an oblast in the Kazakh SSR, formed on Nov. 23, 1970. Located in the northern part of the republic, in the Ishim and Turgai River basins. Area, 111,900 sq km. Population, 256,000 (1975). The oblast is divided into nine raions and has three cities and one urban-type settlement. The city of Arkalyk is the administrative center. Turgai Oblast was awarded the Order of Lenin on Mar. 5,1973.
Natural features. Turgai Oblast occupies the southern Turgai Plateau, the Turgai Depression, including the broad Turgai River valley, and the westernmost part of the Kazakh Melkosopochnik, with its alternating hills, plateaus, and ravines. The highest elevation in the oblast is 478 m, southeast of Arkalyk.
The climate is sharply continental. Winters are long and cold, summers hot and dry. January temperatures average 17.7°C; July temperatures average 21°C in the north and 24.2°C in the south. Strong winds prevail: there are snowstorms and blizzards in winter and dry winds and dust storms in summer. The average annual precipitation is 280 mm in the north and 220 mm in the south, with the maximum precipitation occurring in summer. The growing season ranges from 175 to 185 days.
Most of the oblast is located in the basin of the nondrainage rivers Turgai and Uly-Zhylanshyk; all the rivers are fed by snow. The rivers rise dramatically in spring, and in summer either become shallow or branch into reaches. Northeastern Turgai Oblast contains the meander of the upper course of the Ishim River (Ob’ River basin) and its tributary, the Tersakkan. The Turgai Depression has many freshwater and salt lakes, the largest of which is Lake Sarykopa. Some of the lakes dry up in summer, leaving sory and solonchaks.
Most of Turgai Oblast is covered with wormwood-halophyte and grassy wormwood vegetation on brown and sierozem soils. Sections of barchan sands lie along the Turgai and Uly-Zhylanshyk rivers, and solonetz soils and thickets of saxaul are found in depressions. The Ishim River basin contains steppes ôf fescue grass and feather grass on light chestnut and chestnut soils that serve as pastureland in spring and autumn, and especially in winter. Much of northeastern Turgai Oblast has been plowed as part of the development of virgin and long-fallow lands. Floodplain meadows, hayfields, and thickets of shrubbery are found along the rivers and lakeshores. The oblast has numerous rodents, including susliks, lemmings, and jerboas. Reptiles include turtles, lizards, and snakes. In the spring, abundant bird life may be found along the rivers and lakeshores.
Population. The population of Turgai Oblast comprises Kazakhs (32.5 percent in 1970), Russians (33.7 percent), Ukrainians (15 percent), Germans (5.2 percent), Byelorussians (4.7 percent), and others, including Tatars, Uzbeks, Bashkirs, Mari, Chuvash, Moldavians, Udmurts, and Mordovians. The average population density is 2.3 persons per sq km. The most densely populated area is the northeast (3–5 persons per sq km), a region of large rural settlements that have grown rapidly during the development of the virgins lands. The semidesert regions of the Turgai and Uly-Zhylanshyk river basins are sparsely populated (less than 1 person per sq km), with occasional small Kazakh auls: administrative centers and departments of kolkhozes and sovkhozes for livestock breeding and settlements of herdsmen. In 1975, 31 percent of the population, or 80,000 people, lived in urban areas. The principal cities in the oblast are Arkalyk, Esil’, and Derzhavinsk.
Economy. The economy of Turgai Oblast is dominated by dry farming of grains and the raising of livestock for meat and wool. This activity serves as a base for enterprises that process agricultural raw materials. Useful minerals are mined in the oblast.
Energy is supplied by fuel brought in from outside the oblast. Small thermal electric power plants use coal from Karaganda and Ekibastuz and lignite from the southern Kushmurun Basin. The main industrial sectors are mining, including the mining and preliminary processing of bauxites and refractory clays in Arkalyk; the production of building materials; food processing, including milling, butter production, and meat-packing; and light industry, including the preliminary processing of wool. Most industrial enterprises are located in Arkalyk, but there are some in Esil’ and Derzhavinsk, engaged in food processing and the production of building materials.
