Rostov Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Rostov Oblast


an oblast in the RSFSR, formed on Sept. 13, 1937. Area, 100,800 sq km. Population, 3,992,000 (Jan. 1, 1975). The oblast is divided into 39 administrative raions and has 22 cities and 34 urban-type settlements. The administrative center is Rostov-on-Don. The oblast has been awarded the Order of Lenin (Oct. 1, 1958).

Natural features. The oblast is situated in the southern part of the East European Plain, in the basin of the lower Don River, extending partially into Ciscaucasia. Its southwestern part borders on the Taganrog Gulf of the Sea of Azov. The highest sections of the plain are the spurs of the Donets Ridge in the west (up to 253 m, the highest point of the oblast) and the western slopes of the Ergeni upland in the southeast. There are deposits of anthracite and coking coal in the eastern part of the Donets Coal Basin, quartzite (Tarasovskii and Meshkovskaia deposits), and limestone of a steelmaking flux type (Zhirnov deposit).

The climate is moderately continental, characterized by high temperatures and insufficient moisture. The average July temperature is 22°–24°C; the mean January temperature is -9°C in the north and - 5°C in the south. The average annual precipitation decreases from 650 mm in the west to 400 mm in the east. Blizzards occur in the winter, and dust storms in the spring. The growing season lasts 165–180 days. The main waterway is the Don, which flows through the oblast for a distance of approximately 450 km. Its tributaries in the oblast include the Severskii Donets, Sal, and Manych rivers. The few lakes that exist are predominantly floodplain lakes and saltwater limans; the largest liman is Lake Manych-Gudilo. There are more than 2,000 ponds and three large reservoirs—Tsimliansk, Veselyi, and Proletarsk.

The terrain is dominated by steppe. The western part of the oblast is a steppe covered with various grasses on the chernozems typical of Ciscaucasia. The eastern regions are dominated by fescue and bunchgrass on chestnut brown soils, while in the southeast (Sal and Manych river basins) the turf grass is fescue and the steppe is semiarid, with wormwood, sea lavender, and xerophyte growing on solonetz. Most of the steppe is under cultivation. The steppe’s wildlife includes weasels, the suslik Citellus pygmaeus, and the jerboa Allactaga jaculus; the most common birds are quails, little bustards, strepets, and Hungarian partridges.

Population. Russians constitute the bulk of the population, accounting for 91.2 percent of the inhabitants (1970 census). Other groups include Ukrainians (3.9 percent), Armenians (1.4 percent), and Byelorussians (0.9 percent). The average population density is 39.6 persons per sq km (Jan. 1, 1975). The highest density occurs in the areas along the railroad lines and navigable rivers. In the arid regions of the southeast, the density drops to 6.5 persons per sq km. The urban population constitutes 67 percent of the total (1975). The major cities are Rostov-on-Don, Taganrog, and Novocherkassk. During the years of Soviet power, 17 new cities have sprung up; these include Bataisk, Belaia Kalitva, Volgodonsk, Gukovo, Donetsk, and Kamensk-Shakhtinskii.

Economy. Rostov Oblast is the most industrialized oblast in the Northern Caucasus. More than 95 percent of the gross output comes from manufacturing. The gross industrial output in 1974 was 190 percent higher than that in 1965. The leading branches of industry are machine building, food processing, light industry, manufacturing, and the fuel and chemical industries. They account for approximately 80 percent of the gross output, with machine building and food processing alone accounting for 52 percent.

The energy base of the oblast is provided by such thermal electric generating stations as the Novocherkassk State Regional Electric Power Plant in the settlement of Donskoi (2.4 million kilowatts), the Artem State Regional Electric Power Plant in Shakhty, and the Nesvetai State Regional Electric Power Plant in Krasnyi Sulin. Energy is also supplied by the Rostov Heat and Power Plant, the Kamenskaia Heat and Power’Plant, and the Tsimliansk Hydroelectric Power Plant. The fuel industry is concerned with the mining and enrichment of anthracite coal. Rostov Oblast produces 5 percent of the coal mined in the USSR (1974). Enterprises specializing in ferrous metallurgy (Krasnyi Sulin, Taganrog) produce steel pipe and high-quality metal; those specializing in nonferrous metallurgy produce electrodes and other items.

