Arkhangelsk Oblast also has administrative jurisdiction over Nenets Autonomous Okrug (Nenetsia). Including Nenetsia, Arkhangelsk Oblast has an area of 587,400 km². Population (including Nenetsia): 1,227,626 (2010 Census).
The area of Arkhangelsk Oblast has been settled by Finno-Ugric peoples since prehistoric times, and most of the toponyms in the region are in fact Finno-Ugric. It was subsequently colonized by the Novgorod Republic. Kargopol was first mentioned in the chronicles in 1146, Shenkursk was mentioned in 1315, and Solvychegodsk was founded in the 14th century. By the 13th century the Novgorodian merchants had already reached the White Sea, attracted to the area for fur trading. The Novgorodians penetrated the area using the waterways, and this is why most of the ancient (as well as the modern) settlements were located into the main river valleys. The main historical areas of the Arkhangelsk region were Poonezhye (Поонежье) along the Onega, the Dvina Land along the Northern Dvina, Pinezhye (Пинежье) along the Pinega, Mezen Lands along the Mezen, and Pomorye (Поморье) on the White Sea coast. The main waterway was the Northern Dvina, and Novgorod merchants used the Volga and its tributary, the Sheksna, along the Slavyanka River into Lake Nikolskoye, then the boats were taken by land to Lake Blagoveshchenskoye, from there downstream along the Porozovitsa River into Lake Kubenskoye and further to the Sukhona and the Northern Dvina.Portages from the Northern Dvina Basin led further to the Mezen and the Pechora.
After the fall of Novgorod in 1478, all these lands became a part of the Great Duchy of Moscow. Until 1703, the Northern Dvina served as the main export trading route of Muscovy. The local centers were Veliky Ustyug and Kholmogory, however, during the 17th century, Kholmogory lost its significance, and its role was gradually replaced by Arkhangelsk. In 1708, when the governorates were established by Tsar Peter the Great, Arkhangelsk became the seat of one of the seven governorates of the Russian Empire.
At the same time, Arkhangelsk lands were one of the most remote areas in Russia. This fact was attractive for monks fleeing the crowds. In 1436, Solovetsky Monastery was founded, and it quickly became one of the richest and most influential Russian monasteries. Other monasteries followed. For instance, Kozheozersky Monastery, founded in 1552, still remains one of the most remote Russian Orthodox monasteries. After the great schism in the Russian Orthodox Church in 1653, the area attracted many Old Believers, who were persecuted by the state. Most would later flee to even more remote locations such as Siberia.
In 1703, with the construction of St. Petersburg, Arkhangelsk, which lacked St. Petersburg's geographical proximity to Europe and the non-freezing harbour of Murmansk, lost its significance as the main trading harbour of the Russian Empire. However, in the early 20th century Arkhangelsk was an important starting point for Russian Arctic expeditions. For instance, in the 1830s Pyotr Pakhtusov sailed twice from Arkhangelsk to investigate and map Novaya Zemlya. In 1932 the Icebreaker Sibiryakov under the command of Vladimir Voronin, sailing from Arkhangelsk, crossed the Northern Sea Route in a single navigation.
In 1918 and 1919, Arkhangelsk Governorate became one of the most active battlegrounds of the Civil War in Russia. On August 2, 1918, Arkhangelsk was occupied by British and American troops, allied with the White movement. Administratively, they established Northern Oblast with the center in Arkhangelsk. This episode of the Civil War is known as North Russia Intervention. The troops advanced to the south, occupied the station of Obozerskaya in September 1918, and moving along the Northern Dvina and the Vaga Rivers. The southernmost points occupied by the allies were Shenkursk and Verkhnyaya Toyma. The allies were hoping that the Aleksandr Kolchak's forces would move in the direction of Kotlas, however, the White Army was unable to advance in this direction. In January 1919, after the Battle of Shenkursk, the allied forces were driven out of the Shenkursk area. Battles around the station of Plesetskaya followed. On February 20, 1920, the Red Army entered Arkhangelsk. By that time, all allied troops were already evacuated.
