Stavropol Krai

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Stavropol’ Krai


part of the RSFSR. Formed on Feb. 13, 1924, as the Southeastern Oblast, Stavropol’ Krai was called Northern Caucasus Krai from Oct. 16, 1924, to Mar. 13, 1937, and Ordzhonikidze Krai from Mar. 13, 1937, to Jan. 12, 1943. Area, 80,600 sq km. Population, 2,421,000 (1975). The krai is divided into 33 raions and has 20 cities and 16 urban-type settlements. The Karachai-Cherkess Autonomous Oblast is part of the krai. The krai administrative center is Stavropol’. The krai was awarded the Order of Lenin on Oct. 8,1958.

Natural features. Stavropol’ Krai lies in central Ciscaucasia and on the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus.

TERRAIN The central part of the krai is occupied by the Stavropol’ Upland composed of several residual plateaus rising to 831 m, at Mount Strizhament. The upland gradually merges with the Kuma-Terek Lowland in the east and with the Kuma-Manych Depression in the north. On the terraced sloping plains that mark the beginning of the foothills lies the Caucasian Mineral Waters Region with mountains-laccoliths. To the south stretch cuesta ridges: the Sychevy Mountains and the Pastbishchnyi and Skali-styi ranges. The extreme south is occupied by the Glavnyi, or Vodorazdel’nyi, Range, rising to 4,046 m, at Mount Dombai-Ul’gen. Stretching eastward from the Glavnyi Range is the Bokovoi Range, which contains the highest peak in the Caucasus, Mount El’brus (5,642 m). Glaciers are found on Mount EPbrus and on the summits and crest of the Glavnyi Range.

Mineral resources. Natural gas deposits of national importance are found at Mirnoe, Sengileevskaia, and Severo-Stavropol’-Pelagiada. Petroleum is extracted in the east. Other minerals include copper (Urup), complex ores (El’brus), and coal (Khumara). The krai is also rich in building materials and mineral springs.

Climate. The krai has a continental climate. On the plains, winters are mild and summers are warm. The mean January temperature is – 4° or – 5°C, although it may drop to – 10° or even – 20°C in the mountains. The mean July temperature ranges from 22° to 25°C. The snow cover, negligible (10–15 cm) and unstable on the plains, increases to 70 cm (Dombai) in the mountains. The west receives about 500 mm of precipitation annually; the east, 300 mm; and the foothills and mountains, 600 to 2,000 mm. The growing season lasts 180–185 days on the plains and not more than 120 days in the mountains.

Rivers and lakes. The krai’s rivers flow into the Sea of Azov and the Caspian Sea. Whereas the Egorlyk and Kalaus rivers originate in the Stavropol’ Upland, the Kuban’ and its numerous tributaries (Teberda, Bol’shoi Zelenchuk, Malyi Zelenchuk, Bol’shaia Laba) and the Kuma with the Podkumok rise in the mountains. The waters of the mountain rivers are extensively used for hydroelectric power and for irrigating arid regions. There are many small lakes, among them Sergievskoe, Solenoe, Ptich’e, and Tambukanskoe. Most of them are salt lakes containing therapeutic mud. The eastern part of Lake Manych-Gudilo lies in the north, on the border with the Kalmyk ASSR.

Flora and soil. The vegetation of the plains area is a continuation of the south Russian forb-grass and grass steppes, growing on chernozem and chestnut soils. To the east and northeast, where the climate is more arid, wormwood-grass steppes are found on light chestnut soils, as well as solonets and solonchak flora. Most of the steppes have been plowed up. In the higher parts of the Stavropol’ Upland, broad-leaved oak and hornbeam forests on podzolized gray forest soils alternate with meadow steppes on leached chernozems.

In the mountains the distribution of flora and soils reflects altitudinal zonation. Steppe vegetation on deep piedmont chernozems is found to elevations of 450–500 m, where it gives way to forest steppes. At 800–1,100 m broad-leaved oak and beech forests appear, to be replaced at 1,100–2,000 m by coniferous forests of Nordmann’s fir, oriental spruce, and pine. Above them, subalpine and alpine meadows extend as far as the snow line.

Fauna. The wildlife of Ciscaucasia includes both animals indigenous to the south Russian steppes and Asian desert species. The steppes are inhabited by rodents (susliks, voles, hamsters, and jerboas), as well as by eared hedgehogs, weasels, foxes, wolves, and saiga antelopes. Jungle cats and wild boars live in the Kuma floodplains. The lakes and swamps of the Manych valley abound in waterfowl.

The mountains are inhabited by red and roe deer, wild boars, brown bears, lynx, the European wildcat, and the Altai squirrel (acclimatized). Birds are numerous. There are several endemic species: the Caucasian chamois, the Caucasian tur, and the Caucasian black grouse. Wildlife is protected in the Teberda Preserve in the mountains and in the Caucasian Preserve, which extends into Stavropol’ Krai.


