Sverdlovsk Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Sverdlovsk Oblast


a part of the RSFSR. Formed Jan. 17, 1934. Area, 194,800 sq km. Population, 4,383 million (1975). Sverdlovsk Oblast is divided into 30 raions and has 44 cities and 96 urban-type settlements. The administrative center is the city of Sverdlovsk. Sverdlovsk Oblast has been awarded two Orders of Lenin (Dec. 25, 1959, and Nov. 24, 1970).

Natural features. Sverdlovsk Oblast is for the most part situated on the eastern slopes of the Central Urals. It extends into the Northern Urals and onto the adjacent areas of the Western Siberian Lowland, in a region known as the Trans-Ural Region. In the southwest it spills over onto the western slopes of the Central Urals. About one-fourth of its total land area is occupied by the mountain ranges of the Urals.

The Northern Urals have the highest summits in the oblast: Konzhakovskii Kamen’ rises to an elevation of 1,569 m, and Denezhkin Kamen’ to 1,492 m. The Central Urals have been greatly worn down; the western foothills, with an average elevation of 300–500 m, are somewhat higher. In the east is the hilly, north-south belt of the Trans-Ural Plain, with an average elevation of 200–300 m. In the southwest is a small area occupied by the ridges, hills, and rolling countryside of the Cis-Ural Region, with an average elevation of 250–300 m, and by parts of the Ufa Plateau and the Sylva Ridge. In the northeast and east, as much as two-thirds of the oblast consists of flatlands of the Western Siberian Lowland, which average 100–200 m and lower in elevation. Sverdlovsk Oblast has some of the richest mineral resources in the Urals, including iron and copper ores, coal, asbestos, talc, marble, gold, platinum, and gems.

The climate is continental. The winters are long and cold. The average January temperature in the Trans-Ural lowlands ranges from - 20°C in the north to - 17°C in the southeast and - 15°C in the south. Summers are warm, and in the southeast, hot. The average July temperature is 16°C in the north and 19°C in the southeast. In the south, the sum of all temperatures for all days with temperatures exceeding 10°C is approximately 1900–2000°C. The growing season is 130 days. Annual precipitation in the Trans-Ural lowlands ranges from 500 mm in the north to 350–400 mm in the southeast; it is higher in the southwest and in the mountains—as much as 500–600 mm and more.

The principal rivers in Sverdlovsk Oblast are the Tavda, with its tributaries the Pelym, Sos’va, and Loz’va, the Tura, with its tributaries the Nitsa and the Pyshma, the Iset’ (in the east), the Chusovaia, and the Ufa (in the southwest). The hydropower potential in the oblast totals 0.7 gigawatts. Most of Sverdlovsk Oblast lies in the forest zone; there is forest steppe in the southeast and, to a lesser extent, in the southwest. The mountains, especially in the north, exhibit altitudinal zonation.

Podzols cover 36.7 percent of the oblast’s land area, pod-zolic-bog soils, peat-bog soils, and bog soils 18.2 percent, sod-podzolic soils 14.8 percent, gray forest soils and sod-meadow soils 12.9 percent, and chernozems and meadow-chernozems, found in the southeast and southwest, 11.3 percent. Sixty-one percent of the oblast is under forest; of this, two-thirds is under coniferous forest. Timber reserves in the state forest lands total 1.4 billion cu m; of this, pines and spruce account for 0.9 billion cu m. Peat deposits are considerable, with reserves totaling 3.6 billion tons of air-dried peat. Taiga fauna predominates. Game species include squirrel, marten, blue hare, fox, elk, and sable (reintroduced). Birds include capercaillie, hazel hen, willow ptarmigan, black grouse, and various species of duck.

