Asceticism is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals. Ascetics may withdraw from the world for their practices or continue to be part of their society, but adopt a frugal lifestyle, characterised by the renunciation of material possessions and physical pleasures, time spent fasting while concentrating on the practice of religion or reflection upon spiritual matters. Asceticism has been observed in many religious traditions, including Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism. Contemporary mainstream Islam practices asceticism in the form of fasting during Ramadan by abstaining from all sensual pleasures, including food and water from sunrise until sunset; the observation of fasting during Ramadan is purely done for God and to increase one's spiritual connection with God. Sufi tradition has included strict asceticism throughout history; the practitioners of these religions abandoned sensual pleasures and led an abstinent lifestyle, in the pursuit of redemption, salvation or spirituality.
Asceticism is seen in the ancient theologies as a journey towards spiritual transformation, where the simple is sufficient, the bliss is within, the frugal is plenty. Inversely, several ancient religious traditions, such as Zoroastrianism, Ancient Egyptian Religion and the Dionysian Mysteries, as well as more modern Left Hand traditions reject ascetic practises and focus on various types of hedonism; the adjective "ascetic" derives from the ancient Greek term askēsis, which means "training" or "exercise". The original usage did not refer to self-denial, but to the physical training required for athletic events, its usage extended to rigorous practices used in many major religious traditions, in varying degrees, to attain redemption and higher spirituality. Dom Cuthbert Butler classified asceticism into natural and unnatural forms: "Natural asceticism" involves a lifestyle which reduces material aspects of life to the utmost simplicity and to a minimum; this may include minimal, simple clothing, sleeping on a floor or in caves, eating a simple minimal amount of food.
Natural asceticism, state Wimbush and Valantasis, does not include maiming the body or harsher austerities that make the body suffer. "Unnatural asceticism", in contrast, covers practices that go further, involves body mortification, punishing one's own flesh, habitual self-infliction of pain, such as by sleeping on a bed of nails. Self-discipline and abstinence in some form and degree are parts of religious practice within many religious and spiritual traditions. Ascetic lifestyle is associated with monks, fakirs in Abrahamic religions, bhikkhus, sannyasis, yogis in Indian religions. Christian authors of late antiquity such as Origen, St. Jerome, St. Ignatius, John Chrysostom, Augustine interpreted meanings of Biblical texts within a asceticized religious environment. Scriptural examples of asceticism could be found in the lives of John the Baptist, the twelve apostles and the Apostle Paul; the Dead Sea Scrolls revealed ascetic practices of the ancient Jewish sect of Essenes who took vows of abstinence to prepare for a holy war.
An emphasis on an ascetic religious life was evident in both early Christian practices. Other Christian practitioners of asceticism include individuals such as Simeon Stylites, Saint David of Wales and Francis of Assisi. According to Richard Finn, much of early Christian asceticism has been traced to Judaism, but not to traditions within Greek asceticism; some of the ascetic thoughts in Christianity Finn states, have roots in Greek moral thought. Virtuous living is not possible when an individual is craving bodily pleasures with desire and passion. Morality is not seen in the ancient theology as a balancing act between right and wrong, but a form of spiritual transformation, where the simple is sufficient, the bliss is within, the frugal is plenty; the deserts of the Middle East were at one time inhabited by thousands of Christian hermits including St. Anthony the Great, St. Mary of Egypt, St. Simeon Stylites. In 963 CE, an association of monasteries called Lavra was formed on Mount Athos, in Eastern Orthodox tradition.
This became the most important center of orthodox Christian ascetic groups in the centuries that followed. In the modern era, Mount Athos and Meteora have remained a significant center. Sexual abstinence such as those of the Encratites sect of Christians was only one aspect of ascetic renunciation, both natural and unnatural asceticism have been part of Christian asceticism; the natural ascetic practices have included simple living, begging and ethical practices such as humility, compassion and prayer. Evidence of extreme unnatural asceticism in Christianity appear in 2nd-century texts and thereafter, in both the Eastern Orthodox Christianity and the Western sister tradition, such as the practice of chaining the body to rocks, eating only grass, praying seated on a pillar in the elements for decades such as by the monk Simeon Stylites, solitary confinement inside a cell, abandoning personal hygiene and adopting lifestyle of a beast, self-inflicted pain and voluntary suffering; such ascetic practices were linked to the Christian concepts of redemption.
