Kharkov Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kharkov Oblast


an administrative region of the Ukrainian SSR. Formed on Feb. 27, 1932, the oblast has an area of 31,400 sq km and a population of 2,996,000 (Jan. 1, 1977). It is divided into 25 administrative raions and has 15 cities and 62 urban-type settlements. The administrative center is Kharkov. The oblast was awarded two Orders of Lenin, on Feb. 26, 1958, and on Aug. 21, 1968.

Natural features. Located in the northeastern Ukrainian SSR, on the watershed of the Don and Dnieper river systems, the oblast straddles the steppe and forest-steppe zones. The surface is an undulating plain cut by river valleys, ravines, and gullies.

The oblast has a moderate continental climate, with mean temperatures ranging from –7.2° to –8.4°C in January and from 20°C to 21.4°C in July. The average annual precipitation varies from 457 mm in the east to 536 mm in the west. The largest rivers are the Severskii Donets and its tributary, the Oskol. A number of smaller rivers drain into the Severskii Donets—the Udy, Mzha, Bereka, Balakleika, Volch’ia, and Velikii Burluk. The largest lakes are Liman, Borovoe, Chaika, and Lebiazh’e. Two large reservoirs have been built: the Pechenegi (380 million cu m) on the Severskii Donets and the Krasnooskol’skoe (480 million cu m) on the Oskol. There are about 1,150 ponds.

Chernozem soils predominate everywhere but in the river valleys, where slightly podzolic sod soils, meadow-chernozem soils, bog soils, and other types are found. Forests and brushwood occupy 9.2 percent of the oblast’s area, the largest forest tracts occurring in the northwest. The most common species are deciduous (oak, maple, linden, ash, willow, elm, wild pear), although pine forests also occur. Wildlife includes wolves, foxes, badgers, polecats, rabbits, elk, red deer, wild boars, roe deer, susliks, bobac marmots, moles, and hedgehogs. Among the more common birds are white-tailed eagles (Haliaeëtus albicilla), buzzards, harriers, owls, partridges, quail, herons, and storks. Bream, carp, pike, tench (Tinca tinca), roach, catfish, and crucian carp are found in the rivers and lakes.

Population. The 1970 census showed that Ukrainians constituted 67 percent of the oblast’s population and Russians, 29 percent. The remainder of the population consisted chiefly of Jews, Byelorussians, Tatars, Armenians, and Moldavians. The average population density is 94.8 persons per sq km (Jan. 1, 1977), with the raions adjacent to Kharkov being the most densely settled. In the northern and central areas the density varies from 50 to 100 persons per sq km, and in the south, from 30 to 55 persons per sq km. Urban dwellers constitute 74 percent of the population. The largest cities, after Kharkov, are Izium, Lozovaia, Kupiansk, Balakleia, Chuguev, Volchansk. Gotval’d, Merefa, and Liubotin.

Economy. During the years of Soviet power the oblast became a strong industrial region with a highly developed agriculture. Although economic specialization took final shape during the years of socialist construction, the present structure of industrial and agricultural production has certainly been influenced by the economic legacy of prerevolutionary times—production fixed assets in industry and agriculture, main transportation routes, and a considerable labor force possessing definite production skills. The oblast’s economy was dealt a severe blow during the Great Patriotic War. During the first postwar five-year plan, however, the economy was completely restored, its basic indicators exceeding the prewar level. The most rapid growth has occurred in industry.

The main industrial sectors, machine building and metalworking, account for about half of the value of the oblast’s industrial output. Agricultural machinery, chiefly tractors, is manufactured by a group of enterprises in Kharkov that includes the Kharkov Tractor Works, the Kharkov Serp i Molot Motor-building Plant, and the Porshen’ Plant, as well as by plants in Kupiansk, Chuguev, and Lozovaia. The oblast’s power engineering and electrical engineering industries specialize in the production of turbines (S. M. Kirov Kharkov Turbine Plant), generators, electric motors, and other electrical equipment. The largest electrical machine-building plants are Elektrotiazhmash, an electrical machinery plant, and an electrical equipment plant. Also highly developed are transport machine building (V. A. Malyshev Plant and other plants) and machine tool manufacture. There are plants producing heavy machinery, instruments, ball bearings, and equipment for the coal and printing industries, commercial enterprises, and the building industry. Most of these plants are located in Kharkov.

After machine building, the most important industrial sectors are food processing (providing more than 18 percent of the value of the oblast’s industrial output), using chiefly local produce, and light industry (about 16 percent). The food-processing industry includes eight meat-packing combines (Kharkov, Rogan’, Kupiansk, Krasnograd, Izium, Volchansk, Chuguev, and Bogoduk-hov), poultry and fats combines (Kharkov), 22 dairy enterprises, and 11 sugar refineries. Kharkov also has a sparkling wine plant and a tobacco factory. The oblast is the Ukraine’s leading producer of confectionery; the Oktiabr’ Factory in Kharkov is one of the largest confectionery enterprises in the USSR. The most important sectors of light industry are fur production, primary wool processing (Kharkov), and the manufacture of leather footwear (Kharkov, Volchansk), textile goods (Kharkov, Volchansk, Komarovka), and clothing and knitwear (Kharkov, Valki, Liubotin, Lozovaia).

