Kurgan Oblast


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Kurgan Oblast

 

part of the RSFSR. It was separated from Cheliabinsk Oblast on Feb. 6, 1943. Area, 71,000 sq km; population (as of 1972), 1,076,000. The oblast is divided into 23 raions; it has nine cities and six urban-type settlements. Its center is the city of Kurgan. The oblast was awarded the Order of Lenin on Oct. 30, 1959.

Natural features. Kurgan Oblast is situated in the southwestern part of the West Siberian Plain, in the basin of the Tobol River’s middle course. The surface is almost flat, slightly raised in the west and southwest, with numerous hollows and flat crests (with elevations up to 10–20 m) and low areas and broad river valleys between these crests. The climate is extremely continental, especially in the southeast. The winters are long and cold. The average January temperature is – 18°C. The summers are warm, with recurring droughts; the average July temperature is 19°C. The transitional seasons are brief, and in spring there are strong winds. The total of the temperatures during the period when the temperatures exceed 10°C (lasting for 130 days) is equal to 2000–2100°C. Precipitation amounts to approximately 400 mm annually (it decreases from the northwest to the southeast, and it varies greatly from year to year). The snow cover reaches 40 cm on the average. The principal rivers—the Tobol, Iset’ (with its tributaries the Miass, Techa, and Sinara), Ui, Kurtamysh, and Iurgamysh—are located in the western half of Kurgan Oblast. Potential resources of hydroelectric power amount to 43,000 kilowatts. The flow of a number of rivers is partially regulated—there are dams on the Tobol at Kurgan and elsewhere. Lakes (about 2,000) are found primarily in the eastern and southwestern parts of the oblast. Among them some 70–75 percent are freshwater lakes; the remainder are mineralized and have medicinal properties (with health resorts on Lakes Gor’koe, Medvezh’e, etc.). There is a predominance of chernozem, dealkalized soils (more than 45 percent of the area); approximately 20–22 percent of the soil is made up of solonetses (mostly in the watersheds), and 12 percent is solodized soils and solods.

Characteristic of the vegetation cover is an alternation of birch groves and copses, with grasses in the open sections. Forested areas make up 18 percent of the territory, increasing in the north to 30–40 percent and decreasing in the south to 5–8 percent. Timber reserves are 106 million cu m; of these almost half is composed of timber from coniferous trees, which are concentrated in pine forests along the rivers. Swamp-type vegetation has developed, for the most part in the north in the areas between the rivers, where the principal peat resources are also located (the total resources of air-dried peat amount to 41 million tons).

Fauna includes a mixture of forest and steppe forms; among animals encountered here are the elk, roe deer, wolf, fox, badger, hares (white and others), and squirrel. Among the birds are ducks, geese, the white partridge, and the black grouse. The muskrat has become acclimatized in bodies of water.

Population. The basic population is made up of Russians (more than 90 percent). In addition, Tatars, Ukrainians, Bashkirs, Kazakhs, and others also live in the oblast. The average population density is 15.1 persons per sq km. The proportion of urban population has grown from 5 percent in 1926 to 46 percent in 1972. The cities—Kurgan, Shadrinsk, Dalmatovo, Kataisk, Kurtamysh, Makushino, Petukhovo, Shumikha, and Shchuch’e —were formed during the years of Soviet power (except the first two).

Economy. The principal branches of industry are machine building, food processing, and light industry. In 1972 the total industrial output had increased by a factor of 343 compared with 1913. Machine building has been greatly developed; a prominent place is occupied by agricultural and chemical machine building, the production of buses and individual assembly units for motor vehicles, printing machinery, and road-building equipment. Especially important are the Kurgan Machine-building Plant, Kurgansel’mash, plants producing wheeled tractors and buses, the Kurgan Chemical Machine-building Plant, a pharmaceuticals plant, and the Shadrinsk Automotive Assembly Plant. Many machine-building plants cooperate with plants in the Urals, which are the source of most of the metals. The chief branches of the food-processing industry, operating on local raw materials, are meat (for the most part, in Kurgan and Shadrinsk); flour milling, with several large milling combines (in Kurgan, Shadrinsk, Shchuch’e, and other places); and butter-and-cheese plants and dairies. The predominant light industry, which utilizes local raw materials as well as those shipped in from other oblasts, is garment factories (in Kurgan, Shadrinsk, Shumikha, and Kurtamysh); among other goods produced are knitted wear (Kurgan), leather footwear (Kurgan and Shadrinsk), and rugs.

