Volga-Viatka Economic Region

Volga-Viatka Economic Region


one of the great economic regions of the USSR. It includes Gorky and Kirov oblasts and the Mari, Mordvinian, and Chuvash ASSR’s. Its area is 263,300 km2, and its population as of 1970 was 8,348,000.

The Volga-Viatka economic region is one of the regions of the RSFSR that contains many nationalities. Three-quarters of the population are Russians; there are also Chuvash (in the Chuvash ASSR), Maris (in the Mari ASSR and limited regions of Kirov and Gorky oblasts), Mordvinians (in the Mordvinian ASSR and Gorky Oblast), and Tatars. The average population density is 31.7 persons per km2. The most densely populated areas are the right-bank lower reaches of the Oka River and the Chuvash ASSR. Fifty-three percent of the population lives in the cities. The region has important labor resources, part of which are provided to other regions of the country.

The Volga-Viatka economic region is located on the eastern half of the East European Plain, at the juncture of the forest and forest-steppe zones. The region has low hills: on the north, spurs of the northern Urals; on the northeast, the Upper Kama Hills; and on the southwest, the Volga Hills (the highest point is 338 m above sea level). Almost the entire region belongs to the Volga basin. The Volga divides the territory into two unequal parts: the larger left-bank area and the smaller right-bank area. The basic natural resources are forests (1.8 percent of total USSR reserves) and phosphorites (the Viatka-Kama deposit is 18.8 percent of the total USSR supply in the categories A+B+Q and 28 percent of the total USSR balance). Fuel and energy resources are represented by peat (1 percent of the total known USSR supply) and hydroelectric power (0.4 percent of the total potential USSR supply). There are large gypsum deposits (9.2 percent of the total USSR supply).

The geographical position of the Volga-Viatka region has been advantageous because of its location between the country’s basic raw material and fuel bases and the regions that need them. Occupying 1.2 percent of the territory the region concentrates 3.5 percent of the population and 4.4 percent of the industrial-manufacturing personnel of the USSR. It is part of the original industrial center of the country, one of the main bases of manufacturing, especially of machine building and metalworking (their proportion of industry is 37 percent). The region has the country’s largest automobile industry complex—it produces 45 percent of the total USSR output of trucks, 20 percent of the automobiles, about 25 percent of the buses, and more than 85 percent of the standard cars. The chief automobile construction enterprise is the Gorky Auto Factory. In addition, the region is also characterized by various types of mechanical engineering (ship production, motors, diesel engines, gas-engine compressors, metal-cutting lathes, electronic equipment and instruments, cables, electric lamps and illumination technology equipment, and radio equipment) and chemical industry (automobile tires, phosphorite powder, fundamental chemistry, and synthetic materials), as well as by the export of wood and the manufacture of paper, card-board, and lumber. In 1969 wood export was 30.2 million compact m3 and lumber production was 8.5 million m3; 519,900 tons of paper and 147,300 tons of cardboard were produced. The region accounts for over 8 percent of the country’s total peat. Hydroelectric energy production is 14,456 million kv/hour (1969). Metallurgical plants in Gorky, Vyksa, Kulebaki, and Omutninsk work in scrap metal and imported open-hearth steel furnaces. The Volga-Viatka economic region is a region of ancient crafts based on metaland woodworking. Artistic and ornamental crafts such as Khokhloma murals, Dyma toys, and Pavlovsk metal goods are especially developed.

The Gorky area is the largest industrial hub of the region —the city of Gorky and its satellite cities of Dzerzhinsk, Bor, Kstovo, Balakhna, Gorodets, Zavolzh’e, and Bogorodsk. Industrial works located here include the Gorky Auto Factory; the Krasnoe Sormovo plants, which make milling machines; the V. I. Lenin Gorky Television Plant; Krasnaia Etna; the Novogor’kovskii oil refinery; the Chernorechensk chemical combine; the Balakhna pulp and paper combine; the Zavolzh’e motor plant; the Gorky hydroelectric power plant; and the Balakhna State Regional Electric Power Plant. Kirov and its satellite cities of Novoviatsk, Kirovo-Chepetsk, and Slobodskoi form another large industrial hub, which is a base for the metalworking, chemical, leather and shoe, and woodworking industries.

New industrial hubs have arisen in the postwar period. These include Chebokary (electronics and textiles), SaranskRuzaev (illumination technology goods), and loshkar-Olinsk (radio components and instruments). Saransk acquired a large rubber combine and foundry, and Novochebokarsk has a powerful chemical combine. The Chebokary hydro-electric plant was built on the Volga River. Industry is growing in the small and medium-sized cities located outside the large industrial hubs, such as Arzamas, Pavlov, Vyksa, Kulebakhy, Omutninsk, Viatskie Poliany, Kotel’nicha, Volzhska, Alatyr, Kanasha, and Shumerlo. Between 1960 and 1969 the gross production of the region’s industry more than doubled.

Agriculture specializes in the production of food grains and grain fodder, potatoes, and industrial crops such as flax fiber (Zavolzh’e), hops (Chuvashiia), and meat-and-milk animal husbandry; suburban agriculture is growing near the large industrial centers. The agricultural lands consist of 10.8 million hectares (41 percent of the territory of the region), including 7.8 million hectares of arable land and 2.8 million hectares of pasture and hay-making land. The area of land with a drainage network was 118,300 hectares in 1969. Land under cultivation accounts for 6.5 million hectares (1969), 59 percent of which is used for grain and 30.3 percent for fodder crops. Rye is sown (one of the highest planting proportions compared with other regions of the RSFSR), as are wheat, buckwheat, and leguminous plants; industrial crops include flax, hemp, sugarbeets, hops, and makhorka. Commercial horticulture is developed along the banks of the Volga and Oka rivers. At the beginning of 1970 there were 2.9 million head of cattle (including 1.4 million cows), 1.5 million pigs, and 2.4 million sheep and goats in the region. Its contributions to the RSFSR in 1969 were grain production, 3.2 percent; potatoes, 12 percent; vegetables, 5.8 percent; milk, 7.1 percent; and meat, 6 percent.

Because of the location of the region on the most important transit routes of the country, its railroad and river transport are one of the branches of total USSR specialization. The region has a radial transport network with its center at Gorky. There is ship transport along the Volga, Oka, Viatka, and Vetluga rivers. Pipe transport is being developed for carrying oil and gas from the Volga region.

The Volga-Viatka economic region imports a large quantity of fuel and industrial raw materials, especially coal (from Kuznetsk Basin, Donbas, and Ural deposits), oil and gas (from the Volga-Ural oil-gas region), and heavy metals (from the Urals and the south). Exports include machinery and metal goods, widely used industrial goods, chemical products, potatoes, and hops. Lumber is sent to the central area of the country, to the Volga region, the Ukraine, and the northern Caucasus.


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