Russian Industrial Regions

The present pattern of industrial location in Russia was set during the early Five-Year Plans. Distinct industrial regions remain, based on their industrial history. They are

  1. old centers of market-oriented, labor-intensive industries;
  2. old centers of heavy industry;
  3. new energy-based industrial regions; and
  4. emerging industrial regions.

These regions represent a decision-making struggle. Industrial planners wanted to locate new plants at the most logical sites. Politicians, on the other hand, wanted to spread industry as widely as possible throughout the Soviet Union, in the hope that all ethnic groups would benefit from industrial progress. Old Centers of Market-Oriented,

Labor-Intensive Regions

Moscow (the Central Industrial Region) is the most important “old center of market-oriented, labor-intensive industries.” Despite having few natural resources, Moscow developed industrially before the 1917 revolution. A central location and its function as capital of the Soviet Union stimulated modern industrial growth and expansion. In 1991, the region accounted for approximately 20 percent of Soviet industrial output. Moscow is an engineering, textile, manufacturing, and communications center. In 2000, the Central Industrial Region produced 35 percent of Russia's total industrial output.

St. Petersburg (the Northwestern Industrial Region) is the second “old center of market-oriented, labor-intensive industries.” Peter the Great built the city and its initial industries. As the capital of imperial Russia, it benefited from Peter's desire to quickly modernize Russia.With few natural resources, St. Petersburg developed labor-intensive industries. The city also became a shipbuilding center. There were highly technical engineering and fabricating plants. It became a center of high-quality machine manufacturing. Research and development flourished. By 1991, St. Petersburg was producing approximately 5 percent of all Soviet industrial goods. In 2000, the St. Petersburg region produced 10 percent of Russia's total industrial output.

Old Centers of Heavy Industry

Unlike Moscow and St. Petersburg, the “old centers of heavy industry” have rich resources of coal, iron ore, and other minerals. Historically, the most famous is the Urals Industrial Region. It lies astride the 1,500-mile-long (2,414-kilometerlong) Ural Mountains. After Moscow, the Urals Industrial Region is the second-most important in Russia. This region produces a wide spectrum of minerals. It is Russia's primary source of iron and steel. It has many different manufacturing industries. In 1991, the Urals region was responsible for about 4 percent of total Soviet industrial production. Intensive industrial use has nearly exhausted the region's coal, iron ore, and critical minerals. Nevertheless, a large industrial base helps this region retain its position as a leading producer of iron, steel, and heavy industrial goods. In 2000, the Urals Industrial Region produced more than 15 percent of Russia's total industrial output.

New Energy-Based Industrial Regions

World War II industrial relocation created the “new energybased industrial regions.” These regions were situated beyond the reach of invading German troops. They include the dispersed Kuzbass and Surgut Industrial Region and the Yenisey-Baikal (Eastern Siberian) Industrial Region. Oil and gas fields that extend from Surgut to Urengoy supply much of western Europe's natural gas. The Kuznetsk coalfields and the Tom River Valley iron ore deposits of western Siberia abound in mineral resources. Together, these regions made up nearly 8 percent of total industrial production in 1991. The Eastern Siberian Industrial Region contributed 10 percent of Russia's industrial output in 2000. It also supplied more than half of the nation's gas, oil, and coal.

The Yenisey-Baikal (Eastern Siberian) Industrial Region was not important before World War II. The postwar emphasis on oil, natural gas, and electric power speeded its development. This region has the greatest hydroelectric power potential in Russia. Abundant cheap energy attracted chemical and nonferrous metallurgy industries to the region. The area also possesses enormous reserves of nonferrous metal ores.

These include gold, platinum, silver, nickel, and copper. In 1991, the region accounted for 7 percent of overall industrial output. By 2000, that figure dropped to 5 percent.

Emerging Industrial Regions

The end of the cold war has created “emerging industrial regions.”The need for internal manufactured goods is changing. There are new economic opportunities. One new area is the North Caucasus Industrial Region, which is focused upon the territory of Krasnodar and Novorossiysk. It is becoming a significant center for the production and transmission (by means of pipelines) of oil and gas. The region produced about 12 percent of Russia's industrial output in 2000. It produces chemicals, food processing, petrochemicals, iron ore, and machinery. The Vladivostok (Far East) Industrial Region has not yet developed to its full potential. In 1991, it accounted for 5 percent of Soviet industrial output. Its industrial development has focused upon the markets in Japan, Korea, and China. Investors support low-volume, high-value products, such as gold, diamonds, tin, and mercury. Vast quantities of wood and wood products are also exported, as well as fish and crab. In 2000, the Far East Economic Region accounted for more than 4 percent of Russia's industrial output.