Polese Lowland

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Poles’e Lowland


(also called the Poles’e), a lowland in the USSR, in the western part of the East European Plain. The Poles’e Lowland is located in the basins of the Pripiat’, Dnieper, and Desna rivers and occupies the southern oblasts of the Byelorussian SSR (primarily Brest, Gomel’, and Mogilev oblasts), the northern oblasts of the Ukrainian SSR (mostly Volyn’, Rovno, and Zhitomir oblasts and the northern parts of Kiev, Chernigov, and Sumy oblasts), and part of the RSFSR (Briansk Oblast). In Byelorussia it is known as the Byelorussian Poles’e; in the Ukraine, the Ukrainian Poles’e; and in the RSFSR, the Briansk-Zhizdra Poles’e. The total area is roughly 270,000 sq km.

The Poles’e Lowland is characterized by excessively wet, sandy lowlands crisscrossed by a dense network of rivers with weakly cut channels and with broad floodplains with significant distribution of forests, swamps, and swampy lands. The mosaiclike pattern of landscapes in the Poles’e Lowland formed as the result of recent tectonic subsidences that engulfed different structures. The northern and eastern parts of the lowland are located for the most part within the tectonic troughs of the southern slope of the Byelorussian-Lithuanian massif, the Brest Basin, the Poles’e Saddle, the Pripiat’ Trough, and the northern part of the Dnieper-Donets Basin. The surface is generally flat, but there are hills in some places. The lowland’s location in the marginal zone of glaciation has resulted in a prevalence on its surface of water sands, sandy loams, and morainic loams reaching a thickness of 150–200 m. The southern part of the lowland is more varied geomorphologically. In the western half, which occupies the eastern part of the L’vov Basin and the northern edge of the Volyn’ Podol’e Platform, the surface is flat, gently rolling, and sometimes moderately hilly. Elevations are 150–200 m, and the thickness of Anthropogenic beds diminishes to 50–25 m. The shallow placement of carbonate bedrock (chalk, marl) resulted in the formation of karst relief. To the east, where gneisses, granites, and quartzites of the northwestern margin of the Ukrainian crystalline massif outcrop, the thickness of the Anthropogenic cover diminishes to 20 m and less. The relief is denuded and very rugged. Elevations are up to 200–250 m, reaching 316 m in the Ovruch Upland. The Ovruch Upland, the Mozyr Ridge, the Zagorod’e Upland, and certain other regions are characterized by a special type of landscape known as opoliia. The surface is composed of loess-type rocks and is well drained and under cultivation. There are gray forest soils and oak groves.

The Poles’e Lowland has a temperate climate. The average January temperature is –4° to – 8°C, and the average June temperature is 17°-19°C. Precipitation reaches 550–650 mm a year. The water table is high, and there are many lakes (Cher-vonoe, Vygonovskoe, Svitiazskoe). Sod-podzol, peat marsh, and meadow soils predominate. Roughly one-third of the area is covered by pine forest (about 60 percent of the forested area) with some oak, aspen, spruce, and hornbeam. Woodlands of alder, birch, ash, and poplar are encountered in the swampy parts of the river valleys. Meadows occupy roughly one-quarter of the territory. A great deal of land reclamation is being done in the Poles’e Lowland. Significant areas have been improved and turned into farmland, where rye, barley, wheat, flax, hemp, potatoes, vegetables, and forage grasses are raised. The most important minerals in the region are petroleum and brown coal (Pripiat’ Basin), peat (Pinsk, Volyn’), and potassium salts (the Starobin deposit).


Abaturov, A. M. Poles’ia russkoi ravniny v sviazi s problemoi ikh osvoeniia. Moscow, 1968.
Sredniaia polosa Evropeiskoi chasti SSSR. Moscow, 1967.
Geografiia Belorussii. Minsk, 1965.
Marinich, A. M. Geomorfologiia Iuzhnogo Poles’ia. Kiev, 1963.


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