Volgograd Oblast

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Volgograd Oblast


(until 1961, Stalingrad Oblast), part of the RSFSR. Established Dec. 5, 1936. Area, 114,100 sq km. Population, 2,324,000 (1970). The oblast is divided into 32 raions and has 18 cities and 24 urban-type settlements. The center is Volgograd.

Natural features. Volgograd Oblast is situated in the south-eastern part of the East European Plain and is divided into two parts by the Volga River: the western part—the right-bank region—and the eastern part—the Trans-Volga Region. The right bank has a higher elevation than the left and is deeply cut by ravines and gorges. The southern part of the Volga Upland is located here, reaching a height of 358 m (the greatest elevation of the oblast), as well as the northern part of Ergeni, the southeastern part of the Kalach Upland, the eastern part of the Don Ridge, and the Khoper-Buzuluk and Sarpa lowlands. The Trans-Volga Region is a low-lying plain. The Volga-Akhtuba floodplain with its myriad of small channels and lakes lies between the Volga and its left branch, the Akhtuba River.

The climate is continental. The winters are cold with little snow, and the summers are long, hot, and dry. Average January temperatures are -8° C in the southwest and -12° C in the northeast, and the average July temperatures are 22° C in the northwest and 24° C in the southeast. Annual precipitation totals 450 mm in the northwest and 270 mm in the south-east. The growing season is 150 days in the north and up to 175 days in the south.

The Volga and the Don with their tributaries flow through Volgograd Oblast. The density of the river network and the water level decrease from the northwest to the southeast. The rivers flood in the spring and are low in the summer. The flow of the Volga and the Don has been regulated, and navigable conditions have improved with the construction of the Volgograd and Tsimlianskii reservoirs. The water from these reservoirs is used for irrigation and water supply. There are salty lakes in the Trans-Volga Region—the El’ton, Botkul’, and Gor’ko-Solenoe lakes. Natural and man-made limans are widespread.

More than 83 percent of the oblast lies in the steppe zone. Chernozem (ordinary and southern) covers the northwestern part of the oblast, and both chestnut and deep-chestnut soils cover the rest. The steppe is covered primarily with various grasses. The southeastern part of Volgograd Oblast is in the semidesert zone and is covered by light-chestnut soils of varying degrees of alkalinity; there are patches of solon-chaks and meadow-chestnut soils. The vegetation combines Artemisia lercheana and Artemisia pauciflora with various steppe grasses.

Along the rivers and valleys there are floodplain-boggy soils with meadow or tree and shrub vegetation. Forests of oak, maple, and other trees occupy 4 percent of the total area. Much attention is devoted to afforestation; there are four state shelterbelts and many field-protecting forest plantings.

The fauna is diverse. There are rodents (such as susliks, voles, and jerboas), European hares, foxes, wolves, and European polecats everywhere; ungulates include the saiga. Muskrats and raccoon dogs, among other animals, are acclimatized. Birds (such as great bustards, little bustards, larks, and harriers) and reptiles (such as lizards and Renard’s vipers) abound. The Volga and the Don are rich in fish (sturgeon, carp, and perch).


Population. The bulk of the oblast’s population is Russian (more than 90 percent); there are also Ukrainians, Kazakhs, Tatars, and other nationalities. The average population density is 20.4 persons per sq km (1970), reaching 26 persons per sq km in the northwest and decreasing to four persons per sq km in the Trans-Volga Region. Sixty-six percent of the population is urban (1970; 34.5 percent in 1939 and 16.2 percent in 1926). Major cities include Volgograd, Volzhskii, Kamyshin, Mikhailovka, and Uriupinsk.

Economy. Volgograd Oblast is a large industrial and agricultural center of the Volga Region. The rapid growth of the oblast’s economy was disrupted by the invasion of fascist German troops during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45). At that time, more than one-third of the oblast’s territory and the city of Volgograd were scenes of bitter combat. The war inflicted heavy losses on the national economy, which, however, was quickly restored. By 1950 the gross industrial output had increased by a factor of almost 1.3 compared with 1940. The total volume of the gross industrial output increased in 1969 by a factor of 12 compared with 1940 and the total volume of the gross output of large-scale industry by a factor of 270 compared with 1913. The main branches of industry are electrical energetics, machine-building, and metallurgy; the petrochemical and chemical industries are rapidly developing.

