| This beautiful region located in the southeastern part of the East European Plain is a connecting link between all Russian regions, the CIS countries, and the whole world. It shares a border with many neighbors, including Voronezh, Saratov, Astrakhan, and Rostov regions, the Republic of Kalmykia, and Kazakhstan. The Volga River divides the region into the high Right Bank (elevations to 358 m) and the low Left Bank (or Trans-Volga). The Volga and the Don are the region's main rivers. Volgograd Region has an area of 113 900 km2 (0.67% of the Russian Federation).
The region is made up of 33 districts, 19 cities, and 29 towns. The cities of Volzhsky (founded in 1954), Kamyshin (1668), Mikhailovka (1948), Uryupinsk (1929), and Frolovo (1936) are under regional administration, while Dubovka (formed in 1734), Zhirnovsk (1958), Kalach-on-Don (1951), Kotelnikovo (1955), Kotovo (1966), Krasnoslobodsk (1955), Leninsk (1963), Nikolaevsk (1967), Novoanninsky (1956), Pallasovka (1967), Serafimovich (1933), and Surovikino (1966) are under district administration. Vogograd, Volzhsky, and Kamyshin are the region's main cities.
The region has a continental climate with hot, dry summers and cold winters with little snow. Annual precipitation varies from about 500 mm in the northeast to 250 mm in the southeast. The average January temperature ranges from -8 °C to -12 °C, and the average July temperature is +23 °C. Most of the region is located in the dry steppe and semidesert zones. Soils are divided into five different zones: steppe black earth (chernozem), dry steppe light chestnut, dry steppe chestnut, semidesert light chestnut, and Volga-Akhtuba floodplain.
The nomadic Yamna are believed to have been the first inhabitants of the Lower Volga region. They migrated with their herds throughout the entire Lower Volga, but despite this, they were well acquainted with metallurgy and made copper weapons, tools, and ornaments. Starting in the 2nd millennium B.C., the Yamna culture gave way to the Catacomb culture. The people of the Catacomb culture were skilled metallurgists, which resulted in expanded production of copper tools and weapons. They also kept flocks of sheep and herds of cattle and horses, using the herds as a means of transportation. Between the 16th and 18th centuries B.C., tribes of the Pokrovka (Srubnaya) culture of the Urals and Middle Volga settled in the Volga region. As the climate became drier around the beginning of the 1st millennium B.C., the Srubnaya culture gradually died out and the population turned to nomadic livestock herding.
Sauromatian and Buddian tribes began settling the region in the early Iron Age. They were extremely warlike and often raided their neighbors. However, in the second half of the 4th century A.D., the Huns invaded Sarmatia and subjugated the local population. Hunnish rule lasted until the mid-6th century, when the Avars (an alliance of nomadic Turkic, Mongolian, and Finno-Ugrian tribes) appeared from the Volga area. The local population was known as the Burtasses in the 7th century. They were conquered by the Khazars in the 8th century and became part of the Khazar Khanate. The main occupation during this period was livestock herding, mainly horses, sheep, and camels. Agriculture arose along the rivers.
The Polovtsians appeared in the Volga region in the 11th century, but were defeated by the Tatars in 1223 and the territory became part of the Golden Horde. The local population assimilated with the Tatar-Mongolian conquerors. The Tatar-Mongolian horde lived in felt-covered tents and owned large herds of sheep, goats, and horses. They also made felt cloth and manufactured weapons, ammunition, and utensils. Captives provided most of the labor among the Tatars.
The Golden Horde was unable to recover from Tamerlane's invasion in 1295, and the situation in the border regions became unstable. As the power of Rus increased, people of mixed ethnic background who had been rejected by their clans gradually formed into groups. As outcasts, their only choice was robbery and plundering. They were few in number, but they were extremely belligerent. Over time, the ethnic makeup of these groups became predominantly Slavic as a result of the nearness of the Russian border and the strengthening of the Russian state. There is a theory that these people were most likely the direct ancestors of the Cossacks.
Today, Volgograd, which stretches along the right bank of the Volga, is one of the largest cities in the Lower Volga region. It has a population of 998 588, of whom 46.5% are men and 53.5% are women. People of working age make up 58.2% of the population.
