Moscow Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Moscow Oblast


an oblast in the RSFSR, formed on Jan. 14, 1929. It covers an area of 47, 000 sq km, including Moscow. In 1973 its population was 5, 952, 000 excluding Moscow and 13, 362, 000 including Moscow. The oblast has 39 administrative raions, 69 cities, and 74 urban-type settlements. The administrative center is Moscow. The oblast has been awarded three Orders of Lenin (Jan. 3, 1934; Dec. 17, 1956; and Dec. 5, 1966).

Natural features. The oblast is situated in the central part of the East European Plain, between the Volga and Oka rivers, at the juncture of mixed and broadleaf forests.

The oblast has a level topography with alternating low hills and flat depressions. The borderline of the Moscow glaciation dissects the oblast from the southwest to the northeast, dividing it into two parts. The area north of the borderline is marked by glacial-erosion relief forms and a predominance of moraine deposits; south of the borderline are erosion forms and blanket loams. The Moscow Upland, rising to 270–310 m, stretches from southwest to northeast in the northern part of the oblast. The upland’s hilly topography is most pronounced in the Klin-Dmitrov Ridge. The northern edge of the upland, the steepest part, is dissected by river valleys into hills alternating with flat and often swampy depressions. North of the Moscow Upland lies the swampy Upper Volga Lowland (120–150 m), a flat low plain with ridges and gently rolling dunes. Within the lowland are two depressions—the Shosha Depression in the northwest and the Dubna Depression in the northeast. In the south the Moscow Upland merges with the Moskva-Oka Hilly Plain (150–180 m), which has weakly dissected watersheds and a developed erosion topography along the river valleys. Limestone outcrops are found in karst relief forms. The southeastern part of the oblast is occupied by the western part of the Meshchera Lowland, a flat, sometimes hilly outwash plain (120–150 m). The lowland is very swampy, especially in the east. The southern part of the oblast is occupied by the northern part of the Central Russian Upland (150–200 m), which is dissected by river valleys and a dense network of ravines and gullies.

The climate is moderately continental with moderately cold winters and warm summers. The average January temperature is —10” or —110C ,and the mean July temperature, 17° or 18°C. Some winters temperatures may fall as low as —45° or —50°C and summer temperatures may reach 38° or 40°C. The average annual precipitation ranges from 450 to 650 mm; the northern and western regions receive the most precipitation and the southeastern regions the least. The growing season lasts 130–140 days.

All the oblast’s rivers belong to the Volga basin, forming a dense network. The north is drained by tributaries of the Volga —the Lama and its tributaries Bol’shaia and Malaia Sestra and the Dubna and its tributaries Sestra and Velia. The south is drained by the middle course of the Oka and its tributaries—the Protva, Nara, Lopasnia, Tsna, and Osetr. Greater Moscow is divided by the Moskva River (a left tributary of the Oka) and its tributaries, including the Iskona, Ruza, Istra, Iauza, Pakhra, Nerskaia, and Severka. The Kliazma River and its tributaries (Ucha, Voria, and Sherna) originate in the oblast. The Moscow Canal, a navigable waterway connecting the Volga with Moscow, passes through the northern part of the oblast. Reservoirs have been built on the Moskva River and on the canal to regulate water flow. The largest of these are the Mozhaisk, Ruza, Ozery, Istra, Kliazma, and Ucha reservoirs. There are lakes on the Moscow Upland (Trostenskoe, Nerskoe, Krugloe) and among the swamps of the Meshchera Lowland (Chernoe, Velikoe, Sviatoe, Dubovoe). Swamps are found in the lowlands and river valleys.

The prevailing soils are soddy podzolic soils with a varying texture and low natural fertility, requiring fertilizers and liming. The Meshchera and Upper Volga lowlands have light podzolic boggy and bog soils in need of reclamation. The south has light gray strongly podzolized soils; the extreme south, gray forest and chernozem podzolized soils; and the valleys of the Oka, Moskva, and other rivers, alluvial soils.