Evagrius Ponticus called Evagrius the Solitary was a educated monastic teacher who produced a large theological body of work ascetic, including the Gnostikos known as The Gnostic: To t
The Gulag was the government agency in charge of the Soviet forced-labor camp-system, set up under Vladimir Lenin and reached its peak during Joseph Stalin's rule from the 1930s to the early 1950s. English-language speakers use the word gulag to refer to any forced-labor camp in the Soviet Union, including camps which existed in post-Stalin times; the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners. Large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as by NKVD troikas or by other instruments of extrajudicial punishment; the Gulag is recognized by many as a major instrument of political repression in the Soviet Union. The agency was first administered by the GPU by the NKVD and in the final years by the Ministry of Internal Affairs; the Solovki prison camp, the first corrective labor camp constructed after the revolution, was established in 1918 and legalized by a decree "On the creation of the forced-labor camps" on April 15, 1919. The internment system grew reaching a population of 100,000 in the 1920s.
According to Nicolas Werth, author of The Black Book of Communism, the yearly mortality rate in the Soviet concentration camps varied, reaching 5% and 20% while dropping in the post-war years. The emergent consensus among scholars who utilize official archival data is that of the 18 million who were sent to the Gulag from 1930 to 1953 1.5 to 1.7 million perished there or as a result of their detention. However, some historians who question the reliability of such data and instead rely on literary sources come to higher estimations. Archival researchers have found "no plan of destruction" of the gulag population and no statement of official intent to kill them, prisoner releases vastly exceeded the number of deaths in the Gulag. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, who survived eight years of Gulag incarceration, gave the term its international repute with the publication of The Gulag Archipelago in 1973; the author likened the scattered camps to "a chain of islands", as an eyewitness he described the Gulag as a system where people were worked to death.
In March 1940, there were 53 Gulag camp directorates and 423 labor colonies in the Soviet Union. Many mining and industrial towns and cities in northern and eastern Russia and in Kazakhstan such as Karaganda, Norilsk and Magadan, were blocks of camps built by prisoners and subsequently run by ex-prisoners; some suggest that 14 million people were imprisoned in the Gulag labor camps from 1929 to 1953. Other calculations by the historian Orlando Figes, refer to 25 million prisoners of the Gulag in 1928–1953. A further 6–7 million were deported and exiled to remote areas of the USSR, 4–5 million passed through labor colonies, plus 3.5 million who were in, or, sent to, labor settlements. According to some estimates, the total population of the camps varied from 510,307 in 1934 to 1,727,970 in 1953. According to other estimates, at the beginning of 1953 the total number of prisoners in prison camps was more than 2.4 million of which more than 465,000 were political prisoners. The institutional analysis of the Soviet concentration system is complicated by the formal distinction between GULAG and GUPVI.
GUPVI was the Main Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War and Internees, a department of NKVD in charge of handling of foreign civilian internees and POWs in the Soviet Union during and in the aftermath of World War II. In many ways the GUPVI system was similar to GULAG, its major function was the organization of foreign forced labor in the Soviet Union. The top management of GUPVI came from the GULAG system; the major noted distinction from GULAG was the absence of convicted criminals in the GUPVI camps. Otherwise the conditions in both camp systems were similar: hard labor, poor nutrition and living conditions, high mortality rate. For the Soviet political prisoners, like Solzhenitsyn, all foreign civilian detainees and foreign POWs were imprisoned in the GULAG. According with the estimates, in total, during the whole period of the existence of GUPVI there were over 500 POW camps, which imprisoned over 4,000,000 POW. Most Gulag inmates were not political prisoners, although significant numbers of political prisoners could be found in the camps at any one time.
