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Khabarovsk Territory: Encyclopedia Arctica 10: Soviet North, Geography and General
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962

Khabarovsk Territory

[Figure]

Mandel

2,350 woods
KHABAROVSK TERRITORY (Krai), with 1,430,875 inhabitants in 1939 (the 1947 electoral apportionment indicates 1,700,000 and ) 1,026,000 square miles in area, or approximately one-third
the size of the United States, constitutes the Pacific seaboard of the Soviet Union[] north of
[: Dec ] except for th [: ] the portion [: ] abutting on the Sea of Japan . and It
includes the eastern coast of the Soviet Arctic, from Bering Strait (q.v.) west to the eastern
shore of Kolyma Bay. (q.v.) In latitude it extends from 70° N. - and includes Wrangel Island (q.v.)
lying above that parallel - [: ] down to 48°. The vast bulk of its territory lies in the
permafrost zone, i.e., the entire area down to 51° . It [: ] is thus comparable to the
eastern coast of the American continent, where permafrost in Labrador reaches the
same parallel. Likewise, the timberline is roughly at the same latitude in both cases: 59° in northern
Quebec and 61° in Khabarovsk Territory. Finally, There is also the similarity that the
artery for settlement and transport in both eastern Canada and the easternmost U.S.S.R.
is a great river at the southern boundary: the St. Lawrence and the Amur . Each is paralleled
by railroads completely lacking further north . Each river flows through all area free of permafrost, agriculturally well
developed and having large cities along its banks. However, the Amur, its farms and
cities lie several degrees farther north than the St. Lawrence, bringing certain prob–
lems of a sub-Arctic character, such as the virtual impossibility, until very recently,
of growing any fruits whatever. This, and the briefer history of uninterrupted Russian rule
on the Amur (1958-60) account for the population being only about half that of Quebec.
Whereas, in all the foregoing respects and also in the matter of being indented
by a very large body of water of Arctic temperature and ice conditions - the Okhotsk
Sea, corresponding to Hudson Bay - the Soviet north Pacific coast resembles Canada's
coast on the Atlantic, that comparison does not hold geologically. In this respect
the eastern and western shores of the Pacific are very much alike. Except for the
valley of the Amur, flat country is almost entirely lacking in all this million-square–
mile expanse. On the peninsula of Kamchatka, an active volcanic range reaches to almost [: ]
16,000 ft., while on the mainland numerous ranges rise to 4,000 ft. and more.
Kamchatka Region (Oblast) (qv)
Because of its great size, Khabarovsk Territory is subdivided into four main
Regions (Oblasts). The largest by far in area, occupying almost half the Krai, is also
the the least densely populated. smallest in population. It is Kamchatka Oblast, 202,700 sq mi. embracing all of the Arctic coast from
163° to 170°E , within the torritery all the Soviet coast of the Bering Sea, and the eastern coast of
the Sea of Okhotsk. In other words, it includes the Kamchatka and Chukot Peninsulas and
the mainland east of the valley of the headwaters of the Kolyma. Administratively, it

Khabarovsk

includes the Chukchi [: ] and the Koriak National Okrugs , (q.v.), very large areas in
which these small native peoples are probably still in the majority, despite the rapid
expansion of Northern Sea Route way-ports in the first in stance, case and fisheries in the second.
It also includes and an Aleut Raion (County) comprising the two Komandor Islands east of
Kamchatka, inhabited by members of that nationality. Kamchatka Oblast has its capital at
[: ] the year–
round port of Petropavlovsk founded 1822, in 1740 , with a population risen from 1,200 in 19 [: ] 6 to 45,000 in 1947, judging by the
electoral apportionment of that year. (A decade earlier, there had been 20,000.) In the entire Region there is no other locality
meriting the designation of town in Soviet administrative parlance. but s Six have risen
from being mere "inhabited points", with perhaps a radio and weather station, trading post and native
school , to the status of "workers' settlement", engaged in commeric ci al shipping, mining,
fishing, canning or and administrative responsibility for the surrounding countryside,
or a combination of two or more of these. Their dates of incorporation as workers' settle–
ments indicates how recent is the opening of the Arctic and sub-Arctic. Three of them,
Anadyr (1934), Providenie (1946) and Ugolnyi (1946), all on Anadyr Bay of the Bering
Sea, are in the truly Arctic Chukot National Okrug, of which Anadyr is the administrative
center . , a truly Arctic area. The Koriak National Okrug 151,700 sq. mi. in area (about the size of California) has no workers' settlement as yet, being administered
from the village of Palana. The other three workers' settlements are on the sub [: ] -Arctic
southern half of Kamchatka, which corresponds to the Panhandle of Alaska. They are
Industrialnyi, a manufacturing suburb of Petropavlovsk itself, and Kikhchik and Mikoian,
centers of the fishing and canning industry on the non-freezing portion of the coast.
No population figure for Kamchatka Oblast is available, but the number of inhabitants
[: higher? ] may be estimated at 100,000 between 75,000 and 105,000 of which a majority is undoubtedly in
the sub- [: ] -Arctic southern portion of the Kamchatka Peninsula.
The electoral apportionment of 1947 indicates a population of 30,000 for the
Chukot National Okrug which has an area of 274,500 sq. mi, slightly larger than Texas . Whereas that is twice the last previously reported (50% more than the 1933 population) population figure for
that area, there is considerable evidence to indicate that the population might well
have grown by 10 ,000 during World War II, and that further rapid growth has taken place
since then. Thus, the Chaun Bay area on the Arctic coast, centered at Pevek, has become
the largest tin-mining area in the U.S.S.R. The promotion of Providenie and Ugolnaia, with
its coal-mining, to the status of workers' settlements, is believed to indicate a popu-

