Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma
oblast (province), western Russia. It occupies an area of 32,471 square miles (84,100 square km) and extends from the morainic Valdai Hills in the southwest, across the broad, swampy plain of the upper Volga River, to the shore of the huge Rybinsk Reservoir in the northeast. The Valdai Hills have scores of lakes and many areas of swamp. The chief cities in the oblast are Tver, the administrative centre, Vyshny Volochok, and Rzhev. The oblast is largely forested with spruce, pine, and birch; peat bogs, grass marsh, and floodplain meadows are also extensive, and most of the soils are of low fertility. Oak and other deciduous species occur in the south. The climate is continental, with about 24 inches (600 mm) of precipitation a year. Although only about one-quarter of the land area is plowed, agriculture dominates the economy, consisting chiefly of dairying, livestock, and the growing of flax. Rye, oats, and wheat are the chief grains grown. The oblast's industry is concerned with processing local agricultural and forest products, the manufacture of both linen and cotton textiles, and timber working, with some light engineering. Tver, the capital, has some heavy machinery, including railroad rolling stock. Peat and lignite (brown coal) are exploited locally. Pop. (1990 est.) 1,674,000.