Ural Economic Region

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ural Economic Region


one of the major economic regions of the USSR, encompassing Sverdlovsk, Cheliabinsk, Perm’, Orenburg, and Kurgan oblasts and the Udmurt ASSR. The major cities are Sverdlovsk, Cheliabinsk, Perm’, Izhevsk, Orenburg, Nizhnii Tagil, Magnitogorsk, and Kurgan.

The Ural Economic Region occupies the Central Urals, part of the Northern and Southern Urals, and adjacent areas of the East European and Western Siberian plains. It is crossed by rivers belonging to the Volga, Ob’, and Ural basins. Of the large rivers, the Kama, Vishera, Chusovaia, and Samara drain into the Volga, and the Tobol, Iset’, Tura, and Tavda drain into the Ob’. The hydroelectric potential of the region’s large and medium-sized rivers is estimated to be 3.3 million kW. The Votkinsk and Kama reservoirs have been built on the Kama River. In the western parts of the region the climate is moderately continental; in the Ural Mountains and the areas to the east it is continental. Forests, chiefly taiga, cover 43 percent of the region, whose timber reserves total 3.5 billion cu m. Steppes predominate in the south, where large areas are under cultivation. The region is exceptionally rich in various useful minerals (seeURALS).

The region has a highly developed, diversified, and structurally complex heavy industry. A number of branches are nationally important, including ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy, heavy machine building, the chemical industry, the extraction of mineral raw materials and natural gas, and lumbering and woodworking. The region’s industry is characterized by a high level of production concentration, cooperation and integration within and among branches of industry, the extensive use of many industrial waste products, and a well-developed infrastructure. Most of the industrial enterprises are located on the mineral-rich eastern slopes of the Ural Mountains, at transport junctions, and along the navigable Kama River.

The metallurgical industry, one of the region’s oldest branches, has developed on the basis of rich local raw materials. The principal enterprises—the Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine, the Nizhnii Tagil and Orsk-Khalilovo combines, and the Cheliabinsk Plant—use coking coal from the Kuznetsk and Karaganda coal basins. Among old enterprises that have been modernized are the Serov Plant, the plants in Zlatoust, Chusovoi, and Lys’va, and the Verkh-Isetsk Plant. Pipes are rolled at the Novotrubnyi plant in Pervoural’sk and at the Sinarskii and Cheliabinsk plants. Ferroalloys are produced on a large scale. More than half of the iron ore for the region’s metallurgical works comes from the Mount Magnitnaia, Mount Vysokaia, and Mount Blagodat’ deposits, the Pervoural’sk deposits, and the Bakal group of deposits. In 1963 a mining and ore-concentration combine was put into operation at the vast Kachkanar deposit of titanomagnetites. The Orsk-Khalilovo, Magnitogorsk, Cheliabinsk, and other metallurgical combines supplement Ural ore with iron ore concentrates from Kazakhstan and the Kursk Magnetic Anomaly. Virtually all the main branches of nonferrous metallurgy are represented.

The region is one of the country’s leading producers of machinery and metal goods. Heavy machinery is manufactured by the Uralmash, Iuzhuralmash, and Buzuluk plants, and machinery for the chemical industry is built by the Uralkhimmash, Glazov, and other plants. Equipment for the power industry and electrical machinery are produced by a turbine plant and the Uralelektrotiazhmash Plant. Various types of vehicles are built, including railroad freight cars in Nizhnii Tagil, motor vehicles in Miass and Izhevsk, motorcycles in Izhevsk and Irbit, heavy tractors in Cheliabinsk, and tractor trailers in Orsk. Machine tools are manufactured in Cheliabinsk, Orenburg, Alapaevsk, and elsewhere. The largest agricultural machinery plant is at Kurgan. Also produced are electrical appliances, radios and radiophonographs, refrigerators (16 percent of the national output), and other household equipment. The region’s enterprises use a large proportion of the locally produced metal.

An important branch of the chemical industry is the production of such basic chemicals as soda (Berezniki, Solikamsk), mineral fertilizers, including potassium (Berezniki, Solikamsk) and nitrogen and phosphorus (Berezniki, Perm’, Krasnoural’sk, Revda) fertilizers, sulfuric acid and sulfur (associated with nonferrous metallurgy and petroleum-gas chemistry), chlorine and its derivatives, and various kinds of salts. Other major products include coke by-products, wood chemicals, and paints and varnishes. Plastics and resins are produced at Sverdlovsk, Nizhnii Tagil, and Gubakha, and alcohols are manufactured at Orsk and Gubakha. A synthetic rubber plant was under construction in Chaikovskii in 1976. The petrochemical industry, based in Perm’, Sverdlovsk, and Orenburg, is expanding, as is the production of artificial fibers and thread. The Ural Economic Region is the country’s leading producer and processor of asbestos (Bazhenov and Kiembai deposits), talc (Miass deposit), and magnesite (Satka deposit). In 1975 the region’s highly developed building materials industry produced 14.6 million tons of cement and 6.8 million cu m of prefabricated reinforced-concrete structural members and parts. The region’s woodworking enterprises process about half of the felled timber, producing chiefly paper (1 million tons in 1973), sawn lumber, and plywood (213,000 cu m in 1973). A considerable part of the timber is rafted down the Kama River to the Volga Region. Large enterprises for the complete processing of wood have been built in Perm’, Krasnokamsk, Tavda, Krasnovishersk, and elsewhere.