Population. The 1970 census shows that Russians account for 83.4 percent of the krai’s population, which also includes Ukrainians, Armenians, Greeks, and Byelorussians. The indigenous peoples of the Northern Caucasus are represented by the Karachais (4.5 percent), Cherkess (1.4 percent), Abazas (1 percent), Ossets, Kabardins, and various Dagestan nationalities.

The average population density was 30 persons per sq km in 1975. Most of the population lives in the western part of the krai, in the valleys of the major rivers, near railroad lines, and around the resort cities of the Caucasian Mineral Waters Region. The sparsely settled eastern and mountain regions have a density of one to five persons per sq km. Some 47 percent of the population lives in cities. The principal cities are Stavropol’, Piatigorsk, Nevinnomyssk, Kislovodsk, Cherkessk, Essentuki, and Mineral’nye Vody. Most of the krai’s cities were founded in the Soviet period.

Economy. The krai accounts for more than 16 percent of the industrial output of the Northern Caucasus Economic Region. Its industrial output increased almost 12 times between 1940 and 1974.

INDUSTRY. In the structure of industry, the leading branches are food processing (29.3 percent) and light industry (21.8 percent). Since the early 1950’s, however, the electric-power, machine-building, and chemical industries have been steadily growing. In 1974 they accounted for 33.6 percent of the total industrial output, compared to 26.5 percent in 1970.

The krai’s electric output increased from 58 million kW-hr in 1940 to 9.385 billion kW-hr in 1974. The total capacity of its power plants is 2,240 megawatts. The largest power plant, the Nevinnomyssk State Regional Power Plant, has a capacity of 1.4 gigawatts. Construction was begun in 1976 on the Stavropol’ State Regional Power Plant (3.6 gigawatts). The mining industry is dominated by gas and oil extraction, accounting for 4.8 percent of the gross industrial output. Some 13 billion cu m of gas and 7 million tons of oil were produced in 1974. Copper and complex ores are mined in the mountains.

The principal branches of heavy industry are machine building and metalworking, which contribute almost 17 percent of the industrial output. The largest plants are the Piatigorsksel’mash (farm machinery), a steel reinforcement plant in Georgievsk, a refrigerator plant in Cherkessk, the Karachaevsk Tool Plant, and plants in Stavropol’ producing trailers, piston rings, tools, automatic electric equipment (Elektroavtomatika Plant), truck-mounted cranes, and woodworking machine tools (Krasnyi Metallist Plant).

The chemical industry’s share of the gross industrial output rose from 10.3 percent in 1970 to 13.4 percent in 1974. The largest enterprise is the Azot Production Association, manufacturing nitrogen fertilizers. Stavropol’ produces industrial carbon, chemical reagents, and phosphors, and Cherkessk manufactures chemical and industrial rubber products. Neftekumsk has a gas refinery. The leading construction-materials plants produce rein-forced-concrete structural components (Stavropol’, Piatigorsk, Karchaevsk, Mineral’nye Vody, and Ust’-Dzheguta), wall materials and clay fillers (Stavropol’), roofing material (Mineral’nye Vody), and various building materials and parts (Palagiada). The major lumber and woodworking enterprises are the Cherkessk Woodworking Firm Arkhyz (Kurdzhinovo), the Kislovodsk Furniture Firm Beshtau, and the Stavropol’ Furniture Factory. There is a bottle-manufacturing factory in Mineral’nye Vody.

The food industry, which processes local agricultural stock, is well developed throughout the krai; its gross output rose by 25 percent from 1970 to 1974. There are meatpacking combines in Stavropol’, Piatigorsk, Kislovodsk, Georgievsk, Cherkessk, Essentuki, Budennovsk, and Mineral’nye Vody and combines processing meat and poultry in Nevinnomyssk, Piatigorsk, Svetlo-grad, Izobil’nyi, Blagodarnoe, and Novoaleksandrovsk. Flour mills tend to be located near railroad stations (Stavropol’, Nevinnomyssk, Georgievsk, Budennovsk, Izobil’nyi). Georgievsk and Nevinnomyssk are the chief centers of vegetable-oil production. The krai has about 30 creameries and milk plants, found in all cities and major raion centers. Fruit and vegetable canning, a rapidly growing industry, is concentrated at Georgievsk, Essentuki, Izobil’nyi, and Cherkessk. The largest wineries are in the grape-growing regions. Izobil’nyi and Erken-Shakhar have sugar refineries. Mineral water is bottled at Kislovodsk, Essentuki, and Zheleznovodsk.

