Odessa Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Odessa Oblast


an oblast in the southwestern part of the Ukrainian SSR. Formed on Feb. 27, 1932. Area, 33,300 sq km. Population, 2,491,000 (1974). The oblast is divided into 26 raions and has 14 cities and 26 urban-type settlements. Its capital is Odessa.

Natural features. Most of Odessa Oblast is situated in the Black Sea Lowland, which gradually descends toward the Black Sea. The Black Sea coast has numerous limans that are completely or partially cut off from the sea by bars of sand and shells. (The largest are the Kuial’nik and Khadzhibei limans.) The spurs of the Podol’e Upland (maximum elevation, 268 m), which are dissected by deep gorges and ravines, are located in the north. Between the Dnestr and Prut rivers, along the boundary with the Moldavian SSR, elevations reach 232 m.

The climate is moderately continental, with hot dry summers and mild winters with little snow. The average January temperature is –2°C in the southern part of the oblast and –5°C in the north. The average July temperatures are 21°C in the northwest and 23°C in the south. The average annual precipitation ranges from 350 to 470 mm and falls primarily in the summer, often in the form of heavy downpours. The southern half of the oblast is subject to droughts. The growing season ranges from 168 to 200 days, with temperatures totaling between 2800 and 3400°C.

The rivers in Odessa Oblast belong to the Black Sea basin. The principal rivers are the Danube (with the Kiliia branch), the Dnestr (with its tributary, the Kuchurgan), the Kodyma, and the Savranka (a tributary of the Iuzhnyi Bug). The delta of the Danube and the plavni (reed-covered floodplains) of the Dnestr are swampy in places. There are many small, seasonally dry rivers. The large rivers are economically important for navigation, irrigation, and the generation of hydroelectric energy. There are many freshwater lakes (Kagul, Ialpug, and Katlabukh) and salt lakes (Sasyk, Shagany, Alibei, and Burnas) along the Black Sea.

The most common soils in the oblast are southern and common chernozems and medium-humus and low-humus chernozems; in the north, low-humus and podzolized chernozems predominate. There are southern, slightly solonetzic chernozems in the oblast’s maritime zone. Chernozem-meadow, slightly solonchak soils and solonchaks are prevalent along valleys and gorges. The natural mixed-grass-fescue-feather-grass steppes are tilled. In the north there are small tracts of forest, with pedunculate oak, beech, ash, and linden. There are many shelter-belts consisting of acacia, apricot, and maple trees (more than 25,000 hectares).

The mammals inhabiting the oblast include many species of rodents: European hare, common hamster, spotted suslik, and the five-toed jerboa (Allactaga jaculus). Birds include the white-tailed eagle and the imperial eagle. There are many waterfowl in the floodplains of the Danube and Dnestr. The rivers abound in fish: European bream, pike, Baltic vimba, and domesticated carp. Among the fishes of the maritime zone are the commercially valuable gobies of the genus Cottus and the horse mackerel Trachurus mediterraneus. Carp are bred in ponds. The muskrat and pheasant have been acclimatized.

Population. Ukrainians constitute 55.0 percent of the population of Odessa Oblast (1970 census); Russians, 24.2 percent; Bulgarians, 7 percent; Moldavians, 5.7 percent; and Jews, 4.9 percent. The average population density is 74.8 persons per sq km. The most densely populated areas are the north and the southwest. The most sparsely populated area is the south. The urban population constitutes 59 percent of the total. The major cities are Odessa, Izmail, Belgorod-Dnestrovskii, Il’ichevsk, and Kotovsk. The cities of Artsiz, Berezovka, Razdel’naia, and Anan’ev developed during the Soviet period.

Economy. Under Soviet power, Odessa Oblast has been transformed from an agrarian region dominated by grain farming into one of the more economically developed oblasts of the Ukrainian SSR. The oblast’s gross industrial output increased by a factor of 8 between 1940 and 1973. The main branches of industry in the oblast are machine building, metalworking, food processing, light industry, and the chemical industry; these industries account for 84.5 percent of the oblast’s industrial output. Most of the fuel is brought in from other parts of the country: coal from the Donets Coal Basin, oil from the Druzhba oil pipeline and Poltava, and natural gas from Shebelinka.

The industrial output of machine building and metalworking increased by a factor of 3.5 between 1960 and 1972. Concentrated in Odessa, these branches produce farm machinery (mostly plows), program-controlled machines, packing and industrial scales, automatic and hoisting cranes, cinematographic equipment, electrical equipment, and equipment for the refrigeration, chemical, and printing industries. The oblast has a number of shipyards (Odessa, Il’ichevsk, Izmail, Kiliia). The city of Odessa accounts for more than 60 percent of the gross industrial product of the food-processing industry, which includes flour milling, sugar refining, fish processing, and the production of vegetable oils and fats. Izmail, Belgorod-Dnestrovskii, Kotovsk, and Kiliia are important centers for the food-processing industry. Most light-industry enterprises, including textile, jute, cloth, leather and footwear, and garment factories, are located in Odessa, but there are also some in Tatarbunary, Balta, Belgorod-Dnestrovskii, and Bolgrad.

The chemical industry, which operates primarily on raw materials from other parts of the country, is represented by petrochemistry and by the production of superphosphate, linoleum, dyes, plastics, and polyethylene film (primarily in Odessa). The pulp and paper industry is developed in Izmail and Belgorod-Dnestrovskii. Apart from the production of shell rock (Il’inka, Buldynka), the building-materials industry produces reinforced-concrete articles, cement, bricks, tiles, roofing materials, wall boards, and lime. The main centers for the building-materials industry are Odessa, Izmail, Belgorod-Dnestrovskii, and Kodyma. Goods produced in Odessa Oblast are shipped to all parts of the USSR and are exported to many foreign countries.

