Astrakhan Region

Astrakhan region was formed on December 27, 1943 with the center in Astrakhan (490,1 thousand inhabitants) founded in 1558. Total area of Astrakhan region is 44 thousand square km.
The distance between Moscow and Astrakhan is 1534 km.

Geographic location. Astrakhan region is situated in Caspian lowland being washed by Caspian sea. It borders: in the south-west and west — with Kalmyk Republic, in the north – with Volgograd region, in the north-east and east – with Kazakhstan. Kalmyk Republic claims some districts of Astrakhan region which had been part of Kalmyk Republic before 1944.

Natural conditions. The highest point of Caspian lowland is 150 m. The climate is sharply continental, arid; January average temperature is -10 degrees centigrade in the north, -6 degrees centigrade – in the south; July average temperature is +25 degrees centigrade. Annual precipitation is about 200 mm. Main rivers are Volga and Akhtuba. Sagebrush semideserts on light chestnut soils are characteristic for the region. In Volga-Akhtuba floodplain and the Volga delta meadow verdure alluvial soils prevail.

Population is 1 mln 6 thousand people. The share of countryside residents is quite sufficient, being more than one third. Death rate surpasses birth rate, however intensive migration accounts for the steady growth of the total number of people. Population of the region is multinational. Russians make the majority (more than 3/4), though Kazakhs and Tatars are also quite numerous.

Economic advantages and disadvantages. Astrakhan region boasts of important transport and geographic position, being now the main Russian gate to the Caspian sea. Astrakhan transport nodal point is set on the shortest and most convenient route from Europe to Middle and South Asia. More than 60 enterprises of the region are engaged in cargo freight. There are two shipping companies – Northern Caspian and Astrakhan steamship companies.

Astrakhan region refers to regions with well-balanced but underdeveloped economy. It was traditionally based on agriculture, fishing, shipping and common salt extraction. Only after discovering gas condensate field in 1980-ies there started a new stage of region’s economic development. At the same time there sprang up grave ecological problems due to gas industry wastes emission.

Specialty. Economic specialty of the region is not strongly marked. Agriculture and produce processing industry and fuel industry prevail.

Main industries: light industry (knitting trade, clothing, leather and foot-wear industries, fur), food industry (fish, food-canning industry, meat, salt) is the second in importance (first being fuel industry) in the region’s industrial complex, it accounts for 12,04% of the total production; woodworking, pulp-and-paper and chemical industries. Gas and condensate extraction and processing industrial complex (also manufacturing) sulphur has been set up on the base of Astrakhan gas field. Astrakhan region is a monopolist in Russia in production of air forging hammer, common salt, fish-glue, sturgeon caviar и and cured fillet of sturgeon.

Machine-building complex of Astrakhan region is represented by 15 ship-building and ship-repairing plants (ОАО "Ship-building and repairing plant named after the III International", ОАО " Ship-building plant Krasnye barikady", Joint venture "Astrakhan shipwright ", ЗАО " Ship-building and repairing plant named after Lenin", ОАО "Astrakhan ship-bulding yard", ОАО "Volga-Caspian ship-building and repairing plant" being the biggest).

More than 50 enterprises specialize in manufacturing advanced technology building products - bricks, gypsum, gypsum stone, panels and carcasses for concrete panel house construction, these are ЗАО "Mineral-Knauff", ООО "Elko", Astrakhan plant of ceramic wall materials, Yaksat brick plant and others. The most prominent representative of chemical industry is ОАО "Astrakhan fiberglass ", the main manufacturer of unique electric insulating glasscloth, chopped strands.

Unique fish breeds in the Volga and Caspian sea (sturgeon, hausen, sterlet, European carp) presuppose the region’s specialty. Greater part of black caviar and "white" fish, delivered to the world market is produced in Astrakhan region (ОАО "Casprubkholodflot", АООТ "Astrakhan fish combine", АО "Russian Caviar").

Salt industry is represented by Bassol company, which develops Baskunchak deposit (the main source of common and technical salt in Russia accounting for 58% of the total country’s salt extraction).

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