Osh Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Osh Oblast


part of the Kirghiz SSR. Formed on Nov. 21, 1939. Dzhalal-Abad Oblast became part of Osh Oblast on Jan. 27, 1959. Osh Oblast occupies the southwestern part of the republic of Kirghizia. In the southeast it borders on China. Its area is 73,900 sq km. In 1974 the population was 1,377,000. The oblast is divided into 14 administrative raions. There are nine cities and 15 urban-type settlements. The administrative center is the city of Osh. On Oct. 28, 1966, Osh Oblast was awarded the Order of Lenin.

Natural features. The territory of Osh Oblast is located within the Tien-Shan and Pamir-Alai mountain systems. The Chatkal, Pskem, Talas, Alatau, and Susamyrtau are among the mountain ranges situated in the northwest, the north, and the northeast. The Fergana Range rises in the east. Between the ranges there are large intramontane basins—the Chatkal (elevation, 1,300-3,000 m) and the Ketmen’-Tiube (750–1,000 m). Situated in the south are the Turkestan, Alai, and Trans-Alai ranges (Lenin Peak, 7,134 m, the highest elevation in the oblast), as well as the broad, high-mountain Alai Valley (2,200–3,500 m). The Fergana Region is characterized by low foothills (adyry) and high piedmont areas.

The oblast’s mineral products include hard and soft (brown) coal, petroleum, oil shales, natural gas, antimony, mercury, lead ores, rock salt, and building materials.

The climate is sharply continental and dry. At elevations ranging from 500 to 1,000–1,100 m the average January temperature is -3°C, and the average July temperature, 24°-27°C. The maximum annual precipitation at these elevations is 500 mm. During the growing season, which is 210–215 days long, the total of temperatures above 0°C is 4,800°. Located at elevations of 500–1,100 m are the oblast’s principal irrigated oases.

At elevations of 2,000–3,000 m the average July temperature is 11°-18°C. The winters are cold and long. The total annual precipitation is 400–600 mm (on the western slopes of the Fergana Range, up to 900 mm). At elevations of more than 3,000 m the climate is severe, with an average July temperature below 10°C, and there are very few days without frost.

Osh Oblast has a well-developed river network fed by ice and snow. The largest rivers are the Naryn and the Karadar’ia, which form the Syr Darya. They are used for irrigation and as a source of electric power. Lake Sarychelek in the Chatkal Range is outstanding for its beauty.

In the mountains at elevations up to 1,500 m, semidesert vegetation (wormwood, ephemerals, and halophytes) grows on sierozems. Higher, at elevations up to 3,000 m, arid mountain steppes give way to meadow steppes on mountain cinnamonic and brown soils. On the slopes of the Chatkal and Fergana ranges at elevations of 1,500–3,000 m, wild nut and fruit forests cover an area of 70,000 hectares (ha). The most common trees and shrubs in these forest tracts are the walnut (27,000 ha), apple (11,500 ha), pistachio, almond, cherry plum (Prunus divaricata), hawthorn, and barberry. There are savin forests on the slopes of the Alai and Turkestan ranges. At elevations of 3,000–4,000 m subalpine and alpine meadows of Kobresia, Geraniaceae, and other plants grow on mountain-meadow soils. The meadows are used as summer pastures.

The fauna of Osh Oblast is diverse. The nut and fruit forests are inhabited by foxes, wolves, badgers, ermine, brown bears, wild boars, roe deer, and porcupines. Mountain goats and snow leopards are found in the high mountains. The Sary-Chelek Preserve is located in the oblast.

Population. The population of Osh Oblast includes Kirghiz (52.1 percent of the total, according to the 1970 census), Uzbeks (25.4 percent), Russians (11.7 percent), Tatars (3.5 percent), Ukrainians (1.9 percent), and Tadzhiks (1.7 percent). As of 1974, the average population density was 18.6 inhabitants per sq km. Most of the population is concentrated in the piedmont plains of the Fergana Region and in the valleys of the major rivers. In the Osh-Karasui Oasis and the agricultural zones of Suzak, Leninsk, and Aravan raions the population density exceeds 100 inhabitants per sq km; in the Chatkal, Alai, and other valleys it is less than three per sq km. The urban population is 435,000 (32 percent of the total). The largest cities are Osh (population in 1974, 143,000) and Dzhalal-Abad (50,000). The cities of Kyzyl-Kiia, Maili-Sai, Suliukta, Kara-Su, Tash-Kumyr, Kok-Iangak, and Uzgen were established under Soviet power.

Economy. Osh Oblast accounts for approximately 28 percent of Kirghizia’s industrial production personnel and a fourth of its total industrial output. In 1973 the oblast’s gross industrial output was 9.7 times that of 1940. The Kirghiz SSR’s entire petroleum and natural gas extraction industry and 95 percent of its coal industry are concentrated in Osh Oblast. Coal is mined at the Kyzyl-Kiia, Suliukta, Kok-Iangak, Tash-Kumyr, and Almalyk mines (a total of 3.7 million tons in 1973). Petroleum and natural gas are extracted at Maili-Sai, Izbaskent, and Changyr-Tash (in 1973, 243,000 tons of petroleum and 396 million cu m of natural gas). Nonferrous metallurgy enterprises are located in a number of cities, including Khaidarken (mercury) and Frunze (antimony). Metalworking and machine building are important in the cities of Osh and Dzhalal-Abad. The largest electric lamp factory in Middle Asia is located in Maili-Sai.

