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oblast (province), western Russia. The oblast lies athwart the middle Volga River, which is there transformed into a broad lake by the downstream Samara dam. The larger western part lies on the Volga Upland, which is dissected by river valleys and erosion gullies; the smaller Trans-Volga is a low plain. In the west are extensive oak woods, but elsewhere the forest-steppe vegetation on fertile soils has been largely cleared for intensive agriculture. Grains, especially wheat, together with sunflowers and sugar beets, are the main crops. The communities, apart from Ulyanovsk, the oblast headquarters, are small and engaged chiefly in processing farm produce. Area 14,400 square miles (37,300 square km). Pop. (1993 est.) 1,462,200