Forests cover more than 1.9 million hectares, and about 40 percent of the oblast is wooded. The largest forest tracts have survived in the western and eastern regions. The forests are composed chiefly of birch and aspen, with an admixture of spruce and pine. In the northern half of the oblast forests of spruce, birch, and aspen with an admixture of broadleaf trees predominate. The Meshchera Lowland has pine forests, and oak groves have been preserved in places in the south. Much work has been done on reforestation, especially in the forest parks near Moscow. Industrial timber cutting has been greatly restricted because most of the forests are important for water conservation. Water meadows are found in the bottom lands of the Oka, Moskva, Kliazma, and Iakhroma rivers, and there are dry meadows in the watersheds.

The oblast’s wildlife includes elk, marten, polecats, badgers, foxes, boars, blue hares, and squirrels, found mostly in the forests; birds are numerous. The rivers and lakes abound in pike, perch, pike perch, roach, bream, crucian carp, and other species. The type and amount of fauna are regulated in forest reserves and areas set aside for sport hunting. In the south is the Oka Preserve.

Population. Russians constitute the bulk of the population, accounting for 91.4 percent of the inhabitants in 1970 (including Moscow). The average population density, including Moscow, is 284.3 persons per sq km, much higher than in the adjoining oblasts. The highest density occurs in the raions surrounding Moscow and in the industrial centers in the east, south, and north. Agricultural areas and particularly the forested parts of the Meshchera and other lowlands are relatively sparsely populated. The USSR’s largest conurbation has developed around Moscow. In 1973 urban dwellers (excluding Moscow) totaled 4, 187, 000 persons, or 70 percent of the total population. The major cities are Podol’sk, Liubertsy, Kolomna, Serpukhov, Elektrostal’, Orekhovo-Zuevo, Mytishchi, Kaliningrad, Noginsk, Balashikha, Zagorsk, Khimki, Klin, Shchelkovo, Zhukovskii, Voskresensk, and Odintsovo. Many new cities have sprung up during the Soviet period, such as Vidnoe, Dolgoprudnyi, Dubna, Zhukovskii, Krasnogorsk, Solntsevo, Friazino, and Elektrostal’.

Economy. The oblast is an old industrial region. The first centers of manufactory and later of factory production (mainly textile) arose here in the 18th and 19th centuries. During the first five-year plans the inherited productive capital and skilled personnel made the oblast one of the chief bases of the socialist industrialization in the USSR. Today the oblast is a highly developed industrial region with intensive agriculture oriented toward local urban markets. The oblast’s economy is closely linked with that of Moscow. Many facilities of Moscow’s urban economy, the city’s transportation junctions, and its major recreation areas are located within the oblast. Long-range plans for the development of the oblast’s economy are closely coordinated with the General Plan for the Development of Moscow.

The oblast’s industry rests on imported raw materials, highly skilled personnel, and a strong scientific and technological base. The gross industrial output rose 42 times between 1913 and 1960 and doubled between 1960 and 1972. The most rapidly developing branches are the electric power industry, chemicals, machine building, the making of precision instruments, and high-quality metallurgy.

The power industry uses mainly fuel brought in from other areas, including coal from the Donets and Moscow basins, mazut, and natural gas. The oblast produced 5.8 million tons of peat in 1972. It is part of the Central Power System and receives a large part of its electric energy from other oblasts. The oblast also has large steam power plants, such as the Kashira, Shatura, and Liubertsy plants.

The leading branches of industry are machine building and metalworking. The oblast produces metal-cutting machines (Kolomna, Dmitrov, Egor’evsk), equipment for the metallurgy and the petroleum industries, weaving machines, sewing machines, and other equipment for light industry (Klimovsk, Podol’sk, Kolomna), steam boilers (Podol’sk), excavators (Dmitrov), agricultural machinery (Liubertsy), dump trucks, subway cars, truck-mounted cranes (Mytishchi, Balashikha), buses (Likino-Dulevo), diesel locomotives, and cement-hauling trucks (Kolomna). The oblast also manufactures various instruments, X-ray apparatus, photography and motion-picture equipment (Krasnogorsk), cables, storage batteries, electric insulators, and equipment for the food industry (Bolshevo). The development of machine building gave rise to a metallurgy using scrap metal and producing high-quality rolled and cast metal (Elektrostal’ and other cities).

