Ust-Ordynskii Buriat Autonomous Okrug

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ust’-Ordynskii Buriat Autonomous Okrug


(formerly Ust’-Ordynskii Buriat National Okrug), part of Irkutsk Oblast, RSFSR. Formed Sept. 26, 1937. Area, 22,400 sq km. Population, 134,000 (1976). The okrug is divided into six raions. The administrative center is the settlement of Ust’-Ordynskii.

Natural features. The okrug is located in the southern Lena-Angara Plateau and has an elevation of more than 1,000 m. The climate is markedly continental. Winters are cold, with little snow; the mean January temperature ranges from –22°C to – 25°C. Summers are warm, with a mean July temperature of approximately 17°C. Annual precipitation totals 270–330 mm. The growing period is approximately 110 days. The Angara River flows through the western part of the okrug; its three largest tributaries in the okrug are the Osa, Ida, and Kuda rivers. The courses of the Manzurka and Kulenga rivers of the Lena River basin lie partly in the northern section of the okrug.

Most of the okrug lies within the Irkutsk-Balagansk forest steppe and is covered by leached soddy calcareous soils and slightly podzolized soils; the basins contain leached chernozems and meadow-chernozem soils. The forested area totals approximately 900,000 hectares (ha), 80 percent of which is made up of coniferous trees, including pine, larch, spruce, cedar, and fir. There are many valuable fur-bearing animals, including squirrels, sables, Siberian weasels, and foxes. Ungulates include elk, roe deer, and red deer. Muskrats are widespread. Lenok, grayling, carp, and other fish are found in the rivers.

Population. Most of the okrug’s inhabitants are Buriats (33 percent; 1970 census) and Russians (58.8 percent); other ethnic groups include Tatars, Ukrainians, and Byelorussians. The average population density is 6.0 persons per sq km, with the majority of the population concentrated in the river valleys. In 1976, 20 percent of the population, or 26,000 persons, was urban. The okrug has four urban-type settlements: Ust’-Ordynskii, Bokhan, Zabitui and Kutulik.

Historical survey. The oldest settlements discovered on the territory inhabited by the Buriats of the Baikal Region existed in the Paleolithic. The first information on the Buriats appeared in Russia in the early 17th century. By the mid-17th century the Buriats had become part of the Russian state; their incorporation into Russia had a positive influence on their economic, political, and cultural development and freed them from ruinous foreign invasions and internecine conflict. The Buriats who inhabited what is now Ust’-Ordynskii Buriat Autonomous Okrug primarily engaged in seminomadic livestock raising and in hunting and fishing. They took up land cultivation during the 18th and 19th centuries. The majority of the Buriats of the Baikal Region were nominally Orthodox, but shamanism was still practiced. Cruel exploitation by the local feudal lords, Russian merchants and usurers, and tsarist officials provoked uprisings among the Buriats, such as the uprising of 1658 in the Balagansk Steppe.

Under the Statute on Governing Native Peoples (1822), the territory of the Buriats of Irkutsk Province was divided into vedomstva (departments), such as Balagansk and Ida. Steppe dumas headed by members of the local administration (taiji) were established in the vedomstva. In the 1880’s the territory was redivided into volosts (small rural districts), an arrangement that led to increased administrative and police oppression. In addition, 53 percent of the Buriat lands in Irkutsk Province were set aside for colonization; this action aroused discontent and led to an upsurge in the Buriat national movement. Between 1902 and 1904, Social Democratic groups sprang up in the Baikal Region under the leadership of political exiles. In 1905 Buriat congresses demanded local self-government and the return of the lands that had been turned over for colonization.

After the February Revolution of 1917, national administrative units, called aimaks, khoshuns, and somons, were established on the territory inhabited by the Buriats of the Baikal Region. In February 1918, Soviet power was established in the Baikal Region. The region was captured by White Guards in summer 1918 after the Czechoslovak Corps mutinied. In March 1920 the Red Army, assisted by partisans, restored Soviet power in the Baikal Region.

