Kuibyshev Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kuibyshev Oblast


part of the RSFSR. Formed on May 14, 1928, as Srednevolzhskaia Oblast, on Oct. 20, 1929, it was renamed Srednevolzhskii Krai. On Jan. 27, 1935, it became Kuibyshev Krai and on Dec. 5, 1936, Kuibyshev Oblast. It is located in the center of the Volga economic region. In 1972 its area was 53,600 sq km, and its population, 2,874,000. Kuibyshev Oblast has 25 administrative raions, ten cities, and 18 urban-type settlements. The administrative center is the city of Kuibyshev. Kuibyshev Oblast has been awarded two Orders of Lenin (Sept. 20, 1958, and Nov. 26, 1970).

Natural features. Kuibyshev Oblast is located in the south-eastern part of the East European Plain along the middle Volga, where the river makes a sharp bend called the Samar oxbow. The oblast is divided into a smaller right-bank and a left-bank part. The right bank is occupied by the Volga Hills and is strongly dissected by ravines and gullies. Rising precipitously on the side of the Volga and sloping gently to the south, the Zhiguli Hills (maximum elevation, 375 m) are located in the northern part of the Samar oxbow.

The Nizkoe Zavolzh’e hills are located in the northwestern part of the left-bank region, and the rolling Vysokoe Zavolzh’e (elevations of more than 300 m), which includes the Sokskie lary and the Sok and Kinel’ lary, is located in the northeast. To the south is a gently undulating plain (embracing the Srednii Syrt and other hills), which gives way to the Obshchii Syrt (elevation, more than 200 m) on the southeast. The narrow space between the Zhiguli Hills and the Sok lary is dissected by the Volga Valley, known at this point as the Zhiguli Gates.

Kuibyshev Oblast is important for its reserves of petroleum, natural gas, fuel-bearing shales, sulfur, gypsum, limestones, and bituminous dolomites.

The climate is continental and arid. The average January temperature varies from — 13°C in the west to — 14°C in the east, and the July temperature, from 20°C in the northwest to 22°C in the southeast. Annual precipitation is 450 mm in the west and north and 300 mm or less in the south. The growing season is about 180 days long. Droughts and arid winds are common in the south.

The oblast’s main river is the Volga. Most of the other Volga Basin rivers are shallow. The Volga’s right tributaries are the Usa and Syzran’, and its left tributaries are the Bol’shoi Cheremshan, Sok, Samara, Chapaevka, Chagra, and the Bol’shoi Irgiz (the headwaters), as well as their tributaries. The level of the river channels is controlled by waters from the Kuibyshev and Saratov reservoirs.

Chernozems prevail. Dark gray podzol soils (in the Samar oxbow) and leached chernozems are found on the right bank. Chernozems rich in humus prevail in the northeastern left-bank region and alternate with podzols and ordinary chernozems in the northwest. Southern chernozems and dark brown soils are found in the southern steppe area.

The boundary between the forest-steppe (the right bank and northern left bank) and the steppe (or southern) zone almost coincides with the Samara Valley. Forests cover about 12 per-cent of the oblast’s territory (70 percent of the Zhiguli Hills). Deciduous forests prevail, with isolated intrusions of coniferous forests. In the Zhiguli Hills and in the watershed there are broad-leaved (oak, lime, and maple) and partially mixed forests. Pine groves are found on the sandy soils of the Volga’s left bank and along the Samara River (for example, the Stavropol’ and Buzuluk groves). The southern part of the territory which was originally covered with grassy steppe (needlegrass and sheep’s fescue), has been plowed up, and little of the natural steppe vegetation remains. Meadows (primarily water meadows) are found on the floodplains.

The fauna of Kuibyshev Oblast includes the wolf, fox, elk, roe deer, squirrel, Russian desman, numerous blue and European hares, and rodents such as susliks and (in the southeast) marmots. The grouse, Hungarian partridge, capercaillie, and hazel hen are also found in the region. The rivers, lakes, and ponds are rich in fish, of which the most valuable are the sturgeon, pike perch, ide, and carp.

Population. Most of the population is Russian (82.8 percent, according to the 1970 census). Mordvinians (4.3 percent), Chuvash (4.1 percent), Tatars (3.4 percent), and Ukrainians (2.4 percent) also live in Kuibyshev Oblast. The average population density is 53.6 persons per sq km (1972). The highest density is in the northern, eastern, and urban regions, and the lowest, in the south. Of the total population of the oblast, 74 percent is urban. In 1972 the largest cities were Kuibyshev (1,094,000), Tol’iatti (333,000), Syzran’ (179,000), and Novokuibyshevsk (108,000). The towns of Zhigulevsk, KineP, Novokuibyshevsk, Oktiabr’sk, Otradnyi, Pokhvistnevo, and Chapaevsk were founded under Soviet power.