The chemical industry, which uses mainly raw materials brought in from other parts of the country, specializes in the production of mineral fertilizers (Voskresensk), acids (Voskresensk, Shchelkovo), synthetic fibers (Klin, Serpukhov), tar, plastics and plastic products (Orekhovo-Zuevo), paint, pharmaceuticals, and vitamins. The building-materials industry, employing chiefly local raw material, facilitates construction in the oblast and in Moscow. It produces cement (Voskresensk, Podol’sk, Kolomna) and products made of slate, plastic, and reinforced concrete. The oblast’s old porcelain and earthenware industry (Likino-Dulevo, Verbilki) and glass industry (Klin, Sol-nechnogorsk) are of nationwide importance. The well-developed woodworking industry produces furniture and construction parts.

Textile production, the oblast’s oldest industry, is represented by many large modernized and newly built enterprises. Cotton fabrics are produced at Orekhovo-Zuevo, Noginsk, Serpukhov, and Egor’evsk; wool fabrics, at Pavlovskii Posad, Losino-Petrovskii, and Pushkino; silk fabrics at Naro-Fominsk; and knitwear, at Ivanteevka and Dmitrov. The oblast accounts for 17 percent of the national output of cotton and wool fabrics. The textile industry is noted for the large variety of its products.

The oblast’s many food-processing, clothing, and footwear enterprises satisfy mainly local needs. Handicraft industries include miniatures (Fedoskino) and toys (near Zagorsk).

Agriculture, oriented toward supplying the oblast’s urban areas, concentrates on livestock raising for meat and milk purposes and on potato and vegetable growing. Agricultural land covers 1.87 million ha. The southern and western raions are the most plowed up, and the Meshchera region has the least arable land. Natural pastures cover more than 0.6 million ha. The oblast had 301 sovkhozes and 64 kolkhozes in 1972. The sown area totaled 1, 163, 000 ha in 1972, including 426, 000 ha planted to grain crops (wheat, barley, oats, rye), 137, 000 ha to potatoes, 27, 000 ha to vegetables, and 569, 000 ha to fodder crops (perennial and annual grasses and corn). Orchards and berries cover 53, 100 ha. Land reclamation has made available 234, 000 ha of drained land and 49, 000 ha of irrigated land. Greenhouse vegetable farming is well developed; extensive hothouse facilities have been built at the Moscow Sovkhoz.

The main branches of animal husbandry are dairy farming and hog raising. In 1972 livestock totaled 891, 000 head of cattle (including 441, 000 cows), 611, 000 hogs, and 19, 777, 000 poultry (raised on kolkhozes, sovkhozes, and other state farms). Large poultry farms have been established, and livestock-raising complexes for producing meat and milk on an industrial basis have been built.

The oblast’s highly developed railroad network is part of the Moscow Railroad Junction, the largest in the USSR, with 11 radial lines extending in all directions from Moscow. Of the oblast’s 2, 703 km of railroad tracks, 2, 120 km were electrified in 1972. The oblast also had 10, 000 km of paved highways in 1972. There is regular navigation on the Oka River, the Moskva River (below Moscow), and the Moscow Canal. The oblast is traversed by main gas pipelines connecting Moscow with the Ukraine, the Northern Caucasus, and Middle Asia and by a distribution circular gas pipeline. Surrounding Moscow is a 50-km belt of forests and parks, with numerous recreation areas, which has been declared a protected zone.

There are many memorial structures and monuments devoted to the battle of Moscow of 1941–42 throughout the oblast. Among the most famous are the monument There Were 10, 000 of Them (concrete, 1967; sculptor A. V. Rybkin, architect N. V. Donskikh, artist S. D. Kudrish) and the monument to Zoia Kosmodem’ianskaia (bronze and granite, 1957; sculptors O. A. Ikonnikov and V. A. Fedorov, architect A. M. Kaminskii) both along the Minsk Highway, and the 41-km memorial complex on the Leningrad Highway 41 km from the city. Iakhroma is the site of the monument To the Heroes of the Battle of Moscow (bronze and stone, 1966; sculptors A. G. Postol, V. F. Fedorov, V. V. Glebov, and N. S. Liubimov; architects Iu. G. Krivushchenko, A. M. Kaminskii, and I. I. Stepanov; engineer S. P. Khadzhibaranov). In the village of Nelidovo near Volokalamsk, at the Dubosekovo railroad crossing, stands a monument to the heroes of Panfilov’s division.

