Western Siberian Economic Region

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Western Siberian Economic Region


one of the largest economic regions in the Soviet Union. It includes Altai Krai and the Kemerovo, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Tomsk, and Tiumen’ oblasts. Area, 2,427,200 sq km. Population, 12,105,000(1971; 63 percent urban). The principal nationality is Russian (87 percent); Ukrainians, Tatars, Kazakhs, Byelorussians, Chuvashes, Mordvinians, and other nationalities are found throughout the region; the Altaitsy and Shortsy live in the southeast and the Nentsy, Sel’kupy, Khanty, and Mansi in the north.

The region is situated basically in the Western Siberian Lowland. The Altai Mountains, Kuznetskii Alatau Range, and Salair Ridge rise up in the south. The rivers belong for the most part to the Ob’ basin. Potential reserves of hydroelectric power total approximately 260 billion kW-hr. The region is rich in coal (Kuznetsk coal basin), oil and gas, ores of nonferrous and ferrous metals, chemical raw materials, peat, and timber.

In the economic structure of the USSR the region is distinguished as an intensively developing complex of the coal industry (second in the USSR after the Donetsk-Pridneprovskii Region), ferrous metallurgy, machine building, and metal-working. Its chemical, petrochemical, power, cement, timber, and light industries, as well as nonferrous metallurgy, are of nationwide importance. Agriculture is based on grain crops and animal husbandry. Oil and gas industry of national significance is rapidly developing. The volume of industrial production in 1970 as compared to 1940 has increased 20.7 times (11.9 times for the USSR). Coal is mined chiefly in the Kuznetsk basin (113 million tons in 1970).

The region is one of the leading oil-drilling areas in the USSR. The principal oil deposits are Samotlor, Ust’-Balyk, and Sovetsk; the chief gas deposits include Zapoliarnoe, Urengoi, Medvezh’e, Myl’dzhino, and Gubkin. By a decision of the Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU the USSR’s largest oil industry base will be established in Western Siberia. In 1975 oil extraction will increase to 120-125 million tons; gas refineries and large petrochemical complexes will be constructed.

River ports, railroads, and pipelines are being built. Thermal stations operating on coal (luzhnyi-Kuzbass, Tom’-Usinsk, Novosibirsk, and others) are of basic importance in the production of hydroelectric power. The Novosibirsk Hydroelectric Power Plant has been constructed on the Ob’ River.

Ferrous metallurgy is concentrated in the Kuznetsk Basin. Complete cycle ferrous metals are manufactured in the Kuznetsk metallurgical combine and the Western Siberia plant; rolled ferrous metals are produced in Novosibirsk. Heavy machine building and metal working, especially the manufacture of electrical equipment, heavy machine tools and presses, generators, farm machinery, tractors, electronic communication devices, bearings, and transport, mining, metallurgical, and chemical equipment are found throughout the cities of Novosibirsk, Omsk, Tomsk, Barnaul, Rubtsovsk, Biisk, lurg, Kemerovo, and Kiselevsk.

Chemical industry is developing principally on a basis of coal conversion and oil refining (production of nitrogenous fertilizers, synthetic alcohols and rubber, and artificial and synthetic fibers, tires, plastics, and dyes). Chemical enterprises are located in a number of cities of the Kuznetsk basin (particularly in Kemerovo), as well as in Novosibirsk, Barnaul, Omsk, and other cities. The manufacture of cement and other mineral building materials has become widespread (Iskitim, lashkino, Topki, Novokuznetsk).

The timber industry occupies a prominent position. In 1970 timber shipments totalled 30 million cu m, nearly 8 percent of the national figure. Tiumen’ and Tomsk oblasts are the chief suppliers of timber and wood products.

Light and food industries have been developed in many cities. The main center for manufacture of cotton fabrics is Barnaul (fabrics from chemical fibers are also produced). Wool fabrics are produced in Omsk and linens in Biisk. More than 10 million pairs of leather footwear are manufactured annually in Novosibirsk and Omsk. There are large mills and meat combines in major cities (mainly in Novosibirsk and Omsk). Animal oil (80,000 tons in 1970) and vegetable oil (32,000 tons) are produced in the region. The region is first in the Soviet Union in production of cheese. There are sugar refineries in Altai Krai.

Agriculture is based on production of grain, milk, and meat. There are 866 kolkhozes and 1,081 sovkhozes (1971) in the region. The Western Siberian economic region is an important granary of the USSR. Crop areas are situated principally in the southern part of the region. Grain crops comprise 11.8 million hectares (ha) out of a total of 17.8 million ha (1970) of crop areas. Spring wheat, accounting for 19 percent of nationwide production, is the leading crop (76 percent of all grain crops). Oil-bearing plants, fiber flax, and sugar beets are cultivated. Operations are being conducted to irrigate the Kulunda Steppe and to reclaim the Barabinsk Forest-steppe. Animal husbandry is also significant (5.8 percent of the meat, 6.9 percent of the milk, 4.3 percent of the wool, and 5.5 percent of the eggs produced in the USSR). Fur trade and fur breeding have been developed in the region, as has the breeding of horned reindeer.

The region is intersected by railway trunk lines, including the Trans-Siberian (from Tiumen’ to Mariinsk), the Central Siberian (Omsk-Karasuk-Kamen’-na-Obi-Barnaul), the South Siberian (Kulunda-Barnaul-Novokuznetsk), and the Turkestan-Siberian (Novosibirsk-Barnaul-Rubtsovsk). A network of new railroads is being created in the north to areas of development of oil, gas, and timber resources at Ivdel’-Ob’, Tiumen’-Tobol’sk-Surgut, Tavda-Sotnik, and AsinoBelyi lar. There is shipping along the Ob’, Irtysh, and lower courses of the Tom’.

Coal, oil and petroleum products, gas, machinery, chemical products, grain, butter and oil, cheese, and wood materials are exported chiefly to the Urals, Kazakhstan, Middle Asia, and some regions of the European part of the USSR. Basic imports consist of metal and consumer goods.


Zapadno-Sibirskii ekonomicheskii raion. Moscow, 1967.
Pomus, M. I. Zapadnaia Sibir’. Moscow, 1956.
Zapadnaia Sibir’. Moscow, 1963.
Rossiiskaia Federatsiia: Zapadnaia Sibir’. Moscow, 1971. (Sovetskii soiuz series.)


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