Kursk Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kursk Oblast


part of the RSFSR. Formed on June 13, 1934. Located in the western part of the Central Chernozem Zone. Area, 29,800 sq km; population (in 1972), 1,448,000. The oblast has 25 administrative raions, nine cities, and 18 urban-type settlements. Its center is the city of Kursk.

Kursk Oblast has been awarded two Orders of Lenin (Dec. 7, 1957, and Aug. 5, 1968).

Natural features. Kursk Oblast is situated in the center of the East European Plain, on the southwestern slopes of the Central Russian Upland. Located in the highest central section (up to 275 m in elevation) are the Fatezh-L’gov, Oboian’, and Tim-Shchigry ridges (the watershed between the basins of the Dnieper and Don rivers). A valley-ravine-gorge terrain is characteristic; there is an especially dense network of ravines in the north, as well as on the right banks of the Seim, Svapa, and Psel rivers. Projects are being carried on to combat ravine formation and soil erosion.

The climate is moderately continental. The average January temperature ranges from — 7.7°C in the west (Tetkino) to –9.4°C in the north (Ponyri); in July it varies from 18.8°C in the north to 19.4°C in the west. Precipitation in the southwest ranges from 550 to 600 mm annually; in the east and southeast it varies from 480 to 500 mm; 70 percent of the annual precipitation falls from April through October, and during the summer there are often heavy showers. In the spring dry eastern and southeastern winds often blow. In the north the growing season is 182–188 days; in the south, 187–193 days. The frost-free period lasts for 150 days.

Rivers are numerous, but they are small and have high-water periods only during spring flooding (50–80 percent of the annual flow). Belonging to the Dnieper Basin (97 percent of the surface of Kursk Oblast) are the Seim River (its length within the oblast is 526 km) and its tributaries—the Svapa, Tuskar’, Reut, Rat’, and others—and the upper reaches of the Psel River. Belonging to the Don Basin are the tributaries of the Sosna River (the Tim, Kshen’, and Olym), as well as the upper reaches of the Oskol River. There is local shipping along the Seim River.

Kursk Oblast is situated in a forest-steppe zone. Most widespread among its soils are various types of chernozems; in the northwestern section there are gray forest soils. Kursk Oblast has one of the highest proportions of tilled land in the country (about 69 percent). Natural vegetation still prevails in sections set aside as preserves (the Streletskaia and Kazatskaia steppes of the V. V. Alekhin Central Chernozem Preserve). Some 8 percent of the area is forested (in the northwest forestation amounts to 13–14 percent; in the east, 1–2 percent). Prevalent along the river valleys, especially those of the Seim, the Svapa, and the Psel, and in the gorges and ravines are broad-leaved forests of oak, ash, elm, linden, and maple. Planted pine forests are encountered on the sandy terraces of the Seim, Svapa, and Psel; included among them is the well-known Banishchevskii Forest in L’gov Raion. Among the animals in the oblast are elk, roe deer, fox, raccoon (acclimatized), martin, hare, squirrel, suslik, beaver, and muskrat.

Population. Russians predominate in the oblast (98 percent according to the 1970 census). As of 1972, the average population density was 48.6 persons per sq km. In the southwestern regions it is somewhat higher than in the east. With regard to rural population density the oblast occupies one of the foremost places in the country; since the 1960’s the urban population has been rapidly expanding (from 1959 to 1972 it grew more than 70 percent and reached 522,000). Besides Kursk the most important cities are L’gov, Shchigry, Ryl’sk, and Oboian’. North of the Mikhailovka iron-ore deposit the town of Zheleznogorsk arose in 1957 (it became a city in 1962).

Economy. Prior to the October Revolution of 1917, Kursk Province belonged to the “impoverished” agricultural regions. Industry was poorly developed and undiversified; in 1913 almost 90 percent of industrial production was in the area of processing agricultural raw materials. During the years of Soviet power Kursk Oblast has been transformed into an industrial-agrarian oblast. During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), parts of Kursk Oblast were occupied by the fascist German invaders from 1941 to 1943, and considerable damage was inflicted on the oblast’s economy. After the war the economy of Kursk Oblast was not only restored but also developed further. In comparison with 1940, the 1972 total industrial output had grown almost by a factor of 17. The present-day economy is characterized by a significant development in machine building and metalworking (23.9 percent of industrial production), chemicals (16.9 percent), and iron ore (2.7 percent); the food-processing industry (33.6 percent) is especially important, and it has developed in combination with a diversified agriculture.

Electric power production is based on fuel that is shipped in from other oblasts—Donbas coal and natural gas from Shebelinka. In 1973 an atomic power plant was under construction. Located in Kursk Oblast are a number of iron-ore deposits of the Kursk magnetic anomaly, of which the most important is Mikhailovka (near Zheleznogorsk), containing as much as 400 million tons of ore (with up to 58 percent iron) and billions of tons of ferruginous quartzites (with an iron content ranging from 30 to 40 percent). High-grade ores are being mined (by the open-pit method). Preparations are being made to work the deposits of ferruginous quartzites. Under construction in 1973 was the Mikhailovka Mining and Concentrating Combine. Also important is the extraction of building materials (chalk and marl, sand and sandstone, clay, and tripoli).