The basic sources of electric power are the 22nd Congress of the CPSU Volga Hydroelectric Power Plant, the Volgograd State Regional Electrical Power Plant, and the Volgograd Heat and Electric Power Plant 2, as well as the Kamyshin, Mikhailovka, and Volga heat and electric power plants.

Metallurgy is represented by plants producing quality metals, such as the Red October Metallurgical Plant in Volgo-grad, a plant producing steel wires and cables in Volgograd, and the pipe-producing plants in Volgograd and Volzhskii. There is also an aluminum plant in Volgograd. Machine-building and metalworking are located primarily in Volgograd (a tractor plant, shipyard, the G. K. Petrov Petroleum Machine-Building Plant, a plant for tractor parts and standard equipment) as well as in Kamyshin (a plant for truck-mounted cranes), Kalach-na-Donu (a shipyard), Uriupinsk (a plant for tower cranes), Frolovo (a steel-casing mill), and Volzhskii (a plant producing bearings and a repair-mechanical works). The petroleum and gas industry is being developed on the basis of oil fields (the Korobki and Zhirnovsk oil fields) and natural gas deposits (the Korobki, Archeda, and Saushkin deposits). In 1969, 4.683 billion cu m of gas were obtained (1.8 million cu m in 1950). A petroleum refinery has been erected in Volgograd. The chemical industry is developing rapidly, producing chemicals for agriculture as well as industrial alcohol, fodder yeast, caustic soda, and carbonic acids. The largest chemical enterprises are the chemical combine in Volzhskii, the oxygen and man-made glass wool plants in Volgograd, and the varnish and paint plant in Kamyshin. Volgograd has the USSR’s only plant producing mustard plasters. The construction materials industry is also developed. There are more than 40 brick and tile factories in the oblast, including seven in Volgograd. Cement and slate are produced in Mikhailovka; reinforced-concrete materials in Volgograd, Volzhskii, and Kamyshin; lime in Zhirnovsk, Kamyshin, Frolovo, and Ol’khovka raions; gypsum in Volgograd; keramzit (a porous clay filler for lightweight aggregate concrete) in Volzhskii; and facing plates and architectural decorations in Volgograd. The textile industry is located in Kamyshin (153 million m of cotton fabric were manufactured in the oblast in 1969 compared with 100,000 m in 1940). The woodworking industry, based largely on the timber floated from the Kama basin, is located in Volgograd, Kalach-na-Donu, Krasnoslobodsk, Frolovo, and Dubovka. The food industry is also developed; its branches include the meat and milk, flour-grinding and groats, vegetable oil and animal fat, and canning. In 1969 meat production was 111,400 tons (23,000 tons in 1940), vegetable oil production 85,500 tons (13,300 tons in 1940), and canned goods 134.6 million conventional cans (46.7 million in 1940).

Grain farming and livestock raising predominate in agriculture. The oblast has 239 kolkhozes and 168 sovkhozes (1969). Agricultural land totals 8,813,000 hectares (ha), with arable land accounting for more than 66 percent, pastures for more than 30 percent, and hayfields for more than 3 percent. The sown area covers 5,664,000 ha, including 3,786,000 ha under cereals; 334,000 ha under industrial crops, including 131,000 ha under mustard; 68,000 ha under vegetables, melons, and potatoes; and 1,476,000 ha under fodder crops, including 697,900 ha under corn for silage and green fodder. Irrigated lands total 55,000 ha. The main grain crop is wheat (49 percent); barley, rye, and corn are also planted. The most important industrial crops are mustard in the south and east and sunflowers in the north and west. Volgograd Oblast is the second largest sower and harvester of melons in the RSFSR. Watermelons are cultivated along both banks of the Volga in Kamyshin, Bykovo, Nikolaevsk, and Dubovka raions. Vegetable production developed noticeably after the Tsimlianskii and Volgograd reservoirs and the Volga-Don Canal were constructed. The area of lands sown with vegetable crops, especially tomatoes, has increased in the Volga-Akhtuba floodplain.

Dairy and beef cattle predominate in livestock raising. Dairy and beef cattle are raised in the northwestern raions and beef cattle in the southern and Trans-Volga raions. The breeding of fine-wool sheep is also developing. The Pridonskaia downy goat is bred in the south (Kotel’nikovo Raion). According to data for the end of 1969, the oblast has 1,426,100 head of cattle, including 497,000 cows; 2,650,300 sheep and goats; and 853,000 swine.