Petty crimes and jokes about the Soviet government and officials were punishable by imprisonment. About half of political prisoners in the Gulag camps were imprisoned without trial; the GULAG was reduced in size following Stalin's death in 1953, in a period known as the Khrushchev Thaw. In 1960 the Ministerstvo Vnutrennikh Del ceased to function as the Soviet-wide administration of the camps in favor of individual republic MVD branches; the centralized detention facilities temporarily ceased functioning. Although the term Gulag referred to a government agency, in English and many other languages the acronym acquired the qualities of a common noun, denoting the Soviet system of prison-based, unfree labor. More broadly, "Gulag" has come to mean the Soviet repressive system itself, the set of procedu
North Holland is a province of the Netherlands located in the northwestern part of the country. It is situated on the North Sea, north of South Holland and Utrecht, west of Friesland and Flevoland. In 2015, it had a population of 2,762,163 and a total area of 2,670 km2. From the 9th to the 16th century, the area was an integral part of the County of Holland. During this period West Friesland was incorporated. In the 17th and 18th century, the area was part of the province of Holland and known as the Noorderkwartier. In 1840, the province of Holland was split into the two provinces of North Holland and South Holland. In 1855, the Haarlemmermeer was turned into land; the capital and seat of the provincial government is Haarlem, the province's largest city is the Netherlands' capital Amsterdam. The King's Commissioner of North Holland is Johan Remkes, serving since 2010. There are three water boards in the province; the province of North Holland as it is today has its origins in the period of French rule from 1795 to 1813.
This was a time of bewildering changes to the Dutch system of provinces. In 1795, the old order was swept away and the Batavian Republic was established. In the Constitution enacted on 23 April 1798, the old borders were radically changed; the republic was reorganised into eight departments with equal populations. Holland was split up into five departments named "Texel", "Amstel", "Delf", "Schelde en Maas", "Rijn"; the first three of these lay within the borders of the old Holland. In 1801 the old borders were restored; this reorganisation had been short-lived, but it gave birth to the concept of breaking up Holland and making it a less powerful province. In 1807, Holland was reorganised; this time the two departments were called "Amstelland" and "Maasland". This did not last long. In 1810, all the Dutch provinces were integrated into the French Empire. Amstelland and Utrecht were amalgamated as the department of "Zuiderzee" and Maasland was renamed "Monden van de Maas". After the defeat of the French in 1813, this organisation remained unchanged for a year or so.
When the 1814 Constitution was introduced, the country was reorganised as regions. Zuiderzee and Monden van de Maas were reunited as the province of "Holland". One of the ministers on the constitutional committee suggested that the old name "Holland and West Friesland" be reintroduced to respect the feelings of the people of that region; this proposal was rejected. However, the division was not reversed; when the province of Holland was re-established in 1814, it was given two governors, one for the former department of Amstelland and one for the former department of Maasland. Though the province had been reunited, the two areas were still being treated differently in some ways and the idea of dividing Holland remained alive. During this reorganisation the islands of Vlieland and Terschelling were returned to Holland and parts of "Hollands Brabant" went to North Brabant; the borders with Utrecht and Gelderland were definitively set in 1820. When the constitutional amendments were introduced in 1840, it was decided to split Holland once again, this time into two provinces called "North Holland" and "South Holland".
The need for this was not felt in West Friesland. The impetus came from Amsterdam, which still resented the 1838 relocation of the court of appeal to The Hague in South Holland. After the Haarlemmermeer was drained in 1855 and turned into arable land, it was made part of North Holland. In exchange, South Holland received the greater part of the municipality of Leimuiden in 1864. In 1942, the islands Vlieland and Terschelling went back to the province of Friesland. In 1950, the former island Urk was ceded to the province of Overijssel. In February 2011, North Holland, together with the provinces of Utrecht and Flevoland, showed a desire to investigate the feasibility of a merger between the three provinces; this has been positively received by the First Rutte cabinet, for the desire to create one Randstad province has been mentioned in the coalition agreement. The province of South Holland, part of the Randstad urban area, visioned to be part of the Randstad province, much supportive of the idea of a merger into one province, is not named.
