oblast (province), northwestern Russia. The oblast consists of alternating broad river basins and morainic hills. The western third is drained by tributaries of the upper Volga River, while the eastern part belongs to the Northern Dvina River basin, draining into it by the Sukhona River. In the extreme northwest a small area drains directly into Lake Onega, the southern shore of which is in the oblast. The entire oblast lies in the zone of boreal taiga, or swampy coniferous forest, which is dominated by spruce, pine, and birch, with some fir and larch in the east. In the south, deciduous species such as lime are found. The lowlands have extensive swamps, mostly peat bogs but also including reed and marsh grass. Broad floodplain meadows flank the rivers. The economy of both urban and rural areas alike is concerned with the timber industry: timber rafting along the rivers, sawmilling along the railways, and pulp making, papermaking, and timber processing in the towns. A considerable portion of the timber that is cut is rafted on the Dvina north to Arkhangelsk or southward on the Volga. Pulp and paper are made in the settlement of Sokol near Vologda city. Other industry includes large-scale ferrous metallurgy at Cherepovets and engineering at Vologda, the oblast administrative centre. Much peat is cut for fuel. Agriculture, undertaken mainly in the south, is dominated by dairying and the cultivation of flax, fodder crops, rye, wheat, and oats. Area 56,300 square miles (145,700 square km). Pop. (1993 est.) 1,362,400
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