Kirov Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kirov Oblast


an oblast in the RSFSR. Formed as Kirov Krai on Dec. 7, 1934, it was reorganized as an oblast on Dec. 5, 1936. Area, 120,800 sq km. Population, 1,688,000 (1972). The oblast has 39 raions, 19 cities, and 53 urban-type settlements. The administrative center is Kirov. The oblast was awarded the Order of Lenin on Dec. 25, 1959.

Natural features. The oblast is situated in the eastern part of the European USSR. Its surface is an undulating, ridgy plain, sloping from north to south. In the center of the oblast the Viatka Uval (chain of hills), with elevations up to 284 m, extends in a meridional direction. In the northeast lies the Verkhnekamskaia Elevation, rising to 337 m (the highest point in the oblast), and in the north are the Severnye Uvaly (up to 251 m), the divide of the Volga and Northern Dvina basins. The principal lowlands are the Cheptsa, Kirov-Kotel’nich, and Kil’mez’. In the central and southern regions are many ravines with a depth of 30–40 m. Karst features, such as caves, dry sinkholes, and karst lakes, are also encountered.

The climate is moderately continental, with long, moderately cold winters and short, but relatively warm summers. Mean January temperatures range from –14° to –16°C, and mean July temperatures vary from 17° to 19°C. The annual precipitation in the northern regions is 550–600 mm, and in the south, 400–450 mm. The growing season is 155 days in the north and 170 days in the south.

There is a dense river network. The rivers are part of the Volga basin, with the exception of the lug and Sysola rivers (and their tributaries) in the northwest and northeast, which belong to the Severnaia Dvina basin. The main river, the Viatka, receives the Kobra, Letka, Velikaia, Moloma, and Pizhma from the right and the Belaia Kholunitsa, Cheptsa, and Kil’mez’ from the left. The upper course of the Kama and several of its tributaries (including the Lup’ia, Nyrmych, and Porysh) flow through the northeast. In the west rise the headwaters of the Vetluga River. The energy resources of the rivers (more than 700 megawatts) have been little exploited.

The most widely occurring soils are podzolic (35 percent of the total area), on which coniferous forests grow, and soddy podzolic (45 percent), found under mixed forests. The Viatka Uval region has more fertile soddy calcareous soils, and flood-plain soils (6 percent) are found in the river valleys. Swamp soils, covering 6 percent of the total area, are found on the flat divides and in the swamy lowlands, and gray forest soils (7 percent) are encountered in the south along the right bank of the Viatka.

The oblast has large forest resources, with reserves of 800 million cu m. About 7 million hectares (ha) are covered by forests, chiefly spruce-fir (sometimes swampy); in the south are coniferous and broad-leaved forests. The largest forest tracts occur in the northern regions, where as much as 70–90 percent of the area is forested. Spruce and fir occupy 34.6 percent of the forested area, pine 21.5 percent, birch 32.1 percent, aspen 10.5 percent, and others 1.3 percent. Meadows (729,000 ha), particularly the flood meadows in the valleys of the Viatka River and its tributaries, provide excellent pastures. Swamps, occupying 137,900 ha, are especially widespread in the northeastern and western regions.

Animal life is represented by the squirrel, marten, fox, gray and blue hare, lynx, bear, elk, and, in the northeast, reindeer. The muskrat and racoon dog have been acclimated, and the beaver and desman have been reintroduced. Hunting birds include the hazel hen, the ptarmigan, the capercaillie, geese, and ducks. The rivers abound in bream, pike-perch, ide, and chub, and the mirror carp is raised in ponds.

Population. Russians constitute the bulk of the population (91 percent in 1970). In the regions bordering on the autonomous republics live Mari, Tatars, Udmurts, and Komi. The average population density is 14 persons per sq km (1972). The most densely settled areas are those along the banks of the middle and lower courses of the Viatka and the lower course of the Cheptsa. The forested and swampy regions in the north are sparsely inhabited. The highest density is found in Viatskie Poliany Raion (78 per sq km) and the lowest in Nagorsk Raion (three per sq km). The urban population has increased from 6.3 percent in 1926 to 58 percent in 1972. The most important towns are Kirov, Viatskie Poliany, Kirovo-Chepetsk, Kotel’nich, and Slobodskoi. Eleven towns have been founded in the Soviet period, including Viatskie Poliany, Kirovo-Chepetsk, Novoviatsk, Omutninsk, Zuevka, and Sovetsk.

Economy. Since the beginning of the Soviet period the oblast has been transformed from a backward agrarian region into an industrial oblast with large-scale, highly mechanized agriculture. Total industrial production in 1971 was 19.8 times greater than in 1940, and the production of machine-building and metal working enterprises increased almost 111 times. The leading industries—machine building and metalworking, fuel, electric power, chemical, lumbering and woodworking, leather, fur, and footwear—arose mainly during the five-year plans.

