Tselinograd Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tselinograd Oblast


(before 1961, Akmolinsk Oblast), part of the Kazakh SSR. Initially established on Oct. 14, 1939, as Akmolinsk Oblast and abolished on Dec. 26, 1960, the oblast was reconstituted as Tselinograd Oblast on Apr. 24, 1961. It has an area of 124,600 sq km and a population of 812,000 (1977). The oblast is subdivided into 13 administrative raions and has five cities and 12 urban-type settlements. The administrative center is Tselinograd. On Oct. 28, 1958, the oblast was awarded the Order of Lenin.

Natural features. The oblast is located in the northern part of the republic, along the upper reaches of the Ishim River. Much of the territory lies on the northwestern edge of the Kazakh Melkosopochnik (elevation 300–400 m), a tableland dotted with hills. The Ermentau Mountains rise to the east and the Tengiz-Kurgal’-dzhin Basin lies to the southwest. The northern part of the oblast is flat with isolated heights, such as Mount Dombyraly (471 m).

The climate is severely continental and arid. During the hot, dry summer, when July temperatures average 20°C in the north and 22°C in the south, there are dust storms, dry winds, and sharp daily temperature fluctuations. The long and cold winters bring relatively little snow, strong winds, and storms; the mean January temperature ranges from about –18°C in the north to about –16°C in the south. The annual precipitation varies from 200–250 mm in the southwest to 300–350 mm in the north and still more in the mountains. The growing season lasts about 165 days.

The oblast’s largest river, the Ishim (Ob’ basin), virtually bisects the oblast from east to west. It has two right tributaries, the Koluton and the Zhabai. Three rivers that originate in the Melkosopochnik—the Sileti, or Selety in the northeast and the Nura and Kulanutpes in the southeast—terminate in undrained lakes. As much as 90 percent of the annual river runoff occurs during spring freshets; the rivers become very shallow during the summer, and some of them dry up. The large Viacheslav Reservoir has been built near Tselinograd to supply water to the industrial centers and agricultural regions. The oblast has many lakes, most of them salt lakes (Tengiz, Kiiakty, Kypshak). The largest freshwater lakes are Kurgal’dzhin, Kozhakol’, and Itemgen.

Much of the oblast lies in a steppe zone with dark chestnut, frequently saline soils. This is the primary region of dry farming and virgin land cultivation. The forb and feather-grass steppes of the northwest, on southern chernozem soils, have also been almost completely plowed up. In the extreme south are found semidesert steppes of wormwood and feather grass, growing on light chestnut soils with pockets of solonetzes and solonchaks. Forbgrass meadows, on meadow solonetz soils, occur in the flood-plains of the Ishim and other rivers. The Tengiz-Kurgal’dzhin Basin supports desert vegetation adapted to solonetz and solonchak soils. At higher elevations in the Melkosopochnik small tracts of open pine-birch woodlands grow on rocky mountain chernozems. These woodlands are used for summer pasture. The uncultivated parts of the steppe are inhabited by rodents, ungulates, including the saiga, predators, and birds, notably bustards. Waterfowl, among them flamingoes, inhabit the lake shores. The Kurgal’-dzhin Lake Preserve has been established.

Population. According to the 1970 census, Kazakhs make up 19 percent of the oblast’s population, Russians 46 percent, Germans 13 percent, and Ukrainians 10 percent. There are small numbers of Byelorussians, Tatars, Udmurts, Bashkirs, Mordovians, Uighurs, Koreans, and other nationalities. The average population density is 6.5 persons per sq km. In the more densely and evenly settled northern and central parts of the oblast and in the Ishim River Valley, with its large villages and settlements, the population density increases to 10–15 persons per sq km. In the sparsely settled southwest and northeast the density drops to 1–2 persons per sq km. Urban dwellers make up 58 percent of the population. Apart from Tselinograd and Atbasar, the urban settlements were founded in the last 20 years in connection with the cultivation of virgin and long-fallow lands, the development of railroad transportation, and the mining of minerals. The principal cities are Tselinograd, Atbasar, Alekseevaka, Ermentau, and Makinsk.

Economy. The oblast has become one of the principal graingrowing regions in the eastern USSR as a result of the development of its virgin and long-fallow lands. The main sectors of the economy are dry grain farming and meat-wool animal husbandry, combined with industrial processing of local agricultural raw material and mineral mining.

For its energy needs, the oblast depends on hard coal from the Karaganda Basin and mazut. The steam power plant in Tselinograd is part of the unified power grid of Western Siberia and Kazakhstan. The main industries are mining, machine building and metalworking (agricultural machinery, pumps, railroad car repair), food processing (meat-packing combines, milling combines, milk and butter plants), and light industry (clothing, furniture). The oblast’s large building-materials industry produces reinforced-concrete structural members, bricks, and other products. Most of the industrial enterprises are located in Tselinograd; the rest are found in Makinsk (piston rings, agricultural implements, and spare parts for motor vehicles and tractors), Atbasar (meat packing, machinery and repair plant), Alekseevka, the settlement of Shortandy (furniture), and several raion centers (butter plants, building materials).

