Karaganda Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Karaganda Oblast


part of the Kazakh SSR. It was formed on Mar. 10, 1932. Area, 85, 400 sq km. Population, 1, 223, 000 (1974). The oblast has eight administrative raions, six cities, and 16 urban-type settlements. The center is the city of Karaganda. Karaganda Oblast was awarded the Order of Lenin on Oct. 16, 1958.

Natural features. The oblast is located in the northeastern part of central Kazakhstan. Most of it is occupied by the Kazakh hilly region (elevation, 300–1,000 m), from which rise outlier massifs—Kent (elevation, to 1, 469 m), the Karkaralinsk Mountains (elevation, to 1, 403 m), Karasoran (elevation, to 1, 369 m), and Khankashty (elevation, to 1, 220 m).

The climate is sharply continental and extremely arid. Summers are very hot and dry (the average July temperature is 22°C in the plains and 18°C in the mountains; the absolute maximum is 43°C), with dust storms and sharp fluctuations in diurnal temperatures. Winters are cold and long, with little snow, strong winds, and snowstorms (the average January temperature is −15°C in the northeast and −17°C in the west; the absolute minimum is −52°C). Annual precipitation totals 250–350 mm in the north, with more than 400 mm in mountainous localities. The growing season lasts 160–180 days.

The major river is the Nura. All the rivers (with the exception of the headwaters of the Ishim in the far north) belong to the landlocked basins of various small lakes. The rivers have little water; in the summer they become very shallow, break up into reaches, and become salty or dry up completely. Water pipelines, reservoirs (the major ones are the Samarkand and Sherubai-Nura), and the Irtysh-Karaganda Canal (495 km long) have been built to supply the industrial centers and agricultural regions with water. There are numerous lakes, most of which are saline (Karasor, for example); many of them are full of water only in the spring. Fresh underground water is also widely used for water supply.

The major part of the oblast has gramineous-wormwood steppes on dark chestnut and chestnut soils. This is the main region of unirrigated farming and virgin-land plowing. In the extreme southwest there is fescue and wormwood vegetation on light chestnut soils. The elevated parts of the uplands have steppes with islands of trees (pine, birch, aspen, and willow) on very rocky chestnut and mountain chernozem soils. In the virgin lands there are numerous rodents (susliks, jerboas, gerbils) and carnivores (wolf and corsac fox). Along the banks of rivers and lakes there are waterfowl.

Population. Karganda Oblast is inhabited by Kazakhs, Russians, Ukrainians, Tatars, Byelorussians, Koreans, Germans, Mordovians, Chuvashes, Bashkirs, Moldavians, and other nationalities. The urban settlements and farmsteads of the new grain sovkhozes are particularly multinational. The average population density is 14.3 persons per sq km. A total of 85.4 percent of the population is urban. Most of the rural population lives in the northern raions. Virtually all the cities of the oblast were founded during the years of Soviet power in connection with mining, the processing of minerals, and railroad construction.

Economy. Large-scale industry, consisting primarily of the extraction and processing of mineral raw materials, predominates. There is also grain farming and livestock raising. Power production is based upon local coal. The largest thermal power plants are in the cities of Abai, Karaganda, and Temirtau. The main branch of industry is coal; the Karaganda Coal Basin supplies fuel not only to enterprises of the Kazakh SSR and the Middle Asian republics but also to ferrous metallurgy in the Urals; in 1973 output was 43.3 million tons. Ferrous metallurgy to a significant degree is based on ore brought in from Kustanai and Dzhezkazgan oblasts. Among the other industries are high metal import machine building (including for the coal industry), the production of building materials (cement, brick, and lime), chemicals, light industry (garments, knitwear, and footwear), and food industry (for example, meat, butter and cheese, various dairy products, flour milling, and confectionery items). The industrial enterprises, most of which are located in and near Karaganda, include the Karaganda Metallurgical Combine, a synthetic rubber plant, and a foundry and machinery works—all in Temirtau—as well as coal industry in the cities of Saran’, Abai, and Shakhtinsk. Among the other industrial centers are Aktas (a cement plant) and the urban-type settlements of Osakarovka (a furniture plant), Iuzhnyi (building materials quarrying), and Kushoky (coal mining).

