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oblast (province), western Russia. It is situated on the rolling hills of the Central Russian Upland and, in the east, the low Oka-Don Plain. The Don and Voronezh rivers cross the centre of the oblast from north to south. The local agriculture has caused most of the natural oak forest cover and grass steppe to be ploughed up, resulting in severe gully erosion. Agriculture supports a large rural population and is intensively developed; rye, wheat, corn (maize), oats, sugar beets, potatoes, sunflowers, and hemp are grown, while livestock husbandry is less developed. Apart from Lipetsk city, the administrative centre, most local industry processes agricultural products. Area 9,300 square miles (24,100 square km). Pop. (1993 est.) 1,241,000.