Northern Caucasus Economic Region

Northern Caucasus Economic Region


a major economic region of the USSR. The Northern Caucasus Economic Region includes Rostov Oblast, Krasnodar and Stavropol’ krais, the Kabarda-Balkar ASSR, the Severnaia Osetiia ASSR, the Chechen-Ingush ASSR, and the Dagestan ASSR. Area, 355,100 sq km. Population, 15 million (early 1975), with an average population density of 42.3 per sq km.

The Northern Caucasus Economic Region is inhabited by more than 100 nationalities, notably Russians, Chechens, Ukrainians, Ossets, Kabardins, Armenians, Ingush, Avars, Darghins, Kumyks, and Lezghians. Owing to a high natural population increase and a steady population influx from other regions of the country, it makes up an increasing percentage of the total population of the USSR. Between 1959 and 1974 the proportion of urban population increased from 43 to 53 percent. In the same period the rural population increased from 6.6 to 7 million. Administratively, 65 cities have been formed from the 94 cities of the post-1917 period. There are six major cities—Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar, Groznyi, Taganrog, Ordzhonikidze, and Sochi—and several rapidly growing satellite cities.

The Northern Caucasus Economic Region has three natural and economic areas: the plains (steppes), the foothills, and the mountains. The altitude increases from about 28 m along the Caspian coast to 5,642 m at Mount Elbrus, a vertical rise of nearly 6,000 m. The plains and foothills, which cover four-fifths of the region, have a moderately continental climate, with hot summers and variable, mild winters. In the spring and autumn, prevailing southeast and east winds bring drought and dust storms to the plains. In the mountains there are distinct altitude zones.

The region has natural resources of ail-Union significance. Agricultural lands are important. There are extensive reserves of natural gas and oil; the region, specifically the Groznyï, Maikop, Stavropol’, and Dagestan areas, has long produced oil and gas. Coal is present in some quantities; part of the Donets Coal Basin extends into the region. Also of significance are lead and zinc ores (deposits at Sadon and Zgid), tungsten and molybdenum (Tyrnyauz), rock salt (Shedok), calcareous raw materials for the chemical and cement industry (near Novorossiisk), and building materials.

Because of the diversity and richness of the mineral resources, the picturesque and variegated scenery, the healthful climate of the foothills, and easy accessibility, an all-Union recreational and resort industry has grown up in the Northern Caucasus Economic Region, which plays host to 4–5 million visitors a year. Along the Black Sea coast are the growing resort cities of Sochi, Anapa, and Gelendzhik. Inland, in the foothills, are several older spas—Kislovodsk, Piatigorsk, Essentuki, and Zheleznovodsk. Higher, near mounts Elbrus and Kazbek, are resorts and tourist facilities at Nal’chik, Tamisk, Nartkala, Tsei, Dombai, Arkhyz, and Teberda. A new resort area is being developed at Talgi, on the Dagestan coast.

The Northern Caucasus Economic Region covers 1.6 percent of the USSR’s total land area and has 5.9 percent of the USSR’s total population. It accounts for 4.8 percent of the USSR’s industrial production (1974) and 8–11 percent, depending on the weather, of agricultural production.

Economically, the region has specialized in the processing and industrial-agrarian cycles, namely, in diversified agriculture, a highly developed food-processing industry, and diversified machine building. All have taken shape as the processing of local and imported raw materials has developed. The region also has notable fuel and energy resources, such as natural gas, coal, petroleum, and hydropower. The geographic position is favorable, and labor resources are plentiful. Furthermore, there is a petroleum-energy-chemical cycle and a pyrometallurgical cycle in nonferrous metallurgy.

In 1974 the region accounted for 6.9 percent of the USSR’s output of natural gas, 2.5 percent of the petroleum, 5 percent of the coal, 5 percent of the electric power, and 3 percent of the steam power. When the Chirkei Hydroelectric Power Plant (1,000 megawatts) comes on line, one-quarter of the region’s hydropower potential will have been harnessed. The region’s hydroelectric power plants will have a combined capacity of approximately 2,000 megawatts.