The krai also has enterprises of the textile, footwear, and clothing industries. The products of the Nevinnomyssk Wool-washing Factory are sold throughout the USSR. Yarn, knitted goods, and clothing accessories and notions are produced in Budennovsk, Piatigorsk, Essentuki, and Svetlograd, and footwear is manufactured in Stavropol’, Cherkessk, and Piatigorsk. The centers of the clothing industry are Kislovodsk, Stavropol’, Piatigorsk, Cherkessk, and Essentuki.

Agriculture. The krai’s agriculture is highly diversified. The traditional branches are fine-wool sheep raising and grain farming. As of Nov. 1, 1974, agricultural enterprises had the use of 7,128,500 hectares (ha) of land. Of this, 60.7 percent was arable land; 25.5 percent, pasture; 4.9 percent, hayfields; and 8.9 percent, land used for other purposes. In early 1975 there were 163 kolkhozes and 237 sovkhozes. The sown area increased 1.5 times between 1913 and 1974, to 4,073,200 ha. In the same period, the share of industrial crops rose from 4 percent to 7.8 percent, of vegetables and melons from 1.7 percent to 2.1 percent, and of fodder crops from 0.4 percent to 36 percent.

Grain farming, the leading branch of crop farming, accounted for 54.1 percent of the sown area in 1974. About 70 percent of the area sown to grain is under winter wheat, grown throughout the krai. Corn, winter barley, oats, winter rye, spring wheat, buckwheat, and pulse crops are also raised. Rice farming was recently introduced in the west and southeast. The total grain harvest was 3.3 million tons in 1974 (1.9 million tons in 1940), including 2.4 million tons of wheat (1.1 million tons in 1940).

Sunflowers are the chief industrial crop, occupying about 71 percent of the area sown to industrial crops. They are grown chiefly in the western and central regions. Other industrial crops include sugar beets, castor-oil plants, coriander, soybeans, mustard, and southern hemp. Vegetables and melons are also important crops. The major fodder crops are alfalfa, sainfoin, Sudan grass, sorghum, chick-pea, and corn for silage. Orchards covered 61,400 ha and vineyards 17,100 ha in 1974. Fruit growing is especially well developed in the west and southwest and viticulture in the Kuma River valley.

Animal husbandry accounted for 58 percent of the krai’s agricultural output in 1974. As of Jan. 1,1975, there were 1,389,000 head of cattle, 955,000 hogs, and 6,422,000 sheep and goats. Cattle are raised for meat and milk. The krai accounts for about 11 percent of the country’s fine-wool sheep. Large-scale grain farming and the presence of ponds and reservoirs have facilitated the expansion of poultry raising. Large poultry farms and other specialized farms have been established.

The krai had 210,800 ha of irrigated land and 1.5 million ha of watered pastures in 1974. The major hydroengineering installations are the Pravoegorlyk, Terek-Kuma, Vostochnaia, Izobil’nyi, and Kura irrigation and water supply systems and the Nevinnomyssk and Bol’shoi Stavropol’ canals.

TRANSPORTATION. There were 846 km of railroads in 1974. The southwestern part of the krai is crossed by the electrified Northern Caucasus Railroad, running from Rostov-on-Don to Baku. Branch lines connect Zelenchuk with Dzheguta, Mineral’nye Vody with Kislovodsk, and Georgievsk with Budennovsk. The northwest is crossed by the Kavkazskaia-Divnoe-Elista Railroad with branches to Stavropol’ and Blagodarnoe. There were 11,500 km of highways in 1974. The Moscow-Rostov-on-Don-Baku Highway passes through Mineral’nye Vody. Other major highways link Stavropol’ with Teberda and Divnoe, Piatigorsk with Neftekumsk, and Cherkessk with Piatigorsk. Air transport is important. Oil is transported via the Zaterechnyi-Groznyi Pipeline. An extensive network of gas pipelines has been built for transporting gas to the Ukraine, Moscow, and Leningrad.


REGIONAL DIFFERENCES. The Northwest is the principal industrial region, noted for its machine-building, metalworking, chemical, light, food, and construction-materials industries. Grain farming and animal husbandry are also important. The main cities are Stavropol’ and Nevinnomyssk.

The Central Region, a major agricultural region, specializes in grain farming and sheep raising. There are also machine-building, metalworking, light, and food industries. The largest city is Budennovsk.

In the East the main economic activities are sheep raising and oil and gas extraction (Neftekumsk and Zaterechnyi).

The Southern Resort Region, nationally known as the Caucasian Mineral Waters Region, is one of the Soviet Union’s principal resort areas (Piatigorsk, Kislovodsk, Essentuki, and Zhelez-novodsk). It also has food and light industries, grain farming, and animal husbandry.

The Karachai-Cherkess Region is situated on the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus. The industrial north has chemical, machine-building, metalworking, food, and light industries. In the more mountainous south the leading economic activities are meat and dairy livestock raising and copper and complex-ore mining. The region attracts tourists and mountain climbers. The main resorts are Teberda, Dombai, and Arkhyz.

