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Sverdlovsk Oblast
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Sverdlovsk Oblast

Sverdlovsk Oblast (Свердло́вская о́бласть) is a constituent subdivision of Russia in the Urals Federal District. At 194,800 km² it is Russia's 20th largest subdivision and the nation's 5th largest in terms of population (4,486,214 as of the 2002 census). Given that the bulk of the oblast lies on the Asian side of the Urals (only its South-Western extremity is on the Western side of the mountains) it should be recognized as the most populous oblast outside of European Russia. Its administrative center is the city of Yekaterinburg (pop. 1,293,00), former Sverdlovsk; other notable cities and towns include Nizhny Tagil (pop. 390,600), Kamensk-Uralsky (pop. 186,300), Pervouralsk (pop. 132,800) and Serov (pop. 100,300).

Table of contents
1 Geography
2 Administrative Division
3 Demographics
4 History
5 Politics
6 Economy and transportation

Geography

Most of the oblast lies on the Eastern slopes of the Middle and North Urals and the Western Siberian Plain. Only in the SW does the Sverdlovsk oblast stretch onto the Western slopes of the Ural mountains.

The highest mountains all rise in the North Urals (Konzhakovsky Kamen' at 1569 m and Denezhkin Kamen' at 1492 m). The Middle Urals is mostly hilly country with no discernible peaks; the mean elevation is closer to 300-500 metres above the sea level. Principal rivers include the Tavda, the Tura, the Chusovaya and the Ufa, the latter two being tributaries of the Kama.

The Sverdlovsk Oblast borders on, clockwise from the West, Russia's Perm Oblast, Komi Republic, Khantia-Mansia, Tyumen Oblast, Kurgan and Chelyabinsk Oblasts and the Republic of Bashkortostan.

The oblast is rich in natural resources, particularly in metals (iron, copper, gold, platinum), minerals (asbestos, gemstones, talcum), marble and coal. It is mostly here that the bulk of Russian industry was concentrated in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The area enjoys continental climate patterns, with long cold winters (everage temperatures reaching15 to 20 degrees below zero on the Western Siberian Plain) and short warm summers. Only in the SE of the oblast do temperatures reach 19 degrees in July.

Administrative Division

Sverdlovsk Oblast consists of the following districts (Russian: районы):

Demographics

Population (2002): 4,486,214 (urban: 3,943,529, rural: 542,685)

Ethnic groups: to be written once the 2002 census data is released

Languages: to be written once the 2002 census data is released

History

Russian conquest of the Khanate of Kazan in the 1550s paved the way further east which was now free from Tatar depredations (see Yermak Timofeyevich). The first surviving Russian settlements in the area date back to the late 16th - early 17th centuries (Verkhoturye, 1598; Turinsk, 1600; Irbit, 1633; Alapayevsk, 1639). In the 18th and 19th centuries the area became the industrial heartland of Russia due to its rich deposits of iron and coal (see above). Local industry received another impetus during the World War II when important producing facilities were relocated here from the European part of Russia to safeguard them from the advancing Germans (for example, IMZ-Ural). In the postwar period much of the region was off-limits to foreigners and it was over Sverdlovsk that the American pilot Gary Powers was shot down on May 1, 1960, while on a reconnaisance mission. Another historic event that took place in Yekaterinburg was the execution of Nicholas II of Russia and the Imperial family in July 1918.

Politics

The oblast's current Governor is Eduard Rossel, one of the most prominent regional politicians in Russia.

Economy and transportation

The oblast's industry is diverse although could be more modern. 12% of Russia's iron and steel industry is still concentrated in Sverdlovsk oblast. Iron and copper are mined and processed here and the logging industry and wood-processing are important, too.

Yekaterinburg is a prominent road, rail and air hub in the Urals region. As the economic slump subsides, several European airlines started or resumed flying to the city. These include Lufthansa, British Airways, Malev, CSA and Finnair.

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