Omsk Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Omsk Oblast


part of the RSFSR. Formed Dec. 7, 1934. Area, 139,700 sq km. Population, 1,858,000 (1974). Omsk Oblast is divided into 31 raions and has six cities and 15 urban-type settlements. Its administrative center is the city of Omsk. In 1956, Omsk Oblast was awarded the Order of Lenin.

Natural features. Omsk Oblast is located in the southern part of the Western Siberian Plain in the middle reaches of the Irtysh River. Its surface is a gently rolling plain with elevations of 100–140 m. Typical of the area are ridgelike elevations (“crests”), which are found primarily in the southern half of the oblast. The northern part is characterized by extensive swampy areas. There are many kettle lakes and sinkholes. Among the mineral resources are clays and sands. Deposits of marl and peat are found in the northern regions.

The climate is continental and moderately cold. Winters are prolonged and severe, with an average January temperature of about -20°C. Summers are warm and relatively short, with an average July temperature of about 20°C. Total annual precipitation is 300–400 mm (decreasing from north to south). The growing season is 153–162 days.

All the rivers in the oblast belong to the Irtysh River basin. The Irtysh runs through the oblast for more than 1,000 km from southeast to northwest. The largest tributaries, which are important for transportation, are the Ishim (a left tributary) and the Om’ and Tara (right tributaries). There are many lakes—in the south, primarily salt lakes, and in the north, freshwater lakes.

Chernozems are the most prevalent type of soil (23.6 percent of the soil cover). Swampy soils account for 21 percent of the soil cover; solonets and related soils, for 15.6 percent; podzols, for 13.3 percent; solods, for 7.3 percent; meadow soils, for 5.8 percent; gray forest soils, for 5.7 percent; and soddy podzolic soils, for 3.6 percent. The most intensively used soils are the chernozems, which occupy 3.3 million hectares (ha).

In terms of vegetative cover, most of the oblast belongs to the forest-steppe and steppe zones. The northern part lies in the taiga-forest subzone. Forests and shrubs occupy more than a quarter of the oblast’s territory. The principal species are cedar, spruce, fir, birch, and aspen. In the southern part of the forest zone, mixed forests give way to a band of hardwood birch and aspen forests, which, as one moves south, gradually yield to the kolki of the forest-steppe zone. The most valuable commercial animals of the forest zone are the squirrel, Siberian weasel, ermine, fox, reindeer, elk, and roe deer. Among the predatory animals of this zone are wolves and bears. The fauna of the forest-steppe zone includes the fox, blue (or mountain) hare, and steppe polecat. The suslik Citellus erythrogenys is common in the steppe zone. During the summer there are many ducks and geese in the numerous lakes and old riverbeds. The black grouse and Hungarian partridge are found in the forest and forest-steppe zones; the capercaillie inhabits the forest zone.

Population. The population of Omsk Oblast includes Russians (80 percent, 1970 census), Ukrainians (about 6 percent), Kazakhs, Germans, and Tatars. In 1974 the average population density was 13.2 inhabitants per sq km. The central part of the oblast is the most densely populated, with as many as 25 inhabitants per sq km. The northern (taiga) section, with two to three inhabitants per sq km, is the least densely populated. Between 1917 and 1974 the urban population grew from 12 percent to 61 percent of the total. The largest city is Omsk. Smaller cities, such as Isil’kul’ and Kalachinsk, have developed.

Economy. Economically, Omsk Oblast is one of the most developed regions of Western Siberia. As of 1972, 31 percent of all the oblast’s factory and office workers were employed in industrial enterprises.

INDUSTRY. The oblast’s economy is dominated by the manufacturing industries, which rely on imported fuel and raw materials. The principal branches are machine building and metalworking, oil refining, light industry, and food processing, which accounted for approximately three-fourths of the oblast’s total industrial output in 1974. All of the heavy industrial enterprises and many of the light industrial enterprises were established under Soviet power. The largest enterprises are an oil-refining combine, the Sibzavod and Omsksel’mash plants, and plants manufacturing gas equipment, motors, electrical instruments, synthetic rubber, and tires. Most of the machine-building plants are concentrated in the oblast’s administrative center, the city of Omsk, where 95 percent of the total output of this branch is produced. The oblast’s machine-building plants specialize in producing electric measuring apparatus, agricultural machinery, spare parts for motor vehicles and tractors, and equipment for light industry and the food-processing industries. With the exception of food processing, light industry, and the lumber industry, which operate mainly on local raw materials, the oblast’s industrial enterprises depend on coal from the Kuznetsk and Ekibastuz basins, metal from the Urals and the Kuzbas, and petroleum from the Western Siberian oil deposits.

Located in various raions are butter and cheese factories, milk plants, meat-packing combines, flour mills, and knit goods factories. The oblast produces about 30 percent of the creamery butter made in Western Siberia. Omsk Oblast ranks first in Western Siberia in the production of canned milk. Up to 2 million cu m of lumber a year are exported by six timber procurement establishments in the northern part of the oblast. There are wood products enterprises near Tara and near the city of Omsk.

More than 800 times as much electric power was produced in 1973 as in 1928. In 1973 the capacity of all the electric power plants in the oblast was 1.1 gigawatts.