The region has a total population of 2.7 million that includes representatives of more than 100 nationalities and ethnic groups. Russians make up about 89% of the population; Ukrainians, 3%; Kazakhs, 1.6%; Tatars, 1%; and Belarussians, Chechens, Chuvashes, Azerbaijanis, Maris, Armenians, Gypsies,
Mordvins, and Moldovans, less than 1% each. Udmurts, Jews, and Kalmyks also live in the Volga region. The population density is 23.7 people per km2.
Here is a brief look at the history of the city of Tsaritsyn, which was founded at the place where the Volga makes a sharp bend towards the Caspian Sea. The city once stood in the middle of the Volga, but owing to constant flooding, it was moved to the plain of the Tsaritsa River. It was from the river that the city took the name Tsaritsyn, which in Turkic means either "turbid water" or "golden sand" according to another interpretation.
The city's history began in 1589, with the first district tramway in Russia and five fish on its coat of arms (the three sterlets of Saratov Province and its own two sturgeons). The city itself was planned as a fortress along the southern borders of the Russian state. The steppe between the Volga and the Don had been the scene of fierce battles for many centuries, and Tsaritsyn was given the task of defending the Russian lands and the great Volga route from nomad raids.
The soldiers of the fortress [known as streltsy, or members of special military corps formed by Ivan the Terrible] had to be constantly on the alert. Wild nomads from the steppes frequently burst into the stockade, plundered it, and sometimes destroyed it utterly. But Tsaritsyn rose again and again and steadfastly continued to perform its difficult duty. With the founding of Tsaritsyn, the Lower Volga became a haven for fugitive peasants and serfs. Along with the Don Cossacks, the people of the lower reaches of the Volga took an active part in popular uprisings. The forces of popular leaders like Stepan Razin, Kondraty Bulavin, and Emelyan Pugachev all passed through here.
It is known that Peter the Great initially planned to use the city as a transfer point for ferrying warships from the Volga to the Don. However, after the Crimea and the Kuban were annexed to Russia in the late 18th century, the state boundaries moved far to the south and Tsaritsyn lost its military significance after more than 150 years as a border fortress. In 1782, it was transformed into a district city of Saratov Province. It was later connected with the outside world via the Tsaritsyn-Gryazi, Tsaritsyn-Tikhoretskaya, and Tsaritsyn-Likhaya railway lines.
The Soviet period of Russian history occupies a special place in Tsaritsyn's history. Soviet rule was established in Tsaritsyn in November 1917, and the city followed Petrograd as a bastion of the Revolution. Like the entire country, the city later plunged into the abyss of the Civil War [1918-1921] and suffered material damage as a result. Throughout its 400-year history, the city had often been at the center of the major events of Russian public and national life and had been the scene of great historical dramas. However, after the end of the Civil War, many of the industrial facilities and public utilities were rebuilt within a few years.
Tsaritsyn was renamed Stalingrad in 1925 in honor of Josef Stalin, who had personally taken part in the defense of Tsaritsyn in 1919.
The country's peaceful development came to a halt with the start of the Second World War [or Great Patriotic War as it is called in Russia] in 1941, and years of severe trials began for Tsaritsyn. The Great Battle of Stalingrad began on July 17, 1942, as German forces stormed towards the city. The 6th Army commanded by General Friedrich von Paulus was charged with the task of winning the city. The German command was hoping for a quick victory; however, after meeting with strong resistance from Soviet forces, they were forced to call for reinforcements. After fierce fighting, the 6th Army broke through a weak point in the Soviet defenses on the Don River and reached the Volga north of Stalingrad on August 23. On this same ill-fated day, the German air force carried out a savage bombardment of the entire city, making more than 2000 sorties. Residential areas and industrial facilities were destroyed during the bombardment, and tens of thousands of civilians were killed. However, Hitler's forces were unable to take Stalingrad quickly. The great battle on the Volga lasted 200 days. The 62nd Army commanded by General V.I. Chuikov and the 64th Army commanded by General M.S. Shumilov defended Stalingrad from August 23, 1942, through 1943. The victory in the Battle of Stalingrad had enormous political, strategic, and international significance; and the battle itself is considered one of the most important battles of the century and possibly of all human history.
Mamaev Kurgan is the grandest and most famous monument to the Battle of Stalingrad and the Second World War. On May 1, 1945, by decree of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, the city of Stalingrad was awarded the honorary title of hero city; and on May 8, 1965, the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet presented the city (now called Volgograd) with the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star medal in honor of the 20th anniversary of the victory of the Soviet people in the Second World War.
