// GENERAL INFORMATION
Kursk Region is located in the central part of European Russia between 50"54' and 52"26' north latitude and 34"05' and 38"30' east longitude. It lies at elevations of 177-225 m above sea level and is extensively cut by river valleys. The region borders on Bryansk Region in the north, Orlov and Lipetsk regions in the east, Voronezh and Belgorod regions in the south, and Ukraine in the west.
Kursk Region was formed on June 13, 1934. It includes 5 cities under regional jurisdiction, 5 cities under district jurisdiction, 23 industrial communities, and 2807 other population centers. It has an area of 29 800 km2 (0.18% of the area of Russia) and is about equal in size to countries like Switzerland, Belgium, Moldova, or Albania. The population is 1 335 000.
The region is in a favorable geographical location at the intersection of transportation routes from Russia to industrially developed centers of Ukraine and countries in the Caucasus.
Kursk Region is known as the center of the famous Kursk magnetic anomaly, the world's largest iron ore basin. Diversified industry and agriculture characterize the region's present-day economic structure.
The administrative center of the region is the city of Kursk, one of Russia's oldest cities. It was founded about 982-984, and in the more than 1000 years of its existence, it has grown and changed. Today, Kursk is an important cultural, scientific, and industrial center 540 km from Moscow. It covers an area of 18 600 hectares and has a population of 435 200.
The Tuskar, Seim, and Kur rivers flow through the city. Major transportation routes, i.e., the Moscow-Simferopol highway connecting Moscow with southern Russia and the Moscow-Kharkov and Voronezh-Kiev freight and passenger railway lines, also pass through it.
Kursk is divided into three administrative and territorial districts: Seimsky, Tsentralny, and Zheleznodorozhny. Most of the large industrial facilities are located in Seimsky District; government departments and agencies, all institutions of higher education, and most of the cultural institutions are located in Tsentralny District; and the airport and railway station, along with industrial facilities, are located in Zheleznodorozhny District.
Kursk's rich historical past is inseparably linked with the history of Russia. It was originally founded as a fortress of the principality of Kievan Rus. The oldest part of the city was located on hills cut by the Kur River (a tributary of the Tuskar River), from which the city took its name. At that time, Severskaya land bordered on the steppes, where Turkic nomad tribes roamed. The Pechenegs named the two rivers, at whose confluence the settlement was located, the Kur, meaning "settlement" or "city", and Tuskar, meaning "to set up camp" (both words are of ancient Turkic origin). These names and archeological finds show that a Slavic fortification existed here long before the city of Kursk.
The first mention of a fortified settlement is found in the Life of Feodosy Pechersky (Zhitie Feodosiya Pecherskogo) no earlier than 1036, when the left bank of the Dnieper River passed to the rule of Yaroslav the Wise (Yaroslav Mudry). The first mention in the chronicle dates back to 1095.
In 1185, Prince Vsevolod of Kursk and his army took part in a campaign made famous in The Song of Igor's Campaign, (Slovo o polku Igoreve).
Over the years, as its importance as a fortress city increased, Kursk began to grow rapidly; however, when the Mongol-Tatar forces invaded Russian territory in the 13th century, the people of Kursk once again came to the defense of their land.
At the end of the 15th century Kursk was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; then in 1508, it became part of the Muscovite state bordering on the Rech Pospolita [a union of the Polish and Lithuanian principalities] and the steppe frontier region.
Polish-Lithuanian troops, Crimean Tatars, and Nogais repeatedly invaded Kursk in the early 17th century. Kursk was attached to Kiev Province in 1708, but within five years, a governor's office separate from the Kiev office was established there.
Over the centuries, the city that had defended the southern borders of Rus turned into an administrative center of a huge territory in the southern part of the country. Peaceful farmers began actively settling the territory, and new settlements and farmsteads arose. In the 18th century, Russian tsars began making gifts of Kursk lands to their courtiers for special services.
The city was attached to Belgorod Province in 1727, then became the main city of the Kursk governorship in 1779, and finally becoming the provincial center of Kursk Province in 1797. Starting in the 1860s, Kursk became a junction for the railways connecting Russia's northern districts with the southern ones and the western districts with the eastern ones.