Population. Russians constitute 88.9 percent of the population of Sverdlovsk Oblast (1970 census), Tatars 4.1 percent, Ukrainians 1.9 percent, and Byelorussians 0.7 percent. The average population density is 22.5 persons per sq km (1975). In the south it rises to as much as 30 persons and more; in the north and northeast it falls to 1–2 persons and fewer. The proportion of urban population is 84 percent. Cities with populations of 50,000 or more include Sverdlovsk, Alapaevsk, Asbest, Irbit, Kamensk-Ural’skii, Krasnotur’insk, Nizhnii Tagil, Pervour-al’sk, Polevskoi, Revda, and Serov; of these, nine are in the south or southeast.

Economy. Sverdlovsk Oblast is industrially one of the most developed oblasts in the USSR. The great bulk of its economic output comes from industry, primarily heavy industry. Between 1913 and 1960 the gross output of large-scale industry increased by almost 100 times, and between 1960 and 1974 it doubled. The principal local specialties include metallurgy, both ferrous and nonferrous, machine building and metal-working, and the chemical, building-materials, and lumber industries.

Electric-power generation in the oblast makes use of local fuels only to a certain extent; coking coal is brought in from the Kuznetsk Basin, natural gas from Siberia and Middle Asia, and petroleum products from other oblasts in the Urals, the Volga Region, and Siberia. Local electric-power generation forms the central link in the Urals Power System. The largest power-generating facilities have been developed near Sverdlovsk, namely, the Central Urals State Regional Power Plant, the Revda State Regional Power Plant, and the Beloiarsk Nuclear Power Plant. Others are in Nizhnii Tagil and nearby, namely, the heat and electric power plants of the metallurgical combine and the railroad-car plant and the Verkhnii Tagil State Regional Power Plant.

Ferrous metallurgy is represented by a number of enterprises, including the Nizhnii Tagil Metallurgical Combine. A network of outmoded enterprises has been modernized, for example, the Serov and Verkhnii Iset’ plants and the Alapaevsk Combine. Small-scale metallurgy is carried on in machine-building plants. New pipe plants have been built in Pervour-al’sk, Polevskoi, and Kamensk-Ural’skii. Ferroalloys are produced. Iron ore is mined at deposits at Gusevogorsk and Kach-kanar (titanium-magnetite) and in the Serov-Ivdel’ and Alapaevsk ore regions. Nonferrous metallurgy has also made rapid strides. An aluminum industry has been developed at Krasnotur’insk, Kamensk-Ural’skii, and elsewhere. A copper industry is centered in Verkhniaia Pyshma, Krasnoural’sk, Ki-rovgrad, and other cities. There are several enterprises for the working of nonferrous metals, through such processes, for example, as rolling, drawing, and alloying. Rare metals are produced.

Machine building for heavy industry, electric-power generation, and the transportation and chemical industries is an important local industry. Plants include the Urals Heavy Machine-building Plant, Uralelektrotiazhmash, Uralkhimmash, the Urals Turbine Engine Plant, and the Urals Railroad Car Plant. Machine building is concentrated in Sverdlovsk, Nizhnii Tagil, and nearby cities and settlements, such as Sysert’, Ver-khnie Sergi, Baranchinskii, Novoutkinsk, and Artemovskii.

The chemical industry has grown primarily in alliance with metallurgy and the lumber industry. Iron pyrite is extracted, and pyrite concentrates, sulfuric acid, superphosphates, copper sulfate, coke by-products, and nitrogen fertilizers are produced. There are chemical enterprises in Revda, Krasnoural’sk, Ki-rovgrad, Nizhnii Tagil, and Verkhniaia Pyshma. Various kinds of chemical production, using rare mineral raw materials, have sprung up in the oblast—for example, bichromate production in Pervoural’sk. Plastics, rubber goods, and pharmaceuticals (Nizhnii Tagil and Sverdlovsk) are being produced in growing quantities. Various enterprises extract and process nonmetallic minerals—for example, asbestos from the Bazhenovo Deposit. Refractories, including those suitable for porcelain and faience, are processed in Bogdanovich, Sukhoi Log, Nizhnii Tagil, Serov, Pervoural’sk, Sysert’, and Shabrovskii. Various types of marble and talcose rock are also processed.