Of the branches of industry engaged in processing agricultural raw materials, the most important are cotton cloth and silk (Osh) and cotton ginning (Osh, Kara-Su, Dzhalal-Abad, and Aravan). The most outstanding enterprises of the food-processing industry are the vegetable oil extraction plant at Kara-Su and the fruit and vegetable combine at Dzhalal-Abad. There are meat-processing enterprises in Osh, Dzhalal-Abad, Kyzyl-Kiia, Suliukta, Maili-Sai, and Tash-Kumyr.

The Uchkurgan Hydroelectric Power Plant (180,000 kilowatts [kW]) is in operation on the Naryn River. The Toktogul Hydroelectric Power Plant (1.2 million kW) was under construction in 1974.

Osh Oblast produces more than a third of Kirghizia’s total agricultural output. It is the republic’s most important region for the production of industrial crops and for distant-pasture animal husbandry. The gross output of farming accounts for about 57 percent of the oblast’s total agricultural output. As of Jan. 1, 1974, there were 67 kolkhozes and 51 sovkhozes. In 1973 the sown area was 431,500 ha, of which 45.3 percent was planted with cereal crops, 19.8 percent with industrial crops, and 32 percent with fodder crops. The development of arable lands has been closely associated with the development of irrigation (for example, the system of the Otuz-Adyr Canal, as well as the Bazar-Kurgan, Tortgul’, and Toktogul reservoirs). The principal industrial crop is cotton (73,400 ha), which is sown extensively at elevations of 600–1,000 m in the Fergana Region. The average cotton harvest is 29.7 quintals per ha. Cotton accounts for two-fifths of the total output of farming. Tobacco is cultivated in Naukat, Uzgen, Dzhangi-Dzhol, and Ala-Buka raions (a total of 11,800 ha). Grains are raised in the foothills. On unirrigated lands the main cereal crops are wheat and barley, and on irrigated lands, maize and rice. Orchards (apricots, apples, and quince, for example) and vineyards have been developed in the valleys of the Fergana Region.

In the mountains the principal branch of agriculture is distant-pasture animal husbandry, with an emphasis on raising sheep for meat and wool. Summer pastures in the Alai and Chatkal valleys are of interrepublic importance. Cattle and hogs are raised in areas where there is irrigated farming. Yaks are raised in the Alai Valley. At the end of 1973 there were 3,162,500 sheep and goats (3.7 times the 1940 figure), 393,100 cattle, 94,700 horses, and 24,000 hogs. Poultry farming has been developed. In the Fergana Region, sericulture is important.

The chief means of transportation in Osh Oblast is the motor vehicle. There are 8,300 km of roads, of which 5,000 km are paved. The most important routes are the Osh-Frunze, the Osh-Tashkent, the Osh-Khorog, the Osh-Kara-Su-Uzgen-Kara-Kul’dzha, the Osh-Kyzyl-Kiia-Isfana, and the Osh-Aravan. With the exception of Maili-Sai and Uzgen, all the cities in the oblast are linked by branch lines with the Fergana railroad ring. There are approximately 100 km of railroad track in the oblast. Air transportation is well developed.

The southeastern Fergana Region (Osh and the surrounding area) is the most densely populated of the oblast’s economic regions. There are well-developed manufacturing industries (textiles, machine building, metalworking, and food processing). Cotton and tobacco are raised, and orchards and vineyards are of importance. The Dzhalal-Abad region has well-developed petroleum, natural gas, coal, and manufacturing industries. Cotton is the main crop, and animal husbandry is important. The Ketmen’-Tiube basin is known for animal husbandry and farming. In the Chatkal region mining is important, tobacco is cultivated, and animal husbandry is well developed. In the southwestern Fergana Region (west of Kyzyl-Kiia) mining is well developed. Sheep raising is important, and cotton is the main crop. The Alai region is associated with distant-pasture animal husbandry.


Education, cultural affairs, and public health. During the 1973–74 school year Osh Oblast had 947 general education schools of all types with 398,400 students; 25 vocational training schools with 12,500 students; and 12 specialized educational establishments with 12,800 students. The pedagogical institute and the general technical department of the Frunze Polytechnic Institute (both located in the city of Osh) had a total student body of about 6,000. In 1973, 36,200 children were enrolled in 322 preschool institutions.

As of Jan. 1, 1974, Osh Oblast had 567 public libraries with 4.6 million copies of books and magazines. There is a museum of regional studies and the Uzbek Theater of Musical Drama in the city of Osh. The Kirghiz Drama Theater is located in Dzhalal-Abad. The oblast has 408 club-type institutions, 452 motion-picture projectors, 23 houses of Pioneers, four stations for young technicians and naturalists, and 25 children’s sports schools.

The oblast newspapers are Lenin jholu (The Leninist Road, published in Kirghiz since 1938), Leninskii put’ (since 1938), and Lenin yuli (Leninist Road, published in Uzbek since 1957). Radio programs are broadcast in Kirghiz, Russian, and Uzbek. Oblast radio transmissions are carried for one hour a day, and radio and television programs are relayed from Frunze and Moscow.

As of Jan. 1, 1974, Osh Oblast had 105 hospital institutions with 14,100 beds (10.2 beds per 1,000 inhabitants). There were 1,800 practicing physicians in 1974 (one per 748 inhabitants). Located in Osh Oblast is the Dzhalal-Abad Balneological Health Resort, as well as therapy institutions at Arslanbob, Kyzyl-Ungur, and Sary-Chelek. The oblast’s two tourist centers are located in Osh and Arslanbob.


Riazantsev, S. N., and V. F. Pavlenko, Kirgizskaia SSR. Moscow, 1960.
Kirgiziia. Moscow, 1970. (Sovetskii Soiuz series.) Narodnoe khoziaistvo Kirgizskoi SSR: Iubileinyi statistich. sbornik. Frunze, 1973.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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