Magadan Oblast

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Magadan Oblast


part of the RSFSR. Formed on Dec. 3, 1953. Located in the extreme northeastern USSR, Magadan Oblast borders on the seas of the Arctic Ocean (the East Siberian and Chukchi seas) and those of the Pacific Ocean (the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk). Its area is 1,199,100 sq km. In 1973 its population was 396,000. Magadan Oblast, which includes the Chukchi National Okrug, is divided into 15 raions and has four cities and 47 urban-type settlements. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Magadan. In 1967 the oblast was awarded the Order of Lenin.

Natural features. The shoreline is broken by large bays (Anadyr’, Krest, and Shelikhov) and gulfs (Chaun, Koliuchinskaia, Penzhina, and Gizhiga). The Chukchi Peninsula juts out far to the east. Much of Magadan Oblast is mountainous. Mountains and plateaus prevail, alternating with vast lowlands. The Kolyma Mountains, with elevations ranging from 600 to 1,713 m, occupy the southwest. Located in the northwest are the Cherge, Polar, and other ranges belonging to the Cherskii mountain chain (maximum elevation, 2,500 m). The Chukchi Mountains and the Anadyr’ Plateau are located in the northeast. The lowlands are the Anadyr’, Chaun, Vankarem, Gizhiga, lamsk, and Tauisk.

Inland, the climate is sharply continental, but the coastal areas have a cold, marine climate. The winters are seven to eight months long. The lowest temperatures range from —60° to — 65°C. In the interior regions the average January temperature is — 38°C, on the shore of the Sea of Okhotsk it ranges from -19° to -23°C, and on the shore of the Arctic Ocean it varies from —24° to — 28°C. The summers are short and cool. Fogs occur frequently. The average July temperature on the Okhotsk coast is 11°-12°C; on the Arctic coast, 3°-6°C; and in the interior regions, 14°-16°C. The average annual precipitation is 300-350 mm (on the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea, up to 500-700 mm).

With the exception of the Okhotsk coast, the oblast lies in the zone of permafrost rock. The growing season is 100-105 days long. The rivers belong to the Arctic and Pacific basins. The largest are the Kolyma and the Anadyr’. Most of the rivers are mountain streams. Their flow is uneven, and they flood heavily and rapidly. Frozen for long periods of time, they freeze to the bottom in many cases and develop ice mounds. The rivers are a significant energy resource (16.5 gigawatts). There are numerous small lakes, especially in the Anadyr’ Lowland.

On the tundra the most widespread soils are gley-swamp and peaty gley soils. Podzols prevail in the taiga, and mountain-taiga and mountain-tundra soil in the mountain regions. The alluvial soils of the river valleys are most suitable for agriculture.

The oblast lies in the tundra, forest-tundra, and taiga zones. Lichen tundras rich in reindeer moss and Cetraria are widespread, as are hummock tundras. Low brush occupies vast areas. The taiga is sparsely wooded. The chief species is the larch. On the floodplains forests of Chosenia (a genus of willows) have developed. Coniferous forests cover 96 percent of the 21 million forested hectares.

Among the most common, economically important animals are the squirrel, blue hare, arctic fox, fox, brown bear, polar bear, wolverine, weasel, reindeer, and elk. Numerous birds inhabit the oblast, including partridges, ducks, and geese. The seas are rich in fishes (salmon, herring, Far Eastern navaga, cod, and sea perch) and sea animals (walrus, seals, and whales). In the rivers and lakes there are nelma, grayling, char, burbot, and perch.

Population. Up to 76 percent of the population is Russian. The Northern peoples—Chukchi, Koryaks, Evenki, Eskimo, and Yukaghirs—account for more than 4 percent. The average population density is 3.3 inhabitants per 10 sq km. More than 70 percent of the population is concentrated in the southwestern part of the oblast. The urban population is 74 percent of the total. All of the cities in the oblast (Magadan, Susuman, Pevek, and Anadyr’) were built under Soviet power.

Economy. The foundation of the oblast’s economy is mining and nonferrous metallurgy, which have been established entirely under Soviet power and are represented by enterprises that extract and dress gold, tin, tungsten, and mercury. The fishing industry is also important. In addition, there are enterprises of the fuel, power, machine-building, metalworking, building materials, food-processing, and light industries. Under the eighth five-year plan (1966-70) the output of industry in Magadan Oblast increased by 50 percent.

The most important mining region is located at the headwaters of the Kolyma River and its tributaries. Gold and tin have been mined there since the 1930’s. The mineral resources in the Chukchi National Okrug have been intensively exploited since the 1950’s. Coal is mined at the Arkagala, Omsukchan, Beringovskii, and Anadyr’ deposits. Under the eighth five-year plan the Kadykchan-10 mine was built. A large power plant, the Arkagala State Regional Electric Power Plant, operates on coal. Under the ninth five-year plan (1971-75) a hydroelectric power plant has been built on the Kolyma River. There is an atomic power plant near the settlement of Bilibino.

The fishing industry depends for its development on the re-sources of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering and Chukchi seas. Herring, Far Eastern navaga, smelt, and other fishes, as well as sea animals (walrus and seals), are commercially important. In 1972 the total catch offish, whales, sea animals, and sea products was 68,000 tons. The fish are processed on factory ships and at fish-processing plants.

