Orel Oblast

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Orel Oblast


part of the RSFSR. Formed Sept. 27, 1937. Area, 24,700 sq km; population, 897,000 (1974). Divided into 19 raions, with seven cities and 11 urban-type settlements. Center, Orel. Awarded the Order of Lenin on June 1, 1967.

Natural features. Orel Oblast is located in the heart of the Central Russian Upland (average elevation, 220–250 m). The oblast occupies an elevated, hilly plain, dissected by river valleys, ravines, and gorges. The climate is temperate continental. The average January temperature ranges from — 9°C in the west to — 10.5°C in the northeast; the July average ranges from 18°C in the northwest to 19.5°C in the southeast. The average annual precipitation is 570–580 mm in the west and 450–500 mm in the southeast. Two-thirds of the precipitation falls during the warm season (April to October). The growing season (with temperatures above 5°C) lasts 175–185 days. The Oka River basin occupies about 60 percent of the oblast. The Oka rises in the southern part of the oblast and flows across the oblast for 211 km. Its tributaries include the Zusha, Optukha, Rybnitsa, Nugr’, Nepolod’, Orlik, Tson, and Kroma. In the southeast, 31 percent of the area belongs to the basin of the Sosna River, which flows into the Don outside Orel Oblast; in the southwest, 9 percent is occupied by the basins of the Navlia and Nerussa rivers, tributaries of the Desna.

Orel Oblast is in the forest-steppe zone. Typical and leached chernozems account for about 36 percent of the soil cover; dark gray forest soils and podzolized chernozems, 31 percent; gray forest soils, 13 percent; and soddy-podzolic and light-gray forest soils, 6 percent. The soil composition is most diverse in the western regions, whereas the eastern and southeastern regions have a more homogeneous cover with more fertile soils. About 8 percent of the area is under forests, which consist primarily of birch, oak, aspen, and linden; among the conifers are spruce and pine. The steppes have been tilled and remain in their natural state in only a few small sections. There are floodplain and dry meadows.

Among the animals of the steppes are the spotted suslik, the black-bellied hamster, the five-toed jerboa Allactaga major, the mole rat, the weasel Putorius eversmannl, and the Hungarian partridge. The broad-leaved forests are inhabited by the European marten, the weasel Putorius putorius, mink, otter, roe deer, wild boar, red deer, black grouse, and green woodpecker. The animals of the taiga include the elk, blue hare, capercaillie, hazel hen, and black woodpecker. Wolves, foxes, and European hare live in the oblast; raccoon dog, muskrat, and beaver (Castor fiber) have been acclimatized.

Population. According to the 1970 census, 98.4 percent of the population of Orel Oblast is composed of Russians. As of 1974, the average population density was 36.3 per sq km. The highest density, about 40 per sq km, is found in the south, and the lowest, less than 20 per sq km, in the northeast. The urban population totals 47 percent. Cities include Orel, Livny, and Mtsensk.

Economy. Before the Great October Socialist Revolution, Orel Province was one of the most economically backward provinces in Russia. Agriculture remained nearly self-sufficient and was oriented mainly toward grain, with a predominance of gray cereals, such as rye and oats. Industry was poorly developed and was primarily of the cottage type. Under Soviet power, Orel Oblast has been transformed into an industrial-agrarian region. In 1973 its total industrial output had increased by a factor of 15 as compared to 1940. More than one-half of the total industrial output consists of means of production. Industry is concentrated primarily in Orel, but is also important in Livny and Mtsensk.

Power is supplied from the Integrated Electric Power Grid of the European part of the USSR by means of the Cherepet’-Mtsensk and Orel-Kursk high-voltage transmission lines.

The leading branch of industry is machine building, which accounts for more than one-third of total industrial output. The oblast’s products include technical equipment for the textile, leather-footwear, glass-making, and food-processing industries, and also graders, road sprayer-sweepers, lift trucks, centrifugal pumps, equipment for producing synthetic fiber, assembly parts for motor vehicles, and spare parts for tractors. The most important machine-building enterprises are located in Orel and Livny. Other well-developed branches are instrument-making (automation devices, computers, clocks and watches, and radio components), metallurgy (nonferrous foundry industry; production of steel wire and cable), chemicals (plastics and rubber goods), and light industry (footwear, garments, and knitwear). The food-processing industry is of great importance, accounting for 29 percent of the total industrial output; its leading branches are sugar refining in Otrada, Kolpny, Zalegoshch’, and Livny and meat packing in Orel, Mtsensk, Verkhov’e, and Zmievka. Other prominent branches are distilling and the production of butter, cheese, and starch.