In 1973 agricultural crops accounted for 61.8 percent of the oblast’s total agricultural output, and livestock raising for 38.2 percent. The leading branches are grain farming and the raising of livestock for milk and meat. Of the oblast’s total land area, 80 percent is agricultural land, of which 63 percent is arable and 11 percent is occupied by hayfields and pastures. As of 1973, there were 417 kolkhozes in Odessa Oblast, including 16 fishing kolkhozes, and 101 sovkhozes.

Of the 2,052,000 hectares (ha) under cultivation in 1973, 54 percent were under wheat and corn; 12 percent under industrial crops (principally sunflowers and sugar beets); 4.4 percent under potatoes, vegetables, and melons; and 29.5 percent under fodder.

In the central and southern parts of the oblast there are about 95,000 ha of irrigated land, of which about 80,000 ha are cultivated. At the beginning of 1974 the oblast had 1,176,900 head of cattle (including 402,300 cows), 1,449,200 pigs, and 1,013,600 sheep and goats. Poultry farming is also developed (4, 310,400 fowl).

In the northern regions of the oblast, the proportion of industrial crops (27–30 percent) is relatively high, owing to the planting of sugar beets. The southwestern regions are noted for their developed viticulture and fruit growing. In the vicinity of Odessa, suburban vegetable and dairy farming predominates; there is also grain farming and viticulture.

In 1972 there were 1,039 km of railroads. The main railroad lines are the Moscow-Kiev-Odessa, L’vov-Odessa, Odessa-Izmail, and Odessa-Kotovsk lines. In 1972 there were 8,700 km of roads, of which 5,200 km were paved. The most important automotive routes are Odessa-Leningrad and Odessa-Kishinev. Sea transport is very important for internal and particularly external freight shipping and passenger service (the ports of Odessa, Il’ichevsk, and Belgorod-Dnestrovskii). The Danube is used for river transportation (the ports of Izmail, Reni, Vilkovo, and Kiliia). The city of Odessa is linked by air with the raion administrative centers. A portion of the Shebelinka-Odessa gas pipeline passes through Odessa Oblast.

Education, cultural affairs, and public health. During the 1914–15 school year, in what is now Odessa Oblast there were 1,004 general schools (primarily elementary), with an enrollment of 97,700 pupils. There were also four specialized secondary schools with an enrollment of 312 students and four higher educational institutions with an enrollment of 4,066 students. In the 1973–74 school year there were 407,200 pupils enrolled in 1,164 general schools of all kinds; 44,400 students in 36 specialized secondary schools; and about 83,200 students in 16 higher educational institutions, including the University of Odessa, Odessa Polytechnic Institute, Odessa Institute of Naval Engineers, and the Odessa Conservatory. In 1973 more than 90,000 children were attending 816 preschool institutions.

Among the scientific institutions in Odessa Oblast are the All-Union Institute of Genetic Selection, the Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute of Viticulture and Wine Making, the Scientific Research Institute of Health Resort Science, and the E. Metchnikoff Scientific Research Institute of Virology and Epidemiology. Also located in the oblast are the V. P. Filatov Scientific Research Institute for Eye Diseases and Tissue Therapy, the Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute of Machine Tools and Instruments, the Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute of the Canning Industry, the Azov-Black Sea Scientific Research Institute of Marine Fishing and Oceanography, and the Odessa Astronomical Observatory.

As of Jan. 1, 1973, the oblast had 1,263 public libraries, with more than 13.8 million copies of books and journals. There are seven museums in the oblast. The city of Odessa has a museum of history and local lore, an archaeological museum, an art museum, a museum of Western and Oriental art, and a museum of the USSR Navy. There is a museum of local lore in Belgorod-Dnestrovskii. The A. V. Suvorov Museum in Izmail commemorates the taking of Izmail by Russian troops under the command of Suvorov in 1790. There were six theaters in Odessa in 1973: an opera and ballet theater, a musical comedy theater, a Ukrainian music and drama theater, the Odessa Russian Drama Theater, a young people’s theater, and a puppet theater. There were also 1,055 clubs, an oblast philharmonic society, and 1,366 film-projection units.

There are two Ukrainian-language oblast newspapers: Chornomors’ka komuna (Black Sea Commune; since 1917) and Komsomol’s’ka iskra (Komsomol Spark; since 1922). There is also a Russian newspaper, Znamia kommuny (since 1938). Radio and television broadcasts are in Ukrainian, Russian, and Moldavian. There are daily oblast radio broadcasts totaling 2 hr 36 min; radio programs are relayed from Moscow (11 hr) and Kiev (6 hr 20 min). The Odessa Television Studio broadcasts 1.5 hr a day; the First Program of Central Television (12 hr) and the Second Program of Republic Television (10 hr) are relayed to the oblast.

As of Jan. 1, 1973, there were 237 hospitals with 26,500 beds in Odessa Oblast (10.8 beds per 1,000 inhabitants) and 10,000 physicians (one for every 247 inhabitants). There are balneological, mud-bath, and climatic resorts in the oblast.


Istoriia mist i sil Ukrains’koi RSR: Odes’ka oblast’. Kiev, 1969.
Fiziko-geograficheskoe raionirovanie Ukrainskoi SSR. Kiev, 1968.
Ukraina: Raiony. Moscow, 1969. (Sovetskii Soiuz series.)
Hradov, H. L. Pivdennyi ekonomichnyi raion. Kiev, 1970.


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