Pastures cover 5,945,300 hectares (ha), or 59 percent of the oblast’s total agricultural land. The slopes of the Melkosopochnik serve as summer pastures, and the Tengiz-Kurgal’dzhin Basin and Sileti River Valley are used for spring-fall and to some extent winter grazing. The oblast’s 327,400 ha of hayfields include floodplain hayfields along the Ishim and dry hayfields in the uncultivated parts of the virgin lands. Almost all of the arable land, some 3,807,400 ha, is unirrigated. Between 1954 and 1958 roughly 4 million ha of virgin and long-fallow land was brought under cultivation, and dozens of grain sovkhozes were established. Over most of the oblast large-scale grain growing is combined with dairying and beef cattle raising, poultry farming, hog raising, and fine-fleece sheep raising. In the more arid parts of the southwest and northeast, the semidesert pastures are used for transhumant livestock raising (meat-tallow and coarse-wooled sheep, beef cattle) and open-range horse breeding, with grain farming playing a subordinate role. In volume of output, livestock breeding lags slightly behind crop farming, accounting for 49 percent of total agricultural output.

Out of a total sown area of 3,700,600 ha in 1976, 2,809,700 ha (about 76 percent) were planted to grain, chiefly spring wheat (2,281,500 ha) but also barley (431,800 ha), oats (41,200 ha), and millet (44,500 ha). Another 868,500 ha were allocated for feed crops, primarily perennial grasses (401,600 ha) and corn for silage and green feed (273,800 ha). Small areas were planted to potatoes (17,500 ha), vegetables (3,900 ha), and melons. As of Jan. 1, 1977, the oblast livestock herd numbered 1,029,900 sheep and goats, (678,800 cattle (including 210,000 dairy cows), 283,600 hogs, 65,900 horses, and 3,006,000 fowl. Fish is caught in the Ishim River and freshwater lakes, and hunting is permitted in the Melkosopochnik.

The total length of railroads in 1976 was 1,118 km. The trunk lines are the Petropavlovsk-Tselinograd-Karaganda-Chu line and the Magnitogorsk-Tselinograd-Pavlodar-Kulunda line. The latter has three branch lines, linking Atbasar with Takhtabrod, Atbasar with Krasnoznamenskaia, and Ermentau with Aisary. In 1976 the oblast had 5,600 km of roads suitable for motor vehicle transport, of which 4,600 km were paved. The main highways are the Kokchetav-Tselinograd-Karaganda and the Tselinograd-Atbasar-Kokchetav roads.


Cultural affairs and public health. Prior to the October Revolution of 1917 the area of present-day Tselinograd Oblast had 107 general-education schools with 6,900 students and no secondary or higher educational institutions. In the 1976–77 school year more than 180,000 students were attending 600 general-education schools of all types; 11,500 students were receiving training in 22 vocational-technical schools; and 19,000 students were enrolled in 15 specialized secondary schools. More than 19,000 students were enrolled in the oblast’s four higher educational institutions: institutes of agriculture, pedagogy, medicine, and civil engineering, all in Tselinograd. The oblast’s 403 preschool institutions cared for 38,700 children.

Research is conducted by the Tselinograd Divison of the Institute of Soil Science of the Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR, the All-Union Institute of Grain Growing, and the Virgin Lands Branch of the Kazakh Scientific Research Institute of Economics and Agricultural Organization. Cultural institutions include 581 public libraries, containing 5,435,000 books and magazines, an oblast local lore museum, a drama theater, 482 clubs, 595 stationary motion-picture projection units, and 24 extracurricular institutions (1976).

There are two oblast newspapers: Kommunizm nurï (Ray of Communism), published since 1939 in the Kazakh language, and Tselinograd Pravda, published since 1920 in Russian. Radio listeners receive three programs of All-Union Radio (58 hours daily), republic programs in Russian, Kazakh, Uighur, Korean, and German (28.5 hours daily), and oblast programs in Russian and Kazakh (1.5 hours daily). The Vostok program is transmitted 12.9 hours daily, and republic and local television broadcasts, in Russian and Kazakh, are on the air 7.6 hours daily.

On Jan. 1, 1977, medical services were provided by 99 hospitals with 10,500 beds (12.9 per 1,000 inhabitants) and 2,000 doctors, one for each 402 inhabitants.


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Kazakhstan. Moscow, 1970. (Sovetskii Soiuz series.)
Iarmukhamedov, M. Sh. Geografiia ekonomicheskikh raionov Kazakhstana. Alma-Ata, 1972.
Iarmukhamedov, M. Sh. Ekonomicheskaia geografiia Kazakhskoi SSR.
Narodnoe khoziaistvo Kazakhstana v 1974 g.: Statisticheskii sbornik. Alma-Ata, 1975.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.