Novgorod Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Novgorod Oblast


an oblast in the RSFSR, established on July 5, 1944. Situated in the western part of the European USSR, the oblast has an area of 55,300 sq km. Population, 718,000 (1973). It is divided into 20 administrative raions and has ten cities and 19 urban-type settlements. Its administrative center is the city of Novgorod. On Feb. 16, 1967, Novgorod Oblast was awarded the Order of Lenin.

Natural features. Topographically, Novgorod Oblast is divided into a western plains area and an eastern upland region. The western part is occupied by the Cisil’men’ Lowland, in which swampy stretches are found. In the southeast lie the mo-rainic Valdai Hills, with a maximum elevation of 296 m (Mount Ryzhokha), rising in terraces above the Cisil’men’ Lowland. The hills are strongly dissected by rivers. In the northeast is the Tikhvin Ridge, with a maximum elevation of 280 m.

The oblast has a moderate continental climate. Winters are mild, with heavy snowfall. Average January temperatures range from –7.5° to –10.2°C. Summers are moderately warm, with average July temperatures ranging from 16.5° to 17.5°C. Precipitation totals 700–800 mm annually. The growing season ranges from 119 to 132 days. Most of the rivers belong to the basin of Lake Il’men’, the largest lake in the oblast. The largest rivers are the Msta, Lovat’, Pola, and Shelon’. The Volkhov River flows out of Lake Il’men’ and empties into Lake Ladoga. The oblast has numerous lakes, many of them in the Valdai Hills (Lakes Valdai, Uzhinskoe, Vel’e, and Piros). Most of the oblast has soddy podzolic soil, with swampy soil found in the northwest. Forests cover more than 50 percent of the oblast’s territory. Coniferous forests of spruce and pine have survived in the north and northeast, and hardwood forests of birch, aspen, and alder grow in the west. In places there are oak forests. About 7 percent of the territory is occupied by meadows. Bottomland meadows are found along the shores of Lake Il’men’, along the Volkhov River, and in the deltas of the Msta and Lovat’ rivers. Some 11 percent of the area consists of peat bogs.

Wildlife includes elk, foxes, otters, mink, polecats, squirrels, rabbits, and wolves. The rivers and lakes contain lacustrine smelt, bream, pike, and pike perch.

Population. According to the 1970 census, 96.9 percent of the oblast’s inhabitants are Russians, and the rest are Ukrainians, Byelorussians, and other nationalities. The average population density is 13 persons per sq km. In 1973, 58 percent of the population lived in cities and urban-type settlements. The cities of Okulovka, Pestovo, Chudovo, and Malaia Vishera, as well as all the urban-type settlements, were founded during the years of Soviet power. The principal cities are Novgorod, Borovichi, and Staraia Russa.

Economy. The oblast’s leading industries—precision machine building and metalworking—developed after the Great Patriotic War (1941–45). These industries account for more than one-third of the oblast’s industrial output. Other important industries include light industry, food processing, and the production of chemicals, lumber, glass, and porcelain. The largest machine-building enterprises are the Volna Plant, the 50 Let Oktiabria Plant, the Lenin Komsomol Plant, the Twenty-fourth Party Congress Plant, and a factory producing electric vacuum devices in Novgorod; a chemical machine building plant and factories producing medical and other instruments in Staraia Russa; and a factory producing woodworking automatic machine tools in Borovichi. The chemical industry is represented by the production of nitrogen fertilizers and fiberglass in Novgorod. The lumber industry is of great importance. In 1972 the oblast shipped out 3,544,000 cu m of logs; that year the oblast produced 770,000 cu m of lumber, 61,000 cu m of plywood, 96,000 tons of paper (as compared to 50,900 tons in 1940), and 9,700 tons of cardboard (as compared to 3,400 tons in 1940). Most woodworking and paper and pulp enterprises are located in Novgorod (furniture combine), Parfino (plywood combine), Okulovka (paper and pulp combine), Borovichi (paper mill), and Chudovo (match factory). Borovichi has a large combine producing refractories. The settlements of Krasnofarforovyi and Proletarii produce china and earthenware. The oblast’s light industry manufactures linen, clothing, and knitted goods; there are many food-processing enterprises. Peat is extracted.