With or without South Holland, if created, the new province would be the largest in the Netherlands in both area and population. North Holland is situated at 52°40′N 4°50′E in the northwest of the Netherlands with to the northeast the province of Friesland, to the east the province of Flevoland, to the southeast the province of Utrecht, to the southwest the province of South Holland, to the west the North Sea. North Holland is a broad peninsula for the most part, located between the North Sea, the Wadden Sea, the IJsselmeer, the Markermeer. More than half of the province consists of reclaimed polder land situated below sea level; the West Frisian islands of Noorderhaaks and Texel are part of the province. North Holland makes up a single region of the International Organization for Standardization world region code system, having the code ISO 3166-2:NL-NH; as of January 2019, North Holland is divided into 47 municipalities. Af
Vladimir Grigoryevich Chertkov (Russian: Влади́мир Григо́рьевич Чертко́в. After the revolutions of 1917, Chertkov was instrumental in creating the United Council of Religious Communities and Groups, which came to administer the Russian SFSR's conscientious objection program. Chertkov was born in 1854 in Russia into a wealthy and aristocratic family, his mother, Elizaveta Ivanovna, born Countess Chernysheva-Kruglikova, was known among her circle in St. Petersburg society for her beauty, authoritativeness and tact, his father, Grigorii Ivanovich, was aide-de-camp under Nikolai I, Adjutant-General under Alexander II and Alexander III, known in military circles for his front-line service and military bearing. The couple enjoyed imperial favour so much that Alexander Alexander III visited their home. Describing his parents in one of his diary entries, he wrote: “That's how I grew up, assured of my own innate advantage over other people, proud of the dignity of my parents, their relatives and friends, entourage of servants, rising from their seats in the ante-room when I passed from my rooms into my parents’ part of the house, swimming in all kinds of luxury and not knowing rejection in satisfaction of my desires.”
The young Chertkov was considered handsome – slender, with big gray eyes under beaked brows – and had a talent for witty paradox. Nineteen-year-old Chertkov voluntarily joined the Life Guards of the Cavalry, yet while yielding to all the enjoyment, offered by life in the circle of golden youth, unaware of either external or internal obstacles for the realization of his desires, Chertkov from time to time felt that there was something wrong in his life and strove to find some moral law that would subordinate his behavior. In order to understand these doubts, to look closer at other ways of life and remain alone with himself, he decided for a time to abandon his accustomed life, take a vacation for several months and go to England. At the end of December 1879, Chertkov wrote his mother a letter from England: "I can tell you a few fragments of my last thoughts:In order to be useful, a person must define his position in the world around him. In 1880, he resigned from military service, left Petersburg, settled in his family’s estate in Lizinovka, where he planned to help the peasants at whose expense he lived, although he had an unclear understanding of their needs.
Scrutinizing the work of the zemstvo and finding weaknesses, he conceived the idea of implementing on his parent’s estate some measures disregarded by the zemstvo. He organized a trade school for peasant children. In October 1883 his first meeting with Leo Tolstoy took place in Moscow, changing the entire course of his life, it would be said of him. Fulfilling the ideal of moral self-improvement, Chertkov gave all his heart and soul to educational activity. Following Tolstoy’s initiative, in 1885 Chertkov organized and financed a publishing house called Intermediary which specialized in the release of art and moralizing literature for people. Intermediary succeeded in publishing works aimed at the education of the Russian people, despite the pressure of the Imperial censorship and the hostile attitude of the Orthodox Church; the new publishing house was supported by many of the most outstanding writers of the country: Tolstoy, Korolenko and Leskov all wrote for Intermediary. Books were sold unusually cheaply.
Reasonable prices and good publicity, in which Repin, Surikov and other Russian artists were engaged, helped distribution. Chertkov had a troubled relationship with most of the Tolstoy family, tried to destroy the relationship between Tolstoy and his wife Sophia. Tolstoy's final flight, for example, is described as having been influenced by Chertkov. Sophia was troubled by what she felt was his hypocritical philosophy: he decried wealth, but had his own fancy estate, his associates lay about her house and ate free and paid no rent and criticized her materialism, while she raised several children and ran the entire business side of Tolstoy's writing, which provided a major source of income for Yasnaya Polyana and enabled their lifestyle. Additionally, Chertkov convinced Tolstoy to sign a secret will and give control of his works to Chertkov instead of Sophia, he used this control to publish versions of Tolstoy's collected works as he wanted. He criticized Sophia, discredited her diaries and her own writing, played up his own relationship with the Count.