At various periods in their history, the people of Kursk had to fight Mongol-Tatar, Polish-Lithuanian, Swedish, and German invaders. During the Second World War, German forces occupied Kursk from November 4, 1941, through February 8, 1943, causing enormous damage to the city. The battle of Kursk, which lasted from July 5, to August 23, 1943, was decisive. A critical tank battle that was a turning point in the course of the war took place on July 12, 1943, on the Kursk Arch [the battle front in Kursk Region] near the village of Prokhorovka. More than 1200 tanks and mobile guns from both sides took part in it. The Soviet Army won the battle and finally gained the strategic initiative.
As a result of the occupation, nearly 3000 people were executed, 10 000 were shipped off to Germany, and more than 10 000 died of hunger. The city was liberated on February 8, 1943, and within a year, nearly 40 industrial facilities had been rebuilt. Reconstruction of the city proceeded rapidly in the postwar years. New residential areas were built on the outskirts, and the electrical, instrument-making, and chemical industries quickly developed. New higher educational institutions opened in the late 1950s, and life picked up again. Many streets and squares were named in honor of the heroes of the Great War; and in 1980, the Supreme Soviet Presidium of the USSR awarded Kursk the Order of the Patriotic War of the First Degree and the Order of Lenin for courage and steadfastness in the war years and for successes in building the economy and culture.
Modern-day Kursk is a beautiful city where a thousand years of history are reflected in its many architectural monuments. It is also the administrative, cultural, and industrial center of Kursk Region.
The region's mineral resources include the enormous iron ore reserves of the Kursk magnetic anomaly, dolomite, copper-nickel ores, bauxite, and other economic minerals.
The ores of the Kursk magnetic anomaly are of considerably higher quality than those of other basins: 60% of the country's total explored reserves of commercial-grade iron ore not requiring concentration are found here. Most ferruginous [containing iron oxides] quartzites are easily concentrated, but about 12% require complex and relatively expensive concentration methods. The ore deposits lie at depths ranging from 60 to 700 m within the basin, and the geological and hydrological operating conditions are difficult. The Mikhailovskoe deposit is among the notable large deposits in Kursk Region. The Mikhailovsky Ore Mining and Processing Combine (Mikhailovsky GOK) mines iron ore and produces sintering ore, iron ore concentrate, and fluxed pellets.
Other explored and evaluated iron ore deposits that should be mentioned are the Kurbakinskoe, Dichnyansko-Reutetskoe, Lev-Tolstovskoe, Shchigrovskoe, and Zapadno-Ostaspovskoe deposits.
The reserves in these deposits are complex with a large number of generic and mineralogical types occurring together and the presence in the ores of geochemical anomalies of gold, uranium, germanium, gallium, titanium, zirconium, nickel, manganese, lead, zinc, copper, molybdenum, tungsten, antimony, phosphorus, sulfur, boron and aluminum with abundance ratios ranging from 4-10 to 100-250.
A large number of gold and platinum element ore shows have been identified in crystalline basement rocks in Timsky, Shchigrovsky, Cheremisinovsky, Zheleznogorsky, and other districts. The gold-platinum mineralization is being uncovered by boreholes under a mantle of loose sediments at depths of 150-500 m. The gold content in some of the gold ore districts ranges from a few grams to 42 grams per ton, making them economic to develop. Explored and evaluated non-ore deposits include chalk, refractory kaolinite clays, fusible clays and loams, expansive clays, quartz sand, marl, and sandstone. Commercial reserves of phosphorite are located within the Kursk-Shchigry basin in the region. There are also promising areas of zeolites and chalk for use as additives in the perfume industry. Additional exploration of the economic minerals of Kursk Region has revealed large oil reserves.
Kursk Region is located in the temperate continental climatic belt within the forest steppe zone. The average January temperature is -8.6 °C, and the average July temperature is +19 °C. The region is a moderately moist part of Russia, with average annual precipitation ranging from 500 to 634 mm. The length of the vegetation period with temperatures above +5 °C is 175-200 days, and above +10 °C, 140-170 days. The temperature conditions allow the cultivation of temperate-zone crops, as well as heat-loving crops like wheat, corn, sunflowers, and sugar beets. There are about 1793 hours of sunshine per year, most of it (1052 h) from May through August and very little (70 h) from November through January. The prevailing winds during most of the year are westerly, southwesterly, southerly and southeasterly.