In 1961, the city was renamed Volgograd after only 36 years as Stalingrad. The new name quickly took hold, and a new era in the city's history began. Volgograd observed its 410th anniversary in 1999. Owing to its unique geographical location, the city played an important role in the history of Muscovite Rus, the Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union and continues to play an important role in the Russian Federation.
Volgograd Region has abundant mineral resources. Oil, natural gas, phosphorite, salts (sodium and magnesium chloride), mineral water, building sand, clay, and limestone are among the minerals produced in the region.
The animal and plant life of the Volga region is rich and varied. The muskrat, a unique small animal that prefers clean water, is found here and moose, deer, martens, wild boars, raccoon dogs, and stoats are some of the more common mammals. Altogether, the region is home to 49 species of mammals, nearly 200 species of birds, and 38 species of fish.
Volgograd Region is also unusual for its rivers and watersheds. The beautiful Volga and Don rivers flow majestically through its territory, and there are 199 other waterways associated with the Volga and Don basins. The Volga Basin includes about 234 km of the Volgograd Reservoir and 86 km of the Volga River as far as the border with Astrakhan Region. The city of Volzhsky is located in the lower reaches of the Volga; and owing to its excellent geographical location on Europe's greatest waterway, which is connected to other river basins of European Russia through a system of canals, Volzhsky is effectively a port for five seas. The Don Basin takes in 253 km of the Don River, 197 km of the Tsimlyanskoe Reservoir, and 169 small rivers between and 200 km long. Of the 199 small rivers with a total area of 4190 km2, 4 flow year round in their middle and lower reaches, 40 flow year round only at their outlets, and the others flow only during spring flooding and heavy rains. A total of 2057 million m3 out of a diversion limit of 2842 million m3 are diverted from shallow water sources in the region. Freshwater utilization amounts to 641 million m3, which includes 88 million m3 for domestic needs, 126.4 million m3 for industrial purposes, 149 million m3 for irrigation, 177 million m3 for agriculture, and the remainder for other needs. Each spring, water levels in the shallow rivers rise 5-7 m, flooding the riverbanks and covering them with sand. The dry steppe air and Ergeniskaya mineral water resources create favorable living conditions for residents of Volgograd Region.
Hazardous environmental emissions from stationary sources exceed 180 000 tons, and atmospheric pollution levels in Volgograd and Volzhsky have remained high over a period of many years. Motor vehicle exhausts, accounting for 38% of all emissions, are a major cause of environmental damage. Industrial treatment plants are able to neutralize more than 670 000 tons of hazardous substances in waste gases, 80% of which are recovered. Industrial production activities result in emissions of more than 1 million tons of toxic wastes into the atmosphere, only 18% of which are recovered and neutralized. Authorized dumps and waste disposal sites occupy 5200 hectares of land. Effluent discharge into small water bodies totals 268 million m3, including 51.6 million m3 of polluted water. Seventy-three companies with 114 on-site water outlets where scientific investigations are carried out are currently being monitored, as are the Volga and Don rivers. A mechanical sludge dewatering plant with a capacity of 50 tons per day, which started up in 1996, allows a reduction in the area of sludge fields, the curtailment of polluted water discharge into the Volga River, and the briquetting of wastes. Damaged land covers an area of 2800 hectares; 800 hectares of land are reclaimed each year. Forest regeneration work is being carried out on 2600 hectares of land.
Volgograd Region is participating in an experiment of the RF Ministry of Natural Resources to introduce environmental insurance for predicting the prevention of environmental crises and elimination of their consequences. Volgograd has been designated as an experimental center for developing new atmospheric quality control methods.
Volgograd Region is an industrial center of southern Russia and is a member of the Volga economic district. The region's main industrial sectors are engineering and metalworking (tractors, ships, tower cranes, and bearings; equipment for the oil, electronics, and food industries; and drilling, warehouse transport, medical, and store equipment), fuel (oil and gas production), oil refining, chemicals and petrochemicals (including production of caustic soda and chemical fibers), and ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy.
