Tomsk Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tomsk Oblast


an oblast in the RSFSR. Formed on Aug. 13, 1944. Area, 316,900 sq km. Population, 824,000 (1975). Tomsk Oblast is divided into 16 raions and has three cities and 12 urban-type settlements. The administrative center is the city of Tomsk. The oblast was awarded the Order of Lenin on June 26, 1967.

Natural features. Tomsk Oblast is situated along the middle course of the Ob’ in the southeastern part of the Western Siberian Lowland. Level, marshy land predominates, with elevations of less than 200 m; in the southeast, however, the northern spurs of the Kuznetskii Alatau reach elevations of 211 m. The wide valley of the Ob’ divides the oblast into two nearly equal parts. The left-bank part, which includes the vast, swampy Vasiugan’e region, has elevations to 166 m near the upper course of the Bakchar; the right-bank region, which is less swampy and more forested, has elevations to 193 m.

Tomsk Oblast has deposits of petroleum and natural gas, and with the Vasiugan’e peat deposit the oblast has the second highest level of peat reserves in the country. There are also deposits of such nonmetallic minerals as clay, loam, building stone, limestone, sand and gravel mixtures, various sands, and mineral dyes. The oblast has large reserves of groundwater, and the prospects are good for obtaining thermal mineral waters, especially bromine, iodine, hydrogen sulfide, and radon waters.

The oblast’s climate is continental. Winters are long and severe, with average January temperatures between –19°C and –21°C. Summers are warm and short; July temperatures average 17°–18°C. Precipitation averages 400–550 mm per year, with maximum precipitation during summer. The growing season lasts 135–140 days in the north and 150 days in the south. The principal river is the Ob’, whose important tributaries in the oblast include the Tom’, Chulym, Ket’, Tym, Chaia, Parabel’, and Vasiugan. Rivers and lakes occupy 2.5 percent of the oblast’s area, and swamps, approximately 30 percent.

Sod-podzolic, peat, and bog soils are the oblast’s main types, but in the southern and southwestern regions there are gray wooded soils and chernozems. Forests cover 56 percent of the oblast, and approximately 60 percent of the trees are conifers (Siberian cedar, fir, spruce, pine). The principal deciduous trees are the birch and European aspen. The oblast’s wildlife includes the wolf, lynx, fox, reindeer, elk, roe deer, cricetid rodents of the subfamily Cricetinae, and the Asiatic chipmunk. The squirrel, sable, muskrat (acclimatized), and Siberian weasel have commercial value. Among the oblast’s birds are the hazel hen, capercaillie, grouse, and duck. Fish include those of the genus Acipenser, and the nelma, muksun, peled, and ide.

Population. The population of the oblast is made up of Russians (approximately 89 percent, 1970 census), Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Tatars, and others, among them the Selkups and Khanty, who live in the northern raions. The average population density is 2.6 persons per sq km (1975). The southern and southeastern raions are the most densely populated, although the northern raions are gaining population because of the oil fields. The urban population has risen from 26.7 percent of the total in 1939 to 66 percent in 1975. The main city is Tomsk, with Asino and Kolpashevo presently experiencing growth.

Economy. During the years of Soviet power, branches of heavy industry have been created and large plants and factories have been built. Machine building and metalworking are the main branches of industry, producing such goods as electrical equipment, bearings, instruments, office equipment, calculating machines, and mining equipment. The enterprises are located mainly in Tomsk and, to a lesser extent, Kolpashevo, site of the Metallist Plant. The lumber industry is also important; there are 21 logging and timber distribution establishments, the largest of which are located in the basins of the Ket’ and Chulym rivers. Completion of the Asino–Belyi lar railroad has expanded the zone of timber production. Yearly production of wood is 8–9 million cu m; the wood is processed for the most part at four sawmills: the Mogochin, Ket’, and Asino sawmills and the sawmill in Tomsk. Timber-processing complexes are being built in Asino, Kolpashevo, and Belyi lar. The oblast’s lumber is sent mainly to Novosibirsk Oblast, Kazakhstan, Middle Asia, and Kemerovo Oblast. The food-processing industry ranks third in the oblast, accounting for up to 19 percent of gross output. The meat, dairy products, fish, flour, and groats produced all come from local raw materials. Light industry, which is centered in Tomsk and relies on raw materials from outside the oblast, produces footwear, clothing, and textiles.