In 1971 some 1.8 million cu m of lumber was shipped out, part of which was processed in the oblast (sawn lumber, fiberboard, furniture, etc.). Forest reclamation projects are being carried out. There is a network of timber chemistry farms; soft resins and coniferous needles are converted into vitamin flour of coniferous origin. The building-materials industry is represented by plants which make bricks (in Kurgan, Shadrinsk, Shumikha, Iurgamysh, Mishkino, and Kataisk), reinforced-concrete structural components and parts, and other products. The power supply is based on coal and liquid fuel which are shipped into the oblast (the largest installation is the Kurgan Heat and Electric Power Plant). All kolkhozes and sovkhozes have been electrified.

There is livestock raising and grain cultivation (in the east and south the emphasis is on grain), with separate areas for agricultural production of the suburban type (the regions around Kurgan and Shadrinsk). As of Jan. 1,1973, there were 234 kolkhozes and 116 sovkhozes, which accounted for more than one-half and two-fifths respectively of all the cultivated area and about one-half and one-third of all the cattle. Land used for farming occupies 63 percent of the area of Kurgan Oblast, or 4.5 million hectares (ha), of which 3.1 million ha is tillable, 500,000 ha is in hay, and 900,000 ha is in pasture. In 1972 the land under cultivation totaled 2,741,000 ha (compared with 1,312,000 ha in 1913); in 1954–60 some 536,000 ha of idle virgin lands were plowed up. The distribution of crops is as follows: grains—1,897,000 ha (of which wheat accounts for 1,348,000 ha); fodder crops—799,000 ha; potatoes and green vegetables—44,400 ha. Soil improvement is in progress, especially with regard to the solonetses and solonets chernozems.

Livestock raising in Kurgan Oblast is for milk and meat. As of 1973, there were 1,095,000 head of cattle (including 378,000 cows), 669,000 swine, 825,000 sheep and goats, and 2,808,000 fowl in the public sector. There is a prevalence of the Kurgan breed of cattle, as well as large white swine, the Altai breed of sheep, and Soviet merinos. Subsidiary branches of agriculture include beekeeping, the raising of wild animals (silver-black fox and mink), and hunting (including trapping muskrat).

The principal form of transport is the railroad. Operational rail lines used for general purposes total about 750 km. The railroad network is formed by sections of the Trans-Siberian Railroad (Kurgan-Petropavlovsk, Cheliabinsk-Kurgan), its northern branch (Sverdlovsk-Shadrinsk-Kurgan), and the Utiak-Peski Tselinnye line. There has been development in automotive transportation and, to some extent, river transportation (seasonal domestic shipping along the Tobol); for passenger service there is also air transport (transit routes through Kurgan, as well as local airlines). Petroleum trunk pipelines pass through Kurgan Oblast.

I. V. KOMAR

Education, cultural affairs, and public health. During the 1914–15 academic year in the area of what is now Kurgan Oblast there were 962 general-education schools with an enrollment of 62,900 pupils. There were no higher educational institutions or secondary specialized schools. During the 1971–72 academic year 1,285 general-education schools of all types had an enrollment of 221,500, 30 vocational-technical schools had 19,000, 22 secondary specialized schools had 20,600, and four higher educational institutions (agricultural, machine-building, and pedagogical institutes in Kurgan and a pedagogical institute in Shadrinsk) had 15,100 students. In 1971 preschool institutions had an enrollment of 52,700 children.

Located in Kurgan is the Scientific Research Institute of Experimental and Clinical Orthopedics and Traumatology.

As of Jan. 1, 1972, 812 public libraries were in operation (containing 7.8 million copies of books and journals); museums include an oblast museum of local lore in Kurgan, with a branch in the city of Kurtamysh, and a museum of local lore in Shadrinsk; there is an oblast drama theater and an oblast puppet theater in Kurgan and a drama theater in Shadrinsk; the oblast has 1,026 clubs, 1,283 motion-picture facilities, and 37 extracurricular institutions.

Publications include the oblast newspaper Sovetskoe Zaural’e (since 1917) and the Komsomol newspaper Molodoi leninets (since 1957). The Kurgan Oblast radio and television relays programs from Moscow and broadcasts local programs. There are 23 radio stations functioning in the raions of this oblast.

As of Jan. 1, 1972, Kurgan Oblast had 120 hospitals with 12,100 beds (11.2 beds per 1,000 inhabitants); 1,900 physicians were employed there at that time (one physician for every 564 inhabitants).

REFERENCES

Kurganskaia oblast za 50 let Sovetskoi vlasti: Statistich. sb. Cheliabinsk, 1967.
Lavrent’ev, M. V., and K. F. Sadovskii. Geografiia Kurganskoi oblasti. Kurgan, 1964.
Komar, I. V. Geografiia khoziaistva Urala. Moscow, 1964. Pages 325–38.
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