Eastern Siberia Economic Region

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Eastern Siberia Economic Region


one of the major economic regions of the Soviet Union. It includes Krasnoiarsk Krai, the Khakass Autonomous Oblast, and the Taimyr (Dolgan-Nenets) National Okrug, Evenki National Okrug, Irkutsk Oblast and the Ust’-Orda Buriat National Okrug, Chita Oblast and the Aga-Buriat National Okrug, the Buriat Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, and the Tuva Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Total area, 4,122,800 sq km. Population, 7,464,000 (1970), of which 62 percent is urban. Russians make up the majority of the population. Buriats, Tuvinians, Khakas, Nentsi, and Evenki form a significant portion of the population in the autonomous republics, autonomous oblasts, and national okrugs.

The region is located in the Asian part of the USSR, far removed from the main economic centers of the country. It is bounded by the Mongolian People’s Republic and China, and it reaches to the shores of the Arctic Ocean. Approximately one-fourth of the territory lies north of the Arctic Circle. Most of the area is occupied by the Central Siberian Plateau and the mountain ranges of Vostochnyi Saian, Zapadnyi Saian, the Baikal Region, and Transbaikalia. The region has a harsh continental climate. Large areas are covered by permanently frozen ground. The rivers belong chiefly to the basins of the Enisei and upper Lena and of Lake Baikal. The region has great and diverse natural resources. It ranks first in the USSR for waterpower resources (31 percent of the All-Union reserves). Geological coal reserves in the Kansk-Achinsk, Tunguska, Irkutsk, and Minusinsk basins and else-where are estimated at 3.5 trillion tons (more than two-fifths of total USSR reserves). Major mineral resources (except coal) include gold, nickel, cobalt, copper, polymetals, tin, tungsten, molybdenum, rare metals, iron ores, mica, asbestos, graphite, fluorite, talc, magnesite, nephelines, and salt. There are many mineral water sources and hot springs, particularly in Transbaikalia. Timber resources (chiefly pine, larch, and cedar pine) amount to 28 billion cu m (35 percent of the All-Union reserves). The region has an abundance of fur-bearing animals (including sable, squirrel, and polar fox) and fish.

The Eastern Siberia Economic Region, an area of large new construction projects, is noted for its rapid rate of industrial development (an increase of 13.6 times from 1940 to 1969). In the All-Union division of labor it specializes in the production of the country’s least expensive electric energy and fuel (providing for the development of industries based on electric and thermal power capacity), in the mining of valuable types of mineral raw materials, and in logging and the timber industry. The region is characterized by the formation of large new territorial production complexes: Irkutsk-Cheremkhovo, Achinsk-Krasnoiarsk, Bratsk-Taishet, Saian, and others. Chief industries include power, chemicals, petroleum refining, nonferrous metallurgy (including aluminum), woodworking, paper and pulp, machine building, and mining. Agriculturally it is an important region of the eastern part of the country, with well-developed live-stock breeding, especially sheep raising, and grain production (wheat growing).

Electric power generation in 1969 amounted to 64.7 billion kilowatt-hours (more than 14 percent of RSFSR output). The largest share of the electric power output was generated by the Irkutsk power system, which includes the Bratsk and Irkutsk hydroelectric power plants and a number of large thermal power plants. The Ust’-Ilimsk Hydroelectric Power Plant is being built (1971) with a capacity of 3,600 megawatts (3.6 million kilowatts [kW]). The Krasnoiarsk power system consists of the huge Krasnoiarsk Hydroelectric Power Plant (capacity 6,000 megawatts, or 6 million kW) on the Enisei and also of thermal power plants (including the Nazarovo State Regional Electric Power Station), which operate on coal from the Kansk-Achinsk basin. The Saian Hydroelectric Power Plant (projected capacity 5,300 megawatts, or 5.3 mil-lion kW) is being built (1971) farther upstream on the Enisei, within the Zapadnyi Saian. Coal extraction amounts to approximately 50 million tons a year, chiefly in Krasnoiarsk Krai and Irkutsk Oblast; three-fourths of the coal comes from open-pit mining. The aluminum industry is the largest power user. Construction is being completed (1971) on the Achinsk alumina plant, which will operate on local nephelines. The principal enterprises of the chemical industry are concentrated in Krasnoiarsk, Angarsk, and Usol’e-Sibirskoe; plastics, nitrogen fertilizers, and caustic soda are manufactured. Construction of an electrochemical complex was begun (1969) in the city of Zima. The Noril’sk Mining and Metallurgical Combine, which operates on rich polymetallic ore de-posits (from Talnakhe), is the important center of the nonferrous metallurgy industry. Ferrous metallurgy casting plants are located in Petrovsk-Zabaikal’skii and Krasnoiarsk (“Sibelektrostal’ “). Iron ore extracted at the Korshunova mining concentration combine (Irkutsk Oblast) and at the Abakan and Teiskii mines (Khakasia) goes to the metallurgical works in Kemerovo Oblast. Other important branches of the mining industry are mica-muscovite extraction (Mamsko-Chuiskii Raion) and its processing at mica factories in Irkutsk, Nizhneudinsk, and Zaozernyi; extraction of graphite (Noginsk and Botogol deposits) and its processing at the Krasnoiarsk factory; and the mining of asbestos in the Tuva Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Ak-Dovurak), talc in Irkutsk Oblast, fluorite in Chita Oblast, and salt in Usol’e-Sibirskoe.

