Kemerovo Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kemerovo Oblast


a part of the RSFSR. Formed on Jan. 26, 1943. Area, 95,500 sq km. Population, 2.9 million (1972). The oblast is divided into 16 administrative raions. It has 19 cities and 42 urban-type settlements. The administrative center is the city of Kemerovo. Kemerovo Oblast was twice awarded the Order of Lenin—on Feb. 1, 1967, and on Dec. 31, 1970.

Natural features. Kemerovo Oblast is located at the junction of the Western Siberian plain and the mountains of southern Siberia. A large portion of the oblast is occupied by the Kuznetsk depression, which lies between the Kuznetsk Alatau (altitudes up to 2,178 m) and the Salair ridge, which has flat landscapes and only a few peaks rising to 600 m. The extreme south of Kemerovo Oblast is occupied by the vast territory of the medium-altitude mountains of the Gornaia Shoriia.

The climate is continental. The winter is long, with an average January temperature from – 17° to – 20°C, and the summer is short but warm, with an average July temperature from 17° to 20°C. The precipitation averages 300–500 mm a year, and in the mountainous parts, up to 900 mm. The growing season is 137–160 days.

The rivers of Kemerovo Oblast belong to the Ob’ basin. The largest river is the Tom’. It crosses the whole territory of Kemerovo Oblast from southeast to northwest for a distance of 485 km; the Mras-Su and Kondoma rivers flow into the Tom’ from the south, and the Usa, the Taidon, and the Upper, Middle, and Lower Ters’ flow into it from the east. The Inia River is located in the western part of the oblast, and in the northeastern part there are the Kiia and Iaia rivers, which are tributaries of the Chulym; in the southwest the Chumysh River originates from the Salair. The potential hydroelectric power resources of Kemerovo Oblast are 24.9 billion kilowatt-hours per year, or 12.5 percent of the resources of Western Siberia.

The oblast is divided into the northeastern steppe region and the southern and southeastern mountain-taiga region. The prevailing soils are chernozem and gray forest soils, which occupy the unforested stretches of the flat and broad watersheds and their gentle slopes. Boggy and meadow soils are found at the bottoms of ravines. The mountain regions have mountain-taiga, mountain-forest, mountain-meadow, and mountain-tundra soils.

Taiga and forest-steppe vegetation are the predominating types. Forests cover 4.5 million hectares (ha), of which 56 percent are coniferous and 44 percent deciduous forests. In the forest-steppe regions of the Kuznetsk depression forests cover less than 10 percent of the area and are represented by birch and aspen outliers that give way to birch and coniferous forests in the foothill areas. In the northeast of the oblast, where it is more than 25 percent forested, birch and aspen copses alternate with dry-valley meadows and tilled areas. The hilly steppe regions of the Kuznetsk depression used to have feather-grass and sheepfescue steppes, which are now mostly tilled. Taiga vegetation (Kuznetsk Alatau, Gornaia Shoriia, and partly in Salair) includes chern’ (fir and aspen) forests and dry-valley forests of spruce, fir, cedar, aspen, and birch. The western slopes of Kuznetsk Alatau still have linden plantings, often with some fir. There are also forests in the flat northern part of Kemerovo Oblast, where fir predominates.

The mammals living in the forests of Kemerovo Oblast include the bear, lynx, badger, European polecat, kolinsky, elk, squirrel, and fox; the birds of the oblast include the hazel hen, the blackcock, the capercaillie, woodpeckers, tomtits, and the cuckoo. The white hare and the wolf are encountered in the more open areas.

Population. The main part (about nine-tenths) of the oblast’s population are Russians; besides them there are also Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Mordvinians, Chuvashes, Tatars, and Shorians. Kemerovo Oblast is the most densely populated oblast of Siberia, with an average population density of 30.4 people per sq km. The population density is highest in the Kuznetsk depression, with 49 persons per sq km, and lowest in the foothills of Kuznetsk Alatau and in Gornaia Shoriia. The urban population is 2,419,000 (83 percent of the total). The largest cities are Kemerovo, Novokuznetsk, Prokop’evsk, Leninsk-Kuznetskii, Kiselevsk, Belovo, Anzhero-Sudzhensk, and Osinniki.

Economy. Kemerovo Oblast stands out in the country’s national economy as a region with a diversity of minerals and a highly developed heavy industry. The coal of the Kuznetsk Coal Basin, which is located in Kemerovo Oblast, not only holds a foremost place in the coal balance of the Soviet Union but is also a major raw material for many branches of industry. The leading industries of the oblast are the coal industry, the electric power industry, ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy, the chemical industry, machine building, and metalworking. Almost all these industries have been created during the years of socialist construction. Among the older industries the coal industry increased output 94 times from 1917 to 1971, producing 118 million tons of coal in 1971.

Kemerovo Oblast is among the USSR’s major suppliers of coal, pig iron (8.1 million tons were produced in 1971), steel, rolled metal, metallurgical coke, mineral fertilizers, caprolactam, synthetic tar and plastics, electrical engineering products, heavy machines, and other goods. The electrical power system of the Kuzbas includes huge power plants such as the Belovo and Tom’-Usa regional heat and electric power plants (1.2 million and 1.3 million kilowatts respectively), the Southern Kuzbas State Regional Electric Power Plant (156,000 kilowatts), and heat and electric power plants in the largest industrial centers— Novokuznetsk and Kemerovo. The main enterprises of ferrous metallurgy are the Kuznetsk Metallurgical Combine and the Western Siberian Metallurgical Plant in Novokuznetsk. Nonferrous metallurgy includes a zinc plant in Belovo and an aluminium plant in Novokuznetsk. Most of the enterprises of the chemical industry are located in Kemerovo and Novokuznetsk.

