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Koriak National Okrug: Encyclopedia Arctica 10: Soviet North, Geography and General
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962

Koriak National Okrug

KORIAK National Okrug

KORIAK National Okrug, founded Dec. 10, 1930, has a population of approximately 15,000 in an area of 120,000 sq. mi. It is located [: ] in northeastern
Siberia, occupies the narrow northern portion of the Kamchatka Peninsula (q.v. Kamchatka Oblast) , and the mainland to
the north there of., Taigonos Peninsula projecting into the Okhotsk Sea, and the [: ] Bering []
Sea Islands of Karaginskii. and Verkheturov. It lies between 56° and 66° N., and 156° and
175° E. It has a long coast-line on both the Bering Sea and the Okhotsk Sea (specifically,
Penzhina Gulf and Penzhina and Gizhiga Bays within the latter, all constituting the
northeasternmost portion of the Okhotsk Sea). Bounded on the north by the Chukchi (Chukotck) N.O.(q.v) it It is the least-developed area of eastern
Arctic Siberia. As of Jan. 1, 1948, it contained no place of human habitation rated
above the level of village in the Soviet administrative scale: no town or workers' settle–
ment. It is administered from the village of Palana on the Okhotsk Sea coast of the neck
of the Kamchatka Peninsula. The relative size and location of the four counties into
which it is subdivided clearly indicate the concentration of population along the sea–
coast, and virtual absence thereof inland and to the north. The smallest county (raion),
Karaginskii, 18,700 sq. mi ., km. containing 6 townships (rural Soviets), consists of that
island and the Bering Sea coast of the neck of Kamchatka, opposite it across Litke Strait. [: ] The seat is at Ossora village.
It is an important trapping and, particularly, fur-farming (silver fox, sable) region.
The next county, in order of increasing size, is Tigil, 57,200 sq. mi ., km. centered at
the village of that name, and constituting the southernmost portion of the Koriak N.O.,
geographically the Okhotsk Sea coast of northern Kamchatka Peninsula. It contains 18
townships, and is a very important fishery center, although [: ] the workers in that in–
dustry constitute chiefly a seasonal population. It also contains [: ] oil fields whose
development is in their initial stages. Next in size is [: ] Oliutorskii County,
70,000 sq. km., consisting of the hinterland of the bay of that name. It contains 11
townships, and is centered at the village of Tilichiki, on the east coast where the
Kamchatka Peninsula joins the mainland. That village is on Korf Bay, containing import–
ant coal deposits being exploited for the Northern Sea Route Administration, and there–
fore constituting the leading industrial development in the Koriak N.O. to this date.
More than half of the Koriak N.O. is embraced in [: ] Penzhina county, constituting the
Asiatic mainland territory from the Okhotsk Sea north to a few miles from the Arctic
Circle. It is 164,900 sq. m km. in area, [: ] but is subdivided into only 19
townships. The population is chiefly on the coast - the county is centered at Kamenskoe
at the head of Penzhina Bay - and the coastal people are fishermen while those inland
are nomadic or semi-nomadic reindeer breeders.

Koriak National District Agriculture

Agriculture did not undergo the development it deserved within the territory of
the present-day Koriak National Okrug, prior to the advent of the Soviets. As one of
the aspects of a policy of colonialism, dictated from above by administrative means,
it penetrated the nomadic population to only a very limited degree. Whereas agriculture
existed almost everywhere in primitive forms, it had no commercial importance whatever
and was [: ] only of negligible significance even in the meeting the needs of those
who practiced engaged in it.
Vegetable gardening attained its widest extent in the Tigil district on the
western coast of the upper Kamchatka Peninsula, i.e., the southernmost portion of the
Koriak N.O. In 1926, the entire planted area there totalled thirty-two acres. The
crop consisted of 148 tons of potatoes and nine tons of vegetables. The immense Penzhina
district in the Far North had only five acres under crop, and harvested ten tons of
potatoes. Both these districts are on the inland side of the Koriak N.O. Those on the
Bering Sea side showed even smaller progress. The northeastern Karaginskii-Oliutorskii
region had only 23,569 sq. ft. under crop (half an acre), and produced a harvest two
tons in weight: 90% potatoes and 10% turnips. [: ]
[: ]
At this time [: ] stock-farming was at an even lower level.
Horses and cattle, originally introduced from Yakutia, had acclimatized themselves
beautifully, but had attained a very limited distribution, and then chiefly among Rus–
sians. This was even truer of the horse than of cattle, for there was little use for
the horse, the dog being the main draft animal. The great northern Penzhina district
had a total of 107 head of cattle, and 104 [: ] horses in 1926. Pigs, sheep and goats
were entirely absent. The Karaginskii-Oliutorskii region had 52 cattle and 51 horses,
of which 30 were owned by nomads, who used them as steeds for reindeer-cowboys and for
the hauling of goods between trading post and nomad camp. The horses are of the typical
Kamchatka breed: small, [: ] capable of enduring great hardship, and requiring little
food or care. The cattle native to the Oliutorskii Gulf area are superior to those in
the Karaginskii district, being larger, [: ] of better breed and giving more milk.
In 1931, after the separating of the Karaginskii-Oliutorskii district into two,
the former had 50 head of cattle, 21 horses and 57 pigs; the latter 22 cattle and 42 horses

