Southwestern Economic Region

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Southwestern Economic Region


a major economic region of the Soviet Union, mainly occupying the Right-bank Ukraine. The region includes the Vinnitsa, Volyn’, Zhitomir, Transcarpathian, Ivano-Frankovsk, Kiev, L’vov, Rovno, Ternopol’, Khmel’nitskii, Cherkassy, Chernigov, and Chernovtsy oblasts, and it has an area of 269,400 sq km. As of Jan. 1, 1978, the region had 183 cities; the most important ones are Kiev (with a population of 2,131,000), L’vov (655,000), Vinnitsa (304,000), Zhitomir (244,000), Chernigov (241,000), Cherkassy (236,000), Chernovtsy (218,000), Rovno (173,000), Khmel’nitskii (173,000), Ivano-Frankovsk (146,000), Belaia Tserkov’ (146,000), Lutsk (141,000), and Ternopol’ (139,000).

The northern part of the region lies in the Poles’e and Dnieper lowlands; the southern part occupies the Volyn’, Podol’e, and Dnieper uplands, which are broken up by river valleys (for example, the valleys of the Dnieper, Desna, Pripiat’, Dnestr, and Iuzhnyi Bug) as well as by gullies and ravines. The Carpathians and the Transcarpathian Lowland are in the extreme southwest of the region.

The soils in the northern region (the Poles’e) are chiefly soddy-podzolic and marsh soils, while the south is a forest-steppe zone with the usual chernozems and gray podzolized soils. The region’s natural resources include mineral springs as well as deposits of coal (L’vov-Volyn’ Coal Basin and Dnieper Brown Coal Basin), petroleum (Carpathian region and Chernigov Oblast), natural gas (Carpathian region), peat, potassium, sodium chloride, and sulfur (Rozdol and Iavorov), titanium ores, kaolin, bentonites, ozokerite, and building materials.

In terms of the geographic division of labor in the various regions of the Soviet Union, the Southwestern Economic Region is noted for the advanced state of its agricultural raw materials processing industry, production of different types of machines and instruments, and diversified intensive agriculture.

The fuel and energy industry uses local coal, petroleum, gas, peat, and water resources. The largest state regional electric power plants are the Tripol’e, Ladyzhin, Burshtyn, and Dobrot-vor plants. There are district heat and power plants in Kiev, L’vov, and Chernigov. Two hydroelectric power plants were built on the Dnieper—the Kiev and Kanev plants. The Chernobyl’ and Rovno atomic power plants, the Chigirin State Regional Electric Power Plant, and the Dnestr Hydroelectric Plant were under construction in 1978.

Machine building and metalworking constitute one of the region’s most important branches of industry, chiefly concentrated in Kiev (automatic machine tools, chemical equipment, ships, instruments, excavators, motorcycles, and medical instruments) and in L’vov (buses, forklifts, machine tools, instruments, mopeds, television sets, gas fixtures, and telephone and telegraph equipment). Other machine-building centers are Chernovtsy (petroleum-extraction equipment), Berdichev, Fastov, Korosten’ (equipment for the chemical industry), Vinnitsa (bearings and electrical-engineering products), Khmel’nitskii (forging and stamping equipment), Ternopol’ (beet-harvesting combines, electrical hardware, and motor-vehicle repair), Rovno (electrical-engineering equipment), and Lutsk (passenger cars). A plant for special engineering equipment in Novovolynsk and an automatic machine-tool plant in Zhitomir were under construction in 1978.

Products of the chemical industry include fertilizers (potassium in Kalush and Stebnik, phosphate in Vinnitsa, and nitrogen in Cherkassy and Rovno) and chemical fibers and thread (Kiev, Cherkassy, Chernigov, and Sokal’). There are oil refineries in Drogobych, L’vov, and Nadvornaia. Belaia Tserkov’ and Kiev have rubber goods plants, and there is a sulfur industry in the Carpathian region.

Among the various sectors of the food industry, the sugar industry is of national importance. The meat, dairy, alcohol, confectionery, and fruit-canning sectors are also well developed. The major food-industry centers are Kiev, L’vov, Vinnitsa, Cherkassy, Kamenets-Podol’skii, Belaia Tserkov’, and Chernigov.

Light industry is represented by such products as textiles (Kiev, Chernovtsy, Ternopol’, and Cherkassy), clothing (Kiev, Chernigov, Chernovtsy, Vinnitsa, and L’vov), leather footwear (L’vov, Vinnitsa, and Kiev), knitted goods (Kiev and other cities), and linen (Zhitomir and Rovno).

The wood-products, lumber, and pulp and paper industries are well developed. Furniture is manufactured in L’vov, Uzhgorod, Kiev, Mukachev, Zhitomir, and Cherkassy. Building materials are produced throughout the region.

Crop farming is the region’s leading branch of agriculture. More than 13 million hectares (ha) were planted in 1977. Grain crops occupy 48 percent of the sown area; they include winter wheat (2.5 million ha), barley (1.5 million ha), buckwheat, corn for grain, legumes, and rye. The main industrial crops are sugar beets (1.1 million ha), sunflowers, and fiber flax. Potatoes, vegetables, and feed crops are grown in the region as well. Hops are grown on a nationally significant scale. The region includes 46.9 percent of the orchard area of the Ukrainian SSR. Grapes are grown in Transcarpathia and in the Dnestr region.

Drained lands covered an area of 2,016,200 ha in 1976. On Jan. 1, 1978, the Southwestern Economic Region had 12.1 million head of cattle (49 percent of the total for the Ukraine), including 4.6 million cows; there were 8.3 million swine and 2.5 million sheep and goats. Poultry husbandry, beekeeping, and pond fish culture are also quite well developed. Truck farming is practiced in the suburbs of the major cities.

The region had more than 10,000 km of railroads in 1977, with a density of 37.3 km per 1,000 sq km. The main rail routes are Moscow-Kiev-L’vov-Chop, Kiev-Donets Coal Basin, Kiev-Odessa, and Kiev-Minsk. There were 84,200 km of highways in 1976, including 60,600 km of hard-surface roads. The most important ones are the Leningrad-Kiev-Odessa, Kharkov-Kiev-L’vov, and Kiev-Moscow highways. The principal rivers for navigation are the Dnieper, Desna, Pripiat’, Iuzhnyi Bug, and Dnestr. The southern branch of the Druzhba petroleum pipeline traverses the region, as do the Dashava-Kiev, Rudki-Minsk-Vilnius-Riga, and Shebelinka-Kiev gas pipelines. The major airports are in Kiev and L’vov.

The region exports buses, excavators, industrial equipment, instruments, television sets, radio-engineering hardware, motorcycles, sugar, canned goods, fruit, furniture, and building materials. The chief imports are coal, metals, chemicals, petroleum, passenger cars, tractors, combines, lumber, building materials, and fish.


Materialy XXV s”ezda Kommunistkheskoi partii Ukrainy. Kiev, 1976.
Palamarchuk, M. M., V. I. Pila, and D. N. Stachenko. Problemy razvitiia i razmeshcheniia proizvoditel’nykh sil lugo-Zapadnogo ratona. Moscow, 1976.
Ukrainskaia SSR: Ekonomicheskie raiony. Moscow, 1972.
Palamarchuk, M. M. Ekonomkhna heohrafiia Ukrains’koi RSR. Kiev, 1975.
Narodnoe khoziaistvo Ukrainskoi SSR v 1975 godu: Statistich. ezhegodnik. Kiev, 1976.


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