// GENERAL INFORMATION
Magadan Region was formed on December 3, 1953, and occupies an area of 1 199 100 km2 (including the Chukotka Autonomous Area). The region is located in far northeastern Russia and has coastlines on the Arctic and Pacific oceans. It is part of the Far Eastern economic district and the Far Eastern Federal District. A huge part of its territory is situated on the Kolyma and Chutkotka uplands and the Anadyr Plateau. The Kolyma and Anadyr rivers flow through it.
Magadan Region has a subarctic climate with long, very cold winters lasting up to six months of the year. Permafrost and tundra cover a large part of the region. Average winter temperatures range from -19°C to -38°C, and average summer temperatures, from +3°C to +16°C.
Gley [sticky waterlogged gray or blue clay] and podzolic soils are characteristic of Magadan Region. The vegetation cover consists of tundra, forest tundra, and rare broadleaf taiga in the southern part of the region.
Magadan Region has rich reserves of gold, silver, tin, tungsten, mercury, copper, antimony, coal, oil, and peat. The seas and forests abound in valuable species of commercial fish and animals.
The region is divided into 8 districts, 34 towns, 33 rural administrations, 1 city under regional jurisdiction, and 1 city under district jurisdiction. The city of Magadan has been the regional center since 1953.
Magadan is situated on Nagaevo Bay of the Gulf of Tauisk on the northern coast of the Sea of Okhotsk. It was founded in 1939 as a transit point for political prisoners being transported to the Kolyma gold mines. Prisoners from the GULAG corrective labor camps mined most of the gold here in the 1930s.
Today, Magadan is the largest port of northeastern Russia, with a population of 150 000 and an area of 18 000 hectares. Magadan's port, Nagaevo, has a large fishing fleet and remains open year-round with the help of icebreakers. Magadan has everything a regional center is supposed to have: 5 research institutes, 3 higher educational institutions, a technical college, a medical school, an arts college, 7 polytechnical universities, 28 general education schools, 3 lycees, 4 gymnasia, 40 preschools, 39 health facilities, 6 cultural centers, 3 regional and 8 city libraries, hotels, stores, museums, and theaters. A total of 5995 state, municipal, incorporated, and farming enterprises operate in the city. Gold mining works, pasta and sausage plants, fishing companies, and a distillery form the city's industrial base.
Northeastern Russia long remained unexplored. The primary objective of the rare expeditions that set out for the Kolyma River was to search for precious metals and not to study or explore this territory.
K.S. Staritsky began regular hydrographic observations of the area in 1865-1870 and carried out a comprehensive survey of the coasts of the Bering Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, and the Sea of Japan. A.P. Elagin and M.L. Onatsevich continued this work between 1870 and 1877. A separate survey of the Eastern Ocean was set up in 1880 and then reorganized into the Eastern Ocean Hydrographic Expedition in 1897. A.Ya. Gurov compiled the first archeological map of the Far East in 1893. Then in 1900, members of Khabarovsk branch of the Geographic Society journeyed to Kamchatka and Anadyrsky District. However, they studied only the coastal areas of Magadan Region. In 1912, the Main Hydrographic Office of Russia renamed Volchok Bay to Nagaevo Bay. In order to improve the lives of the working class in the region, the Far East Northern Committee made the decision to build seven cultural centers, including one on Nagaevo Bay.
The first geological expedition to confirm scientists' predictions of gold deposits in the Kolyma River basin was organized in 1928 under the leadership of Yu.A. Bilibin and V.A. Tsaregradsky. The geologists not only proved the existence of gold here, but also discovered cassiterite [tin ore] crystals, which subsequently led to the development of a large tin deposit in Russia.
On June 22, 1929, the steamship Henri Riviere arrived in Nagaevo Bay with freight and builders, marking the start of systematic development of this harsh territory. The result was not only the development of gold mining on the Kolyma, but also the creation of more civilized living conditions.
The history of Magadan Region is closely tied to the GULAG period. At that time, the entire territory was one vast corrective labor camp and NKVD colony where those who were objectionable to the Stalinist regime were deported. As early as 1940, the GULAG files contained information on 8 million people who had been confined in the past and on those being held in places of confinement as of March 1, 1940. Here, along with people who had been convicted for an anti-collective-farm joke or ditty and those confined for hooliganism or for breaking the passport laws or labor regulations, were people imprisoned for gangsterism, armed robbery, burglary, smuggling, desertion, profiteering, theft of state property, and other crimes.