Agriculture is primarily concerned with grain production and livestock raising. As of Jan. 1, 1974, the oblast had 107 sovkhozes and 302 kolkhozes. Agricultural land totals 2,071,000 hectares (ha), of which arable land accounts for 1,728,000 ha, hayfields for 166,000 ha, and pastures for 147,000 ha. In 1973, the sown area totaled 1,702,600 ha, of which 61 percent was under cereals, 6 percent under industrial crops, 6.2 percent under potatoes and vegetable and melon crops, and 26.4 percent under fodder crops. The main crops are spring barley (319,000 ha), spring wheat (171,000 ha), winter rye (134,000 ha), oats (198,000 ha), winter wheat (40,000 ha), buckwheat (67,000 ha), sugar beets (75,000 ha), and hemp (29,000 ha). Millet, peas and beans, corn for silage, annual grasses, and other crops are also planted. In the western regions a prominent place is occupied by hemp and potatoes, as well as fodder grasses; grains and sugar beets are grown in the southeastern regions.

The branches of livestock raising are as follows: (1) meat and dairy cattle breeding, with 716,500 head of cattle, including 292,900 cows, in early 1974; (2) meat and lard swine breeding (482,000 pigs); (3) meat and wool sheep raising (373,400 sheep); and (4) poultry farming (4.5 million fowl). High-quality thoroughbred trotters are also bred and raised at the Zlynskii Stud Farm.

As of 1972, the length of railroads was 491 km. The Moscow Railroad line has been electrified. The Zheleznogorsk-Orel line, which will improve the delivery of iron ore to the Novolipetsk Metallurgical Plant and the country’s other metallurgical plants, was under construction in 1974. The length of motor roads is 9,700 km, including 1,700 km of paved roads. The most important highway is that from Moscow to Simferopol’. A 202-km section of the Druzhba Oil Pipeline passes through the oblast. There is air service from Orel to many population centers in the oblast, as well as to Voronezh and Moscow.


Educational, scientific, and cultural institutions; public health. In the 1914–15 academic year, there were 1,290 schools, mainly primary schools, with 106,800 pupils; one secondary specialized educational institution, with 30 students; and no higher educational institutions. In the 1973–74 academic year, 1,081 general-educational schools of all types had an enrollment of 171,700,15 secondary specialized educational institutions had 14,200 students, the pedagogical institute had 5,647 students, the branch of the Moscow Cultural Institute had 410 students, and the branch of the All-Union Correspondence Institute of Machine Building had 2,073 students (all these higher educational institutions are located in Orel). In 1973, training was provided for 23,200 children at 233 preschool institutions.

Orel Oblast is the location of the Scientific Research Institute of Light Machine Building, a branch of the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Light and Textile Machine Building, and the All-Union Planning and Scientific Research Institute for Standardized and Experimental Planning of Hothouse and Greenhouse Farms and Enterprises for the Primary Processing of Agricultural Produce (Orel); the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Legume Crops (in the settlement of Streletskii); and a branch of the Scientific Research Institute of Alloys and Processing of Nonferrous Metals (Mtsensk).

As of Jan. 1, 1974, Orel Oblast had 566 public libraries, with about 6 million copies of books and journals. There were several museums, including the Oblast Museum of Local Lore in Orel and its branch, the Bolkhov Museum of Local Lore; the Oblast Picture Gallery; the I. S. Turgenev Museum and its branch, the I. S. Turgenev Estate Preserve at Spasskoe-Lutovinovo, Turgenev’s mother’s estate; the Museum of Orel Writers; and the N. S. Leskov Museum (the writer spent his childhood and youth in Orel). The I. S. Turgenev Drama Theater and the Puppet Theater are located in Orel. There are 842 clubs, 878 permanent motion-picture projection units, and 20 extracurricular institutions.

The oblast newspapers are Orlovskaia pravda (Orel Pravda; since 1917) and Orlovskii komsomolets (Orel Komsomol Member; since 1922). Local television transmissions are carried for 15 minutes daily, and oblast radio broadcasts for 1½ hours. Programs are relayed from the Central Television Studio (12 hours) and from the All-Union Radio (19 hours).

As of Jan. 1, 1973, Orel Oblast had 84 hospital institutions, with 10,200 beds (11.2 beds per thousand inhabitants), and 1,900 physicians (one physician for every 487 inhabitants). There were three sanatoriums and one house of rest.


Priroda Orlovskoi oblasti: Sb. St. Orel, 1961.
Orlovskaia oblast’: Istoriko-ekonomicheskii ocherk Tula, 1970.
Narodnoe khoziaistvo Orlovskoi oblasti: Statistich. sb. Orel, 1972.