk, pedagogical institutes in Gorlovka and Slaviansk, an industrial institute in Kramatorsk, and a metallurgical institute in Zhdanov. In 1970 approximately 225,000 children were trained in 2,150 preschool institutions.

As of Jan. 1; 1971, there were 1,584 public libraries (more than 22 million copies of books and journals), in Donetsk Oblast, as well as 1,094 clubs. There are six museums: museums of local lore in Donetsk (with a branch in Makeevka) and Zhdanov and an art museum in Donetsk (with branches in Kramatorsk and Gorlovka). The oblast has four theaters and 1,338 motion-picture theaters. Extracurricular institutions include two Pioneer palaces, 39 Pioneer houses, 14 young technicians’ stations, eight young naturalists’ stations, 16 children’s sports schools, and an excursion and tourist station (organizational and educational centers for excursions, tours, and regional studies work for students). The oblast newspapers are Radians’ka Donechchina (Soviet Donets, in Ukrainian, since 1945), Sotsialisticheskii Donbass (since 1917), and Komsomolets Donbassa (since 1920). The radio and television stations carry broadcasts in Ukrainian and Russian on two local radio and two television programs and relay broadcasts from Kiev and Moscow. The television center is in Donetsk.

As of Jan. 1, 1971, there were 299 hospitals in Donetsk Oblast, with 55,700 beds (11.2 beds per 1,000 inhabitants), and there were 11,900 physicians (one physician per 414 inhabitants).


Donetskaia oblast’ za 50 let: Statisticheskii sb. Donetsk, 1967.
Istoriia mist i sil Ukrain’skoi RSR: Donets’ka oblast’. Kiev, 1970.


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