Kaliningrad Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kaliningrad Oblast


part of the RSFSR, formed on Apr. 7, 1946. Area, 15, 100 sq km. Population, 750, 000 (1972). Kaliningrad Oblast borders Poland on the south and the Baltic Sea and its bays (the Kurshskii and Vistula) on the west. The oblast has 13 administrative raions, 22 cities, and five urban-type settlements. The center of the oblast is the city of Kaliningrad. Kaliningrad Oblast was awarded the Order of Lenin on April 14, 1966.

Natural features. Kaliningrad Oblast occupies part of the southern shore of the Baltic Sea, including the westernmost point of the USSR (19°38’). Low-lying, only slightly hilly relief predominates. The Baltic Ridge, with a maximum elevation of 231 m, stretches along the southeast. There is a zone of sandy beaches along the coast. Some of the northern territory of the oblast lies below sea level (polders) and is protected by dikes against flooding. There are sand dunes on the Kurshskii and Baltic spits with elevations to 60 m. The traditional name for the seacoast is the “Amber Coast,” because of the presence there of the world’s largest amber deposits, which provide the raw materials for an amber combine. There are also deposits of rock salt, brown coal, clay, building sand, and gravel. Prospecting for oil was undertaken in the eighth five-year plan. There are 156 deposits of industrial peat.

The climate is transitional between maritime and moderate continental, with mild winters and moderately warm summers. The average January temperature ranges from ™2.6° C to ™ 4.8° C; the average July temperature, from 15° C to 17° C. Precipitation reaches 650–700 mm per year, occurring mainly during the warm period. The growing season lasts from 155 to 180 days. Inland bodies of water occupy approximately 12 percent of the area of the oblast. The rivers are part of the Baltic Sea basin. The largest rivers are the Nemunas (with its tributary, the Sesupe) and the Pregolia (with its tributary, the Lava); the two are joined by a system of canals. Many of the rivers are controlled and regulated and are navigable. There are more then 100 lakes, the largest being the Vishtynetskoe. A total of 7 percent of the area is swamp. The soil is mainly podzolic, turf-podzolic, and acidic. Most of the land is under cultivation and requires drainage. Approximately nine-tenths of all the agricultural land is drained.

Forests occupy 15 percent of the area of the oblast (spruce, pine, oak, birch, linden, hornbeam, and alder). Meadows and pastureland make up about a third of the area of the oblast. Cultivated farmland predominates on the sites of drained swampland.

The animal world of the oblast is varied and includes the gray hare, squirrel, marten, fox, weasel, beaver, otter, mink, red deer, fallow deer, roe deer, elk, and wild boar. There are a great number and variety of birds in the oblast, across which pass the routes of many migratory species. The waters of the oblast are rich in fish. Bream, pike-perch, sparling, and eel are found in the freshwater bays, and Baltic herring, sprat, smelt, and salmon are found in the sea.

Population Russians, mainly settlers from the central regions of the RSFSR, constitute more than 77 percent of the population; the remainder consists mainly of Byelorussians and Ukrainians. The average population density is 50 persons per sq km, including rural areas, the density of which is more than 12 persons per sq km. The rural population is most dense in Gur’ev, Nemunas, and Bagrationovsk raions. The urban population constitutes more than three-fourths of the total. Most of the rural population is concentrated in the well-designed and equipped settlements of sovkhozes and kolkhozes. The largest cities are Kaliningrad, Sovetsk, Cherniakhovsk, Baltiisk, Gusev, Svetlyi, Svetlogorsk, Pionerskii, and Zelenogradsk, all well-designed resort cities offering all public services and amenities.

Economy. Kaliningrad Oblast is characterized by a high level of industrialization combined with intensive agriculture. The principal branches of industry are machine building, paper and cellulose, and food (especially fish). The agriculture of the oblast specializes in dairy- and beef-cattle raising and pig breeding. The oblast plays a large role in the maritime commerce of the USSR, both imports and exports.

The gross output of industry in the oblast was 2.2 times higher in 1970 than it was in 1960. Power is based both upon the electrical energy that is delivered through the unified power supply system of the USSR and upon imported coal. The machine-building industry specializes in the production of hoisting and transport and road-construction machinery and in electrical-engineering production. The production of dump cars (self-unloading railroad cars with a freight-carrying capacity of up to 180 tons) is most important, along with the production of tower cranes, electric loaders, equipment for the cellulose and paper industry, remote-control systems, and searchlights. The main centers of machine building are Kaliningrad and Gusev. The cellulose and paper industry of the oblast provides more than 10 percent of the USSR’s total output of cellulose and paper, including two-thirds of the paper for gravure. There are two cellulose-and-paper combines in Kaliningrad and one each in Sovetsk and Nemunas. There is a paper plant in Znamensk. More than 370, -000 tons of cellulose, 125, 000 tons of paper, and 50, 000 tons of cardboard are produced each year (1970).