As of 1974, there were 10.3 million hectares (ha) of agricultural land in Turgai Oblast. The 6.7 million ha of pastureland accounted for more than 65 percent of the total, hayfields covered 263,000 ha, and arable land accounted for 2.9 million ha, or 28 percent, including 2,000 ha of irrigated land. Agricultural crops represented 64 percent of farm output in 1974, compared with 43 percent in 1965; livestock raising accounted for 36 percent, compared with 57 percent in 1965. In northeastern Turgai Oblast, mainly in the Ishim River basin, the dry farming of grains has been developed and is combined with swine breeding, poultry husbandry, and the raising of fine-wooled sheep. Dairy and beef cattle are raised and are penned or pastured, depending on the season. The more arid southwest, in the Turgai River basin, supports transhumant livestock production. Sheep are raised for meat, tallow, and wool, and horses, camels, and some cattle are also raised.
In 1975, Turgai Oblast had 112 sovkhozes, two kolkhozes, and an agricultural experiment station in Esil’ Raion. The total sown area for that year was 2,879,000 ha, including 2,503,000 ha (87 percent) under grain crops, chiefly spring wheat (2,211,000 ha). Also cultivated are millet (64,000 ha in the southeast), barley, and feed crops (369,000 ha), including perennial grasses and corn for green feed; 6,100 ha (of which 1,600 ha were irrigated lands) were planted with potatoes and green vegetables.
The animal population is primarily made up of sheep and goats (1,033,800; Jan. 1,1975). There are also cattle (247,000 head, including 78,000 cows), swine (232,100), domesticated fowl (there is a large poultry farm in Arkalyk), and horses (39,500). There is hunting in the semidesert regions and along the lakeshores.
Turgai Oblast had 475 km of railroad lines in 1974. The oblast is traversed by a section of the Southern Siberian Railroad running northwest-east from Magnitogorsk to Tselinograd. There is also a branch line that runs between Esil’ and Arkalyk. The oblast had 4,400 km of roads in 1974, of which 1,902 km were hard-surface. The most important are the Kustanai-Arkalyk, Atbasar-Kiima-Derzhavinsk-Amangel’dy-Turgai, and Esil’-Der-zhavinsk roads. The oblast is linked by air to Moscow, Alma-Ata, Kustanai, and Tselinograd and to various raions.
Education, cultural affairs, and public health. Prior to 1917, there were 40 general-education schools with about 1,300 students; there were no specialized secondary or higher educational institutions. In the 1975–76 academic year, the oblast had 276 general-education schools of all types, with 70,200 students; eight vocational-technical educational institutions of the State Vocational-Technical Education System of the USSR, with 3,000 students; three specialized secondary educational institutions, with 2,600 students; and a pedagogical institute in Arkalyk with 1,300 students. There were also 170 preschool institutions serving 12,600 children.
As of Jan. 1, 1975, the oblast had 257 public libraries (1,727,000 books and periodicals), an oblast museum of history and local lore in Arkalyk, and the Amangel’dy Imanov Memorial Museum in the village of Armangel’dy. There is an oblast theater of music and drama in Arkalyk, 228 clubs, and 312 motion-picture projection units.
The oblast newspapers are Torghaytanï (Morning of Turgai, in Kazakh) and Turgaiskaia nov’ (Turgai Virgin Soil), both published since 1971. The oblast receives the programs of the All-Union Radio (eight hours a day) and Republic Radio (IOV2 hours). Local radio programs are broadcast in Kazakh and Russian IV2 hours a day.
As of Jan. 1, 1976, Turgai Oblast had 47 hospitals and clinics with 3,100 beds (11.3 beds per 1,000 inhabitants) and 418 physicians (one per 622 inhabitants).
REFERENCESKazakhstan. Moscow, 1970. (In the series Sovetskiisoiuz.)
Iarmukhamedov, M. Sh. Geografiia ekonomicheskikh raionov Kazakhstana. Alma-Ata, 1972.
Iarmukhamedov, M. Sh. Ekonomicheskaia geografiia Kazakhskoi SSR. Alma-Ata, 1975.
O. R. NAZAREVSKII