Economy. Until the October Revolution Kuibyshev Oblast was a backward agricultural region. Agriculture accounted for 79 percent of its gross output, and industry, for 21 percent. The landlords, clergy, merchants, and kulaks owned two-thirds of the land. Primitive implements were used in farming. As a result of socialist transformations under Soviet power, Kuibyshev Oblast became a region of developed industry and large-scale mechanized agriculture. In 1972 the level of industrial output (major industries) was 809 times that of the prerevolutionary period. The volume of industrial output was 54 times higher in 1972 than in 1940. In the Soviet economy as a whole, Kuibyshev Oblast is outstanding for the production of electric power, as well as for machine building, the extraction of petroleum, and the petrochemicals industry. Electric power production accounted for 16.1 percent of the total fixed productive capital in 1971; machine building and metalworking, for 36.8 percent; petroleum extraction, for 10.6 percent; the building materials industry, for 4.2 percent; food processing, for 2.5 percent; the timber and wood products industries, for 0.9 percent; and light industry, for 0.5 percent.

Kuibyshev Oblast is an important electric power supply center for the USSR. In 1971 the capacity of the oblast’s electric power plants was 56 times higher than in 1940, and the output of electric power, 74 times greater. There are large steam power plants at Kuibyshev, Novokuibyshevsk, Tol’iatti, and Syzran’. The V. I. Lenin Volga Hydroelectric Power Plant is located in Zhigulevsk.

More than one-half of the oblast’s industrial workers are employed in the leading branch of industry, machine building and metalworking. In Tol’iatti a large automobile production center has been built (the Volga Automobile Works). The production of machine tools, chiefly high-precision metal-cutting tools, is well established in Kuibyshev. Agricultural equipment, including machinery used on livestock farms and assemblies and parts for motor vehicles and tractors, is produced in Syzran’, Tol’iatti, and Kuibyshev. The electrical engineering industry, which is located in Kuibyshev and Tol’iatti, produces power rectifiers and transformers, various types of cables, and electrical insulating materials. Bearings are produced in Kuibyshev, and equipment for the petroleum, chemicals, cement, construction, consumer goods, and food-processing industries is manufactured in Kuibyshev, Tol’iatti, and Syzran’.

Kuibyshev Oblast is a petroleum-producing area of the Volga-Urals petroleum and gas region. In 1972, 35 million tons of petroleum were extracted. The main petroliferous zone cuts almost through the middle of the oblast from west to east. Four petroleum-producing sites have been developed. The largest is the KineP -Cherkassy district, which produces about half the oblast’s petroleum output. It draws on the large Mukhanovo oil field, with its center at Otradnyi. The south Kuibyshev district, which exploits the Kuleshovka, Lebiazhii, Barinovka, and Blagodarovka oil fields, has its center at Neftegorsk. The center of the southwestern district, which relies on the Pokrovskoe and Gorbatov oil fields, is Bezenchuk. The Zhigulevsk-Syzran’ district, the oldest of the four, draws on the Syzran’, Zhigulevsk, Zol’noe and Gubino oil fields and has centers at Syzran’, Zhigulevsk, Solnechnaia Poliana, Mirnyi, and Zol’noe. Oil is refined in Kuibyshev, Novokuibyshevsk, and Syzran’. Natural gas is produced, and there are gas-refining plants at Otradnyi and Neftegorsk.

The petrochemicals industry produces synthetic alcohol, phenol, acetone, polyethylene, and products needed for the manufacture of synthetic fibers and plastics (at Novokuibyshevsk), as well as synthetic rubber (at Tol’iatti) and carbon black (at Syzran’). Chemical and nitrogen fertilizer plants produce elementary phosphorus and phosphoriferous compounds, ammonium nitrate, carbamide, complex fertilizers, and detergents (at ToF iatti), as well as chemical poisons (at Chapaevsk). Sulfur is mined at the Vodinskoe open-mining pit by the Kuibyshev Sulfur Combine.

Kuibyshev Oblast is an important center for the production of building materials, including cement, asbestos-cement pipes and sheets, faience, reinforced-concrete products, hydro- and thermal-insulating materials, Ruberoid, asphalt, gypsum, and bricks (Kuibyshev, Tol’iatti, Zhigulevsk, Syzran’, Oktiabr’sk, and Alekseevka). The Zhigulevsk Building-materials Combine is one of the largest in the country. The woodproducts industry is located in Kuibyshev, Oktiabr’sk, Zhigulevsk, and Mezhdurechensk.

Among the branches of the food-processing industry are flour milling, meatpacking, dairy products, and vegetable-oil extraction (Kuibyshev, Syzran’, Bogatoe, and Marychevka).