Chertkov fostered a positive relationship with the newly formed Soviet state, which he used to suppress Sophia's version of Tolstoy's life story and his relationship with her. Chertkov’s closest employees were engaged in editing and drawing up his plans on his farmstead in Rossosh, located in the Ostrogozhsk District. Rossosh had a manor house on top of a hill, as well as an extensive courtyard and subsidiary buildings. Soon the small village of Rossosh turned into a large publishing center. From here Chertkov conducted extensive correspondenc
Collectivization in the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union implemented the collectivization of its agricultural sector between 1928 and 1940 during the ascendancy of Joseph Stalin. It was part of the first five-year plan; the policy aimed to integrate individual landholdings and labour into collective farms: kolkhozy and sovkhozy. The Soviet leadership confidently expected that the replacement of individual peasant farms by collective ones would increase the food supply for the urban population, the supply of raw materials for processing industry, agricultural exports. Planners regarded collectivization as the solution to the crisis of agricultural distribution that had developed from 1927; this problem became more acute as the Soviet Union pressed ahead with its ambitious industrialization program, meaning that more food needed to be produced to keep up with urban demand. In the early 1930s over 91% of agricultural land became collectivized as rural households entered collective farms with their land and other assets; the collectivization era saw several famines, many due to the technological backwardness of the USSR at the time, but critics have cited deliberate action on the government's part.
The death toll cited by experts has ranged from 7 million to 14 million. After the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, peasants gained control of about half of the land they had cultivated, began to ask for the redistribution of all land; the Stolypin agricultural reforms between 1905 and 1914 gave incentives for the creation of large farms, but these ended during World War I. The Russian Provisional Government accomplished little during the difficult World War I months, though Russian leaders continued to promise redistribution. Peasants began to turn against the Provisional Government and organized themselves into land committees, which together with the traditional peasant communes became a powerful force of opposition; when Vladimir Lenin returned to Russia on April 16, 1917, he promised the people "Peace and Bread," the latter two appearing as a promise to the peasants for the redistribution of confiscated land and a fair share of food for every worker respectively. During the period of war communism, the policy of Prodrazvyorstka meant that the peasantry was obligated to surrender the surpluses of agricultural produce for a fixed price.
When the Russian Civil War ended, the economy changed with the New Economic Policy and the policy of prodnalog or "food tax." This new policy was designed to re-build morale among embittered farmers and lead to increased production. The pre-existing communes, which periodically redistributed land, did little to encourage improvement in technique, formed a source of power beyond the control of the Soviet government. Although the income gap between wealthy and poor farmers did grow under the NEP, it remained quite small, but the Bolsheviks began to take aim at the wealthy kulaks, who withheld surpluses of agricultural produce. Identifying this group was difficult, since only about 1% of the peasantry employed laborers, 82% of the country's population were peasants; the small shares of most of the peasants resulted in food shortages in the cities. Although grain had nearly returned to pre-war production levels, the large estates which had produced it for urban markets had been divided up. Not interested in acquiring money to purchase overpriced manufactured goods, the peasants chose to consume their produce rather than sell it.
As a result, city dwellers only saw half the grain, available before the war. Before the revolution, peasants controlled only 2,100,000 km² divided into 16 million holdings, producing 50% of the food grown in Russia and consuming 60% of total food production. After the revolution, the peasants controlled 3,140,000 km² divided into 25 million holdings, producing 85% of the food, but consuming 80% of what they grew; the Communist Party of the Soviet Union had never been happy with private agriculture and saw collectivization as the best remedy for the problem. Lenin claimed "Small-scale production gives birth to capitalism and the bourgeoisie daily, with elemental force, in vast proportions." Apart from ideological goals, Joseph Stalin wished to embark on a program of rapid heavy industrialization which required larger surpluses to be extracted from the agricultural sector in order to feed a growing industrial work force and to pay for imports of machinery. Social and ideological goals would be served through mobilization of the peasants in a co-operative economic enterprise which would provide social services to the people and empower the state.
Not only was collectivization meant to fund industrialization, but it was a way for the Bolsheviks to systematically attack the Kulaks and peasants in general. Stalin was suspicious of the peasants, he viewed them as a major threat to socialism. Stalins use of the collectivization process served to not only address the grain shortages, but his greater concern over the peasants willingness to conform to the collective farm system and state mandated grain acquisitions, he viewed this as an opportunity to eliminate Kulaks as a class by means of collectivization. This demand for more grain resulted in the reintroduction of requisitioning, resisted in rural areas. In 1928 there was a 2-million-ton shortfall in grains purchased by the Soviet Union from neighbouring markets. Stalin claimed the grain had been produced but was being hoarded by "kulaks." When in reality the farmers were holding on to their grain because the prices were below market
Essex is a county in the south-east of England, north-east of London. One of the home counties, it borders Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent across the estuary of the River Thames to the south, London to the south-west; the county town is the only city in the county. For government statistical purposes Essex is placed in the East of England region. Essex occupies the eastern part of the ancient Kingdom of Essex, which united with the other Anglian and Saxon kingdoms to make England a single nation state; as well as rural areas, the county includes London Stansted Airport, the new towns of Basildon and Harlow, Lakeside Shopping Centre, the port of Tilbury and the borough of Southend-on-Sea. The name Essex originates in the Anglo-Saxon period of the Early Middle Ages and has its root in the Anglo-Saxon name Ēastseaxe, the eastern kingdom of the Saxons who had come from the continent and settled in Britain during the Heptarchy. Recorded in AD 527, Essex occupied territory to the north of the River Thames, incorporating all of what became Middlesex and most of what became Hertfordshire.
