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capital of the Kalmyk ASSR. Located in the southeastern part of the Ergeni. Connected by a railroad line with central Ciscaucasia. Highway junction. Population, 63,000 (1977; 17,000 in 1939,23,000 in 1959,50,000 in 1970).
Elista was founded in 1865. It took its name from the Kalmyk work elstia (“sandy”). From the early 20th century it was the center of the ulus of Manych, Chernoiarsk District, Astrakhan Province. Soviet power was established in February 1918. From 1918 it was the administrative center of Elista Province, and from 1928 to 1935 and 1957 to 1958 of the Kalmyk Autonomous Oblast. It became a city in 1930. It was the capital of the Kalmyk ASSR from 1935 to 1943 and from 1958; from 1944 to 1957 it was the city of Stepnoi in Stavropol’ Krai, RSFSR. On Aug. 12, 1942, the city was occupied by fascist German aggressors. It was liberated by the Soviet Army on the night of Jan. 1, 1943.
Elista has combines for the production of commercial building structures and building materials, plants manufacturing reinforced-concrete products and silicate brick, and automotive and instrument repair plants. Other enterprises include a woodworking shop, a clothing production association, factories for the production of knitwear and furniture, a meat-packing plant, and a milk plant. Educational institutions include the Kalmyk Scientific Research Institute of Language, Literature, and History, the Scientific Research Institute of Beef Cattle Breeding of the Ministry of Agriculture of the RSFSR, and Kalmyk University. The city has a technicum specializing in street and highway construction, as well as schools of cultural education, medicine, music, and pedagogical training. The N. N. Pal’mov Republic Museum of local lore and the Basangov Drama Theater are located in Elista.