Food processing has grown very rapidly; in 1974 it accounted for about one-third of all the region’s production, as opposed to one-fifth for the USSR as a whole. The Northern Caucasus Economic Region produces 19 percent of the USSR’s canned fruits and vegetables, 21 percent of the vegetable oil, 9 percent of the canned meats and fish, 10 percent of the groats, 11 percent of the ethyl alcohol, 8 percent of the sugar (from sugar beets), 6 percent of the whole milk, and 10 percent of the grape wines.

In light industry, the region’s processing of wool and leather is of nationwide significance, accounting for more than 7 percent of the leather footwear produced in the USSR.

Machine building and metalworking account for 22 percent of the region’s industrial production, as opposed to 26 percent in the USSR as a whole (1974). The proximity of the Donbas, with its highly developed metallurgy, favors the development of metal-intensive machine building—for agriculture, energy, transportation, and food processing. The major specialization is agricultural machine building; the region accounts for 21 percent of the USSR’s total production. The largest plants are the Rostsel’mash Plant, the Taganrog Combine Plant, the Krasnyi Aksai Plant, the Sal’sksel’mash Plant, the Morozovsksel’mash Plant, and the Krasnodar Agricultural Spare Parts Plant. The region accounts for almost three-quarters of the USSR’s production of grain-harvesting combines, more than one-half of the tractor-drawn cultivators, 71 percent of the trunk-line electric locomotives (Novocherkassk), 46 percent of the. high-capacity steam boilers (Taganrog), 16 percent of the oil-field equipment (Groznyi and Novocherkassk), and 7 percent of the equipment and spare parts for the food-processing industry, including the meat-dairy and canning industries. Labor-intensive machine building is also growing, including the production of bearings and the production of instruments and automation equipment; these account for 5 and 8 percent, respectively, of the USSR’s total production.

The growth of the petrochemical industry has been based on the extraction and refining of oil and natural gas, as at Groznyi, Nevinnomyssk, Volgodonsk, and Kamensk-Shakhtinskii. The region produces 8 percent of the USSR’s nitrogen fertilizers, 6 percent of the polyethylenes, and 4 percent of the chemical fibers and filaments. Synthetic fats and detergents as well as paints and varnishes are being produced in larger quantities.

In agriculture, owing to the natural fertility of the soil and favorable natural conditions, production is very efficient, and production costs are low. The Northern Caucasus Economic Region is a major food producer, specializing in grains, oil plants, fruits, vegetables, and the production of meat and wool. Crop cultivation and animal husbandry contribute to total agricultural production in approximately equal measure. Agricultural lands cover approximately three-fourths of the region’s land area, or 25.4 million hectares (ha), including 16.1 million ha in cultivation and 8.7 million ha in hayfields and pastures (November 1974). Approximately one-half of the cultivated land is in grains, principally winter grains. Grain purchases in the region account for 12–15 percent of all grain purchases in the USSR, including 14–18 percent of the wheat, about 40 percent of the rice, approximately 25 percent of the sunflower seeds, 8–10 percent of the sugar beets and vegetables, and 15–18 percent of the grapes. The production of tea, tobacco, and essential-oil crops is increasing.

At the beginning of 1975 the Northern Caucasus Economic Region had 7.3 million head of cattle, 7.1 million hogs, and 16.5 million sheep and goats, which made up 7.2, 9.8, and 10.9 percent, respectively, of the livestock figures for the USSR as a whole. It accounted for 7–9 percent of the USSR’s total meat production and 16–18 percent of the wool production. In 1974 it had 1.5 million ha under irrigation. Major hydraulic engineering installations have been built, such as the Don Main Canal, the Great Stavropol’ Canal, the Nevinnomyssk Canal, the Terek-Kuma Canal, the Kuban’-Kalaus Irrigation System, and the Tsimliansk, Krasnodar, Chograi, and Proletarsk reservoirs.