In the 1930s, the Soviets carried out the same experiments in economics as elsewhere in Soviet Union. The peasants and fishermen were forcibly organized into collective farms. These were heavily subsidized, which eventually brought the agriculture to the collapse in the 1990s, when the subsidies stopped. Arkhangelsk Oblast was and remains attractive as an area for exile, forcible resettlement, and prison camps. Actually, the first prison camp, Solovki Prison Camp, was created in 1920 on the premises of the former Solovetsky Monastery. Novaya Zemlya from the 1950s, when its population (mostly Nenets) was strongly recommended to leave, became the military ground for nuclear bomb testing.
Arkhangelsk Oblast proper was established in 1937. Before 1991, the high authority in the oblast was shared between three persons: The first secretary of the Arkhangelsk Oblast CPSU Committee (who in reality had the biggest authority), the chairman of the oblast Soviet (legislative power), and the Chairman of the oblast Executive Committee (executive power). In 1991 the CPSU lost all power. The head of the Oblast administration, and eventually the governor, came to be elected or appointed.
The economic crisis of 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, struck Arkhangelsk Oblast very badly. Although there remains a strong demand for timber, the basis of the oblast's economy, the population of Archangeslk Oblast has steadily declined, especially in rural areas. Many villages either have been deserted, or are on the verge of disappearing.
Arkhangelsk Oblast is located on the East European Plain, and most of it represents forested hilly landscape. The north-eastern part belongs to the Timan Ridge, a highland mostly situated east from the oblast. The Nenets Autonomous Okrug is essentially a flat tundra (Bolshezemelskaya Tundra) with several hill chains like Pay-Khoy Ridge. The Arctic islands including Novaya Zemlya and Franz Joseph Land are mountainous with glaciers and eternally snow-covered. This region has a genetically distinct population of polar bears associated with the Barents Sea area.
The White Sea coast within the Oblast is split into the Onega Bay (where the Onega is the major tributary), the Dvina Bay (the Northern Dvina), and the Mezen Bay (the Mezen and the Kuloy). Solovetsky Islands, as well as a number of smaller islands, are located in the Onega Bay. The Onega Bay and the Dvina Bay are separated by the Onega Peninsula. The Mezen Bay is separated from the main body of the White Sea by Morzhovets Island.
Almost all of the oblast is covered by taiga, the coniferous forest dominated by pine, spruce, and larch. Large areas in the middle of taiga are devoid of trees and covered by swamps. In the floodplains of the rivers, there are meadows.
A number of areas in Arkhangelsk Oblast have been designated as protected natural areas. These are subdivided into national parks, nature reserves (zapovedniks), and zakazniks of the federal level. The following protected areas have been designated,
During the Soviet period, the high authority in the oblast was shared between three persons: The first secretary of the Arkhangelsk CPSU Committee (who in reality had the biggest authority), the chairman of the oblast Soviet (legislative power), and the Chairman of the oblast Executive Committee (executive power). Since 1991, CPSU lost all the power, and the head of the Oblast administration, and eventually the governor was appointed/elected alongside elected regional parliament.
The Charter of Arkhangelsk Oblast is the fundamental law of the region. The Legislative Assembly of Arkhangelsk Oblast is the province's standing legislative (representative) body. The Legislative Assembly exercises its authority by passing laws, resolutions, and other legal acts and by supervising the implementation and observance of the laws and other legal acts passed by it. The highest executive body is the Oblast Government, which includes territorial executive bodies such as district administrations, committees, and commissions that facilitate development and run the day to day matters of the province. The Oblast administration supports the activities of the Governor who is the highest official and acts as guarantor of the observance of the oblast Charter in accordance with the Constitution of Russia.