Land is one of the region's important natural resources. The predominant soil types are black earths (chernozems), which cover about 69.5% of the territory of the region; gray forest soils cover another 25.7%.
Fertile black earth soil is one of the region's main advantages. In terms of texture, the prevailing types are heavy loam and clay (64.4%), loam (25.8%), light loam (6.1%), and sandy loam and sand (2.5%). Humus contents range from 6-8% (51% of the total area) to 2-6% (44%) to less than 2% (about 5%).
Meadows used for raising livestock cover 12% of Kursk Region, while forests cover another 23%. The forests consist mainly of natural vegetation, 8% of which is mixed forest of oak, ash, elm, linden, and maple, although there are also artificially planted pine forests.
Kursk Region is situated in the basins of two large rivers: 78% of the region lies in the Dnieper basin and the remaining 22%, in the Don basin. Altogether, there are 902 rivers in the region with a total length of 8000 km; the largest are the Seim, Psel, Svapa, Tuskar, and Kshen rivers. There are also more than 700 artificial water bodies, i.e., ponds and reservoirs, 145 of them with water volumes of more than 1 million m3.
On-stream reserves of proven water reservoirs amount to 409.6 million m3 per year; the reserves are 87% developed. There is preliminary data on the possibility of further exploration of underground water in water-bearing chalk strata with a flow rate of 235 400 m3 per day. At existing water withdrawal rates, the region has enough underground water reserves for the next 25-30 years.
Mineral water with a low sodium chloride content (1.9 g/l) classed as medicinal water has been discovered in the region. It is used for treating the digestive tract, chronic diseases of the liver and bile and urinary tracts, and metabolic disorders. The probable production volume of these natural mineral water resources is 100 000 liters per year.
Kursk Region is one of Russia's most industrially developed areas. The most advanced industrial sectors are the food, light, chemical and petrochemical, and power industries, ferrous metallurgy, and engineering and metalworking.
There are nearly 10 000 large, medium, and small companies engaged in industrial production in the region, 92% of them privately owned. The industrial complex owns more than 40% of the region's fixed capital stock, employs one-third of the workers in material production sectors, and earns about two-thirds of the total profit.
More than 80% of the output of most sectors is exported to the rest of Russia, CIS countries, and many other foreign countries.
The Kursk Nuclear Power Plant (Kurskaya AES) determines the region's entire electric power potential: 70% of the power it generates is delivered to other Russian regions and CIS countries.
Ferrous metallurgy specializes in iron ore production.
The engineering and metalworking industries manufacture accumulator units, various types of bearings, automation devices and instruments, mobile units and portable power generators, low-voltage apparatus, exploration and drilling equipment, agricultural machinery parts, engine blocks, metal-cutting machines, press forging equipment, aviation electronics, and computer equipment.
The chemical and petrochemical industries mainly produce general rubber goods, synthetic fibers, and polymer and composite goods.
The building material industry produces ceramic tiles, chipboard, and building blocks.
Light industry produces knitted and leather goods and industrial fabrics.
The food industry specializes in the production of confectionery, canned goods (meat, milk, fruit, and vegetables), and sugar.
Kursk Region is one of the country's leading agricultural areas. Fertile soils, sufficient moisture, and a long warm period favor the development of both plant cultivation and livestock farming. Specialized sectors include sugar beets, grain, potatoes, vegetables, and horticulture.
The most important grain and cereal crops are winter rye and buckwheat. Industrial crops include sugar beets, sunflowers, hemp, and essential oil crops. The region has 2.3 million hectares of agricultural land, much of it sown in sugar beets. As a result of the natural conditions, yields can be as high as 40-45 tons of sugar beets and 3.5-4 tons of grain per hectare.