The building material, textile, woodworking, and food industries are also well developed in the region. The main types of industrial goods produced in Volgograd Region are steel pipe (148 000 tons), cement (1 270 000 tons), tractors (3575 units), roofing slate (224 million standard tiles), ceramic facing tiles (1 895 000 m2), meat and meat byproducts (42 600 tons), whole milk products (59 700 tons in terms of milk), and vegetable oil (47 200 tons). The leading sectors of the industrial complex are chemicals and petrochemicals, power, engineering, fuel and food. Other smaller sectors include ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy; forestry, woodworking, and pulp and paper; building materials; and light industry. For the past two years, the production volume index for the city of Volgograd has been higher than in the region as a whole.
Despite this, Volgograd's industrial profile is undergoing significant changes, with ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy becoming increasingly important. More than 400 large and medium industrial plants with an annual output of more than 18 trillion rubles operate in Volgograd Region. The power, chemical and petrochemical, and engineering and metalworking industries account for 15-16% of total output; the food and fuel industries and ferrous metallurgy, for 9-12%; and the building material industry, ferrous metallurgy, light industry, and other sectors, for 6%.
Agriculture is well developed in the region, with 27 state companies, 150 joint-stock companies, 67 partnerships, 50 production cooperatives, and 12 900 farms currently in operation. The main agricultural products are wheat, sunflowers, mustard, potatoes, vegetables, melons, eggs, meat, milk, and wool.
More than 250 active joint ventures and foreign companies are registered in Volgograd Region. Companies with foreign investments are mainly involved in ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy, furniture manufacturing, lumber production, clothing, construction, and scientific research. Joint ventures provide various services, such as transportation, automotive maintenance, money transfers, etc. The region exports tractors and engines, steel pipe and cable, drilling rigs and oil production equipment, fishing boats, bearings, petroleum products, and cotton fabrics to Russian and foreign markets. Companies in the chemical and petrochemical industries supply car tires, petroleum products, synthetic resins, plastics, fibers and thread, and caustic soda among other products. The largest industrial facilities in the region include the following:
Volgograd Cannery Shop No. 23 (Volgogradsky konservny tsekh No. 23), a commercial production firm which in five years has been transformed from a small shop for canning meat in glass bottles into a large meat-processing plant,
- AOOT Volgograd Tractor Plant (VgTZ),
- OAO Red October Metallurgical Plant (Volgogradsky metallurgichesky zavod Krasny Oktyabr),
- AO Volzhsky Pipe Plant (VTZ)
- AO Mikhailovsky Engineering Works (Mikhailovsky mashinostrointelny zavod),
- AO Lukoil-Lower Volga Oil Company (Lukoil-Nizhnevolzhskneft),
- AO Lukoil-Volgograd Oil Refinery (Lukoil-Volgogradneftepererabotka),
- OAO Volzhsky Chemical Fiber Plant (Volzhskoe khimvolokno),
- OAO Volzhsky Orgsintez,
- AOZT Volzhskrezinotekhnika,
- AO Kaustik,
- OAO Khimprom,
- TOO Kamyshin Cotton Mill (Kamyshinsky khlopchatobumazhny kombinat im. A.N. Kosygina)
However, the situation in the region's industry is not entirely cloudless, since many companies are operating at a loss. The products of most companies cannot compete with the products of foreign manufacturers in structural perfection, quality, design, and operating and environmental characteristics. Furthermore, the government does not protect domestic producers from imports.
According to the Charter of Volgograd Region, which establishes the region's status and the principles of the organization and activities of government bodies, the Administration of Volgograd Region consisting of the Governor of the region and the administrative bodies formed by him exercise executive authority in Volgograd Region.
The Administration organizes and administers the region, draws up and implements the budget and development programs in the interests of the region's population, works to solve current problems, and concerns itself with the region's future harmonious development.
The goal of the Administration's activities is to ensure an adequate standard of living for the residents of Volgograd Region, primarily by solving the following problems:
- increasing budget generating potential and tax collection;
- reducing payment arrears to budgets of all levels;
- creating a favorable investment climate and increasing investments from all possible sources;
- supporting programs and projects with rapid payback of invested funds;
- protecting the interests of regional producers, promoting the output of competitive products, and developing new markets;
- creating the conditions for effective employment of the population, curbing the growth of unemployment, and creating new jobs;
- maintaining and developing the region's support system and preserving social infrastructure.
The Legislative Assembly is the region's standing representative and legislative body.