The oblast’s industry, based on imported and local raw materials, produces high-grade steel, rolled ferrous and nonferrous metals, transport lifting equipment, cables, forestation and farm machinery, vessels, motor scooters, school equipment, measuring instruments, phosphate fertilizer (using local raw materials), tires, leather, footwear, furs, wood, plywood, furniture, skis, industrial paper, and matches. Between 1941 and 1971 electric power generation increased 34.1 times, and production of phosphate fertilizer rose from 28,900 tons in 1940 to 454,700 tons in 1971. In the same period output of railroad cranes rose from 178 to 465 units, plywood from 10,800 cu m to 65,300 cu m, leather footwear from 3.6 million to 15.4 million pairs, and fur coats from 3,600 to 67,500 items. Production of commercial timber increased from 3.8 million to 13.9 million cu m. The major industrial centers are Kirov, Slobodskoi, Omutninsk, Kotel’nich, Viatskie Poliany, Kirovo-Chepetsk, Kirs, Novoviatsk, Belaia Kholunitsa, Sosnovka, Zuevka, Sovetsk, and Luza.

In 1971 the oblast produced 16.5 percent of the RSFSR’s total output of matches, 52.4 percent of its motor scooters, 7.8 percent of its tires, 4.5 percent of its plywood, 6.4 percent of its fiber-board, 4.5 percent of its leather footwear, and 5.1 percent of its commercial timber.

Agriculture is dominated by dairy and meat livestock raising and the cultivation of grain, flax, and potatoes. As of Jan. 1, 1972, there were 314 kolkhozes, 234 sovkhozes, 30 livestock fattening farms, and 11 poultry farms. Agricultural land totals 4,078,000 ha (1971), including 2,687,000 ha of plowed lands, 699,000 ha of hayfields, and 649,000 ha of pastures. In 1971 the kolkhozes and sovkhozes planted 1.16 million ha to cereals, including 664,000 ha to rye, 71,000 ha to spring wheat, 279,000 ha to oats, 100,000 ha to barley, 33,000 ha to buckwheat and peas, 27,000 ha to flax, 48,000 ha to potatoes, and 566,000 ha to feed crops. Orchards and berry farms cover more than 6,000 ha.

As of Jan. 1, 1972, livestock numbered 895,100 head of cattle, including 385,700 cows, 374,100 pigs, and 443,800 sheep and goats. Poultry raising is expanding (3.8 million). New breeds have been developed, including the Istoben cattle, the Urzhum pigs, the Viatka fine-fleece sheep, and the Kirov breed of rabbits.

In 1971 the oblast had 1,049 km of railroads, including 416 km of electrified line. The main railroad is the Moscow-Kirov-Sverdlovsk line. Other major lines are the Kotel’nich-Gorky, Kirov-Kotlas, and Iar-Lesnoi. The navigable sections of the Viatka and its tributaries total 2,125 km, and 7,000 km of waterways are used for floating timber. Paved roads total 6,438 km (3,200 km in 1940). The main highways are the Kirov-Nolinsk-Urzhum, Kirov-Kotel’nich-Sovetsk, Kirov-Slobodskoi-Belaia Kholunitsa, Kirov-Kotel’nich-Iaransk, and Kirov-Kirovo Chepetsk. Air service connects Kirov with Moscow, Leningrad, Sverdlovsk, Syktyvkar, and other cities of the USSR.


Education, cultural affairs, and public health. In 1914–15 the territory of present-day Kirov Oblast had 1,787 schools (predominantly primary) with 121,000 pupils, or about 37 percent of all school-age children. In 1971–72 the 1,728 general schools of various types had an enrollment of more than 339,000 pupils. In that year there were 23,400 students in 54 vocational schools, 26,600 students in 29 special secondary schools, and 15,900 students in Kirov’s three institutions of higher learning, the V. I. Lenin Pedagogical Institute, the Agricultural Institute, and the Polytechnic Institute. In 1971, 69,500 children attended 1,016 preschool institutions.

The oblast has (Jan. 1, 1972) 1,190 public libraries (14.6 million holdings), 1,543 clubs, and nine museums, including museums of local lore in Kirov, Kotel’nich, Malmyzh, Slobodskoi, Sovetsk, and Iaransk, the A. M. Gorky Art Museum in Kirov, the Museum Home of S. M. Kirov in Urzhum, and the Museum Home of F. E. Dzerzhinskii in the village of Kai. The oblast also has three theaters (in Kirov), 1,563 film projection units, 34 stadiums, and such extracurricular institutions as a palace of Pioneers, 35 houses of Pioneers, a center for young naturalists, two centers for young technicians, a children’s tourist center, three children’s recreation parks, and a children’s stadium.

The oblast newspapers are Kirovskaia pravda (Kirov Pravda), published since 1917, and Komsomol’skoe plemia (Young Communist Generation), appearing since 1935. The oblast radio and television broadcast two radio and two television programs. The television center is in Kirov.

As of Jan. 1, 1972, there were 212 hospitals with 21,700 beds (12.9 per 1,000 inhabitants) and 3,400 physicians (one per 498 inhabitants).


Priroda Kirovskoi oblasti, Parts 1–2. Kirov, 1960–1966.
Priroda Kirovskoi oblasti, 2nd ed. [Kirov] 1967.
Matveev, G. P., G. A. Privalovskaia, and B. S. Khorev. Volgo-Viatskii raion. Moscow, 1961.
Kirovskaia oblast’ k 50-letiiu Oktiabria (statistical collection). Gorky, 1967.
Piat’desiat sovetskikh let, 1917–1967: Kirovskaia oblast’. [Kirov] 1967.
Goroda Kirovskoi oblasti. Kirov, 1968.
Atlas Kirovskoi oblasti. Moscow, 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.