Flax cultivation and livestock raising for meat and milk are the chief branches of agriculture. As of 1973 there were 101 kolkhozes and 130 sovkhozes in the oblast. In 1972 the oblast had 1,205,000 hectares (ha) of farmland, including 536,000 ha of arable land, 400,000 ha of hayfields, and 241,000 ha of pasture. In 1973 the sown area totaled 506,600 ha, of which 197,200 ha were under grain. The principal crops are wheat (25,400 ha); rye, oats, and flax (45,000 ha); potatoes (41,000 ha); green vegetables (3,500 ha); and fodder crops (220,000 ha). Flax is grown chiefly in the south. In 1974 the livestock population numbered 381,700 head of cattle (including 166,800 cows), 195,500 sheep, 146,300 hogs, and 2,116,600 poultry.

In 1972 the oblast had 1,149 km of railroad tracks. It is crossed by the Moscow-Leningrad trunkline and by the Bologoe-Pskov, Leningrad-Dno, and Luga-Novgorod railroad lines. The oblast has 6,000 km of automobile highways and about 700 km of waterways. The Volkhov and Msta rivers and Lakes Il’men’ and Valdai are used for shipping.

Education, cultural affairs, and public health. In 1914–15 the oblast had 1,330 general schools, most of them primary schools (65,700 pupils), two secondary specialized educational institutions (277 students), and no institutions of higher learning. In the 1973–74 academic year the oblast’s 839 general schools of all types had an enrollment of 120,400 pupils. Its 23 vocational schools were attended by 7,900 students, and its 14 secondary specialized schools enrolled 12,000 students. The polytechnical and pedagogical institutes in Novgorod had an enrollment of 5,300 students. The oblast also has a branch of the Leningrad Agricultural Institute. In 1973 there were 373 preschools, attended by 26,800 children.

As of Jan. 1, 1974, the oblast had 599 public libraries containing 7 million copies of books and magazines. One of the oblast’s outstanding museums is the Museum-Preserve of the History of Architecture in Novgorod. It has several branches: the G. I. Uspenskii House-Museum in the village of Siabrenitsy, where Uspenskii lived during the 1880’s, the museums of local lore in Staraia Russa and Valdai, and the Museum-Preserve of Russian Wood Architecture in Novgorod. Other museums include F. M. Dostoevsky’s House-Museum in Staraia Russa, where Dosto-evsky lived during the 1870’s, A. V. Suvorov’s Museum-Preserve in the village of Konchanskoe-Suvorovskoe, where Suvorov’s estate was located, and the Museum of Local Lore in Borovichi. The oblast also has an oblast drama theater, located in Novgorod; 765 clubs; 1,102 motion picture projection units; and 74 extracurricular institutions.

The oblast newspapers are Novgorodskaia pravda, published since 1917, and Novgorodskii komsomolets, issued since 1957. The oblast’s radio service broadcasts for 1½ hours daily, and the First Program and the Second Program (Maiak) of the All-Union Radio are transmitted. The inhabitants of Novgorod also receive the First Program of the Central Television Studio and the programs of the Leningrad Television Studio.

As of Jan. 1, 1974, the oblast had 94 hospitals with 9,100 beds (12.6 beds per 1,000 inhabitants) and 1,700 physicians in all fields of specialization (one physician per 423 inhabitants). Other health facilities include the Staraia Russa Balneological and Mud-Bath Resort and seven sanatoriums. The principal tourist centers with year-round facilities are Novgorod (two tourist hotels), Staraia Russa, and Valdai, whose chief attraction is the Iverskii Monastery on one of Lake Valdai’s islands, an outstanding example of 17th-century architecture.


Gembel’, A. V. Priroda Novgorodskoi oblasti. Leningrad, 1963.
Rossiiskaia Federatsiia: Obshchii obzor, Evropeiskii Sever. Moscow, 1971. (Sovetskii Soiuz series.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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