Machine-building and metalworking plants are located primarily in Rostov-on-Don, Novocherkassk, Taganrog, Azov, Kamensk-Shakhtinskii, and Millerovo. Rostov Oblast is the USSR’S leading producer of electric locomotives and grain combine-harvesters. The industry producing machinery used in power engineering is highly developed, and there is also production of electrical measuring instruments and of optical and optical-mechanical instruments and apparatus used in management automation. Other products include industrial sanitation equipment, equipment for the food-processing and mixed-feed industries, home refrigerators, machines, and instruments, and electronics items. The oblast accounts for 70.5 percent of grain combine-harvesters produced in the USSR, 49.7 percent of tractor-driven cultivators, 46.3 percent of steam boilers making steam at a rate of more than 10 tons per hour, 7.5 percent of forging presses, and 2.5 percent of home refrigerators.

The chemical and petrochemical industries specialize in the production of paints, varnishes, synthetic fibers, and detergents. Production centers are the chemical complex in Volgo-donsk, the October Revolution Plant in Rostov-on-Don, and the synthetic fiber combine in Kamensk-Shakhtinskii.

Light industry is represented by clothing factories and by footwear factories, which account for 4.5 percent of the footwear produced in the USSR. Leather goods and knitwear are also produced. The city of Shakhty has a large cotton textile combine.

The food-processing industry produces meat, wine, dairy products, flour, groats, tobacco, and canned goods. In 1974 the oblast produced 222,000 tons of meat and 141,000 tons of vegetable oil (ranking third in the RSFSR), 21,600 tons of animal fat, and 283 million standard cans of food. The canning combine in Semikarakorsk is one of the largest in the USSR.

Agriculture is highly mechanized and diversified. At the beginning of 1975 there were 349 kolkhozes and 301 sovkhozes. Agricultural production in 1974 exceeded that of 1960 by a factor of 1.8. In the oblast’s gross output, the ratio between the value of crops and the value of livestock was 49:51 in 1974. Arable land totals 8,532,000 hectares (ha), or 85 percent of the total land area; of this figure, 6,076,000 ha are under cultivation. The plain near the Sea of Azov is the most highly cultivated area. Pasture land (2,067,000 ha) is concentrated mainly in the southeastern part of the oblast. Approximately 1.3 percent of the arable land (112,400 ha) is planted with fruits and berries (9 percent of RSFSR production); vineyards cover 15,700 ha. Kolkhozes and state farms have 332,400 ha of irrigated land (ranking second in the RSFSR after Dagestan). Of the land under cultivation in 1974, 62.7 percent was given over to grain crops, 8.8 percent to industrial crops, 2.3 percent to vegetables and melons, and 26.2 percent to feed crops. The principal grains are winter wheat (1,295,500 ha) and spring-sown barley (1,735,000 ha). Because of irrigation, rice is playing a greater role in the economy (300 ha in 1940, 24,100 ha in 1974). Sunflowers are among the more important industrial crops and occupy 452,200 ha; the castor-oil plant (16,300 ha), coriander (16,100 ha), and mustard plants (17,600 ha) also play an important role. Vegetables occupy 43,300 ha.

Beef and dairy farming is the most important specialty of animal husbandry in the oblast. At the beginning of 1975, there were 2,292,000 head of cattle (including 758,000 cows), 2,262,000 swine, 4,246,000 sheep and goats, and 26.8 million poultry animals.

There are 1,852 km of railroad (1974), of which 813 km are electrified. The most important lines are the meridional Chertkovo-Rostov-on-Don-Bataisk line and the Bataisk-Sal’sk-Volgodonskaia-Morozovskaia-Likhaia-Bataisk loop. The most important railroad junctions are Rostov-on-Don, Shakhtnaia, and Likhaia. There are 5,400 km of paved automobile roads (1974). The Don, Severskii Donets, and Manych rivers are navigable. Rostov-on-Don and Ust’-Donetsk are the major river ports. With the construction of the V. I. Lenin Volga-Don Ship Canal, Rostov-on-Don has become a port for the Black, Azov, Caspian, Baltic, and White seas. Gas pipelines to Moscow and Leningrad pass through the oblast.

ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY. The oblast’s southwestern region is the most densely populated and is better serviced by all types of transportation. It is also the principal industrial region, with all sectors of the oblast’s industry represented. The largest industrial centers are Rostov-on-Don, Taganrog, Novocherkassk, Azov, Shakhty, and Kamensk-Shakhtinskii. In addition to intensive suburban-type agriculture (vegetables, pigs, dairy products), there are orchards, melon fields, and vineyards.

The northeastern region is the center for winter grains (wheat), sunflowers, and plants for essential oils. There are also orchards and vineyards. Pigs are raised, as are other animals for meat and dairy products. Millerovo is the center for processing of agricultural produce (vegetable-oil-extracting equipment, flour mills, grain elevators, meat-packing plant). In addition to agriculture, there are coal and metallurgical industries and industries producing machinery and transportation equipment.