The NKVD organized a system of using the labor of prisoners from the camps and colonies. Through tundra bogs and mosquito-ridden swamps, people condemned to hard labor built roads and houses in the taiga wilderness and worked at the newly opened gold mines. The present-day northern city of Magadan is a memorial to those who died untimely from the unendurable labor.
Magadan received city status in 1939, and in 1953, became the center of one of the largest Russian regions in terms of territory. Today, visitors arriving here who have heard about Magadan's painful past are surprised at the city's very modern appearance.
Magadan Region is considered one of the world's richest mining areas. Gold is the region's main resource, although silver and tin deposits are also being developed. There are nearly 2000 placer gold deposits, 100 gold ore deposits, and 48 silver ore deposits in the territory. Total probable gold reserves in Magadan Region are estimated at 4000 tons. The Dukat silver deposit with 14 800 tons of reserves is one of the main sources of raw silver. Total probable silver reserves are estimated at more than 80 000 tons.
Along with precious metals, the region has reserves of copper, coal, and hydrocarbons; the prospects for oil and gas are considered high. Twenty-nine zones of possible oil and gas accumulation have been identified on the Okhotsk shelf. Total reserves are estimated at 3.5 billion tons of equivalent fuel, including 1.2 billion tons of oil and 1.5 billion m3 of gas.
There are nine different natural vegetation communities in Magadan Region, which can be combined into three groups: rocky alpine desert, tundra and forest tundra, and taiga.
The vegetation of the rocky alpine desert is sparse, consisting only of lichens. Below this is a zone of low bush tundra, where you will encounter osier [a small willow] and elfin cedar woods. Tundra is found throughout Magadan Region, but most of it is located in the northern part. This is a region without trees. The severe climate has a strong influence on the tundra flora; strong winds in the mountainous parts of the tundra force plants to hug the ground. Labrador tea, lingonberry, milk vetch, willow, and various mosses and lichens are widespread in this area. Herbaceous plants include reed grass, bluegrass, quack grass, Arctic poppy, fireweed, rhododendron, sedge, cotton grass, and wild leek.
Between the tundra and taiga is a zone of forest tundra with flora consisting of dwarf plants, such as stunted Dahurian larch, thickets of dwarf birch and willow, and elfin cedar. The entire Okhotsk-Kolyma watershed, the valleys of the Kolyma River system, the upper Anaydyr River, and the river basins of the Sea of Okhotsk coast are in the taiga zone. Dahurian larch, sweet poplar, birch, chosenia [a member of the willow family], willow, alder, dwarf birch, Labrador tea, wild rose, currants, lingonberry, bilberry, honeysuckle, mountain ash, and elfin cedar are common taiga species. Reed grass, hellebore, bluegrass, knotgrass, geranium, tansy, sedge, Siberian brome, and fireweed are some of the herbaceous plants encountered here. Medicinal plants include valerian, ferns, juniper, lingonberry, dandelion, wild rose, mountain ash, and honeysuckle.
The animal life of Magadan Region is abundant and varied. The forest zone is mainly the habitat of northern taiga species. Animals of the tundra and forest tundra zones include snow sheep, wild reindeer, moose, brown bears, wolverines, Arctic and red foxes, wolves, lynx, hares, ground squirrels, marmots, pikas, lemmings, ptarmigan, nutcrackers, and ibisbills. Many other birds inhabit the tundra in summer; among them are the black-billed capercaillie, hazel grouse, chiffchaff, nuthatch, cuckoo, black woodpecker, cedar waxwing, wagtail, thrush, crossbill, and redpoll. Migratory waterfowl, mainly ducks, nest on the lakes and in marshy river valleys. Birds such as the sandhill crane, emperor goose, various kinds of ducks and sandpipers, king eiders, snowy owls, ptarmigan, sea eagles, and merlins are often encountered in Chukotka. Many of them are listed in the Red Book of Russia. Bird colonies are found on rocky seacoasts and in other hard-to-reach places. Razorbills, cormorants, murres, gulls, guillemots, diving ducks, and other birds nest here in summer, leaving the islands for the south in late August. The only birds left on the tundra in winter are snowy owls and ptarmigan.
Polar bears can be seen on the Arctic coast. A wildlife reserve has been established on Wrangel Island for the purposes of preserving the polar bear population and studying their habits, as well as for studying bird migration. The seas of Magadan Region are the habitat of many large animals such as whales and seals, and there are sizable walrus breeding grounds on the shores of the Chukchi and Bering seas. Sea lions and fur seals may be encountered in the Bering Sea. The fish of the Pacific Ocean seas include many commercial species of great importance in the sea fishery.
