Taimyr Autonomous Okrug

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Taimyr (Dolgan-Nenets) Autonomous Okrug


(formerly, Taimyr [Dolgan-Nenets] National Okrug), an okrug in Krasnoiarsk Krai. Formed on Dec. 10, 1930. Located entirely within the polar circle, on the Kara and Laptev seas. Area, 862,100 sq km. Population, 42,000 (1975). The okrug is divided into three raions. The administrative center is the center of Dudinka.

Natural features. The okrug includes the Taimyr Peninsula (with the islands between the Enisei and Khatanga gulfs), the northern part of the Central Siberian Plateau, and the Severnaia Zemlia archipelago. The southwestern part of the okrug, along the left bank of the Enisei, is occupied by part of the Western Siberian Plain. The topography of the coastal islands is similar to that of the mainland: low-lying in the islands to the west of the Enisei and rocky with sharp local relief in the islands off the coast of the peninsula.

The Noril’sk Ore Region, with its deposits of copper-nickel ores, is located in the okrug; there are also deposits of anthracite, gas, and other nonmetallic minerals. The Taimyr Coal Basin is located in the northern part of the okrug.

The climate is characterized by cold winters, with a mean January temperature of approximately –30°C (in Dudinka) and by relatively few days of clear weather. Humidity is relatively high, and there are strong winds the year round. Summers are short and cool, with a mean July temperature of 2°–13°C. Precipitation totals 110–350 mm a year. The growing season is 40 to 80 days, and permafrost is widespread.

The okrug’s rivers belong to the basins of the Enisei, Piasina, Nizhniaia Taimyra, Verkhniaia Taimyra, and Khatanga rivers. There are many lakes, including Lake Taimyr, the second largest in Siberia, after Lake Baikal, and Lakes Lama, Piasino, and Khantaika.

The Taimyr Autonomous Okrug lies within the arctic, tundra, and forest-tundra zones. In the arctic zone, lichens are virtually nonexistent, and there is a sparse growth of mosses and liverworts; shrubs are few. The tundra region typically has willows and arctic birch, as well as lichens, mosses, liverworts, and grasses. The northern boundary of the forest-tundra zone here extends far to the north; the entire Khatanga River valley (north of 68°) is covered with forests of dahurian larch, spruce, and birch. Vast expanses are covered with lichens, which serve as food for reindeer.

The okrug’s fauna include the reindeer, bighorn sheep, arctic fox, wolf, lemming, ermine, and blue hare and such birds as the snowy owl, ptarmigan, and willow ptarmigan. In the summer, the tundra has such migratory birds as ducks, geese, swans, waders, and divers. Fish of greatest commercial value include those of the Salmonidae and Acipenseridae families. Seals, walruses, and belugas live in the seas, and polar bears inhabit the ice floes.

Population. Russians constitute approximately 80 percent of the population. Other nationalities include the Dolgan (12 percent), Nentsi (6 percent), Nganasani, and Entsi. Most of the population lives in the valleys of the Enisei and Khatanga rivers. The average population density is 0.05 person per sq km. The urban population amounts to 64 percent. There is one city, Dudinka, and one urban-type settlement, Dikson. Noril’sk falls into a different category, that of a city under krai jurisdiction.

Historical survey. Traces of Neolithic settlements have been discovered along the Popigai and Khatanga rivers near the Taimyr Peninsula. The territory of Taimyr was settled by Samoyed tribes—ancestors of the Dolgan, Nentsi, and other peoples—at the end of the first millennium A.D. Reindeer herding, hunting, and, in some areas, fishing were the main activities, and the people followed a nomadic way of life. Russians first appeared on the peninsula in the mid-16th century, and in the early 17th century Russians came here from the town of Mangazeia. The region was settled primarily by trappers, traders, and state servitors. The Russians built winter quarters and founded settlements. The nomadic way of life of the people and the prevalence of poverty and disease produced high death rates. The local population was economically dependent on the merchants, who had a monopoly on provisions. The merchants also bought up furs and exploited the working people. Despite the colonialist policy of tsarism, the absorption of the peoples of Taimyr into the Russian Empire accelerated the region’s economic development. The inhabitants of the region acquired fabric clothing, metal items for household use, and hunting rifles.

The October Revolution of 1917 did not bring the immediate establishment of Soviet power in Taimyr. The old administration remained in 1918 and 1919 and took orders from the Siberian White Guard government. In 1919 a group of Soviet workers arrived in Dudinka from Arkhangel’sk and organized a revolutionary committee. In the summer of 1920, partisans of a Turukhansk detachment helped the revolutionary committee to clear Taimyr of bands loyal to Kolchak. Among those active in the establishment and consolidation of Soviet power were the Dolgan N. Iamkin, T. Stateikin, and M. Aksenov and the Nentsi I. Nader, P. Bolin, and N. Silkin.