Koriak N.O. Agriculture

By that date, a few settled nomads were engaging in stock-raising, in addition to the
The southwestern, Tigil, area, had in 1926, 752 head of cattle and 384 horses, or
more than the rest of the Koriak N.O. combined. As indicated by the following table,
there was virtually no change in the livestock picture between 1926 and 1932:
County Cattle Horses Pigs Fowl
1926 1932 1926 1932 1926 1932 1926 1932
Tigil 752 764 384 456 0 0 0 0
Karaginskii 52 50 51 21 0 57 0 0
Oliutorskii 52 22 51 42 0 0 0 0
Penzhina 107 39 104 32 0 6 0 22
Total 911 875 539 551 0 63 0 22
The slight increase in the number of horses during this period was a result of
increased need at the Tigil fisheries, and the first appearance of swine and fowl, how–
ever few, is to be noted. On the other hand, there was a decline in the Penzhina area.

Koriak N.O.

Coal Industry
The industrial exploitation of the Korf Bay coal deposits under the Soviets began in 1929. This coal is found
at the very shore of skrytaia Haven, a protected harbor with good anchorage At that point, There are
several veins, 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 ft. in thickness, consisting of long-burning coal of low
ash content. The local population made use of it for its own needs long before that
date. Whereas consecutive [: ] working of the veins dates from 1929, ships occasionally
put into Korf Bay for coal during the 19th century, as it was readily available through
the efforts of the crews themselves. Early in the 20th century, [: ] the Russian–
American fur-seal company also made use of this resource. Finally, in 1917-22, between
the overthrow of the Tsar and the triumph of the Soviets in this area, [: ]
Korf Bay coal was dug by the Japanese on an industrial scale, under a concession ob–
tained by the puppet governments they supported in Vladivostok and at Petropavlovsk–
A Under the Soviets, the first detailed investigation of a portion of the Korf
Bay field was made in 1928 by I.A. Preobrazhenskii, with industrial exploitation be–
ginning the following year. He found the [: ] coal field to embrace a territory of 660
square miles. He located 11 coal strata in all, averaging 6″ 6′6″ in thickness, and
he estimated the probable total reserve at 31,000,000 tons. The [: ] three veins being worked
in the early ′30s, the Left, [: ] the American and the Burning (Gorelyi) , produce coal [: ] with
a calory rating of 4,722 and an ash content of 7.47%. Mashkovtsev hypothecated the
extension of the field along the Tylgyvei River , a tributary of the Vivniki, and along the
Telichikia. He believed it probable that the entire area from the Vivnik River to
Tilichiki village was coal-bearing, and that a huge field extended from the Pacific
at Korf Bay westward to Rekinnik Bay on the Okhotsk Sea. With the inclusion of the
Penzhina district and the Okhotsk seacoast, as well as the Anadyr field in the Chukot sk
National Okrug (q.v.), which borders the Penzhina field on the Main and Orlovka Rivers,
there is ground for the hypothesis that the entire region is one immense coal-bearing
zone, in which case the resource would total some 40,000,000,000 tons.
The Soviet government's Kamchatka Company (AKO) offered the following figures for
production at Korf Bay: 1929 - 3,211 tons; 1930 - 1,219 tons; 1931 - 12,275 tons; 1933 –
4,613 tons. The number of workers was exceedingly small at that time. In 1932, for ex-