Among the agricultural lands (7.9 million hectares [ha]), pastures (5.4 million ha) predominate. Winter pastures prevail in the southwest and northeast and semideserts and summer pastures in the elevated parts of the hilly region. There are only 1.8 million ha of plowed land. In the years 1954–58, large areas of virgin and fallow lands were developed and grain sovkhozes established in the northern part of the oblast (89 sovkhozes in 1974). In the steppes of the north agriculture combines unirri-gated grain cultivation with meat and dairy livestock raising, hog raising, poultry raising, and fine-fleeced sheep raising. Suburban-type agriculture (dairy livestock and vegetables) prevails near the industrial centers. The planted area totals 1, 664, 500 ha (1973), including almost 70 percent under cereals (1, 126, 500 ha), with spring wheat being the main cereal. Also raised are barley, millet, and feed crops (516, 500 ha), including corn for green feed and perennial grasses. Industrial crops (2, 200 ha) include sunflowers, corn flax, and mustard. Potatoes are planted on 14, 200 ha and vegetables on 4, 100 ha. Sheep and goats (806, 200 head as of Jan. 1, 1974) predominate among the livestock. Cattle (353, 100 head), horses (52, 300), hogs (71, 300), camels (1, 800), and poultry are also raised.

The length of the railroads totals 581 km (1973). The basic main lines are Tselinograd-Karaganda-Mointy-Chu, with spurs to Temirtau and Karagaily. The major motor roads are Karaganda-Temirtau, Karaganda-Tselinograd, and Karaganda-Karkaralinsk.


Education, cultural affairs, and public health. During the 1914–15 academic year, Karaganda Oblast had 79 schools with 4, 085 students and no institutions of higher learning. During the 1971–72 academic year there were 351, 600 students in 849 general educational schools of all types, 25, 700 students in 55 vocational-technical schools, and 23, 500 students in 24 secondary specialized schools. A total of 27, 300 students were studying at the following institutions: the university; the polytechnical, medical, and co-op trade institutes; the institute for teachers of physical education (all in Karaganda); and at the plant-based higher technical institutes of the Karaganda Metallurgical Combine (in Temirtau). In 1971 there were 86, 300 children in 674 preschool institutions.

As of Jan. 1, 1972, the oblast had 730 public libraries (7, 651,000 books and journals), an oblast museum of local lore, the Stanislavsky Russian Oblast Dramatic Theater, and the Seifullin Kazakh Oblast Dramatic Theater (in Karaganda). There were 466 club institutions, 355 motion-picture projection units, and various extracurricular institutions such as the Palace of Pioneers, 22 Houses of Pioneers, two stations for young naturalists, six stations for young technicians, a children’s railroad, and a hiking station.

The oblast has two newspapers—the Kazakh-language Ortalyk Kazakhstan (Central Kazakhstan, published since 1931) and Industrial’naia Karaganda (since 1932). Oblast radio and television broadcast one radio program (in Russian and Kazakh) and two television programs (in Kazakh, Russian, and German). Broadcasts are also relayed from Alma-Ata and Moscow. There are television broadcasting stations that produce their own programs in Karaganda, Dzhezkazgan, and Balkhash.

As of Jan. 1, 1972, the oblast had 191 hospital institutions with 22, 100 beds (13.7 beds per 1,000 inhabitants) and 4, 900 physicians (1 physician per 325 inhabitants).


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Narodnoe khoziaistvo Karagandinskoi oblasti: Stat, sbornik. Karaganda, 1967.
Industrial’noe serdtse Kazakhstana (Ekonomiko-geograficheskaia kharakteristika prirody, naseleniia i khoziaistva Karagandinskoi oblasti). Alma-Ata, 1968.
Narodnoe khoziaistvo Kazakhstana v 1968 g.: Stat, sbornik. Alma-Ata, 1970.
Kazakhstan. Moscow, 1969. (The series Prirodnye usloviia i estestvennye resursy SSSR.)
Atlas Karagandinskoi oblasti. Moscow, 1969.
Kazakhstan. Moscow, 1970. (The series Sovetskii Soiuz.)
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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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