Production associations were created in Taimyr late in 1920, which subsequently developed into handicraft artels. The development of new branches of the economy led the peoples of Taimyr to a settled way of life. A fish cannery was founded in 1930 in Ust’-Port, on the Enisei River. In the early 1930’s, state and cooperative trade developed, and kolkhozes and sovkhozes were organized. By Jan. 1, 1940, 92 percent of the farms had been collectivized. The life of the peoples of Taimyr and the region’s economy and culture were closely linked to the development of the Northern Sea Route.

By virtue of a decree issued on Dec. 10, 1930, by the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, the Taimyr (Dolgan-Nenets) National Okrug was formed, with Dudinka as the administrative center; the okrug comprised the four raions Avam, Dudinka, Khatanga, and Ust’-Eniseisk. Clan councils were later replaced by territorial soviets. Congresses of soviets elected raion executive committees and an okrug executive committee. During the prewar five-year plans, the peoples of Taimyr, supported by the Russians and all other peoples of the USSR, made the transition from a primitive communal economy to socialism, bypassing the stage of capitalism. During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), the peoples of the okrug worked in the rear and fought at the front. The postwar period has brought new achievements in economic and cultural development. The Taimyr Autonomous Okrug was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor on Feb. 11, 1971, and the Order of Friendship of Peoples on Dec. 29, 1972.

Economy. Mining and fishing contribute most to the okrug’s industrial output. Reindeer raising, trapping, and fishing are traditional branches of the economy; dairy farming and fur farming are among the new branches. Industrial output increased by a factor of 26 between 1931 and 1974.

Electric power is produced by the Ust’-Khantaika Hydroelectric Power Plant, on the Khantaika River, and by a coal-burning thermal power plant. In 1974 the output of coal was 40,000 tons and that of gas 746 million cu m.

There has been significant growth in nonferrous metallurgy at the Noril’sk Mining and Metallurgical Combine, which is fully integrated.

In 1973 there were seven kolkhozes and five sovkhozes in the okrug; the wide range of economic activities at each kolkhoz and sovkhoz permits an emphasis upon certain activities by season, with hunting favored in the winter and fishing in the summer. Fish is processed at enterprises in Dudinka, Khatanga, and Ust’-Port. In early 1975 the reindeer population totaled 93,000. Cage fur farming accounts for the bulk of the fur output; blue arctic foxes and silver foxes are raised. Fur farming is carried out on 11 sovkhozes, one commercial farm, and one experimental farm.

River transport, mainly on the Enisei (600 km within the okrug navigable for maritime vessels) and on the Khatanga, forms part of the okrug’s transportation system. There is also transport on the Northern Sea Route, as well as air and rail service; the Dudinka-Noril’sk-Talnakh line is the world’s northernmost railroad. The principal ports are Dudinka, Dikson, and Khatanga. The Messoiakha-Noril’sk gas pipeline has been built. Reindeer herders and hunters use sledges drawn by reindeer or dogs.

Education and cultural affairs. In the 1974–75 academic year, there were 8,400 pupils in 28 general-education schools of all types, and 334 students at the veterinary technicum in Dudinka. In 1975, the okrug’s 44 preschool institutions had 3,100 children. As of Jan. 1, 1975, there were 23 public libraries, with 329,000 books and periodicals. Dudinka is the site of the Taimyr Okrug Museum of Local Lore. There are also 37 clubs and 63 motion-picture projection units.

The okrug newspaper, Sovetskii Taimyr, has been published since 1932. Broadcasts of the All-Union Radio are relayed; krai radio programs are broadcast for three hours a day. Okrug radio programs in Russian, Nenets, Dolgan, and Nganasani are broadcast for one hour and 30 minutes a day.


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Kuzakov, K. G. Natsional’nye okruga Krainego Severa SSSR. Moscow, 1964.
Vasil’ev, V. I. “Nentsy i entsy Taimyrskogo nats. okruga.” In the collection Preobrazovaniia v khoziaistve i kul’ture i etnicheskie protsessy u narodov Severa. Moscow, 1970.
Russkie starozhily Sibiri. Moscow, 1973.
Slavin, S. V. Osvoenie Severa. Moscow, 1975.
Russiiskaia Federatsiia: Vostochnaia Sibir’. Moscow, 1969. (In the series Sovetskii Soiuz.)
Ushakov, G. A. Po nekhozhenoi zemle, 4th ed. Moscow, 1974.


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