The establishment of large feeding farms in Kursk Region in recent years has resulted in a significant increase in the number of head of cattle; at the same time, the number of sheep and goats has decreased. There is great demand among the population for ecologically pure meat and dairy products, eggs, cereals, sugar, and fresh and canned fruit and vegetables. Twelve sugar refineries operate in the region, as well as 7 distilleries, which in addition to industrial spirits and alcoholic beverages, also produce carbonic acid for use in the food industry.
The region delivers agricultural and food industry products to other Russian regions, Ukraine, and Belarus.
Beekeeping is underdeveloped in the region, although well-developed horticulture and large areas sown in buckwheat are ideally suited to it. The most important problems in Kursk Region are inadequate processing facilities for the volume of agricultural raw materials, underequipment of processing plants, a high proportion of manual labor, and a poorly developed infrastructure.
The Administration of Kursk Region works continuously to develop the agricultural sector. A significant increase in the volume of agricultural products is expected through the introduction of new technologies, an increase in the number of processing facilities, and modernization of the truck fleet.
Kursk Region is part of the Central Black Earth economic district. It is divided into 10 cities, 28 districts, 23 towns, and 477 rural administrations. The cities of Kursk, Kurchatov, and Zheleznogorsk are independent administrative units, while the cities of Dmitriev, Lgov, Rylsk, Sudzha, Oboyan, Fatezh, and Shchigry are part of the districts of the same name.
The Kursk Regional Duma made up of 45 deputies and the Election Committee are the region's legislative bodies.
The Duma exercises all the powers of a legislative body of a subject of the Russian Federation as set out in the Constitution of the Russian Federation, federal laws, the Charter of Kursk Region, and regional laws.
District, city, and regional administrations exercise executive authority in the region. The Administration of Kursk Region is the highest executive body.
CULTURE AND ART
Kursk has a rich historical past, and the 1000 years of its existence are reflected in a large number of historical and architectural monuments, most of them built between the 17th and 19th centuries. Architectural monuments such as Sergievo-Kazansky and Znamensky cathedrals, the Romodanov and Baryatinsky palaces, the historical buildings of the Korennaya Hermitage, the former building of the Assembly of the Nobility (now the Officers' House), and many more, attract tourists to the city.
The grandeur and beauty of the old buildings combine with modern buildings in the contemporary style. Today, Kursk is one of Russia's most important cultural centers, where national traditions are still honored. In 1772, the Barsov brothers founded one of Russia's first professional theaters, known as the Pushkin State Drama Theater since 1938. For more than 200 years, the theater has introduced audiences to the arts and world literature.
Kursk land has given the world many outstanding writers, artists, and musicians. Writers Lev Tolstoy and A.P. Gaidar, actor M.S. Shchepkin, composers Petr Ilich Tchaikovsky and G.V. Sviridov, poet N.N. Aseev, and artist A.A. Deineka are just a few of the talented people who lived and worked here.
Numerous cultural institutions operate in Kursk today. The Regional Museum of Archeology and the Museum of Local History have many unique exhibits of items of everyday life and a variety of figurines found during archeological digs. The Museum of Local History also acquaints visitors with the history of Kursk land in the historical sections "Pre-Soviet", "Soviet", and "The Modern Period". Regional museums display alternating thematic exhibits. The city's Museum of the History of the Locomotive Depot is interesting as a reminder of the battle of Kursk. The museum has a section dedicated to the participation of Kursk railway workers in the Second World War, with an electrified diorama of the battle on the outskirts of Kursk. Museums and institutions devoted to other historical and cultural fields are also of great interest, for example, the Zoological Museum of Kursk Pedagogical University, the Motor Transport Museum, the A.A. Deineka Regional Art Gallery, an exhibit of exotic aquarium fish and plants, and the Museum of the History of Electric Transport in Kursk.
Kursk is also famous for its theaters. The Pushkin Drama Theater, with its repertoire of classical and contemporary works, is known far beyond the region's borders; and the performances of the Rovesnik Young People's Theater and the Kursk State Puppet Theater are not only intended for children and teenagers, but for adults as well.
The Kursk Regional Philharmonic, which has won numerous prizes at All-Russian and international competitions, does its share to bring both classical and contemporary music to Kursk audiences. Other cultural facilities in Kursk include parks, movie theaters, and a circus.