Large numbers of bloodsucking insects like mosquitoes, horseflies, gadflies, and midges swarm on the tundra and in the taiga in summer. They are a source of food for many forest birds.
Mining (gold, silver, tin, tungsten, and coal), fishing, fuel and energy, engineering, and metalworking are the main industries in Magadan Region. The main industrial centers are Magadan, Pevek, Provideniya, and Anadyr.
Magadan Region is Russia's most important gold mining territory. Nonferrous metallurgy is the primary field of specialization, accounting for more than half of all output. Next in importance is the fishing industry, which provides 25% of all industrial output. The power industry is another core sector: three large power generating facilities, the Kolyma Hydroelectric Power Plant (Kolymskaya GES), the Arkagala State Regional Power Plant (Arkagalinskaya GRES), and the Magadan Combined Heat and Power Plant (Magadanskaya TETs), are located in the region.
The cities of Susuman and Yagodnoe are among the region's gold-mining centers. Along with precious metals, there are also deposits of copper, coal, and hydrocarbons.
The fishing industry is the region's only food sector and is second in importance after mining. The 600 000 km2 area of the Sea of Okhotsk that borders on Magadan Region is one of the most productive regions of the world ocean. Magadan Region has more than 15 900 km of coastline and 29 016 km of rivers of commercial importance. The catching vessels of the region's fishing companies operate mainly in Russia's economic zone, the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea, and to some extent in the Sea of Japan. Most of the catch comes from coastal waters. Fishing industry companies are concentrated in Magadan, Ola, Yamsk, and Evensk. The most important commercial fish are pollock, herring, cod, navaga [a member of the cod family], flounder, and various kinds of salmon. Crabs, squid, shrimp, and whelks are also caught.
The fishing industry not only supplies the Russian domestic market, but is also a major exporter. Crabs make up 64% of all fish and seafood exports, followed by frozen whelks (19%), and frozen fish (11%).
The remaining industrial sectors have an auxiliary or service nature, for example, coal mining (Arkagala, Galamai), power (the Kolyma, Arkagala, and Magadan power plants generate 3 billion kW·h of electricity), ship and mining equipment repair, and glass production (village of Stekolny).
Industry in the region is primarily associated with mining and tends to be dispersed. Therefore, no large industrial centers have developed. Magadan is mainly an administrative center; the second most important city is Susuman.
Owing to the severe climate, agriculture is Magadan Region's least developed economic sector; as a result, 50% of all food products must be supplied from outside. The agricultural complex consists of companies producing agricultural products, the food and processing industries, a production infrastructure, and farm enterprises. The particular areas of specialization are reindeer herding, fur farming, and traditional hunting, fishing, and fur trapping activities.
Companies involved in food processing and production include Gormolzavod, a distillery, a pasta factory, a sausage factory, the Duchka state poultry farm, and the Khasynsky state farm.
Owing to a lack of funds, agriculture in Magadan Region is in a sorry state and needs capital investment in order to recover.
Magadan Region is characterized by a harsh climate, a lack of railways that would connect it with central Russia, and a poorly developed infrastructure.
Transportation connections are made by motor vehicle, sea, and air transport. The 1400-km Kolyma highway is considered the main freight delivery route to various parts of the region, while the region's most important transportation gateways are the Port of Magadan and Magadan International Airport.
Magadan is actively developing ties with firms in the United States and Japan. The region has 8 banks and 34 branches.
City, district, and regional administrations exercise executive authority in Magadan Region. The Administration of Magadan Region headed by the Governor is the highest executive body.
The Regional Duma, headed by a Chairman, and the Legislative Assembly exercise legislative authority in the region.
Courts belonging to the unified judicial system of the Russian Federation exercise judicial authority in Magadan Region. The manner of formation and the order of the activities of judicial bodies in the region are regulated by federal laws.
CULTURE AND ART
Unfortunately, Magadan's architecture is nothing to brag about. The houses here were built for living in, not for beauty, and so the housing stock is all typical and standard. Old buildings were ruthlessly torn down despite their historical value in order to make way for new buildings.
However, Magadan does have its "treasure"-E. Neizvestny's sculpture Mask of Sorrow (Maska skorbi) in memory of the victims of the GULAG. According to unverified sources, $2 million went in to its creation! It stands on a high hill above Magadan, where people constantly come to pay their respects. Many of them are the children and grandchildren of those whose memory is perpetuated in Mask of Sorrow. Everything that has been preserved of the history of Magadan and the region for future generations is housed in the museum of local history.