INTERNAL DIFFERENCES. The central part of the oblast, directly adjoining Moscow, is the most densely populated and has many industrial centers. The principal industries—machine building, metalworking, chemicals, and textiles—are concentrated at Mytishchi, Pushkino, Kaliningrad, Shchelkovo, Liubertsy, Ramenskoe, Odintsovo, Krasnogorsk, and Khimki. Farming is more intensive here than in other parts of the oblast. The eastern part of the oblast, occupied by the Meshchera Lowland, is dominated by the textile industry, with factories at Orekhovo-Zuevo, Noginsk, Pavlovskii Posad, Egor’evsk, and Kurovskoe. Other industries include metallurgy and machine building at Elektrostal’ and a power industry at Shatura. Peat is extracted. In the southern part of the oblast machine building and light industry (Podol’sk, Voskresensk, Serpukhov, Stupino, Kashira, Kolomna) are combined with intensive agriculture. Vegetable farming is developed in the Oka and Moskva valleys. The northern part of the oblast has centers of heavy and light industry (Klin, Dmitrov, Iakhroma, Zagorsk), and its agriculture is oriented toward local urban markets. In the western part of the oblast agriculture also supplies nearby cities, and there are recreation areas and several relatively small industrial centers (Naro-Fominsk, Mozhaisk).


Education, cultural affairs, and public health. In 1914–15 the oblast, excluding Moscow, had 2, 717 general schools, including 2, 653 primary schools with 194, 000 students and three special secondary schools with 300 students.

In 1972–73 there were 2, 526 general schools of all types with 921, 800 students and 100 special secondary schools with 96, 300 students. The oblast has nine higher educational institutions: the oblast pedagogical institute in Moscow, a physics and technology institute in Dolgoprudnyi, a cultural institute in Khimki, pedagogical institutes in Kolomna and Orekhovo-Zuevo, a cooperatives’ institute in Perlovskaia, a technological institute in Tarasovskaia, a forestry institute in Mytishchi, and the All-Union Correspondence Agricultural Institute in Balashikha. The higher schools had a total enrollment of 80, 000 students in 1972–73. On Jan. 1, 1973, there were 299, 800 children in 2, 736 preschool institutions.

In early 1973 there were 1, 991 public libraries housing 26.6 million copies of books and magazines. The oblast’s 25 museums include the V. I. Lenin museum houses in Gorki (a branch of the Central V. I. Lenin Museum), Kaliningrad (village of Kostino), and Podol’sk; the Panfilov Heroes Museum in the village of Nelidovo; the Zoia Kosmodem’ianskaia Memorial Museum in the village of Petrishchevo, Ruza Raion; the Zagorsk Museum of Art History; the Serpukhov Museum of Art History; the museum-estates of Arkhangel’skoe, Muranovo (F. I. Tiutchev’s estate in Pushkino Raion, and Abramtsevo; the P. I. Tschaikovsky Museum House in Klin; the A. P. Chekhov Literary Museum in the village of Melikhovo, Chekhov Raion; the Borodino Military History Museum in the village of Borodino in Mozhaisk Raion; the Nature Museum of the Oka Preserve in Serpukhov Raion; and the museums of local lore in Istra (oblast museum), Zaraisk, Dmitrov, Noginsk, Egor’evsk, Zvenigorod, Kolomna, and Ramenskoe. The oblast has six theaters: the First Oblast Drama Theater, the Oblast Drama Theater, the A. N. Ostrovskii Oblast Drama Theater, the Oblast Puppet Theater, the Oblast Young People’s Theater, and the Noginsk Drama Theater. All but the Noginsk Drama Theater are based in Moscow. There are 2, 148 clubs and 3, 503 motion-picture projectors.

The oblast newspapers are Leninskoe znamia (Lenin Banner), published since 1918, and Moskovskii komsomolets (Moscow Komsomol Member), founded in 1919. All the programs of the Central Television of the USSR and of the Central Radio of the USSR are relayed to the oblast. Other radio and television programs provide information on life in the oblast.

On Jan. 1, 1973, the oblast had 379 hospitals with 68, 800 beds, or 11.6 beds per 1, 000 inhabitants, and 19, 200 doctors, or one doctor per 310 persons. There are 138 sanatoriums, 96 houses of rest, and many tourist centers, boarding houses, and motels.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.