Machine building and metalworking are represented by plants that repair mining equipment (in Susuman, lagodnoe, Ten’kinskii, and Ust’Chaun) and by the Spornoe Motor Vehicle Repair Plant. Mining equipment, equipment for the fuel industry, and spare parts are produced by the Magadan Machine Repair Plant and the Orotukan Mining Equipment Plant.

The building materials industry is growing rapidly. More than 100,000 cu m of prefabricated reinforced concrete, about 90 million bricks (standard dimensions), and more than 70,000 cu m of keramzit (an artificial porous filler) are produced per year. An aluminum building components enterprise was under construction in 1973. The building materials plants are concentrated in the city of Magadan and in the Upper Kolyma mining region. Logging is important along the tributaries of the upper Kolyma. (In 1972, 544,000 cu m of timber were shipped out of this region.)

The food-processing industry has grown significantly. Light industrial enterprises manufacture footwear, garments, and household appliances and utensils.

There are 50 sovkhozes and 11 kolkhozes in Magadan Oblast, as well as a significant number of subsidiary and other enterprises. In 1972 there were 271,000 hectares (ha) of agricultural lands, including 134,000 ha of hayfields and 115,000 ha of pastures. There are 22,000 ha of fields planted with agricultural crops—75 percent with fodder crops and the remainder with cereal crops, potatoes, and vegetables.

Reindeer raising is a leading branch of agriculture (primarily in the Chukchi National Okrug). In 1973 there were 722,500 reindeer. Dairy farming is also important. There are 25,000 cattle (48 percent cows), 23,000 hogs, and 1,021,000 poultry. Fur farms raise blue arctic foxes, silver-gray foxes, and mink. Arctic foxes, squirrels, foxes, ermine, and otters are hunted commercially.

The principal agricultural regions for livestock and vegetables are located on the shore of the Sea of Okhotsk (Ola Raion) and in the valleys of the headwaters of the Kolyma Basin.

There are no railroads in the oblast. Maritime transportation is important. The principal ports are Nagaevo (the city of Magadan), Pevek, Provideniia, Egvekinot, Anadyr’, and Beringovskii. Internal shipping is done almost entirely by motor vehicles. The most important routes are the road from Magadan to Susuman, Kadykchan, and the Yakut SSR; the Kolyma Highway; the Pevek-Komsomol’skii road; and the Egvekinot-Iul’tin road. River shipping is carried along the Kolyma and Anadyr’ and some of their tributaries. Air transportation is important. There is a well-developed network of local air routes.

The Upper Kolyma region—the principal mining region (gold, tin, and coal)—also has electric power plants and plants where mining equipment and motor vehicles are repaired. Its most important centers are Susuman, lagodnoe, Ust’-Omchug, Omsukchan, Arkagala, and Miaundzha. The Magadan-Okhotsk region is important for metalworking and for the building materials and fishing industries (the city of Magadan and the surrounding settlements). There is suburban-type agriculture in this region. The Chukchi region comprises the territory of the Chukchi National Okrug.


Educational, scientific, and cultural institutions and public health. In the 1914-15 school year Magadan Oblast had five schools with an enrollment of 110 students. There were no specialized secondary schools or higher educational institutions. In the 1972-73 school year 76,700 students were enrolled in 284 general educational schools of all types, 833 students in two vocational and technical schools, 4,200 students in the specialized secondary schools, and 1,600 students (including 900 correspondence students) at the Magadan Pedagogical Institute. Branches of the All-Union Correspondence Polytechnic Institute and the All-Union Correspondence Juridical Institute are located in Magadan. In 1972, 32,000 children were enrolled in preschool institutions.

The Northeastern Complex Research Institute and the Institute of Biological Problems of the North, both of which are associated with the Far Eastern Scientific Center of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, are located in Magadan Oblast, as are the Magadan Zonal Scientific Research Institute of Northeastern Agriculture and the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Gold and Rare Metals.

On Jan. 1, 1973, there were 224 public libraries in the oblast (2.9 million books and magazines). There is an oblast museum of local lore in Magadan. The Chukchi National Okrug museum of local lore is in Anadyr’. In the city of Magadan there is a music and drama theater. There are 251 clubs, 480 permanent motion-picture projection units, and 29 extracurricular institutions, includng 13 Pioneer houses and 12 children’s sports schools, in the oblast.

There are two oblast newspapers, Magadanskaia Pravda (1935) and Magadanskii Komsomolets (1957). Local radio broadcasting is carried nine hours a day in the Russian, Chukchi, Eskimo, and Evenk languages. All-Union radio broadcasts are relayed. There are two television channels with three hours of local broadcasting a day. Programs are relayed from Central Television by means of three Orbita communications satellite surface stations. There are television centers in Magadan and Anadyr’.

As of Jan. 1, 1973, Magadan Oblast had 100 hospitals with 6,500 beds (16.6 beds per 1,000 inhabitants). There were 1,700 physicians at that time (one per 226 inhabitants). The Talaia (Goriache Kliuchi) mud therapy resort is located 286 km north of Magadan.


Problemy razvitiia proizvoditeVnykh sil Magadanskoi oblasti. Moscow, 1961.
Severo- Vostochnyi ekonomicheskii raion. Magadan, 1965.
Sever Dal’nego Vostoka. Moscow, 1970.
Rossiiskaia Federatsiia: DaVnii Vostok. Moscow, 1971. (Sovetskii Soiuz series.)