Manufacturing industry is represented by enterprises producing various types of equipment (in Kursk, Shchigry, L’gov, and the K. Libknekht settlement), the electrical engineering industry (Kursk, the Korenevo settlement, and Svoboda), instrument manufacturing, the production of farm machinery, ball-bearing manufacturing, and the knitted-goods (Kursk), hemp-processing (Ponyri, Kursk, Fatezh, Dmitriev-L’govskii, and elsewhere), cloth-manufacturing (Glushkovo, where a factory was founded in 1719), and leather-footwear industries (Kursk). Especially important in the food-processing industry is sugar refining (12 plants, accounting for approximately one-third of the oblast’s food-processing industry), situated primarily in the southwestern and eastern sections of the oblast; in 1971 more than 330,000 tons of granulated sugar were produced in the oblast.

Farmland makes up 83 percent of the total area of the oblast; 69 percent is tillable, 13.2 percent is in hayfields and pastures, and orchards cover 1 percent. The oblast has 457 kolkhozes and 43 sovkhozes (as of Jan. 1, 1973). As of 1972, the entire cultivated area amounted to 2,049,500 hectares, of which 54.2 percent was in grain crops (rye, wheat, barley, etc.), 10.1 percent was in industrial crops (for the most part, sugar beets), 5.3 percent was in potatoes, and 29.6 percent was in fodder crops (including 18.2 percent of planted grasses). Primarily spring grain crops are sown. With regard to area under sugar-beet cultivation, Kursk Oblast occupies third place in the RSFSR (after Krasnodar Krai and Voronezh Oblast); the greatest density of area under cultivation is in the southwest (in the Sudzha’ Ryl’sk, and L’gov raions). Hemp crops are widely sown in the northwest. Kursk Oblast is well known for its orchards (its most famous variety of apple is the Antonovka), most of which are located in the western section; located around Oboian’, L’gov, and Shchigry and near Kursk are fruit-nursery sovkhozes.

Livestock raising provides 47 percent of the total agricultural output. At the end of 1972 in the oblast there was a total of 1,002,000 head of cattle (including 424,000 cows), 972,000 swine, and 525,000 sheep and goats. Poultry farming has been developed. Construction has been started on large-scale livestock-raising complexes for the production of pork and milk on an industrial basis. There are more than 5,000 man-made bodies of water, with a total area of more than 8,000 hectares where fish and waterfowl are raised. The oblast also has wild-animal farms (for breeding polar fox and mink).

In 1971 the total length of railroads was 1,088 km. Kursk Oblast is intersected by three railroad lines that run from north to south: Briansk-L’gov-Kharkov, Moscow-Kursk-Kharkov (electrified), and Moscow-Kastornaia-Donbas, as well as the east-west Kiev-Voronezh main line. The total length of vehicular roads is 11,000 km (including 1,600 km of paved roads). The most important of these are Moscow-Kursk-SimferopoP, Kursk-Tim-Voronezh, and Kursk-L’gov-Ryl’sk; the Moscow-Kiev main highway passes through Zheleznogorsk. Airlines link Kursk with Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Odessa, Minsk, and other cities of the USSR, as well as with many populated points in the oblast.


Education, cultural affairs, and public health. During the 1914–15 academic year the general-education schools (mostly elementary) in this province had an enrollment of 136,600 pupils; the two secondary specialized educational institutions had more than 200 students, and there were no higher educational institutions. In 1971, 273 preschool institutions were educating 26,200 children. During the 1971–72 academic year 1,668 general-education schools of all types had an enrollment of 300,600 pupils, 38 vocational and technical schools had 16,200 students, 24 secondary specialized institutions had 20,500 students, and four higher educational institutions (polytechnic, agricultural, medical, and pedagogical institutions in Kursk) had an enrollment of 16,700 students. In 1972 a branch of the All-Union Correspondence Institute for Finance and Economics opened in Kursk.

As of Jan. 1,1972, there were 865 public libraries in operation (with 8,760,000 copies of books and journals); there were also five museums—an oblast museum of local lore, an oblast picture gallery, a military history museum of the battle of Kursk, all in Kursk, and museums of local lore in Dmitriev-L’govskii and Ryl’sk. Kursk Oblast also has the Pushkin Oblast Drama Theater and a puppet theater in Kursk, 1,247 club-type institutions, 1,296 stationary facilities for showing motion pictures, and 35 extracurricular institutions.

The oblast newspaper Kurskaia pravda (since 1917) and the komsomol newspaper Molodaia gvardiia (since 1934) are published. Oblast radio broadcasting is carried for one hour and 30 minutes a day and oblast television, for one hour and 12 minutes; radio and television transmissions are also relayed from Moscow.

By Jan. 1, 1972, there were 137 hospitals with 14,800 beds (10.2 beds per 1,000 inhabitants); 3,000 physicians were employed (one physician per 486 inhabitants). The oblast has sanatoriums and houses of rest.


Kurskaia oblast: Ekonomiko-geograficheskii ocherk. Voronezh, 1966. Atlas Kurskoi oblasti. Moscow, 1968.
Galitskaia, N., V. Galitskii, and P. Kochergin. Geografiia Kurskoi oblasti, 2nd ed. Voronezh, 1970.
Rossiiskaia Federatsiia: Tsentral’naia Rossiia. Moscow, 1970. (In the series Sovetskii Soiuz.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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