Sverdlovsk Oblast is one of the Soviet Union’s leaders in the felling and processing of timber. In 1974 it shipped out 24.6 million cu m of lumber. Logging is almost ubiquitous throughout the oblast; however, it has been limited so as to make the most efficient use of timber reserves, and it is shifting increasingly to the north and northeast. In 1974, Sverdlovsk Oblast produced 6.2 million cu m of lumber, 104,000 cu m of plywood, 73,000 tons of paper, 17,500 tons of cardboard, 18 million sq m of fiberboard, and 92,500 cu m of chipboard. Of particular note in this regard are the Tavda lumber and plywood combines and the Novaialialia Pulp and Paper Combine as well as the processing enterprises at Lobva and Ivdel’; there is gum turpentine production at Neivo-Rudianka.

Sverdlovsk Oblast has light and food-processing industries, which are concentrated primarily in the south, particularly in the city of Sverdlovsk. However, these industries essentially serve only the population of the oblast itself. They produce woven garments and knitwear, leather footwear, flour and baked goods, confectioneries, meat and meat products, and oils and fats. In 1974, Sverdlovsk Oblast produced 11 million m of woolen fabrics, mostly in Aramil’, and 4.4 million m of linen fabrics, mostly in Sverdlovsk. Artistic items made of gems found in the Urals are also produced.

Sverdlovsk Oblast also has a large building-materials industry. In 1974 it produced 4.2 million tons of cement, notably at Nev’iansk and Sukhoi Log. It also produced 2.3 million cu m of prefabricated reinforced-concrete structural member and components and asbestos-cement products, including asbestos-cement sheets, 286 million standard-size construction slabs pipes, and couplings, and 3,700 km of standard-size pipe. The oblast also produced 600 million building bricks.

Agriculture in Sverdlovsk Oblast is typically concentrated around the cities and principal industrial centers. The southeast and southwest have a stock-raising and grain economy, with increasing areas now being devoted to intensive vegetable growing and dairying. Land suitable for agriculture totals 2.7 million hectares (ha), or less than 14 percent of the oblast’s total land area. Of this, arable land totals 1.6 million ha, hayfields 600,000 ha, and pastures 500,000 ha.

At the end of 1974 the oblast had 198 sovkhozes and 82 kolkhozes. The sown area totaled 1.5 million ha, with 800,000 ha in grains, 100,000 ha in potatoes and vegetables and 600,000 ha in feed crops. In 1974, 320,000 ha were sown in wheat; rye, barley, and oats are also grown.

Stock raising is carried on primarily to obtain dairy products and, to a lesser extent, meat. At the beginning of 1975 the oblast had 847,000 head of cattle (43 percent dairy cows), 596,000 pigs, and 256,000 sheep and goats. Sverdlovsk Oblast is noted for poultry husbandry, with 11.2 million birds in 1974. Large poultry farms have been built; the Pervoural’sk and Central Urals poultry farms have capacities of 2 million broilers each.

In 1974, Sverdlovsk Oblast had more than 3,000 km of railroads. Several east-west trunk lines pass through the oblast, including the Moscow-Perm’-Sverdlovsk line and the Moscow-Kazan-Sverdlovsk line. The principal north-south lines are the Polunochnoe-Serov-Nizhnii Tagil-Sverdlovsk-Cheliabinsk-Orsk line and the Serov-Sos’va-Alapaevsk-Kamensk-Ural’-skii-Cheliabinsk line. The Ivdel’-Ob’ line is of recent construction. Most of the oblast’s railroad lines have been electrified.

Automotive transport is extensive, with a total of 14,300 km of roads (1974). The main highways run between Sverdlovsk and Perm’, Sverdlovsk and Cheliabinsk, and Sverdlovsk and Nizhnii Tagil. In the northeast, river and mixed modes of transport prevail, principally along the Tavda River. Transit (including international) and local airline routes crisscross the oblast, as well as natural gas pipelines, for example, the Medvezh’e-Punga-Nizhnii Tagil-Sverdlovsk pipeline and the Bukhara-Urals pipeline.