In April 1921 the Buriat-Mongolian Autonomous Oblast was formed in the Far East Republic; it comprised Achinsk, Barguzin, Khorinsk, and Chita aimaks, and its administrative center was Chita. In January 1922 the Buriat-Mongolian Autonomous Oblast of the RSFSR was established; it consisted of Tunka, Alar’, Ekhirit-Bulagat, Bokhan and Selenginsk aimaks, and its administrative center was Irkutsk. In 1923 the two autonomous oblasts were united in the Buriat-Mongolian ASSR, with its administrative center at Verkhneudinsk (now Ulan-Ude). The republic included the territory of what is now Ust’-Ordynskii Buriat Autonomous Okrug. In September 1937, with the division of Eastern Siberian Oblast into Irkutsk and Chita oblasts, Ust’-Ordynskii Buriat-Mongolian (later Ust’-Ordynskii Buriat) National Okrug was formed as part of Irkutsk Oblast.

Under the prewar five-year plans, the economy of the okrug developed, the sown area expanded, and the number of livestock increased. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, the working people of the okrug, by bringing 31,400 ha of virgin lands under cultivation, increased the production of grain, industrial crops, potatoes, and vegetables. A total of 15.3 million rubles was collected for the Defense Fund, and five soldiers from the okrug were given the title Hero of the Soviet Union. In the postwar years, the working people achieved new successes in the development of the economy and culture. By early 1976, the title Hero of Socialist Labor had been conferred on ten persons. In 1972 the okrug was awarded the Order of Friendship of Peoples.

Economy. Grain farming and livestock raising form the basis of the okrug’s economy. In 1975 there were 24 kolkhozes and 33 sovkhozes. The okrug produces one-third of the entire output from land cultivation and livestock raising for Irkutsk Oblast. Crops include wheat, oats, and barley; potatoes and vegetables are also grown, and corn and sugar beets are cultivated for livestock feed. The sown area increased from 527,000 ha in 1965 to 570,000 ha in 1975. Livestock are raised for meat and dairy products and wool. Between 1965 and the end of 1975, the number of cattle increased from 183,000 to 230,000; sheep and goats increased from 212,000 to 302,000.

Industry, nonexistent until the October Revolution of 1917, has been established and is growing. Gypsum and coal are mined at Zabitui and near the settlement of Ust’-Ordynskii; 505,000 tons were mined in 1975. Logging and timber distribution establishments in such settlements as Ust’-Ordynskii and Bokhan felled and hauled more than 500,000 cu m of timber in 1975. The primary branches of the food-processing industry are butter- and cheese-making, represented by the Bokhan Butter Factory and the Baiandai and Bokhan food-processing combines.

The Trans-Siberian Railroad crosses the southwestern part of the okrug for a distance of 33.6 km. In 1976 the okrug had 1,754 km of roads. The Angara River is used for navigation.

Education and cultural affairs. During the 1975–76 academic year a total of 36,400 children attended the okrug’s 268 general-education schools of all types, and more than 600 students were enrolled in the pedagogical school in Bokhan; there were also two rural vocational-technical schools. In 1975 the total enrollment of the 95 preschool institutions was 5,600. As of Jan. 1, 1976, the okrug had 144 public libraries (1,195,000 copies of books and periodicals), an okrug museum of local lore in the settlement of Ust’-Ordynskii, 152 clubs, 273 motion-picture projection units, four houses of Pioneers, and a children’s sports school.

There are two okrug newspapers: Leninei tug (Leninist Banner, since 1954, in Buriat) and Znamia Lenina (since 1937, in Russian). All-Union Radio programs from Moscow are broadcast for 15½ hours a day. The republic radio station broadcasts from Ulan-Ude in Buriat and Russian for three hours a day, and local radio is on the air for half an hour a day. Program 1 of Central Television is transmitted via the Orbita 2 system for 12.2 hours a day, and oblast television broadcasts from Irkutsk for 3½ hours a day.


Boiarkin, V. M., V. V. Vorob’ev, and T. N. Vorob’eva. Geografiia Irkutskoi oblasti, 2nd ed. Irkutsk, 1968.
Rossiiskaia Federatsiia: Vostochnaia Sibir’. Moscow, 1969. (Sovetskii Soiuz series.)
Viatkina, K. V. Ocherki kul’tury i byta buriat. Leningrad, 1969.
Razvitie proizvoditel’nykh sil Irkutskoi oblasti v 1971–1980 gg. Irkutsk, 1971.


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