The expanding chemical industry is concentrated in Kharkov (chemical reagents, paints, varnishes, pharmaceuticals) and in Pervomaiskii (pesticides). The building materials industry manufactures ceramic tiles, asbestos cement products (Balakleia and elsewhere), and precast reinforced concrete. Glass is produced in Merefa, and porcelain and glazed earthenware in Budy. The wood-products industry, using lumber brought in from other oblasts, is represented by furniture factories, a woodworking combine, and sawmills, located in Kharkov, Chuguev, Kupiansk, Krasnograd, and Solonitsevka. In addition, there is a cardboard factory in Rogan’ and a paper factory in Gotval’d.

The growing output of natural gas from the Shebelinka, Efremovka, Melikhovka, Krestishche, and Kegichevka fields is of great economic importance. The gas is transported by pipeline to Kharkov and other cities in the USSR. Electricity is generated by the Zmiev State Regional Power Plant and by several heat and power plants, all of them operating with local natural gas and Donets coal.

In agriculture, the oblast specializes in growing grain, vegetables, and industrial crops and in raising livestock for meat and dairy purposes. In 1975 the oblast had 2,434,100 hectares (ha) of farmland, of which more than 2 million ha were arable land, 93,900 ha hayfields, and 294,500 ha pastures. On Jan. 1, 1977, there were 282 kolkhozes and 157 sovkhozes, equipped with more than 21,000 tractors and about 5,000 harvesters (1975). Out of a sown area of 1,883,000 ha in 1976, 947,000 ha were planted to grain (winter wheat, spring barley, and corn), 268,000 ha to industrial crops (sunflowers and sugar beets), 58,000 ha to potatoes, and 35,000 ha to vegetables and melons and gourds. Orchards and vineyards occupy 43,300 ha. About 60,000 ha are under irrigation.

Livestock raising is an important branch of agriculture. As of Jan. 1, 1977, the livestock population numbered 1,230,000 head of cattle (including 457,000 cows), 1,097,000 pigs, 311,000 sheep and goats, and 9,836,000 fowl. Industrial livestock-raising complexes are being built.

Railroads are the chief means of transportation. Out of 1,520 km of railroad lines, 907 km are electrified. The major railroad junctions are Kharkov, Lozovaia, Kupiansk, and Liubotin. There are 9,200 km of roads, of which 5,000 km are paved. The main highways are the Moscow-Kharkov Dnepropetrovsk and the Kiev-Kharkov-Donbas. Air routes link Kharkov with Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, and other cities of the USSR.


Education, scientific and cultural institutions, and public health. In the 1914–15 school year the educational facilities in the area now occupied by Kharkov Oblast included 1,618 general-education schools (with more than 142,800 students), three specialized secondary schools (about 500 students), and six institutions of higher learning (more than 6,700 students). In the 1976–77 school year, the oblast’s 1,189 general-education schools of all types had an enrollment of more than 399,700 students. Vocational and specialized secondary education was provided by 54 vocational-technical schools (33,200 students), 34 vocational-technical schools offering a secondary education along with vocational training (16,600 students), and 48 specialized secondary schools (64,100 students). Most of the oblast’s 21 institutions of higher learning (129,800 students) are located in Kharkov, the site of the University of Kharkov, the Kharkov Polytechnic Institute, the Kharkov Agricultural Institute, the Kharkov Industrial Arts Institute, and institutes of aviation, engineering economics, electronics, construction engineering, medicine, and teacher education. There is a zooveterinary institute in the settlement of Malaia Danilovka.

In 1974 the oblast’s 1,009 preschool institutions were attended by more than 116,700 children. There are a significant number of research institutes. In 1976 the oblast had 1,367 public libraries with more than 17,100,000 books and magazines. There are six museums: the Art Museum and Historical Museum in Kharkov, a branch of the Kharkov Art Museum in Chuguev, a literary-memorial museum in Skovorodinovka (the village where G. S. Skovoroda, the eminent Ukrainian philosopher, writer, and educator, died in 1794), and branches of the Kharkov Historical Museum in Izium and Krasnograd. Theatrical performances are given by a Ukrainian drama theater, a puppet theater, a young people’s theater, a musical comedy theater, an opera and ballet theater, and a Russian drama theater. In 1976 there were 1,174 clubs, 1,181 stationary motion-picture projection units, and 62 extracurricular institutions.

Three oblast-level newspapers are published: the Ukrainian-language Sotsialistychna Kharkivshchyna (Socialist Kharkov Oblast, since 1917) and Lenins’ka zmina (Lenin’s Successors, since 1934) and the Russian-language Krasnoe znamia (Red Banner, since 1938). Radio broadcasts, in Ukrainian and Russian, include two programs of the All-Union Radio (44 hours daily), a republic information program (19 hours daily), a joint Union-republic program (19 hours daily), and a local program (2.5 hours daily). Television viewers have access to the programs of Central Television (12.9 hours daily), the joint programs of Moscow and Kiev (nine hours daily), and oblast programs (three hours daily).

As of Jan. 1, 1976, there were 228 hospitals with 36,600 beds (12.3 per 1,000 inhabitants) and 11,700 practicing physicians (one per 255 inhabitants). Health care is also provided by the balneological resorts of Berezovskie Mineral’nye Vody and Rai-Elenov-ka, 21 sanatoriums, and nine houses of rest.

Five national tourist routes pass through the oblast. Kharkov has a tourist hotel, a hostel, and camping facilities.


Istoriia mist i sil URSR: Kharkivs’ka oblast’. Kiev, 1967.
Khar’kovskaia oblast’: Priroda i khoziaistvo. Kharkov, 1971.
Zelenin, S. M., and I. M. Bondarovich. Turistskimi tropami po Khar’kovshchine. Kharkov, 1967.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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