The first human being settlements in the South Urals date back to the Paleolithic era. This fact is proved by the discovered archaeological sites. The most ancient one, Bogdanovka site on the Ural river (Kizilskoye district), is about 70 thousand years old, and the Paleolithic strata ofIgnatievskaya cave (Katav-Ivanovsk district) well-known for its unique wall paintings are about 15 thousand years old.
The first inhabitants of those lands migrated from the Sub-Aral area. For a long time, until the Bronze Age, the South Urals were a part of the territory where Ugric languages emerged and developed. In the 18th–17th centuries BC, tribes belonging to the Indo-Iranian language family came to the South Urals steppe. The most ancient sites left by those people are known as fortified settlements (habitations). A world-famed Arkaim located in Bredy district is the most striking among them.
The South Urals like many other territories faced the Great transmigration of peoples. Such well-known ancient peoples as the Scythians and Sakas inhabited the South Urals steppes in the 7th-5th centuries BC, and in the 4th century BC they were replaced by the Sarmatians. In the 3rd-2nd centuries BC the Xiongnu arrived here from Central Asia.Having mixed with the Sarmatians and partly with the forest population, they progressed westwards where they became known as Huns. In the 6th century, the Turkish Khaganates era, the first Turkic native speakers came to the South Urals. Gradually Turks became the dominant population of the steppe. During the 7th-9th centuries a proto-Magyar tribeappeared at the junction of Ugric and Turkic tribes. In the 9th century it moved to the west and settled in Pannonia (modern Hungary).
In the 13th century the South Urals territory became a part of the Mongolian empire.One of the outstanding monuments of the late Golden Horde times still survives. It is the Kesene mausoleum located near Varna village.
The first Russian settlements grew up in the territory of modern Chelyabinsk region at the end of the 17th century. They were Beloyarskaya Techenskaya Sloboda (Russkaya Techa village) and Bagaryakskaya Sloboda (Bagaryak village).
CHELYABINSK REGION IN 18TH-19TH CENTURIES
The establishment of the administrative structure of the regional territory began in the 18thcentury. It was a continuation of Peter I’s policy aimed at development of Russia’s productive forces and expanding of its borders, as it was reflected by the Orenburg expedition. In 1734, the Orenburg expedition founded a number of fortresses for military and commercial purposes, they were Verkhne-Yaitskaya (1735), Chebarkul, Miass and Chelyabinsk (1736). On August 13, 1737, as advised by V.N. Tatischev, Iset province was established (northern part of modern Chelyabinsk and Kurgan regions). In 1743, Chelyabinsk became the centre of this province. On March 15, 1744 Orenburg gubernia (region) was founded. It included Iset and Ufa provinces.The second half of the 18th century saw a rapid development of industry. New towns such as Nyazepetrovsk, Kasli, Zlatoust, Katav-Ivanovsk, Kyshtym, Satka, Yuryuzan, Ust-Katav, Miass sprang up around the plants. Here the peasant revolt broke out in 1773-1775 . In February, 1774, Pugachev’s army invaded the city of Chelyabinsk but then withdrew to the Ural factories under the pressure of the tsar's troops.
In the middle of the 19th century Orenburg Cossacks began active exploration of the South Urals steppe. Settlements were given names associated with the fields of the Russian troops’ victories: Varna, Fère-Champenoise, Borodino, Paris, etc. Around the same time Chelyabinsk became the central fair of the Urals. Here the trade in grain and livestock was conducted. After the Trans-Siberian Railway construction (1891-1916) Chelyabinsk region became the largest transportation centre linking central Russia, the Urals and Siberia into an integral whole.
THE SOUTH URALS DURING THE CIVIL WAR
In the first half of the 20th century, many factory settlements got the status of towns, and their architectural image was created. Chelyabinsk gubernia was established on a part of the Orenburg gubernia and Turgay region territory by decree of the Central Executive Committee dated 3 September, 1919 on formation of Chelyabinsk district administration. It originally consisted of Kurgan, Troitsk, Zlatoust, Kustanay and Chelyabinsk uyezds (districts). According to the decree, Chelyabinsk Revolutionary Committee was transformed into Chelyabinsk Gubernia Revolutionary Committee, and Chelyabinsk became the centre of gubernia.
The boundaries and the composition of the gubernia changed several times: Kustanay uyezd became part of the Kirgiz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, Verkhneuralsk uyezd - part of Chelyabinsk gubernia, etc.
The Civil war and the communism policy pursued by the Soviet government in 1919-1921 caused a famine and industrial ruin in 1921-1922. During 1920-1923, the Chelyabinsk gubernia population decreased by one third.
In November 1923, Chelyabinsk gubernia joined the newly formed Ural region. In 1930s, the years of the First Five-Year Plans (the Soviet Union plans of the national economy development), "flagships of industrialisation” were set up in Chelyabinsk region. They areMagnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works (1929-1934) and Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant (one of the first in the USSR, 1933).
