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Zaporizhzhya ( Zaporozhye ) City Information


Zaporizhzhya, located mostly on the east bank in the lower Dnieper River, occupies an important historic territory. The central portion of the river has a series of steep rapids, preventing navigation, and numerous islands are scattered throughout the length of the river. One of the islands, Mala Khortytsya, south of the rapids and about five miles north of the present city, became a Cossack stronghold in the 16th century, before being overrun by Tatars in 1558. Zaporozhians had a turbulent history for the next several centuries that left a deep imprint on the collective memory of Ukrainians. Since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, there has been a Cossack revival directed principally at young people and the formation of Cossack military units.

Today's city traces its origin to a Russian fortress, Oleksandrovsk, built in 1770 opposite the Cossack fortification on Khortytsia Island. The fort lost military significance the following decade as Crimea was incorporated into the Russian Empire and the Ottomans lost control of the northern Black Sea coast. The installation was formally abandoned in 1798, being replaced by a farming settlement of about 400 people. By 1806, the village had became the county seat in the newly formed Katarynoslav Guberniya. The new administrative status transformed Oleksandrovsk from a village into a small town. The whole region was covered, very quickly, with huge plantations worked by thousands of serfs. In 1805, Oleksandrovsk County had 126 landlords who owned 1.6 million acres of land and almost 14 thousand serfs.

Agriculture and related industries played a key role in the town's


development for much of the 19th century. Initially, sheep raising dominated agriculture, with merino wool being the principal export commodity, but later in the century, wheat replaced wool as the main export. The population increased from 1,726 in 1824 to 3,729 in 1861, the year that serfdom was abolished. Emancipation, and the accompanying reforms, stimulated economic development, as agriculture and trade were supplemented by small scale manufacturing, mostly processing agricultural products. Significant economic growth occurred, however, only after railroads linked the town with Moscow in 1873 and the Crimea two years later. The town became a freight transfer point, with cargo (primarily grain) being transported by rail, to be loaded on barges and floated down the river to the Black Sea ports for export. Besides being a transportation center, Oleksandrovsk became a center of agricultural machinery manufacturing, with 13 factories located in the town, with most of them being founded by foreign industrialists. These factories produced equipment that helped mechanize agriculture, with an estimated one-third of sowing and harvesting in the region being mechanized by 1889.

New rail links helped Oleksandrovsk diversify beyond its agriculture-oriented economy. In 1902, the town was connected to the coal and iron ore mining centers of the Donbas, Kryvy Rih and Nikopal, transforming Oleksandrovsk into a boom town. At the outbreak of World War I, it had 11 banks and 47 factories, employing 10,000 workers. The population also grew rapidly, from 19,000 in 1897 to 57,600 in 1913. However, rapid economic and demographic growth, coupled with low pay and poor working conditions, increased social unrest. This was first manifested by labor strikes, with tensions escalating into armed conflict by the 1905 Revolution, with between 300 and 500 armed workers battling police and soldiers (December 12, 13, 1905).

The Tsar's abdication in March 1917 precipitated an intense struggle among several groups for control of the area. Initially, the local councils, controlled largely by the Ukrainian Socialist Revolutionaries and backed by troops of the Ukrainian National Republic, had nominal rule. However, the Socialist Revolutionaries' lack of clear-cut policies, especially on the issue of land reform, strengthened the hand of the Bolsheviks (who advocated immediate seizure of land). They gained control of the city and the region in the winter of 1917-1918. However, their rule was brief, as German troops entered the city on April 18, 1918. A harsh occupation policy, including grain requisition and a hostile attitude to the leftist local political currents, provoked armed opposition.

When the Civil War ended in 1921, huge economic and population losses had been inflicted on the city and the area. Only 8 of the 300 nationalized food processing facilities in the province were operating; 23 of the 54 metallurgical plants and 2 of 23 footwear plants. The 1920 harvest was one-quarter of pre-war levels, with the ensuing famine and typhus decimating the population.