Khabarovsk

lation of a couple of thousand at each of these places. During the war, Velkal was
developed as a way airport on the Lend-Lease Route, and had a population of several
hundred. A large factory to process whale and other blubber was built at Providenie
in 1947, and a whaling station and five sealing bases established along the coast.
Uelen (Wellen) had, in 1946, a schoolhouse, community center, post office, general
store and warehouses, newspaper office and county government building. The following
year an elaborate native handicrafts center was erected [: ] there, with equipment for
bone-carving, an art school, dormitories, power station and warehouses. But the population
density is still only one person in ten square miles, on the average.
As for Kamchatka, population increase is indicated by the decision, in 1947,
to change over from seasonal to year-round fishing, thus necessitating a permanent
population where previously [: ] cannery workers had been brought from [: ]
Vladivostok for a three-to-five month period. As a result, the catch for all of Khab–
arovsk Territory (most of which is off Kamchatka) was [: ] 164,720,000 lbs. greater
in 1947 than in the previous year. 9,200,000 920,000 lbs. of caviar and 33,000,000 cans of fish
and crab preserves were prepared during the year.
[: ]
[: ]
[: ]
[: ]
[: ]
Kolyma-Magadan Mining Counties
Most impressive as an indication of rapid current development in Kamchatka Oblast [: ]
[: ] and the Kolyma [: ] goldfields region, [: ]
also in Khabarovsk Territory, adjoining it immediately to the Southwest, are advertise–
ments such as the following, which appeared in Trud , the national newspaper of the
Soviet trade unions, on June 17, 1947. (Dalstroi is the Far Eastern Construction Company,
allocated the development of [: ] Kamchatka, Chukotka and the Kolyma
country. It is a bureau of the Dept. of the Interior, or Ministry of Internal Affairs):
DALSTROI
THE FOLLOWING SPECIALISTS
ARE URGENTLY NEEDED FOR WORK IN THE FAR NORTH
1. Mining engineers and technicians, mine-surveyors, ore concentration men, shaft-drillers,
electrical mechanics; 2. Geological engineers and technicians: prospectors and surveyors,
drillers, geophysicists, mineralogists and petrographers; 3. Geodetic engineers and carto–
graphers (graduates in geodetics); 4. Topographical technicians; 5. Physicians: medical
assistants, surgeons, X-ray specialists, doctors of sanitation and food preparation, lab
workers, [: ] pharmacists and phermaceutists, dentists and dental technicians. For in–
formation and applications apply at: Dept. of Employment, 14 Gogol Blvd., Moscow;

Khabarovsk

Bureau of Labor and Recruitment for Dalstroi in Leningrad, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Sverdlovsk,
Cheliabinsk, Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk, Kirov, Molotov, Kuibyshev, Chkalov, Saratov, Rostov-on-Don,
Kiev, Kemerovo, Barnaul, Alma-Ata and Ufa.
This advertisement has been quoted in full because it illustrates, by the nature
of the personnel sought, the all-sidedness, completeness and apparent permanence of the
developments envisaged. Similarly, the fact that Dalstroi maintains employment offices
in every important city of European and Siberian Russia, the Ukraine and Central Asia,
indicates that its operations must be on a very large scale indeed. Third, the fact
that advertising of this type takes place at all sheds light on the moot question [: ] of
[: ] forced labor. [: ] An advertisement of the same type, placed
by the same organization, had appeared in Trud four months earlier. It specified that
the work would be along the Kolyma and on the Chukot Peninsula, and, included, in addi–
tion to a much more detailed list of skills in the fields mentioned above, [: ] teachers
for elementary and high schools, [: ] (indicating that people had already been or were now being
urged to bring out their families and settle in the mining areas), truck drivers of at
least five years' experience, telegraph operators, bookkeepers, veterinaries and zoo–
technicians for cattle, hogs and reindeer, foresters, warehouse workers, storekeepers
and men 20 to 30 years of age, with at least seven years of schooling, to be trained
as mine foremen. The June 17 ad, appearing just before the opening of navigation, was
apparently a follow-up on that of Feb. 6.
As has been mentioned, the skilled and professional personnel sought was both
for the Kamchatka Oblast, which we have been discussing, and for the Kolyma mining [: ]
region, lying at the head of a 350-mile graveled highway from the port of Magadan, one of the two long–
distance truck roads in the permafrost zone of the U.S.S.R. The Magadan-Kolyma area oc–
cupies a peculiar administrative status, being listed as "counties directly subordinated
to the Territorial" government. The most complete report, and the only non Russian
eyewitness account available on the vast developments here, is that of Henry Wallace
and his party, made on the basis of an official tour in 1944, when Mr. Wallace was
Vice-President of the United States. The area, which had been almost entirely [: ] uninhabited
in 1930, when the first three log cabins were built on the site where Magadan now stands,
had , he reported, 300,000 people in 1944. Magadan itself had 40,000, including 8,000
engineers and technicians, indicating the results of [: ] the efforts of