First secretaries of the Arkhangelsk Oblast CPSU Committee
In the period when they were the most important authority in the oblast (1937 to 1991), the following first secretaries were appointed
1937 Dmitry Alexeyevich Kontorin, executed during the Great Purge;
1937–1939 Alexander Filippovich Nikanorov, executed during the Great Purge;
1939–1945 Georgy Petrovich Ogorodnikov;
1945–1948 Boris Fyodorovich Nikolayev;
1948–1955 Ivan Sergeyevich Latunov;
1955–1960 Savely Prokhorovich Loginov;
1960–1967 Konstantin Alexandrovich Novikov;
1967–1983 Boris Veniaminovich Popov;
1983–1989 Pyotr Maksimovich Telepnyov;
1989–1990 Yuriy Alexandrovich Guskov;
1990–1991 Anatoly Ivanovich Gromoglasov.
Since 1991, governors were sometimes appointed, and sometimes elected,
Arkhangelsk Oblast is one of the industrial regions of Russia. The region has a developed fishery, forestry, woodworking, cellulose, and paper industry. There are large reserves of natural resources: Lumber, oil, bauxite, titanium, gold, manganese, and basalt. In 2011, the paper production and related industries were responsible for 55% of all industrial production of the Oblast, food production – 11%, timber processing (excluding paper production) and furniture production – 12%.
The principal industrial enterprises in Arkhangelsk Oblast are shipyards in Arkhangelsk and Severodvinsk (including Sevmash), pulp and paper mills in Koryazhma and Novodvinsk, and bauxite extraction plant in Severoonezhsk. Almost any town has some timber works.
Dried fish in Solovetsky Islands.
Fishery traditionally was the main means of subsistence in the Pomor villages at the White Sea coast. During the Soviet times, the fishermen were organized into collective and state farms (Sovkhoz's) and the fishery was heavily subsidized. In the 1990s the subsidies were stopped, and the fishery went into a serious crisis, some of the villages were deserted.
In the valleys of the main rivers, there is some cattle breeding and crop and potato growing, which is, however, difficult because of the cold climate. Ustyansky District is notable for bee-keeping. Two notable breeds originate from Arkhangelsk Oblast. The Kholmogory cattle, from Kholmogory and Arkhangelsk countryside, mostly black and white, was particularly stable against cold climate in Northern Russia and eventually spread well beyond the Arkhangelsk Region. The Mezen horses, bred in the Mezen River valley, are rather small but suitable for difficult work and easily survive cold winters.
Plesetskaya railway station in the settlement of Plesetsk
The area of current Arkhangelsk Oblast has always been located on the trading routes connecting central Russia to the White Sea, and, in fact, in 17th century the White Sea was the main sea export route for Russia. The whole course of the Northern Dvina is navigable, as well as the lower course of some of its tributaries, most notably the Vychegda, the Vaga, and the Pinega. The Mezen is also navigable in the lower course. The Onega is not navigable except for the two relatively short stretches because of the rapids. However, except for the lower course of the Vychegda and some parts of the Northern Dvina, there is currently very little or no regular passenger navigation on these rivers. They are used for cargo traffic though.
In 1765, a road was built between Saint-Petersburg and Arkhangelsk, mainly for postal service. The road still exists and passes Kargopol and Plesetsk, and it has been paved in 2011. One of the principal highways in Russia, M8, connects Moscow and Arkhangelsk, and passes Velsk. This highway is paved and heavily used. In general, the road network is grossly underdeveloped. Only several all-season highways, in addition to M8, cross the oblast boundaries: the one (partially unpaved) connecting Kotlas with Syktyvkar; the one (paved) connecting Kotlas to Veliky Ustyug and eventually with Vologda and Nikolsk, the one (paved) from Konosha southwards, and two (unpaved) from Kargopol to Pudozh and to Solza and Belozersk. Most of the local roads are unpaved. Until 2008, there were no all-season roads connecting the main road network with the north-east of the oblast, including the town of Mezen and the selo of Leshukonskoye, and there are still no roads into the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, on the left bank of the Onega downstream from Severoonezhsk, and very few roads on the right bank of the Northern Dvina. Many rivers can only be crossed by ferry boats, which means they can not be crossed during the ice melting period. There is regular bus service on the main roads.