The further growth of the region’s agriculture is linked to intensification, particularly to the development of irrigated crop cultivation and to land reclamation in the deltas of the Kuban’, Terek, Sulak, and Don rivers. Agriculture (for irrigation), industry, and communities have made rapidly increasing demands on the region’s water supply, and it is therefore of acute importance to see that water resources are used wisely. Work is under way on the restoration of the Azov and Caspian fisheries.

The region’s transportation network has grown up in response to the needs of the region itself, to the Transcaucasus’ need for transit links with other regions of the USSR, and to the USSR’s foreign trade links through Novorossiisk, Tuapse, and other ports. Approximately one-third of all freight shipments are within the region. As for interregional freight volume, outbound shipments exceed inbound shipments only slightly. Coal, petroleum products, machinery, and grain are shipped out of the region. Crude oil, lumber, rolled ferrous metals, mineral fertilizers, machinery, nonferrous-metal concentrate, and cement are shipped into the region.

Railroads handle four-fifths of the region’s freight volume and three-fourths of its passenger traffic. The railroad network is 5,900 km long (1974) and includes 2,031 km of electrified track. Two trunk lines intersect in Tikhoretsk: the Millerovo-Rostov-on- Don-Armavir-Gudermes-Makhachkala-Baku line and the Volgograd-Sal’sk-Krasnodar-Novorossiisk line. Numerous lines branch off the trunk lines into the Ukraine, the Center, the Volga Region, and the Transcaucasus. A ferry across the Kerch’ Strait links the railroad network of the region with that of the Crimea. The Greater Caucasus is crossed by the Armavir-Tuapse railroad line and by the Krasnodar-Tuapse line, which is under construction (1976).

The pipeline network is approximately twice as long as the railroad network. Oil produced locally is refined locally. The Groznyi-Trudovaia pipeline transports light oils to the Donbas. The Kuibyshev-Tikhoretsk-Novorossiisk pipeline brings in oil from Siberia and the Volga Region for the region’s own use and for export. The region’s gas pipelines link up with the gas pipelines of the Center, the Ukraine, the Volga Region, and the Transcaucasus.

The region has 40,300 km of paved roads (1974). The Glav-nyi, or Vodorazdel’nyi, Range is crossed by the Sukhumi Military Road, which climbs to 2,816 m, by the Ossetian Military Road, which climbs to 2,829 m, and by the Georgian Military Road, which climbs to 2,388 m. Air transportation has attained significant dimensions.

There are 1,600 km of navigable rivers. The major link in the unified transportation network is the Volga-Don Ship Canal; for its improvement, locks are being installed on the lower Don, and the Nikolaevskaia Multipurpose Hydroengineering Complex has been completed.

The Northern Caucasus Economic Region has varied natural and economic features. The northern part (Rostov Oblast) has the most highly developed industry, including the eastern Donbas and its concentration of coal mining, energy development, ferrous metallurgy, chemicals production, and metal-intensive machine-building, all of which are complemented by light industry. Agriculture specializes in wheat, sunflowers, dairy products, and meat.

The Black Sea coast is noted for its resorts, its production of grapes, tea, tobacco, vegetables, and fruits, and its dairy products. The central part of the region is noted for its grain and livestock production and for its mining and processing industry. Most of the population and industry are in the foothills area.


Kavkaz. Moscow, 1966. (Prirodnye usloviia iestestvennyeresursy.)
Rossiiskaia Federatsiia: Evropeiskii Iugo-Vostok, Povolzh’e, Severnyi Kavkaz. Moscow, 1968. (In the Sovetskii Soiuz series.)
Vodovozov, S. A. Problemy razvitiia i razmeshcheniia proizvoditel’nykh sil Severnogo Kavkaza. Moscow, 1975.


Full browser ?