Khabarovsk

Dalstroi's vast network of employment offices. A considerable inducement for labor to
come here is the fact that the minimum wage for goldminers was almost four times as high
as elsewhere in the U.S.S.R. [: ] (3,000 rubles as against 800). It is a
logical assumption that similar ratios prevailed in the professional fields. A fleet of
1,800 trucks carried the yield of the thousand mines - evidently averaging a couple of
hundred men each - to Magadan, and the town's largest enterprise was a factory-size
repair garage for the maintenance of these vehicles. Originally equipped with a foundry
and a variety of machinery for the purpose of manufacturing spare parts, it later built
the first electric steel furnace in the Soviet Far East, and then expanded to manufacture
excavators, bulldozers, and miners' power drills, in conjunction with the machine shops of
the other major enterprise, a ship repair dockyard. Other factories make dishware, glass
and electric light bulbs. The town has a large library, a professional theater company
of its own, a well laid out park, schools, a children's community center, a stadium, and
an evening political school for political subjects. The ballet company of the Ukrainian
town of Poltava was evacuated here during the war, and a permanent local opera and ballet
troupe has resulted [: ] therefrom. The women of the town have developed consid–
erable skill in copying landscape paintings in embroidery, and 90% of its high school
students go on to higher education. The town has five and six-story buildings, including
the first multi-story structure ever built on permafrost.
Other than the highway, [: ] a fleet of twin-engined transport planes serve this
region, which has telephone communications between Magadan and all the mine workings.
The reason for all this activity lies in its resources of gold, lead, coal, tin,
molybdenum and radioactive rare elements.
The [: ] population is chiefly fed chiefly on the basis of long-haul
transport, but vegetable growing has progressed sufficiently for the 1945 crop alone to
have been 12,000 tons greater than in the previous year. No overall crop figure is avail–
able. The effort to make this truly Arctic area fully habitable has taken such forms as
the opening, in 1940, of a sanatorium at Hot Springs, just off the highway, in wooded
hills at an altitude of 2,100 ft.
Lower Amur Region (Oblast) (qv)
In many respects the least-developed portion of Khabarovsk Territory is the sub-

Khabarovsk

Arctic western and southern coast of the Okhotsk Sea, including the mouth of the Amur.
In latitude it extends from 64°40′ 62° down to 51° . , and in longitude from 130°30′ to 147°10′ E. Permafrost predominates everywhere except
along the lower Amur, where it is widespread, but not dominant. This [: ] Region,
202,700 sq. mi. in area - larger than any of our States but Texas - with 100,000 people, is almost as thinly
inhabited as the Chukot and Koriak areas of the Arctic tundra. There is little reason to [: ]
believe that the population has increased much over the figure of 70,000 for 1938. This is
because but Except for the lowland between the mouth of the Amur and the Shantar Islands northwestward
at 55° N. , and for a small flat area around Okhotsk, just below 60° N. , it is fairly pre–
cipitous mountain country, roadless, lacking in important mineral wealth, unsuited to
agriculture, and not yet needed for its lumber resources, so long as more accessible
areas as available. There is only one town, Nikolaevsk at the mouth of the Amur, dating
from 1852, and one workers' settlement, Didbiran, nearby, promoted to that status in
1939. The "ports" of Okhotsk, Aian and Chumikan, county seats strung up the coast,
are actually no more than villages with tracks leading inland.
[: ] The most densely-populated portions of the Territory, including
[: Rovesomolsk ] and the other [: Arno ] River cities, and the farmlands
along that river are non-Arctic for all practical purposes, and
therefore beyond the scope of this Encyclopedia, as are is that Quebec City
Montreals portion of the Province of Quebec which lies along
the St. Lawrence between Quebec City and Montreal.
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