Koriak N.O. Coal

ample, the total personnel numbered 174, of which 151 were productive laborers, and
23 constituted executive, bookkeeping and similar staff. At this early stage there was
also great turnover in labor, the number of workers in 1932 having reached 299 at one
point during the season. The difficulty lay in the fact that the industry depended upon
a seasonal working force, which fluctuated from year to year. It was only in 1932 that
the first permanent workers made their homes at Korf Bay. They were far more efficient,
as they came to know the special problems and techniques required.
These optimistic estimates of the possibilities of the field and the quality of
its coal date from 1934 and earlier. However, in June, 1939, a discussion of local
coal supplies for the vessels of the Northern Sea Route refers to Korf Bay as the site
of diggings of purely local importance, where production was being carried on by very
primitive measures. Moreover, contrary to the earlier reports, it referred to the coal
as being of low quality and unsuited for use in ocean-going vessels. Finally, it is to
be noted that the Soviet maps of the Northern Sea Route dating from after World War II
do not show a branch of the route into Korf Bay, leaving the impression that the
Anadyr deposits were chosen for preferred development.
<formula> 3801 17 ﹍ 27027 3861 ﹍ 65637 </formula>

Koriak N.O.

Climatically, the Koriak N.O. is entirely in the permafrost zone, and its vegeta–
tion is entirely Arctic: moss, lichen and stunted brush tundra, except for a large island
of larch along the headwaters of the Penzhina River.
<formula> 5 2.42 5:52 43:50 </formula> <formula> Starland 3861 3108 ﹍ 30888 3861 11583 ﹍ 119,999,88 </formula>

Koriak N.O.

Future Perspectives
The geographic position of the Koriak N.O., which is located at the crossroads
[: ]
of the Soviet northeast - between the Kamchatka [: ] and Chukot sk Peninsulas, [: ] and in on the
[: ] narrow land bridge between the
[: ]
Okhotsk and Bering Seas - as well as the fact that it is a short distance by sea from the great
[: ]
maritime powers of the North Pacific, the United States and Japan, give it its overall
importance in the Soviet and Arctic scene. Its general development may be expected to
take the same lines as that of the rest of the Kamchatka-Okhotsk seacoast territory,
and that has been the case thus far. The factors determining its economic future are
three: (1) the human and natural resources of the area and the problems of their rational
use; (2) the place which this area should [: ] occupy in the general national economy of
the USSR and in that of the Khabarovsk Territory (q.v.), i.e., the Soviet Pacific north–
east; and (3) the requirements of the development of the territory for the sake of its
own inhabitants.
The most important resources of the area, at the present stage of its development,
are its riches in fish and sea mammals, reindeer and minerals. Second in importance are
hunting and fur-farming, agriculture, forestry and various subsidiary handicrafts and
occupations. Ultimately, it is logical to expect that the exploitation, refining and
even processing of mineral resources will take first place, but at the present time that
is no more than a reasonable deduction.
In the general economy of the USSR, the function of the Koriak N.O., like that of
the rest of Kamchatka [: ] Oblast and Khabarovsk Territory, is that of (a) serv–
ing as a source of foreign exchange, and (b) as a source of industrial raw materials.
The first of these roles is m indicated by the presence of fish, crabs, fur [: ] and
ivory-bearing [: ] sea and land mammals which have long commanded a world market;
the export possibilities of the oil, gold and even peat of this area (Japan has always
been sadly lacking in industrial fuels); and by its geographical isolation from the Euro–
pean portion of the USSR and relative proximity to its natural markets and suppliers,
Japan and the United States.
As a source of raw materials, the Koriak N.O. is chiefly a [: ] supplier
of the consumer-goods industries, in that it provides or is readily able to provide
fish for the food industry, leather and fats. Now that the USSR is in a position to

Koriak N.O.

place greater emphasis on this aspect of its economy than when it was preparing to meet
the Nazi attack, there has already been (1946-49) and and it may be expected that there
will continue to be great expansion of the fishery and related industries.
Another economic problem facing the Koriak N.O. is that of reducing its large and
expensive long-haul imports of many food products, fuels and building materials, so as
to transform it, in accordance with its natural and human resources, from a consuming
into a producing region. That process is now in progress. It success depends in the first
place upon the adequate proper coordination and utilization of its own resources, as well
as upon scientific advances in agriculture, and upon educating the people to make better
use of the materials offered by nature as well as of machinery and other products shipped
from other parts of the USSR.
for history see Kamchatka Oblast
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