INTERNAL DIFFERENCES. The Central Urals Region is the most densely populated, and industrially the most advanced, region in Sverdlovsk Oblast. It has a sizable manufacturing industry and the oblast’s most significant agricultural production. The Northern Urals are less populated. They are noted for mining, metallurgy, and lumber production, with occasional areas of suburban agriculture. The Tura-Tavda Region is sparsely populated, with most population concentrations along the railroads and waterways. It has a large lumber industry and some agriculture, notably stock raising and field-crop farming. The region is also noted for fur farming, hunting, and fishing.


Education, cultural affairs, and public health. Before 1917 what is now Sverdlovsk Oblast had 1,461 schools, with 107,200 pupils, and six secondary specialized educational institutions, with 425 pupils. It had no institutions of higher education. During the 1974–75 academic year, 2,101 general-education schools of all types had a total enrollment of 738,700 pupils, 128 vocational-technical schools had 70,200 pupils, 86 secondary specialized educational institutions had 89,900 pupils, and 14 institutions of higher education (13 in Sverdlovsk and a pedagogical institute in Nizhnii Tagil) had approximately 88,200 students. In 1975, 3,115 preschool institutions had a total enrollment of 278,200 children.

On Jan. 1, 1975, Sverdlovsk Oblast had 1,580 public libraries, with a total of 24.8 million books and periodicals. It had 22 museums (including branch museums). Six are in Sverdlovsk. Museums of local lore are in Irbit, Kamensk’-Ural’skii, Krasno-tur’insk (including a branch museum, the Fedorov Geological Museum), and Nev’iansk. The museum of local lore in Nizhnii Tagil has two branches: the A. P. Bondin Museum (Bondin lived and worked in Nizhnii Tagil) and the D. N. Mamin-Sibir-iak Museum in the settlement of Visim (where the writer was born and spent his childhood). Ivdel’, Krasnoufimsk, and Serov also have museums of local lore. The oblast museum of local lore has branches in Sysert’ and in the village of Gerasimovka, Tavda Raion (the Pavlik Morozov Museum). The Geological Museum is in Asbest, the Art Museum is in Nizhnii Tagil, and a branch of the Sverdlovsk Picture Gallery is in Irbit. Sverdlovsk Oblast has ten theaters: five in Sverdlovsk, a drama theater and puppet theater in Nizhnii Tagil, and drama theaters in Serov, Kamensk-Ural’skii, and Irbit. It also has 1,513 clubs, 1,869 motion-picture projection units, and 138 extracurricular institutions, including four palaces of Pioneers, 75 houses of Pioneers, six young technicians’ stations, and a children’s railroad.

The oblast newspaper Ural’skii rabochii (since 1907) and the Komsomol newspaper Na smenu (1920) are published in Sverdlovsk Oblast. Programs of the All-Union Radio are broadcast from Moscow, and programs of the oblast radio are broadcast from Sverdlovsk. The Central Television Network and oblast television broadcast the same number of hours in the oblast as in the city of Sverdlovsk itself. Moreover, in the major industrial centers and the oblast’s villages, four municipal radio staffs and more than 300 raion and factory radio staffs broadcast local radio programs.

On Jan. 1, 1975, Sverdlovsk Oblast had 437 hospitals, with a total of 57,200 beds, or 13.1 beds per 1,000 persons. It had 12,700 physicians, or one physician per 344 persons. Health facilities include a balneological resort at Nizhnie Sergi, a pelo-therapeutic clinic at Lake Moltaevo, 48 sanatoriums and other health-related institutions, and 18 houses of rest.


Komar, 1. V. Geografiia khoziaistva Urala. Moscow, 1964.
Ural. Moscow, 1968. (In the series Sovetskii Soiuz.)
Narodnoe khoziaistvo Sverdlovskoi oblasti: Slat. sb. Sverdlovsk, 1967.
Moshkin, A., A. Olenev, and E. Shuvalov. Sverdlovskaia oblast’, 2nd ed. Sverdlovsk, 1964.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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