Its territory was restricted to lands east of the River Lea. Colchester in the north-east of the county is Britain's oldest recorded town, dating from before the Roman conquest, when it was known as Camulodunum and was sufficiently well-developed to have its own mint. In AD 824, following the Battle of Ellandun, the kingdoms of the East Saxons, the South Saxons and the Jutes of Kent were absorbed into the kingdom of the West Saxons, uniting Saxland under King Alfred's grandfather Ecgberht. Before the Norman conquest the East Saxons were subsumed into the Kingdom of England. After the Norman conquest, Essex became a county. During the medieval period, much of the area was designated a Royal forest, including the entire county in a period to 1204, when the area "north of the Stanestreet" was disafforested; the areas subject to forest law diminished, but at various times they included the forests of Becontree, Epping, Hatfield and Waltham. Essex County Council was formed in 1889. However, County Boroughs of West Ham, Southend-on-Sea and East Ham formed part of the county but were unitary authorities.
12 boroughs and districts provide more localised services such as rubbish and recycling collections and planning, as shown in the map on the right. A few Essex parishes have been transferred to other counties. Before 1889, small areas were transferred to Hertfordshire near Bishops Stortford and Sawbridgeworth. At the time of the main changes around 1900, parts of Helions Bumpstead, Sturmer and Ballingdon-with-Brundon were transferred to Suffolk. Part of Hadstock, part of Ashton and part of Chrishall were transferred to Cambridgeshire and part of Great Horkesley went to Suffolk; the boundary with Greater London was established in 1965, when East Ham and West Ham county boroughs and the Barking, Dagenham, Ilford, Romford and Wanstead and Woodford districts were transferred to form the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Waltham Forest. Essex became part of the East of England Government Office Region in 1994 and was statistically counted as part of that region from 1999, having been part of the South East England region.
In 1998, the boroughs of Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock were granted autonomy from the administrative county of Essex after successful requests to become unitary authorities. Essex Police covers the two unitary authorities; the county council chamber and main headquarters is at the County Hall in Chelmsford. Before 1938, the council met in London near Moorgate, which with significant parts of the county close to that point and the dominance of railway travel had been more convenient than any place in the county, it has 75 elected councillors. Before 1965, the number of councillors reached over 100; the County Hall, made a listed building in 2007, dates from the mid-1930s and is decorated with fine artworks of that period the gift of the family who owned the textile firm Courtaulds. The highest point of the county of Essex is Chrishall Common near the village of Langley, close to the Hertfordshire border, which reaches 482 feet; the ceremonial county of Essex is bounded to the south by its estuary.
The pattern of settlement in the county is diverse. The Metropolitan Green Belt has prevented the further sprawl of London into the county, although it contains the new towns of Basildon and Harlow developed to resettle Londoners after the destruction of London housing in the Second World War, since which they have been developed and expanded. Epping Forest prevents the further spread of the Greater London Urban Area; as it is not far from London with its economic magnetism, many of Essex's settlements those near or within short driving distance of railway stations, function as dormitory towns or villages where London workers raise their families. Part of the s
Kursk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia. Its administrative center is the city of Kursk. Population: 1,127,081; the oblast occupies the southern slopes of the middle-Russian plateau, its average elevation is 177–225 meters. The surface is intersected by ravines; the central part of Kursk oblast is more elevated than the Seym Valley to the west. The Timsko-Shchigrinsky ridge contains the highest point in the oblast at 288 meters above the sea level; the low relief, gentler slopes, mild winter make the area suitable for farming, much of the forest has been cleared. The chernozem soils cover around 70% of the oblast's territory. Borders Internal: Bryansk Oblast, Oryol Oblast, Lipetsk Oblast, Voronezh Oblast, Belgorod Oblast. International: Sumy Oblast of Ukraine. Kursk Oblast contributes to two major drainage areas: the Don River. There are 902 rivers and streams in the oblast, with their total length of 8,000 kilometers. Major rivers are the Psyol; the inland waters of Kursk oblast consist of about 550 small ponds.