The principal railway line in the oblast is the railroad connecting Moscow and Arkhangelsk. The piece between Vologda and Arkhangelsk was constructed in 1890s and passed through previously uninhabited areas between the valleys of the Northern Dvina and the Onega. The railroad construction gave the momentum to the population and exploitation of these areas. A branch from Konosha eastwards to Kotlas and further to Vorkuta was constructed in the 1940s to facilitate the transport of coal from the Komi Republic. From Kotlas, another branch continues south to Kirov. A branch from Obozersky to the west, to Onega and further to Belomorsk, was built during the World War II to secure the transport of goods from the harbour of Murmansk to central Russia. A piece of railroad between Arkhangelsk and Karpogory was also built in 1970s and is expected to become part of the Belkomur project — a railway line connecting Arkhangelsk via the Komi Republic with the Perm Krai and the Ural mountains. Almost the entire rail network belongs to the Northern Railway, which west of Onega connects to the Oktyabrskaya Railway. There is also a railway line from Severoonezhsk west to Yangory (an extension of the line from Puksa to Navolok), which belongs to the Department of Corrections. A big number of narrow gauge railways have been built in the 1950s and 1960s to facilitate the transport of timber, but since then most of these became unprofitable and have been destroyed.
In the 1970s and 1980s the aviation was active, with all district centers connected to Arkhangelsk with regular flights, Kotlas being the second important hub. Currently, it has almost disappeared. There are two airports in Arkhangelsk, but regular local flights are only carried out to the destinations which do not have rail or road connections, such as Novaya Zemlya, Solovetsky Islands, the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the Onega Peninsula, and the north of the oblast. The exceptions with functioning airports are Mezen, Leshukonskoye, and Onega.
25,682 people were registered from administrative databases, and could not declare an ethnicity. It is estimated that the proportion of ethnicities in this group is the same as that of the declared group.
A notable subgroup of Russian population are the Pomors, who reside along the White Sea coast and in the valleys of major rivers, speak Pomor dialects and are in fact the descendants of the Novgorod population who colonized the Russian North in 12th–13th centuries. In 2002 Census, approximately 6500 residents of Arkhangelsk Oblast indicated their ethnicity as Pomors.
According to a 2012 official survey 29.1% of the population of Arkhangelsk Oblast adheres to the Russian Orthodox Church, 6% are unaffiliated generic Christians, 1% adheres to other Orthodox Churches, 1% adheres to Slavic Rodnovery (Slavic Neopaganism). In addition, 32% of the population deems itself to be "spiritual but not religious", 16% is atheist, and 17.9% follows other religions or did not give an answer to the question.
The triple church ensemble in the selo of Lyadiny, Kargopolsky District. In 2013, the bell tower and the Intercession Church (right) burned to the ground.
Arkhangelsk Oblast is famous for its wooden buildings which include churches, chapels, peasant houses and farms, and city houses. The choice of wood as the construction material is natural for a region almost exclusively covered by taiga and still being one of the biggest timber producers. Some of these buildings date from 17th century. Churches and chapels are considered particularly fine, and almost all of these constructed prior to 1920s have been declared the cultural heritage at the federal or local levels. More than 600 buildings (both of timber and stone) are protected on the federal level. An open-air ethnographic museum was open in the village of Malye Korely close to Arkhangelsk, with the purpose of preserving this heritage.
Two of the towns in the oblast – Kargopol and Solvychegodsk – are classified as historical towns by the Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation, which implies certain restrictions on construction in their historical centers.
A spinning distaff board from the Nizhnyaya Toyma area featuring traditional tripartite layout
The monasteries facilitated the development of icon painting which existed in the area well until the 19th century. No single unified icon style arose, and icons produced in current Arkhangelsk and Vologda Oblasts are commonly known as Northern icon painting (Северные письма). Icons were produced in Solovetsky, Antoniev Siysky, Kozheozersky and other monasteries, as well as in the towns of Kholmogory and Solvychegodsk. Solvychegodsk icon painting was sponsored by Stroganovs and generated the Stroganov icon painting school, which in the end of 17th century was principally active in Moscow.