The southeastern region, site of the Gigant Sovkhoz, is an important grain region. Sunflowers and castor-oil plants are cultivated in the western part, and there are vineyards in the Don River valley. The eastern part is a center for raising fine-wooled sheep. Animals are raised for meat and dairy products, and there are stud farms. Volgodonsk is a center for the chemical industry (detergents), and Sal’sk is a center for agricultural machine building and food processing.


Education, cultural affairs, and public health. Before 1917, the region that is now Rostov Oblast had 75 primary and nonspe-cialized secondary schools (11,600 pupils), five specialized secondary schools (850 students), and two institutions of higher learning (750 students). In the 1974–75 academic year, there were 2,308 general-educational schools of all types, with more than 660,000 pupils. There were also 85 vocational-technical schools, with 43,500 students, 65 secondary specialized schools, with more than 84,000 students, and 16 higher educational institutions, with more than 100,000 students. These institutions include the University of Rostov, the Rostov Pedagogical Institute, and institutes of medicine, construction engineering, railroad engineering, economics, agricultural machine building, music, and pedagogy. In Rostov-on-Don, there are factory branches of higher educational institutions; Novocherkassk has a polytechnic institute and an institute of land reclamation; and Taganrog has an institute of radio engineering and a pedagogical institute. In Shakhty there is a technological institute for maintenance services, and Zernograd has the Azov-Black Sea Institute of Agricultural Mechanization. The Don Agricultural Institute is located at the station of Persianovka. In 1974 there were 1,988 preschool establishments, with more than 170,000 children.

Rostov Oblast has more than 60 scientific institutions. The major ones are the Scientific Research Institute of Machine Building in Rostov-on-Don, the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Locomotive Design and Construction and the Southern Scientific Research Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Land Reclamation in Novocherkassk, the All-Russian Research Institute of Mechanization and Electrification of Agriculture in Zernograd, and the R & D Institute of Coal Mining in Shakhty.

As of Jan. 1, 1975, there were 1,574 public libraries, with more than 24 million books and periodicals. The oblast’s eight museums (with nine branches) include the museum of local lore in Rostov-on-Don (oblast museum) with branches in the Shakhty, Proletarsk, Kamensk-Shakhtinskii, Tatsinskii, and Veshenskaia raions. Miasnikovskii Raion has the Historical-Architectural Memorial to Russian-Armenian Friendship and the Tanais Archaeological Preserve. In Tarasovskii Raion, there is the Museum of the Thirteen Heroes of the Soviet Union. The Oblast Museum of Fine Arts is in Rostov-on-Don. Taganrog has a museum of local lore, the State Museum of A. P. Chekhov (who was born in Taganrog), the Chekhov Museum House, and the Taganrog Picture Gallery. Azov has a museum of local lore, and Novocherkassk has an oblast museum of the history of the Don Cossacks and the memorial house-museum of the artist M. B. Grekov, who lived and worked in Novocherkassk from 1918 to 1931. The stanitsa of Starocherkassk-aia has a historical and architectural museum-preserve. The oblast’s seven theaters include a drama theater, puppet theater, theater of musical comedy, and young people’s theater in Rostov-on-Don and drama theaters in Shakhty, Taganrog, and Novocherkassk. The oblast’s philharmonic society and circus are in Rostov-on-Don. There are 1,759 clubs, 2,651 motion-picture projectors, and 88 extracurricular institutions.

The oblast’s newspapers are Molot (Hammer), published since April 1917, and Komsomolets (Komsomol Member), founded in 1923. There are three hours of daily oblast television programming and two hours of daily oblast radio broadcasting. The oblast receives Program I from Central Television and three programs from All-Union Radio.

As of Jan. 1, 1975, there were 368 hospitals with 42,600 beds (10.7 beds per thousand persons) and 11,900 doctors (one doctor per 335 persons). In addition to the resort for climatother-apy and koumiss treatment at Manych, there are 12 other sanatoriums.


Fizicheskaia geografiia Nizhnego Dona. Rostov-on-Don, 1971.
Rossiiskaia Federatsiia: Evropeiskii Iugo-Vostok: Povolzh’e: Severnyi Kavkaz. Moscow, 1968. (Part of the series Soviet Union.)
Narodnoe khoziaistvo Rostovskoi oblasti: Statistich. sb. Rostov-on-Don, 1971.
Geograficheskie issledovaniia na Severnom Kavkaze i Nizhnem Donu. Rostov-on-Don, 1973.
Atlas Rostovskoi oblasti. Moscow, 1973.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.