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oblast (province), western Russia. It occupies an area of 13,250 square miles (34,300 square km) on the low, level plain of the Oka and Don rivers. The natural vegetation is forest-steppe on rich soils, but much of it has been cleared for agriculture; large areas of pine forest survive only on sandy soils along the Tsna and Vorona rivers. The climate is continental, with average temperatures of 12 F (-11 C) in January and 68 F (20 C) in July. The oblast is an important agricultural centre; its chief products are winter rye, spring wheat, corn (maize), oats, and millet. Sunflowers are the primary industrial crop, with some sugar beets, hemp, and tobacco; potatoes, melons, and other vegetables are widely grown. Beef and dairy cattle and poultry are kept in large numbers. Most of the cities, apart from the administrative centre, Tambov, with its engineering and chemical industries, are small and engaged in processing farm products. Pop. (1991 est.) 1,315,200