Petroleum production, concentrated in the northwestern and western parts of the oblast near the settlement of Aleksandrovskoe and in the Vasiugan River basin, is a new industry. Output was 2.9 million tons in 1970 and 5.1 million tons in 1974. The industry makes use of the Aleksandrovskoe-Nizhnevartovsk pipeline, running for 48 km inside the oblast, and the 818 km Aleksandrovskoe–Tomsk–Anzhero-Sudzhensk line. The Nizhnevartovsk-Tomsk-Kuzbass gas pipeline was under construction as of 1976, as was a large petrochemical complex near Tomsk. Also under construction or in operation as of 1976 were brickyards and plants producing asphalt, reinforced concrete, and prefabricated housing elements. Production has begun at the Tugansk Silica Building Materials Plant. Power for the entire Tomsk Oblast economy is provided by the Tomskenergo Electric Power System, part of the Central Siberian Integrated Power Grid.

Agriculture in Tomsk Oblast concentrates on meat and dairy products. Between 1966 and 1975, measures for concentration and specialization in agriculture were worked out and implemented. As of 1974, there were 99 sovkhozes; of these, 66 specialized in dairy-and-meat products, three in meat-and-dairy production, five in swine breeding, six in poultry husbandry, four in vegetable growing, one in beekeeping, and 14 in livestock fattening. There were 20 kolkhozes as of 1974. Agricultural land in that year occupied 1,431,000 hectares (ha), of which 664,000 ha represented arable land, 456,000 ha hayfields, and 287,000 ha pasture-land. There were 614,000 ha under cultivation in 1974, of which 177,000 ha were under wheat and 6,000 ha were under flax (as an industrial crop). Potatoes and vegetables occupied 24,600 ha, and feed crops 202,000 ha.

The 1974 livestock population consisted of 333,000 cattle (including 129,000 cows), 249,000 swine, 117,000 sheep and goats, and 2,335,000 fowl. Squirrel and sable are trapped on a commercial scale for their fur, while the silver-black fox (Vulpes vulpes fulvus) is bred in captivity.

River and truck traffic are the main types of commercial transport. The Ob’ and Tom’ are navigable, as are the following tributaries of the Ob’: the Chulym, Ket’, Chaia, Parabel’, and Vasiugan. As of 1974, there were 164 km of railroad (Taiga–Tomsk–Asino–Belyi lar line). Buses connect Tomsk with Asino, Iurga, and Bakchar. Air transport is well developed.


Educational, scientific, and cultural institutions; public health. During the 1914–15 school year, there were 237 general-education schools (19,100 pupils), three specialized secondary schools (421 students), and three higher educational institutions (2,300 students). During the 1975–76 school year, there were 594 general-education schools of all types (138,000 pupils), 39 vocational-technical educational institutions as part of the system of State Vocational Education (13,300 students), 19 specialized secondary schools (22,500 students), and six higher educational institutions (45,000 students). The last category comprises the University of Tomsk, the Tomsk Medical Institute, the Tomsk Polytechnic Institute, and a pedagogical institute, a civil engineering institute, and an institute of automated control systems and radio electronics, all in Tomsk. In 1975, there were 39,000 children in the oblast’s 514 preschool institutions.

As of Jan. 1, 1975, there were 574 public libraries, with a total of 5,806,000 books and periodicals. In addition to the Tomsk Oblast Museum of Local Lore, which has a branch in Kolpashevo, the oblast has a museum devoted to the Bolsheviks who were exiled to the Narym territory. Tomsk has a drama theater and a puppet theater. There are 569 clubs, 710 motion-picture projection units, and 26 extracurricular institutions, including 20 houses of Pioneers, two organizations for organizing tourist excursions, two stations for Young Engineers, a station for Young Naturalists, and a children’s park.

Newspapers include the oblast paper Krasnoe znamia (founded 1917) and the Komsomol paper Molodoi leninets (founded 1920). Television programming averages 16.9 hours (hr) a day, 13.6 hr coming from outside the oblast (13 hr of Orbit and of the first program from Central Television) and three hr from the oblast’s own station. Radio programs are received 15 hr a day from Moscow through Novosibirsk; there are 1½ hr of local radio broadcasts.

As of early 1975, there were 102 hospitals, with a total of 11,100 beds (13.5 per 1,000 population). Physicians numbered 2,900 (one for every 287 inhabitants), and there were five Sanatoriums and 20 houses of rest.


Rossiiskaia Federatsiia: Zapadnaia Sibir’. Moscow, 1971. (Sovetskii Soiuz series.)
Rodnoi krai: Ocherki prirody, istorii, khoziaistva i kul’tury Tomskoi oblasti. Tomsk, 1974.
Ioganzen, B. G. Priroda Tomskoi oblasti, 4th ed. Novosibirsk, 1971.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.