oblast (province), west-central Russia, on the southern edge of the West Siberian Plain, in the Tobol Basin. It is a level plain with innumerable small lakes, often saline, in shallow depressions. The steppe-grass vegetation has been largely ploughed up, and many shelter belts of trees have been planted; in the north are extensive birch groves. Agriculture, greatly extended in the Virgin and Idle Lands campaign of the 1950s, dominates the economy. Spring wheat is the main crop, with rye, oats, and corn (maize), as well as vegetables, of some significance. Dairy farming is common in the north and sheep farming in the drier south. The towns, except Kurgan, the oblast headquarters, are small and concerned chiefly with processing agricultural produce. Area 27,400 square miles (71,000 square km). Pop. (1991 est.) 1,110,500
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