In agriculture the emphasis is on grain and livestock production. As of 1972, there were 3,135,000 hectares (ha) of plow-lands, 100,000 ha of hayfields, and 780,000 ha of pastures. There were 95 sovkhozes and 317 kolkhozes in 1972. Most of the sown area (1,909,000 ha out of a total of 2,938,000 ha in 1972) is covered with cereal crops. Wheat (993,000 ha) is grown every-where. There are also extensive plantings of millet, winter rye, barley, buckwheat, and beans. The main industrial crop is sun-flowers, which are grown for seeds (104,000 ha). Fodder crops occupy 815,000 ha, and fruit and berry plantings, 25,200 ha (1972). There were 36,100 ha of irrigated land in 1972. More than 1,500 dams and reservoirs have been built for irrigation and water supply. The Kutuluk irrigation system is the largest in the oblast (area, 6,200 ha). The Kutuluk, Talovka, Chernovka, Vetlianka, and other reservoirs supply the steppe region’s irrigation system with water.

Livestock is raised for meat, dairy products, and wool. In early 1973 there were 921,000 head of cattle, including 361,000 dairy cows, 477,000 pigs, and 1,114,000 sheep and goats. Poultry farming is also important. The local Kuibyshev breed of meat-and-wool sheep is well known.

There were 1,277 km of railroad lines in use in 1971.The trunk line is the Moscow-Syzran’-Kuibyshev-Ufa-Cheliabinsk-Vladistok. Other lines passing through the oblast are the Ul’ianovsk-Chishmy-Ufa, the Kazan-Syzran’-Saratov, the Kinel’-Orenburg, and the Syzran’-Zhigulevsk-Kuibyshev. In the early 1970’s a number of new lines were built: the Zvezda-Pugachevsk line, the Kinel’-Bezenchuk, and the Zhigulevskoe More-Tol’iatti. The main rail junctions are at Kuibyshev, Oktiabr’sk, KineP, and Syzran’.

The main water route is along the Volga (about 300 km). The most important ports and landings are Kuibyshev, Syzran’, Tol’iatti, and Oktiabr’sk.

In 1971 there were 2,900 km of paved motor-vehicle roads. Important domestic air routes serve the oblast. Both local and interregional pipelines are well developed. The Druzhba petroleum pipeline crosses the oblast. A petroleum pipeline has been built between Mangyshlak and Kuibyshev.

The western district (the right bank and part of the left bank of the Volga) is the oblast’s economic nucleus, accounting for most of its population and industrial output. Its industries are the production of electrical energy and machine building, as well as oil refining, chemicals and petrochemicals, metallurgy, food processing, and building materials. Market gardening (vegetables and poultry) is important in suburban areas.

The northeastern district (left bank) is the main petroleum-producing area (center at Otradnyi). Food processing (flour, vegetable oil, and sugar) is also important. A major agricultural area, the northeastern district produces grains, sunflowers, and sugar beets. Essential-oil crops (coriander) are grown in hot-houses.

The southern district (on the left bank) is an important agricultural region. Spring wheat prevails. Other crops are millet, barley, corn for silage, and sunflowers (an industrial crop). Neftegorsk is a center of the petroleum industry.


Cultural affairs and public health. As of 1917 the territory occupied by present-day Kuibyshev Oblast had 1,178 general education schools (93,800 students) and two specialized secondary educational institutions (283 students), of which one was a teachers institute (88 students). There were no institutions of higher learning.

In the academic year 1971–72, 502,200 students were enrolled at 1,608 general education schools of all types. There were 70 vocational-technical schools (35,900 students) and 57 specialized secondary educational institutions (67,300 students). The oblast’s 11 institutions of higher learning had an enrollment of 57,900. (Of the 11, nine are located in Kuibyshev. There is a polytechnic institute in Tol’iatti and an agricultural institute in KineP.) In 1972, 131,000 children were enrolled in 1,219 pre-school institutions.

As of Jan. 1, 1973, 905 public libraries were open (16.7 million copies of books and magazines). There were eight museums (five in Kuibyshev, museums of regional studies in Syzran’ and Tol’iatti, and the V. I. Lenin Museum House in Alakaevka). Kuibyshev Oblast has five theaters (four in the city of Kuibyshev and a drama theater in Syzran’), a circus, a philharmonic society, 1,041 club-type institutions, 1,334 motion-picture facilities, and 73 extracurricular institutions.

The oblast newspapers are Volzhskaia kommuna (since 1907) and Volzhskii komsomolets (since 1920), a Komsomol publication. Local radio broadcasts (two hours) and television broad-casts (four hours) are carried, and radio and television programs are relayed from Moscow.

As of Jan. 1, 1972, there were 257 hospital institutions with 31,800 beds (11.1 beds per 1,000 inhabitants) and 9,200 physicians (one per 312 inhabitants). Sergievskie Mineral’nye Vody (in Sernovodsk) is one of the oldest health resorts in the country.


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Povolzh ’e: Ekonomiko-geograficheskaia kharakteristika. Moscow, 1957.
Dolgopolov, K. V., and E. F. Fedorova. Povolzh’e: Ekonomiko-geograficheskii ocherk. Moscow, 1967.
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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.