AGRICULTURE. A major agricultural region, Omsk Oblast produces about 20 percent of Western Siberia’s agricultural output. There are 170 kolkhozes and 208 sovkhozes. Of the sovkhozes, 52 specialize in cereal crops, 85 in dairy animals, 12 in meat production, and 11 in sheep raising. Land cultivation accounts for 45.2 percent of the oblast’s agricultural output, and animal husbandry, for 54.8 percent (1973). Lands suitable for farming occupy almost half of the oblast’s territory, primarily the south. The arable area increased considerably after the assimilation of virgin and abandoned lands between 1954 and 1960, when 1.4 million ha were brought under cultivation.

Of the total sown area (4,077,000 ha in 1973), cereal crops occupy 2,408,000 ha (59 percent), of which 1,419,000 ha are sown with spring wheat. Oats, barley, and winter rye are also sown. Fodder crops occupy 1,511,000 ha (37 percent of the sown area), including 296,000 ha of maize for silage and green fodder. Industrial crops (crown flax, sunflowers, long-fiber flax, and false flax) occupy 37,000 ha (about 1 percent). Potatoes and melon crops are grown on 82,000 ha (2 percent of the sown area).

Meat-and-dairy animal husbandry is most highly developed in the forest-steppe zone, where half of the cattle are raised. Fine-fleeced sheep are raised in the south. At the beginning of 1974 there were 1,703,500 head of cattle, including 595,600 cows; 573,600 pigs, 1,016,200 sheep and goats, and 100,000 horses. The fur industry has also been developed, primarily in the taiga regions. (Squirrel, muskrat, and ermine are among the fur-bearing animals most commonly trapped in this area.) Fur farms raise animals such as the silver-black fox. There are eight commercial fur farms and two sovkhozes for raising fur-bearing animals.

TRANSPORTATION. As of 1972 there were 886 km of railroads, including 527 km of electrified lines. The trunk line of the Trans-Siberian Railroad passes through Omsk Oblast, as does the Omsk-Tiumen’-Sverdlovsk line and the Irtyshskoe-Karasuk-Kamen’-na-Obi-Altaiskaia line. There are 1,667 km of inland waterways suitable for navigation. The oblast has 1,313 km of paved motor-vehicle roads.

ECONOMIC REGIONS. The Omsk steppe, which lies on both sides of the Irtysh, constitutes 25 percent of the oblast’s area. As much as 40 percent of the population (excluding the city of Omsk) is concentrated in this area, which is primarily an agricultural region. Industry serves agriculture and processes local agricultural output.

The Ishim-Irtysh forest-steppe interfluvial area, which occupies 20 percent of the oblast’s territory, specializes in dairy animal husbandry, as well as in wheat and other cereal crops. Enterprises located in this region produce butter, cheese, and evaporated and dry milk.

The right-bank Irtysh forest-steppe, the most densely populated part of Omsk Oblast (20 percent of the total population), occupies 12 percent of the oblast’s territory. Dairy animal husbandry prevails, and the cultivation of field crops has been developed. Butter-making is highly developed. There are also flour mills and metalworking enterprises.

The Tara North occupies 43 percent of the oblast’s territory but is inhabited by less than 20 percent of the population. Approximately half of its area is covered by forests. The principal branches of the economy are dairy and meat animal husbandry, the cultivation of flax, and the lumber industry.


Education, cultural affairs, and public health. During the 1914–15 school year the territory of Omsk Oblast had 878 general education schools with a total enrollment of more than 40,000 pupils and two specialized secondary educational institutions with 135 pupils. There were no institutions of higher learning. During the 1973–74 school year, 387,500 students were enrolled in 1,938 general education schools of all types, 31,100 students were enrolled in 70 vocational institutions, and approximately 42,500 students were enrolled in 36 specialized secondary educational institutions. There were nine institutions of higher learning, all located in the city of Omsk, with a total of more than 40,400 students. In 1973 approximately 73,000 children were enrolled in 810 preschool institutions.

As of Jan. 1, 1973, Omsk Oblast had 1,028 public libraries (about 12 million copies of books and journals). Located in the city of Omsk are a museum of local lore and a fine arts museum, as well as four theaters (a drama theater, a musical comedy theater, a puppet theater, and a young people’s theater) and a philharmonic society. The oblast has 1,736 clubs and 1,973 motion-picture projectors.

Periodicals include the oblast newspaper, Omskaia pravda (since 1917), and the Komsomol newspaper, Molodoi sibiriak (since 1920). Oblast television broadcasts for three hours a day and relays the First Program of Central Television (ten hours a day). Oblast radio broadcasting is carried for 2½ hours a day, and 18 hours of All-Union Radio programs are broadcast.

As of Jan. 1, 1973, the oblast had 205 hospital-type institutions with 20,500 beds (11.1 beds per 1,000 inhabitants). There were 5,900 practicing physicians (one per 312 inhabitants), seven sanatoriums with accommodations for 555 patients, two sanatoriums specializing in preventive medicine (135 beds), and four houses of rest.


Zapadno-Sibirskii ekonomicheskii raion. Moscow, 1967.
Rossiiskaia Federatsiia. Zapadnaia Sibir’. Moscow, 1971. (Sovetskii Soiuz series.)
Pomus, M. I. Zapadnaia Sibir’. Moscow, 1956.
Narodnoe khoziaistvo Omskoi oblasti: Statisticheskii sbornik. Omsk, 1971.
Tret’iak, G. A., and G. S. Ulitskaia. Geografiia Omskoi oblasti. Omsk, 1969.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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