The oblast has 1,641 km of railroad-lines in use (1969). The main railroad junction is Volgograd. There is navigation on the Volga, Don, Akhtuba, and Khoper rivers and through the V. I. Lenin Volga-Don Ship Canal (101 km). Volgograd Oblast is connected with the Azov, Black, and Caspian seas. The most important ports and landings are Volgograd, Volzhskii, Dubovka, and Kalach-na-Donu. Highways total 18,600 km.

INTERNAL DIFFERENCES. The northwest is known for its wheat, corn, and sunflower cultivation as well as for dairy and beef livestock raising. There is processing of agricultural raw materials, production of construction materials, and metalworking here. The centers are Mikhailovka, Uriupinsk, and Novoanninskii.

The central region, between the Volga and the Medveditsa rivers and partly in the Trans-Don Region, is known for its petroleum and gas extraction as well as for the textile, food, and metalworking industries. Melons and such grain crops as barley, rye, and wheat are planted. There is dairy and meat livestock raising. The centers are Kamyshin, Frolovo, Zhirnovsk, and Kotovo.

The region around Volgograd is the chief industrial center and is noted for developed machine-building, quality metallurgy, the aluminum and chemical industries, the production of construction materials, light industries, and food industries. The centers are Volgograd* Volzhskii, Kalach-na-Donu, and Krasnoslobodsk. Agriculture stresses meat and dairy livestock raising and vegetable and fruit cultivation.

The Trans-Volga Region and the southern part of the oblast specialize in producing mustard and grain crops (barley, wheat, and millet) and in sheep farming (mainly fine-wool sheep). Fodder crops (leguminous plants) are cultivated. Processing the agricultural raw materials is the main industry. The centers are Kotel’nikovo, Leninsk, Sredniaia Akhtuba, and Pallasovka.


Education, cultural affairs, and public health. In the 1969-70 academic year there were 1,847 general education schools of various types with 440,500 students, 57 vocational and technical schools (day and evening) with more than 25,000 students, 36 secondary specialized educational institutions with 39,400 students, and six higher educational institutions (all in Volgograd)—a polytechnic institute, an institute of urban economy engineering, an agricultural institute, a medical institute, a pedagogical institute, and an institute of physical education—with 34,600 students. In 1969 there were 82,000 children in 770 preschool institutions.

As of Jan. 1, 1970, there were five theaters in the oblast—a dramatic theater, a theater of musical comedy, a young people’s theater, and a puppet theater in Volgograd and an oblast touring dramatic theater—as well as a philharmonic society, 1,007 general libraries (almost 12 million books and journals), and eight museums, including the State Museum of Defense and the Oblast Museum of Local Lore (with branches in Kamyshin, Uriupinsk, and Volzhskii), the Museum of Fine Arts in Volgograd, and the A. S. Serafimovich Literary Memorial Museum in the city of Serafimovich. There were also 1,376 clubs, 1,702 motion picture projectors, and numerous extracurricular institutions, for example, four Young Pioneer Palaces, 49 Young Pioneer Houses, and 18 sports schools.

Two oblast newspapers are published—Volgagradskaia pravda (since 1917) and the Komsomol newspaper Molodoi leninets (since 1928). The oblast radio and television stations broadcast on two radio and two television channels and relay programs from Moscow. There is a television center in Volgograd.

On Jan. 1, 1970, the oblast had 24,700 hospital beds (10.6 beds per 1,000 persons) and 6,700 physicians (one per 345 persons).


Rossiiskaia Federatsiia. Evropeiiskii Iugo-Vostok. Povolzh’e. Severnyi Kavkaz. Moscow, 1968. Pages 287-90. (Series Sovetskii Soiuz.)
Narodnoe khoziaistvo Volgogradskoi oblasti za 50 let. Statisticheskii sbornik. Volgograd, 1967.
Atlas Volgogradskoi Oblasti. Moscow, 1967.
Chto chitat’ o Volgogradskoi oblasti (Rekomendatel’nyi ukazatel’ literatury). Volgograd, 1968.
Volgogradskaia oblast’. Fiziko-geograficheskii i ekonomiko-geograficheskii obzor. Volgograd, 1970.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.