The machine-building industry specializes mainly in the production of mining, metallurgical, chemical, and hoisting and transport equipment and of metal-cutting machines; the manufacture of radio and television sets (Irkutsk, Krasnoiarsk, and Chita); shipbuilding and repairs (Krasnoiarsk, Ulan Ude, and Listvianka); and the production of grain combines (Krasnoiarsk). Construction (1971) of an auto assembly plant is underway (Chita). Branches of the food industry are well developed: meat and fish processing, production of canned milk, and tea-pressing. Light industries include textiles (Krasnoiarsk, Kansk, Ulan Ude, and Chita), clothing, knitted fabrics, leather and footwear, and fulling and felt. The building-materials industry has factories for cement (Krasnoiarsk, Angarsk, and Kamensk), glass (Ulan Ude and Tulun), and ceramic products.

The Eastern Siberia Economic Region ranks second (yielding only to the Northwest) in volume of felled timber (61 million cu m, 18 percent of timber felled in the RSFSR in 1969). Much of the timber goes through the port of Igarka for export and is shipped to unforested regions of the country. The chief lumbering areas are located along the right tributaries of the Enisei and the left tributaries of the Angara, along the Chulym, in the upper reaches of the Lena, along the affluents of Lake Baikal, and in the Selenga basin. Irkutsk Oblast and Krasnoiarsk Krai account for 82 percent of all timber felled (1971). A lumber industry complex in Bratsk and sawmill-wood working combines in Novomaklakovo and Maklakovo-Chuna are being built (1971). The region takes second place in the USSR (after the Northwest) in the amount of sawn timber (approximately 14 million cu m in 1969). Paper and pulp industries are well developed in Krasnoiarsk, Bratsk, and Baikal’sk and in the Buriat Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Wood chemical and hydrolytic industry enterprises are located in Krasnoiarsk Krai and Irkutsk Oblast.

Farming is developed mainly in the southern part of the region. Agricultural lands (excluding reindeer pastures) take up 5.2 percent of the region’s territory. The area includes 9 million hectares (ha) in plowed fields, 3 million ha in hay, and 10.2 million ha in pastures. Almost two-thirds of the area under cultivation (5 million ha) is taken up with grain crops: wheat (67 percent of the grain area), oats, and barley. The chief grain areas are in the southern part of Krasnoiarsk Krai, Irkutsk Oblast, and Chita Oblast. Of industrial crops, oil-producing plants are grown in small quantities (in Krasnoiarsk Krai), and of feed grains, grasses and corn are grown for silage.

Pig breeding and the raising of meat and dairy cattle are prevalent to the west of Lake Baikal, and livestock raising for meat and wool is predominant in Transbaikalia and the Tuva Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Two-thirds of the cows, three-fourths of the pigs, and four-fifths of the poultry birds are raised in Krasnoiarsk Krai and Irkutsk Oblast; approximately three-fourths of the entire region’s sheep live-stock is concentrated in Chita Oblast, the Buriat Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, and the Tuva Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Camels and yaks are bred in the southern part of the Tuva Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic and in southern Transbaikalia. Horse breeding plays an important role in all of the livestock-raising regions. Reindeer breeding (more than 200,000 head), cage fur-farming, and professional hunting are carried on in northern Krasnoiarsk Krai, in the mountainous taiga regions of Transbaikalia, and in Irkutsk Oblast.

Railways total 7,200 km (1969). The Trans-Siberian Railway, whose western portion is electrified as far as Lake Baikal, runs through the southern part of Eastern Siberia. From the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Achinsk-Abakan, Ulan Ude-Naushki, and Karymskoe-Zabaikal’sk lines branch off to the south, and the Taishet-Lena and Achinsk-Abalakovo lines branch off to the north; the Reshety-Boguchany and Khrebtovaia-Ust’-Ilim lines are still under construction in the north. Construction of the eastern electrified portion of the Southern Siberian Novokuznetsk-Abakan-Taishet main line has been completed. An oil pipe-line has been built from Tuimazy to Angarsk. Water transportation is most developed on the Enisei, Angara, and Lena rivers and on Lake Baikal. The Eastern Siberia Economic Region is connected to the northern sea route through the estuary of the Enisei; major ports are Dikson, Dudinka, and Igarka and also the river ports of Osetrovo, Krasnoiarsk, and Irkutsk. Motor vehicle transportation is very important, particularly for links with the Tuva Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Abakan-Kyzyl road), upper reaches of the Lena (Irkutsk-Kachug road), and the northern regions of the Mongolian People’s Republic (Irkutsk-Kultuk-border of the Mongolian People’s Republic). Air transportation is well developed, and there is an international airport at Irkutsk.

Chief export items include timber and lumber, pulp, iron ore, copper and nickel, nonferrous and rare metal concentrates, mica, graphite, asbestos, talc, fluorite, salt, petroleum and chemical industry products, self-propelled combines, machine tools, and metallurgical and mine-dressing equipment. Chief imports consist mainly of oil, metals, equipment, consumer items, and foodstuffs.


Vostochnaia Sibir’. Moscow, 1963.
Tarasov, G. L. Vostochnaia Sibir’. Moscow, 1964.
Krotov, V. A. “Ekonomiko-geograficheskie problemy Vostochnoi Sibiri.” In Sibirskii geograficheskii sbornik, issue 4. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Rossiiskaia Federatsiia: Vostochnaia Sibir’ (Sovetskii Soiuz series). Moscow, 1969.


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