Educational, scientific, and cultural institutions. Before 1917 the krai had 1,042 primary schools, in which 67,000 children were enrolled, and three specialized secondary schools with 290 pupils. There were no higher educational institutions. In the 1974–75 school year, there were 1,105 general schools of all types with 444,000 pupils, 46 vocational and technical schools with 22,400 students, and 28 specialized secondary schools with 34,000 students. Higher education is provided by the polytechnic, agricultural, medical, and pedagogical institutes in Stavropol’, the pharmaceutical institute and pedagogical institute of foreign languages in Piatigorsk, the pedagogical institute in Kara-chaevsk, the general engineering evening school of the Northern Caucasus Mining and Metallurgical Institute in Piatigorsk, and the Stavropol’ branch of the Moscow Cooperative Institute. The higher schools had a total enrollment of 30,400 students in 1974–75. The krai’s 1,164 preschool institutions were attended by 108,700 children in 1974.

Most of the krai’s major scientific institutions are in Stavropol’, the site of the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Phosphors and Super-pure Substances, the Northern Caucasus Scientific Research Institute of Natural Gas, the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Sheep and Goat Raising, the Antiplague Scientific Research Institute of the Caucasus and Transcaucasia, and research institutes of agriculture, vaccines and serums, and hydroengineering and reclamation. Other important scientific institutions include the research institute of health-resort science and physiotherapy in Piatigorsk, the wildlife preserve in Teberda, and the Special Astrophysics Observatory of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in the village of Zelenchuk.

As of Jan. 1,1975, there were 1,196 public libraries, containing 14,454,000 books and magazines. The krai has several noteworthy museums: a museum of local lore and a museum of fine arts in Stavropol’, the Karachai-Cherkess Oblast Museum of Local Lore in Cherkessk, the N. A. Iaroshenko Kislovodsk Museum of Art (the artist’s vacation home from 1885 until his death in 1898), the M. Iu. Lermontov State Museum Preserve in Piatigorsk (where the poet spent the last months of his life), and an interraion museum of local lore and permanent resort exhibition in Piatigorsk. Theatrical life centers on the M. Iu. Lermontov Drama Theater and the puppet theater in Stavropol’, the theater of musical comedy in Piatigorsk, and the oblast drama theater in Cherkessk. The krai also has 1,146 clubs, 1,458 motion-picture projection units and 68 extracurricular institutions, including three palaces of Pioneers, eight city houses of Pioneers, and 31 raion houses of Pioneers.

The krai newspapers are Stavropol’skaia pravda (published since 1917), Molodoi leninets (since 1934), and Kavkazskaia zdravnitsa (since 1960). Central Television programs are broadcast 12 hours a day and local television programs three hours a day. The All-Union Radio is on the air 18 hours daily; the Maiak program 20 hours; and krai radio programs, two hours.

Public health. As of Jan. 1,1974, there were 240 hospitals, with 24,400 beds (10.2 per 1,000 inhabitants) and 7,800 doctors (one doctor per 305 persons). The krai is famous for its spas: the Caucasian Mineral Waters Region, one of the Soviet Union’s major health resorts, the Teberda mountain climatic resort, the Arkhyz climatic resort, and the Kumagorsk balneological and mud-therapy resort. There are 80 sanatoriums, 22 boardinghouses (with treatment), and 54 seasonal recreation facilities.

TOURISM. In 1975 the krai had 14 tourist and trade union hotels, three mountaineering camps, and various sports facilities, most of them located in the Karachai-Cherkess AO (Dombai, Teberda, and Arkhyz). There are popular hiking trails along the Bol’shoi Zelenchuk Valley and across the Klukhori Pass to the Black Sea coast. The resort cities of Kislovodsk, Piatigorsk, Zhelezno-vodsk, and Essentuki have works of historical and architectural interest.


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Gnilovskoi, V. G., and T. P. Babenysheva. Geografiia Stavropol’-skogo kraia, 3rd ed. Stavropol’, 1972.
Antykov, A. Ia., and A. Ia. Stomorev. Pochvy Stavropol’ia i ikh plodorodie. Stavropol’, 1970.
Rossiiskaia Federatsiia: Evropeiskii Iugo-Vostok, Povolzh’e, Severnyi Kavkaz. Moscow, 1968. (Sovetskii Soiuz series.)
Ekonomicheskie problemy razvitiia sel’skogo khoziaistva Stavropol’ia. Stavropol’, 1972.
Narodnoe khoziaistvo Stavropol’skogo kraia: Statistich. ezhegodnik za!973. Stavropol’, 1974.
Atlas Stavropol’skogo kraia. Moscow, 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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