The fishing industry occupies first place in the oblast in value of gross output (two-fifths of the total industrial output). The fishing fleet, which catches about 0.7 million tons of fish a year (1970), has more than 500 new large-tonnage seagoing ships, which have opened up to the industry the North and Norwegian seas, the equatorial Atlantic, and the South Atlantic. The Iurii Dolgorukii Whaling Fleet works off the coasts of Antarctica. The oblast accounts for more than 10 percent of the USSR’s total catch of fish and sea products. The principal commercial fishes are herring, sea perch, sardine, tuna, and cod. Fish-canning combines in Kaliningrad, Mamonovo, and Svetlyi produced more than 125 million standard tins of fish in 1970. The fishing industry is closely bound up with the entire economy of the oblast (for example, with ship repair, the production of cardboard packaging, and fishing equipment), with scientific research institutions, with the port economy, and with agriculture (for which it provides fish meal). The most developed of the other branches of the food industry are butter, cheese, whole-milk products, and meat. The largest creameries are the Cherniakhovsk, Nesterov, and Ozerki plants and the Kaliningrad City Dairy. Meat production is centered in the Kaliningrad, Cherniakhovsk, and Sovetsk meat combines. Light industry and the production of construction materials are developing rapidly.

A unique branch of industry, the extraction and processing of amber, has developed in the settlement of Iantarnyi. More than 400 tons of amber are extracted annually. The amber is used for jewelry and art, more than 350 types of ornamental items, varnishes and paints, and insulating materials.

The agriculture of the oblast is characterized by a high degree of productivity. Sovkhozes account for 47 percent of the land in agricultural use and approximately 40 percent of the productive cattle. The principal branches of agriculture are dairy-cattle and beef-cattle raising, pig breeding, poultry farming, and the production of vegetables and potatoes. The area of all agricultural land comes to 840, 000 hectares (plowed fields, 47 percent; hay-fields, 21 percent; pasture, 32 percent). Approximately 55 percent of the sown area is used for forage crops; annual and perennial grasses are important. Cereals occupy second place in agricultural production; the summer crops are barley and oats, and the winter crops, wheat and rye. The specialization of agriculture is basically similar in all regions of the oblast, although the share of dairy and vegetable and potato production increases in suburban Kaliningrad. Fruit and berry production and orcharding are also well developed. In 1972 there were 409, 000 head of cattle, 247, 000 pigs, and 85, 000 sheep and goats.

The ice-free port of Kaliningrad and its outer harbor, Baltiisk, are of nationwide importance, providing for a significant part of the USSR’s foreign coastal trade on the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic. There is a dense and evenly distributed network of railways and highways; there are 756 km of operating railway lines and more than 3, 500 km of paved highways (1970). The biggest transport junctions are Kaliningrad and Cherniakhovsk. The principal navigable rivers are the Nemunas and the Pregolia.


Cultural affairs and public health. In the 1971–72 academic year there were 138, 400 students receiving instruction in 483 schools of general education of all types in Kaliningrad Oblast, 16, 200 students in 13 specialized secondary schools, and 14, 200 in three higher educational institutions (the university, the higher naval engineering school, and the technical institute of fishing and the fishing industry in Kaliningrad). More than 35, -000 children were enrolled in 418 preschool institutions in 1970.

As of Jan. 1, 1972, there were 367 public libraries with 6, -025, 000 books and magazines, three theaters (the regional dramatic and puppet theaters in Kaliningrad and the dramatic theater in Sovetsk), a museum of local lore, 428 clubs, 608 stationary film projectors, botanical gardens (in Kaliningrad), and a number of extrascholastic children’s institutions (in Kaliningrad), such as a House of Pioneers and young technicians’, young naturalists’, and young tourists’ centers.

There are two regional newspapers: Kaliningradskaia pravda (since 1946) and Kaliningradskii komsomolets (since 1948). Regional radio and television each broadcast two programs and rebroadcast programs from Moscow. There is a television station in Kaliningrad.

As of Jan. 1, 1972, Kaliningrad Oblast had 75 hospitals with 9, 600 beds (12.8 beds per thousand inhabitants). There were 2, 600 working physicians (one for every 390 inhabitants). There are seaside resorts at Otradnoe, Svetlogorsk, Zelenogradsk, and Pionerskii.


Kaliningradskaia oblast’: Ocherkiprirody. Kaliningrad, 1969. Kaliningradskaia oblast’ v tsifrakh. Kaliningrad, 1968.
Rossiiskaia federatsiia: Evropeiskii sever. Moscow, 1971. (Series Sovetskii Soiuz.)
Kaliningradskaia oblast’ v vos’moi piatiletke. (Statistical collection.) Kaliningrad, 1972.
Vedernikov, I., and L. Zaichikova. Geografiia Kaliningradskoi oblasti. Kaliningrad, 1972.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Russia is nervous about EU enlargement (economically, but also because for Moscow it reinforces the tendency underlying the far more threatening enlargement of NATO), and will again raise numerous concerns - not least the fate of its Kaliningrad province, which will be isolated within the EU when Poland and Lithuania join.