Coal is mined in the Kizel (hard), Cheliabinsk (brown), and Serov coal-bearing regions. Petroleum is extracted along the Kama and in the Orenburg Cis-Uralia. The region also produces natural gas, as well as peat. It imports coal from the Kuznetsk Basin and Karaganda, gas from Western Siberia and Middle Asia, and mazut. The petroleum refining centers are Perm, Krasnokamsk, and Orsk. The site of one of Europe’s largest gas condensate deposits, Orenburg is the region’s gas producing and refining center. Gas refining is based on the full use of raw material.

The region’s power grid connects all the industrial centers. The largest state regional power plants and heat and electric power plants are the Iriklin, Reftinsk, Karmanovo, Troitsk, Verkhnii Tagil, Central Urals Iuzhno-Ural’sk, Serov, and Iaiva. The main hydroelectric power plants are the Kama plant with a capacity of 0.5 gigawatts and the Votkinsk plant with a capacity of 1 gigawatt. There is also the Beloiarsk Atomic Power Plant. High-voltage transmission lines connect the Ural Economic Region with the integrated power grid of the European USSR and with adjacent parts of Tiumen’ and Aktiubinsk oblasts.

The leading light and food industries are flour milling, meatpacking, dairying, and the manufacture of leather footwear, clothing and textiles. Sverdlovsk produces worsted fabric and linen cloth, and Orenburg and Chaikovskii have silk combines producing chiefly synthetic silk.

Agriculture, an important sector of the region’s economy, is oriented toward the production of spring wheat and meat-dairy livestock raising. Around the main industrial centers there are farms producing for the urban market. Most of the region’s farms are sovkhozes. In 1974 agricultural land, occupying 41 percent of the region’s area and lying chiefly in the southern Urals Region and in southern Trans-Uralia, included 17.8 million hectares (ha) of arable land, 2.9 million ha of hayfields, and 7 million ha of pasture. The region has 128,000 ha of irrigated land and 70,000 ha of drained land. Of a total sown area of 16.4 million ha in 1975,10.9 milion ha were planted to grain, 4.9 million ha to fodder, 0.1 mi-lion ha to industrial crops (sunflowers and flax), and 0.5 milion ha to potatoes and vegetables. The chief crop is wheat, predominantly spring wheat (5.7 million ha). Hothouse farming is thriving. At the beginning of 1976 the region’s livestock population numbered 6.2 million head of cattle, including 2.3 million cows, 2 million hogs, 4.6 million sheep and goats, and 34.6 million poultry. Large industrial livestock-raising complexes and poultry factories have been built.

Railroads, with an operational length of 9,900 km in 1975, are the principal means of transportation. The most important regional line connects Polunochnoe, Serov, Sverdlovsk, Cheliabinsk, and Orsk. National east-west trunk lines cross the central and southern Urals at five points, linking Nizhnii Tagil with Perm’, Sverdlovsk with Perm’, Sverdlovsk with Kazan, Cheliabinsk with Ufa, and Orsk with Orenburg. Construction has been completed on a sixth east-west railroad extending westward across the Urals from Magnitogorsk. Much of the railroad network has been electrified owing to the heavy freight traffic and the large number of climbs along many stretches. An extensive system of pipelines passes through the region, supplying it with natural gas from northern Tiumen’ Oblast and Middle Asia and with petroleum from Western Siberia. Shipping is well developed on the rivers of the Kama basin.

Regional differences. The Ural Economic Region may be divided into four distinct subregions: the eastern slopes of the Urals, the middle Kama region, the western slopes of the Central Urals, and the agricultural and lumbering areas of the south and north.

An industrial belt of mining and metallurgical works, fringed by suburban farms, stretches from north to south on the eastern slopes of the Urals. Many of the largest industrial complexes in the Ural Economic Region are located on the eastern slopes in the cities of Sverdlovsk, Nizhnii Tagil, Cheliabinsk, Magnitogorsk, and Orsk.

The middle Kama region is an industrial region with some agriculture, chiefly dairying and potato and vegetable growing. The main industries are chemical manufacture, lumbering and woodworking, and machine building, and the principal industrial centers are Berezniki, Solikamsk, Perm’, Krasnokamsk, and Chaikovskii.

On the western slopes of the Central Urals there are industrial centers surrounded by farms. The main industries are mining, machine building, and metallurgy.

The fourth subregion of the Ural Economic Region includes the agricultural southwest and southeast, where farms are interspersed with mining and manufacturing centers, and the lumbering areas of the northwest and northeast with their scattered woodworking centers. In some places in the north lumbering is combined with agriculture.


Ural i Priural’e. Moscow, 1968. (AN SSSR: Prirodnye usloviia i estestvennyye resursy SSSR.)
Komar, I. V. Ural. Moscow, 1959.
Komar, I. V. Geografiia khoziaistva Urala. Moscow, 1964.
Ural. Moscow, 1968. In the series Sovetskii Soiuz.
Shuvalov, E. L. Ural industrial’nyi. Moscow, 1974.
Varlamov, V. S., and O. A. Kibal’chich. Nov’ drevnego Urala. Moscow, 1975.


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