In January 1934, the Ural region territory was reduced and Chelyabinsk region appeared. Later on the region’s area repeatedly decreased. From 1938 to 1943, 7 districts belonging to Chelyabinsk region were given to Sverdlovsk region, 32 districts – to Kurgan region. Starting from February 6, 1943, the region’s borders remained almost unchanged.
CHELYABINSK REGION ON THE EVE OF THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR
The years of the Third Five-Year Plan were a period of further development of heavy industry and growth of Chelyabinsk region’s economy. It was planned to complete the first stage of Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works project, to reconstruct Zlatoust Metallurgical Plant, to restore the South Urals charcoal blast furnaces, and to build Novo-Zlatoust and Bakal metallurgical plants.
Non-ferrous metallurgy was supposed to be significantly developed. Copper industry was expanded and technically re-equipped. Capacities of Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant, Ufaley Nickel, Karabash Copper Smelting Plant and Kyshtym Electrolytic Plant were increased. Much attention was paid to introduction of new equipment into nonferrous metallurgy, mechanisation of labor-intensive operations, automation and intensification of production processes, organisation of complex extraction of metals from ores as well asboosting of high grade metals production.
By the beginning of the Third Five-Year Plan, machine building enterprises of the region produced tractors, cultivators, electric motors, various engineering tools and other sophisticated articles.
The regional leader among machine building enterprises was Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant (abbr. ChTZ in Russian) - the first tractor plant in the country to exploit the so-called "micron technology". This technology allowed ChTZ to produce diesel tractors that used cheaper low-volatility fuel. Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant also pioneered the construction of gas producing tractors operating on firewood.
It was also planned to reconstruct and expand the plant named after Kolyuschenko in Chelyabinsk, Miass File Plant, Minyar Metalware Factory, and complete the construction of the plant named after Ordzhonikidze.
The region’s coal and chemical industry was actively developing. Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant dramatically increased the production of zinc. Zlatoust Metallurgical Plant mastered the production of ball bearing and chromium-silicon steel. Urals Aluminum Plant put out the first products.
THE SOUTH URALS PEOPLE ON THE BATTLEFRONT AND THE HOMEFRONT
During the Great Patriotic War Chelyabinsk region became a forge of victory supplying the front with metal, ammunition and military equipment. Two hours after the declaration of war Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works management took a decision to switch a number of furnaces to special metals production. Magnitogorsk armour was worn by tens of thousands of Soviet tanks fighting against the enemy troops. Every third shell fired at the enemy was made of Magnitogorsk steel.
More than 1 million of Chelyabinsk regionresidents took part in the battle and more than 150 thousand of them were killed. The Urals soldiers fought in every army unit. Their names will forever be remembered by generations to come. Among them: V.A. Beloborodov, S.I. Kochnev, N.D. Sosnovskiy and Hero of the Soviet Union G.P. Kunavin who repeated the feat of Alexander Matrosov. The graduates of Chelyabinsk Navigators Academy - A. Burdenyuk and A. Kalinin - were crew mates of the famous pilot N.F. Gastello. And graduates of the same academy - lieutenants V.N. Samosudov, V.N. Polikarpov, V.G. Tereshchuk, and a graduate of Orenburg Flying School, Hero of the Soviet Union, P.F Nadezhdin repeated the feat of Gastello’s crew.
Within a short period of time workers of the homefront made the national economy respond to the war needs. They ensured a rapid recovery of industrial enterprises in the eastern areas evacuated from the frontline, organised the construction of new heavy-industry enterprises, and dramatically increased the production of weapons, ammunition and equipment delivered to the front.
In the very first months of the World War II, Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant started the production of tanks. In autumn 1941, Chelyabinsk tanks took part in fierce battles near Moscow. Thus, at the beginning of the war Chelyabinsk acquired the second unofficial name - Tankograd (which means the City of Tanks). During the war period the Tractor Plant produced 18,000 combat vehicles that made one fifth of all those produced in the country. Chelyabinsk workers presented the T-34 tanks which subsequently became widely known around the world. The plant named after Kolyuschenko started the production of BM-13 missile launchers - the famous "Katyushas".
Chelyabinsk region has sent over 60 units of various armed forces to the front. We are especially proud of the Ural Volunteer Tank Corps. The Volunteer Tank Corps took part in the liberation of Ukraine and Poland, stormed Berlin and was the first to come to the aid of rebellious Prague.
During the war 5,567 machine gunners, 3,480 submachine gunners, 3,021 mortar men, 1,894 sanitary activists and nurses, and 350 doctors were trained and sent to the front from Chelyabinsk region.