Kursk Oblast is one of the nation's major producers of iron ore. The area of Kursk Magnetic Anomaly has one of the richest iron-ore deposits in the world. Rare earths and base metals occur in commercial quantities in several locations. Refractory loam, mineral sands, chalk are quarried and processed in the region. Oblast's sufficient reserves of artesian well water are proving useful for medical purposes; the oblast's location at the center of the European part of Russia gives the region a medium continental climate: warm summers and mild winters. In July, the average daytime high temperature is +19.3 °C. In January the average high is −8.6 °C. The average number of frost-free days ranges from 150 in the north to 160 in the south; the growing season in Kursk Oblast varies, from 180 days in the north to 195 days in the southwest. The average annual precipitation for the oblast is 584 millimeters, but it ranges from 634 millimeters in the northwest, to about 500 millimeters or less in the southeastern corner.
The maximum of the rain falls during July. The snow depth in Kursk Oblast differs from 300–400 mm in the north of the oblast, to 150–250 mm in the south. Annual sunshine is 1775 hours. Kursk Oblast is a part of the Eastern European forest-steppe. One-quarter of Kursk oblast was once wooded. Hardwood timbers included oak and elm. Now forests cover only 10% of the oblast. Animals native to the area are numerous. Pike and perch are abundant in local rivers. Otter and badger, as well as wild boar, red deer, roe deer remain numerous in many parts of the area. Population: 1,127,081. 2012Births: 13 318 Deaths: 18 529 Total fertility rate:2009 - 1.53 | 2010 - 1.55 | 2011 - 1.61 | 2012 - 1.70 | 2013 - 1.67 | 2014 - 1.70 | 2015 - 1.72 | 2016 - 1.64 Ethnic composition: Russians - 96.5% Ukrainians - 1.3% Armenians - 0.5% Others - 1.7% 52,722 people were registered from administrative databases, could not declare an ethnicity. It is estimated that the proportion of ethnicities in this group is the same as that of the declared group.
According to the 1897 census, there were 77.3% Russians and 22.3% Ukrainians in the Kursk Governorate. The 1932 forced end to Ukrainization in southern Russia led to a massive decline of reported Ukrainians in these regions in the 1937 Soviet Census compared to the 1926 First All-Union Census of the Soviet Union; the annual growth rate of the oblast's population is negative. According to a 2012 survey 68.7% of the population of Kursk Oblast adheres to the Russian Orthodox Church. In addition, 24% of the population declares to be "spiritual but not religious", 4% is atheist, 3.3% follows other religions or did not give an answer to the question. Slavic tribes of the Severians inhabited the area. From 830 the Kursk was part of Kievan Rus' states. Although territory of Kursk Oblast had been populated since the end of the last Ice Age, information about the cities was scanty until 1596 when the Kursk stronghold was built, it was part of Grand Duchy of Lithuania under the Jagiellonian dynasty. It was lost in the Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars to the Muscovite Rus'.
A real growth of the area around Kursk began soon after that, with a large migration from Central Russia after famine in the beginning of the 17th century. Between 1708 and 1719, Kursk was a part of the newly created Kiev Governorate. From 1719 to 1727 it was a part of Belgorod province of Kiev Governorate. Kursk uyezd was a part of Belgorod Governorate. On May 23, 1779, Kursk Governorate was established; the latter subdivision existed until 1928, when the territory of Kursk Governorate became a part of Central Black Earth Oblast. As Central Chernozem Oblast was large its administration was difficult, on June 13, 1934 it was divided into two oblasts: Kursk Oblast and Voronezh Oblast. In the period between 1934 and 1954, oblasts' borders were adjusted. However, the area and borders of the oblast have remained stable from 1954. During World War II, the territory of Kursk Oblast was occupied by the German troops from fall of 1941 until summer of 1943; the Battle of Kursk, one of the major battles of World War II, took place in the region between Jul