Learn more about Sverdlovsk Oblast
Sverdlovsk Oblast (Russian: Свердло́вская о́бласть, tr.: Sverdlovskaya oblast) is a federal subject of Russia (an oblast) located in Urals Federal District. At 194,800 km², it is Russia's 20th largest subdivision and the nation's 5th largest in terms of population (4,486,214 as of the 2002 Census). Given that the bulk of the oblast lies on the Asian side of the Urals (only its South-Western extremity is on the Western side of the mountains) it should be recognized as the most populous oblast outside of European Russia.
Its administrative center is the city of Yekaterinburg (pop. 1,293,537), formerly named Sverdlovsk. Other large cities and towns include Nizhny Tagil (pop. 390,498), Kamensk-Uralsky (pop. 186,153), Pervouralsk (pop. 147,116), and Serov (pop. 99,804).
Most of the oblast lies on the Eastern slopes of the Middle and North Urals and the Western Siberian Plain. Only in the S-W does the Sverdlovsk oblast stretch onto the Western slopes of the Ural mountains.
The highest mountains all rise in the North Urals (Konzhakovsky Kamen' at 1,569 m and Denezhkin Kamen at 1,492 m). The Middle Urals is mostly hilly country with no discernible peaks; the mean elevation is closer to 300-500 m above the sea level. Principal rivers include the Tavda, the Tura, the Chusovaya, and the Ufa, the latter two being tributaries of the Kama.
Sverdlovsk Oblast borders on, clockwise from the West, Russia's Perm Krai, Komi Republic, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Tyumen Oblast, Kurgan, and Chelyabinsk Oblasts, and the Republic of Bashkortostan.
 Time zone
 Natural resources
The oblast is rich in natural resources, particularly in metals (iron, copper, gold, platinum), minerals (asbestos, gemstones, talcum), marble and coal. It is mostly here that the bulk of Russian industry was concentrated in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The area enjoys continental climate patterns, with long cold winters (average temperatures reaching 15 to 20 degrees below zero on the Western Siberian Plain) and short warm summers. Only in the SE of the oblast do temperatures reach 19 degrees in July.
 Administrative divisions
Population (2002): 4,486,214 (urban: 3,943,529, rural: 542,685)
Ethnic groups: Of the 4,486,214 residents (as of the 2002 census) 28,957 (0.06%) chose not to specify their ethnic background. Of the rest, residents identified themselves as belonging to 148 ethnic groups, including 4,002,974 ethnic Russians (89%), 168,143 Tatars (3.75%), 55,478 Ukrainians (1.2%), 37,296 Bashkirs (0.8%), 27,863 Maris (0.6%), 22,540 Volga Germans (0.5%) and so on.
Languages: to be written once the 2002 census data is released
Russian conquest of the Khanate of Kazan in the 1550s paved the way further east which was now free from Tatar depredations (see Yermak Timofeyevich). The first surviving Russian settlements in the area date back to the late 16th - early 17th centuries (Verkhoturye, 1598; Turinsk, 1600; Irbit, 1633; Alapayevsk, 1639). In the 18th and 19th centuries the area became the industrial heartland of Russia due to its rich deposits of iron and coal (see above). Local industry received another impetus during the World War II when important producing facilities were relocated here from the European part of Russia to safeguard them from the advancing Germans (for example, IMZ-Ural). In the postwar period much of the region was off-limits to foreigners and it was over Sverdlovsk that the American pilot Gary Powers was shot down on May 1, 1960, while on a reconnaissance mission. Another historic event that took place in Yekaterinburg was the execution of Nicholas II of Russia and the Imperial family in July 1918.
In 1993, governor Eduard Rossel responded to perceived economic inequality by attempting to create a "Urals Republic." Sverdlovsk led the "Urals Five" (Kurgan Oblast, Orenburg Oblast, Perm Krai, Chelyabinsk Oblast and Sverdlovsk) in a call for greater regional power. They argued that the oblasts deserved as much power as the ethnic homeland republics. The Urals Republic Constitution went into effect on October 27 1993. Russian President Boris Yeltsin dissolved the Urals Republic and Sverdlovsk Parliament 10 days later (on November 9).
The oblast's current Governor is Eduard Rossel, one of the most prominent regional politicians in Russia.
The oblast's Charter, or Constitution (Russian: Устав; Ustav), adopted on December 17, 1994, with subsequent amendments, establishes the oblast government. The Governor (губернатор; gubernator)is the chief executive, who appoints the Government, consisting of ministries and departments. The Chairman/President of the Government (председатель правительства; predsedatel pravitelstva), commonly referred to as the Prime Minister, is appointed with the consent of the lower house of the legislature, a process similar to the appointment of the federal Prime Minister; but the Governor cannot nominate the same candidate more than twice, yet he/she can dismiss the house after three failed attempts to appoint the Premier. The Legislative Assembly (законодательное собрание; zakonodatelnoye sobraniye) consists of the Oblast Duma (областная дума; oblastnaya duma), the lower house, and the House of Representatives (палата представителей; palata predstaviteley), the upper house. Members of the legislature serve four-year terms; however, half of the Duma is re-elected every two years. The Duma (28 members) is elected by party lists; the 21 members of the House of Representatives are elected in single-seat districts in a first-past-the-post system. Compliance with the Charter is enforced by the Charter/Constitutional Court (уставный суд; ustavny sud). The existence of such regional courts in Russia, formed and functioning outside the federal judiciary, although challenged, has been upheld and persisted successfully in most constituent members of the Federation where they were established.
Until President Putin's reforms of 2004, the Governor was elected by direct vote for four-year terms. Eduard Rossel has been the only elected governor (first elected governor for an oblast in Russia) since 1995 (appointed in 1991 and dismissed in 1993 by President Yeltsin), re-elected in 1999 and 2003.
 Economy and transportation
The oblast's industry is diverse although could be more modern. 12% of Russia's iron and steel industry is still concentrated in Sverdlovsk oblast. Iron and copper are mined and processed here and the logging industry and wood-processing are important, too.
Yekaterinburg is a prominent road, rail and air hub in the Urals region. As the economic slump subsides, several European airlines started or resumed flights to the city. These include Lufthansa, British Airways, CSA, Turkish Airlines, Austrian Airlines and Finnair. Malév Hungarian Airlines used to be among those carriers but they had to drop their flights to SVX (IATA airport code for Sverdlovsk) after a few months.
 External links
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to:|
- (Russian) "Ykaterinburg-Urals" capital Information Portal
- (Russian) The Governor of Sverdlovsk Oblast official web site
- (Russian) The Government of Sverdlovsk Oblast official web site
- (English) Yekaterinburg Tourist Information Service
- (English) Yekaterinburg Information web-site
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