The major branches of machine building are coal machine building (Anzhero-Sudzhensk, Kiselevsk, and Prokop’evsk) and electrical machine building (Prokop’evsk, Kemerovo). The well-developed building-materials industry produces cement, slate, glass, and other products. The enterprises of the food and light industries are concentrated mainly in the big cities. A sawmill industry has been created using local lumber and lumber shipped from Tomsk Oblast. On the average, 4 million cu m of lumber is processed in Kemerovo Oblast per year.

Agriculture occupies an important place in the economy of Kemerovo Oblast. Grain crops are grown in the forest-steppe regions, and surburban agriculture specializing in potato and vegetable farming and in the raising of dairy livestock and swine is developing on a large scale. This suburban agriculture supplies raw materials for the enterprises of the food and light industries to be found in many communities.

In 1971 the oblast had 66 kolkhozes and 144 sovkhozes. The overwhelming majority of the farms specialize in livestock raising; among the kolkhozes 53 specialize in meat with some dairy livestock, nine in dairy with some meat livestock, three in poultry, and one in swine; among the sovkhozes 44 specialize in meat with some dairy livestock, 46 in dairy with some meat livestock, 19 solely in meat livestock, and 14 solely in dairy livestock. Land used for agriculture in 1971 in the oblast totaled 2.8 million hectares (ha), of which 1.6 million ha were tillable, 500,000 ha were in hay, and 700,000 ha were in pasture. The area actually under cultivation in 1971 was 1,551,000 ha, of which 949,000 ha were in grain crops (mainly wheat, barley, and oats) and 105,000 ha were in potatoes and vegetables. On Jan. 1, 1972, the oblast had 746,000 head of cattle (including 321,000 cows), 701,000 head of swine, and 219,000 head of sheep. Beekeeping plays an important role in the oblast. Trapping animals for fur is widely developed (mainly in Gornaia Shoriia).

Kemerovo Oblast has a number of railroad lines, including Iurga-Topki-Kemerovo, Topki-Leninsk-Kuznetskii-Belovo, Novokuznetsk-Osinniki-Tashtagol, Novokuznetsk-Abakan, Novokuznetsk-Artyshta, Proektnaia through Promyshlennaia to Inskaia, and Kemerovo-Barzas. The oblast has 1,702 km of railroads, of which 1,510 km are electrified (1971). Automobile roads connect Kemerovo with Novokuznetsk, Taiga, and other cities of the oblast, as well as with Novosibirsk; there are a total of 16 intercity bus lines. On the Tom’ River diesel boats with a small draft provide regular passenger transportation on the Kemerovo-Novokuznetsk and the Kemerovo-Tomsk lines.

The oblast is divided economically into a northern region specializing in coal mining and machine building; a northeastern region with forestry and mining; a central region with coal mining, the chemical industry, and machine building; and a southern region with coal mining, metallurgy, and machine building.


Education, cultural affairs, and public health. In the 1914–15 academic year there were 382 schools with 25,000 students on the territory of present-day Kemerovo Oblast and no higher or specialized secondary schools. In the 1971–72 academic year the oblast had 1,723 general educational schools of all types with 584,200 students, 89 vocational and technical schools with 43,400 students, and 53 specialized secondary schools with 64,-600 students; in addition there were 33,200 students in six institutes of higher education (the Kuzbas Polytechnic Institute, a medical and a pedagogical institute, an institute of culture in Kemerovo, the Siberian Metallurgical Institute, and a pedagogical institute in Novokuznetsk). In 1971 there were 1,383 pre-school institutions with more than 123,000 children.

On Jan. 1, 1971, the oblast had 1,326 public libraries (with more than 16 million copies of books and magazines) and eight museums, including an oblast museum of local lore in Kemerovo (with branches in the cities of Iurga and Gur’evsk); museums of local lore in Novokuznetsk, Prokop’evsk, and Leninsk-Kuznetskii; the Science and Technology Museum of the Kuznetsk Metallurgical Combine; and an oblast museum of Soviet fine arts in Novokuznetsk. The six theaters of the oblast are an oblast drama theater, the Kuzbas Theater of Musical Comedy, a puppet theater in Kemerovo, a drama and a puppet theater in Novokuznetsk, and a drama theater in Prokop’evsk. Other cultural institutions of the oblast include 947 clubs, 1,297 permanent motion picture projection units, and a number of extracurricular institutions, including four palaces of Pioneers, 32 houses of Pioneers, five young technicians’ stations, and 23 children’s sports schools.

The oblast newspapers include Kuzbass (founded in 1922) and Komsomolets Kuzbassa (founded in 1950). The oblast radio and television broadcast one radio and two television programs, relay broadcasts from Moscow, and receive the Orbita program. The television center is located in Kemerovo.

On Jan. 1, 1972, the oblast had 281 hospital institutions with 42,800 hospital beds (14.8 beds per thousand population) and 7,300 physicians (one physician per 254 population). The oblast has sanatoriums, a koumiss-therapy clinic, and rest homes.


Kolobkov, M. N. Kemerovskaia oblast’: Prirodnye i ekonomicheskie resursy i perspektivy razvitiia khoziaistva. Novosibirsk, 1950.
Pomus, M. I. Zapadnaia Sibir’: Ekonomiko-geograficheskaia kharakteristika. Moscow, 1956.
Zapadno-Sibirskii ekonomicheskii raion. Moscow, 1967.
Kemerovskaia oblast’ ν tsifrakh: Statistich. sb. Novosibirsk, 1966.
Rossiiskaia federatsiia: Zapadnaia Sibir’. Moscow, 1971 (Series Sovetskii Soiuz).
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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