The icon-painting techniques were transferred to the traditional wood painting known since the 17th century in the valleys of the Northern Dvina (Nizhnyaya Toyma, Borok, Puchuga, Permogorye), the Pinega, and the Mezen. It was used to decorate all kinds of wooden surfaces such as, for example, spinning distaffs or chests, and employed geometrical figures as well as images of plants, animals, and humans. The Arkhangelsk traditional wooden painting is special since the surface was prepared in a particular way before the painting started, similar to icons.
Despite the fact that several notable Russian artists including Vasily Vereshchagin traveled into the region in the 19th century, professional (non-icon) painting did not develop in Arkhangelsk until the 1890s. Alexander Borisov, Stepan Pisakhov, and Tyko Vylka, all of them landscape painters interested in Northern and Arctic landscapes, are considered as the founders of Arkhangelsk painting.
Like other areas of Northern Russia, Arkhangelsk Oblast is notable for its folklore. Until the mid-20th century, fairy tales and bylinas were still performed on a daily basis by professional performers, some of whom, like Mariya Krivopolenova, achieved prominence in Moscow and St. Petersburg. One of the first Arkhangelsk folklore collectors was Alexander Hilferding, who actually died in Kargopol during his journey. Starting from the 1890s, folkloric expeditions were organized to the White Sea area, and later to other areas of the Arkhangelsk Governorate, in order to write down the tales and the bylinas, in particular, in Pomor dialects. In the 1920s, mostly due to the efforts of Anna Astakhova, these expeditions became systematic. The results have been published. By the 1960s, the performing art was basically extinct. However, these folkloric motives and fairy tales inspired the literary works of Stepan Pisakhov and Boris Shergin, who were both natives of Arkhangelsk.
Protopope Avvakum, a 17th-century monk, who led the opposition (raskol) against the reforms of the Russian Orthodox Church, was exiled to Mezen for two years in 1664, and in 1667 was imprisoned in Pustozyorsk, currently in Nenets Autonomous Okrug, for 14 years before being burned alive. Avvakum is an author of about sixty literary works, including the Life of Avvakum, most of which were written in Pustozyorsk and are considered among the most notable Russian literary pieces of 17th century.
Mikhail Lomonosov, a polymath and poet who created the basis of the modern Russian literary language, was born in 1711 in the village of Denisovka, close to Kholmogory, though he left the area to pursue his studies at the age of 18 and spent most of his career in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. Denisovka was later renamed into Lomonosovo in his honour.
Aleksey Chapygin, a historical novelist, was born in what is now Kargopol District. His first novels describe the peasant life of the Arkhangelsk Governorate.
In the 20th century, two of the authors of the Village prose movement in Soviet literature, which predominantly described rural life, were tightly connected with Arkhangelsk Region: Fyodor Abramov was born in the peasant family in the village of Verkola in Pinezhsky Uyezd, and Aleksander Yashin lived in Arkhangelsk for some time. In their literary works, as well as in the works of Yury Kazakov, a short story writer who traveled extensively in the Russian North, the life of Arkhangelsk peasants features prominently. The name of one of the Kazakov's books of short stories is Poedemte v Lopshengu — Let us go to Lopshenga; Lopshenga is a selo on the White Sea coast.
In 1998, the Arkhangelsk Regional Rescue Service was established by the governor. The responsibility of the Rescue Service is to handle emergency situations, such as forest fires.
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The density value was calculated by dividing the population reported by the 2010 Census by the area shown in the "Area" field. Please note that this value may not be accurate as the area specified in the infobox is not necessarily reported for the same year as the population.
Правительство Российской Федерации. Постановление №725 от 31 августа 2011 г. «О составе территорий, образующих каждую часовую зону, и порядке исчисления времени в часовых зонах, а также о признании утратившими силу отдельных Постановлений Правительства Российской Федерации». Вступил в силу по истечении 7 дней после дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Российская Газета", №197, 6 сентября 2011 г. (Government of the Russian Federation. Resolution #725 of August 31, 2011 On the Composition of the Territories Included into Each Time Zone and on the Procedures of Timekeeping in the Time Zones, as Well as on Abrogation of Several Resolutions of the Government of the Russian Federation. Effective as of after 7 days following the day of the official publication.).
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