The homeland highly appreciated the heroic labour of the South Urals people: 16 enterprises were given the state awards and 18 enterprises were granted the right for perpetual keeping of the State Defense Committee Red Banners. More than 10,000 South Urals citizens were awarded orders and medals. And after the war over 100 thousand others were awarded medals "For Valiant Labour in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945". The Soviet Union Heroes List includes 224 people from the South Urals. 77 of them were born in Chelyabinsk region and the rest lived, studied and worked there before the war or moved to the region after the war. 130 Heroes performed their exploits in Chelyabinsk divisions and brigades.
THE REGION IN POSTWAR YEAR
The late 1940s saw the establishment of the V.P. Makeyev State Rocket Center (SRC) in the South Urals. In 1945-1948, the construction of the plant No. 817 for weapon-grade plutonium production (Chemical Plant "Mayak", Ozersk) marked the beginning of the nuclear industry development in the South Urals. . In 1948, Special Design Bureau No. 385 for the production of rocketry was set up in Zlatoust. In 1952, the construction of an enterprise for nuclear weapons mass production began in Trekhgorny. In 1954, the Federal Nuclear Centre was set up in Snezhinsk.
Chelyabinsk became a supplier of equipment, machinery and human resources for the rebuilding of Stalingrad, Donbass, Dnieper hydropower plant and other territories of the USSR. The industry grew at a swift rate, the city was rapidly built, and its borders expanded. In the early 50s single-storey houses still dominated there. But as early as in 1947, a new development plan was adopted. It stipulated multi-storey construction of the city centre and the areas adjacent to industrial enterprises. Automation was actively introduced by the enterprises, production processes were modernised. Therefore, beginning from 1954 the machinery made by Kolyuschenko Plant entered a world market and were supplied to 40 countries. In 1956, Chelyabinsk Tube-Rolling Plant put the first line of the world's largest tube electric welding shop into operation. 18 new shops were brought into operation by the metallurgical plant within the last ten years, and in 1958 the blast furnace No. 5 was launched. During that period Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Plant became a flagship of the USSR iron and steel industry.
In the late 1950s - early 1960s, reforms aimed at familiarizing young people with production processes were implemented at schools and universities. Schools for working youth and university faculties for workers became widespread from the late 1960s to early 1970s. Theatre groups were developing. After a long reconstruction, the Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Glinka was opened. All in all 1,245 clubs and 15 local history museums operated at that time in Chelyabinsk region.
CHELYABINSK REGION IN POST-SOVIET YEARS. BEGINNING OF NEW CENTURY
The collapse of the Soviet Union had a negative impact on the economic situation in the region. Cooperative and integrative economic ties with other regions of the country were destroyed. Railway transportationdecreased by half from 1990 to 2000. In 1995, the fall in industrial output made 52%, agriculture - 44%, capital investments – 15.4%. In the situation of financial and economic crisis, many enterprises came through bankruptcy processes, and some were bought by foreign companies. Metallurgical industry still brought the best part of income to the regional budget.
However, the largest enterprises - Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works and Chelyabinsk Tube-Rolling Plant - did not escape the crisis. The August 1998 default aggravated the situation. In the summer of 1999, a very important document was signed. It was an agreement “On principles of intraregional cooperation" determining the strategy of establishing a new system of orders distribution and pricing policy. Arbitration management or receivership was introduced at the factories coming to ruin. Decollectivisation of agriculture led to establishment of farms, joint stock companies and other firms. In 1998, a union of peasant (farmer) enterprises and agricultural cooperatives of Chelyabinsk region was founded.
By early 2001, the industrial capacity of the region was represented by 5,655 enterprisesincluding more than 500 large and medium-sized ones. As in the previous years, the development of the region was determined by such industrial sectors as metallurgy, machine building, metalworking, fuel and energy, construction, agro-industrial sector.
During January-October 2000, the total area of residential buildings approved for living in the region and financed from all sources of funding equaled 388.3 thousand square meters.According to the amount of new housing per 1,000 people Chelyabinsk region ranks the second in the Urals. The basic principles of the construction policy before 2005 were and still remain social orientation and orientation towards maximum attraction of extra-budgetary funds in the form of private investments and shared ownership. In 2004, Chelyabinsk region exported grain for the first time.
Today the socio-economic policy of the region is shaped in accordance with the Country’s Development Strategy for the period up to 2020.
On February 15, 2013 the Chelyabinsk region was in the spotlight due to the event of a cosmic scale happened here: a meteorite cut through the morning sky! Entering the atmosphere of the Earth, the asteroid broke apart into millions of little fragments. The explosive wave resulted in crashed windows in most of buildings of Chelyabinsk and nearby towns with more than 1,600 people injured. The injures were largely caused by the slashed wounds from broken windows. Fortunately, there were no fatal cases. The biggest fragment of the meteorite weighing almost 600 kilos fell into the lake not far from Chelyabinsk. It was delivered to the local museum where it would be permanently kept. By today, all the aftermaths of the meteorite crash in the region have been eliminated. Meanwhile, Chelyabinsk citizens will still have a chance to remember this extraordinary event as next year a new extreme entertainment park is planned to be built in the city.
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