Municipal services and other amenities in pre-World War I Zaporizhzhya lagged behind the


rapid economic development and population growth. Of approximately 8,500 dwellings, more than half were made of wood, 1,200 were built of brick or stone and the remainder were adobe built. Sanitation was virtually non-existent, and sewage was collected in pits, frequently contaminating well water before being removed. Some drinking water was piped from the Dnieper or its tributaries without filtration. Improvement came in 1914, when a modern water distribution system was installed. Nevertheless, health care facilities were inadequate for the rapidly expanding population. In 1913, there were a half dozen small hospitals, with 250 beds, 5 pharmacies, 25 physicians, 62 assistant doctors and mid-wives.

As in the beginning of the century, economic development during the Soviet period fostered population growth. The former Soviet government targeted the area for major industrial development, and Zaporizhzhya (changed from Oleksandrovsk in 1921) became a major center of agricultural machinery. The centerpiece of development, however, was construction of a nearby dam on the Dnieper River (1929-1932), to provide electric power for the city and the region. This contributed to rapid population growth, to 300,000 by the end of 1940, more than a fivefold increase since the 1926 census.

World War II brought catastrophic population losses. Numerous factories and workers were evacuated before the advancing German army. Additional losses occurred during the 2-year occupation. Before the city was recaptured in the fall of 1943, the population fell to 65,000. By 1956, the population reached 381,000, well above the pre-war level. Zaporizhzhya continued to experience robust population growth during the next two decades, with the 1979 census recording 781,000 residents.

Throughout the city's history, Ukrainians comprised the largest share of the population, but it has always been a Russian speaking city. Migrants from the adjacent Ukrainian-speaking countryside quickly claimed Russian as their native language and frequently Russian nationality as well. The 1897 census asked respondents to indicate their native language but not their nationality; the share of Russian-speaking Ukrainians, therefore, cannot be identified. The 1926 census shows that almost a third of Ukrainians claimed Russian as their native language, a share that has continued to the present. Earlier ethnic diversity has disappeared largely through assimilation, and to a lesser extent by German extermination and dispersal of the Jewish population, so that it is now basically a Ukrainian - Russian city.

Recent demographic trends in Zaporizhzhya reflect the worsening health care and living conditions that exist throughout the former Soviet Union. A precipitous drop in births virtually stopped population growth. The small increase in population from 881,000 in 1989 to 895,000 in 1994 (for current boundaries, which have changed since the 1989 census) was due largely to migration. Birth rates dropped from 12.9 (per 1,000) in 1989 to 9.0 in 1993. The combination of reduced fertility and increased mortality resulted in deaths exceeding births by 1,456 in 1992 and by 2,771 in 1993. Another measure of growing mortality is the drop in life expectancy at birth, from 66.5 years for men and 74.4 years for women in 1988-89 to 63.0 years and 73.8, respectively, in 1992-93.

The city's state sector employment totaled 404,400 in 1993, comprising nearly 60 percent of the oblast's urban employment (see Figure 2 for decline in oblast employment, for each sector). That is somewhat higher than its share of the oblast's urban population, the difference evidently being due to commuting. Employment is not reported by branch of activity, but because city employment and industrial output comprise nearly 60 percent of the oblast total, oblast data can be used to approximate city branch employment. Industry, particularly the automotive and metallurgy sectors (Zaporizhzhya produces most of Ukraine's passenger cars), is the key employer. The food industry and science and scientific services also are major employers. The city has confectionery and meatpacking plants, and two breweries. Research institutes and design bureaus employ large numbers of technical personnel, largely in support of the machine-building industry.

The city of Zaporizhzhya, like other oblast capitals, is the principal educational and cultural center in the oblast. Despite its 200-year history, however, it became a major city only before World War II and is known more for its steel and machine-building capacity than education and culture. After the Revolution, the school system expanded, so that by 1928, about 80 percent of school-age children were enrolled. Seventh grade education became mandatory in the early 1930's, and at the outbreak of the war, primary and secondary school enrollment totaled 37,200, with 1,082 teachers. In addition, a serious effort was made to educate the older population, with about a dozen schools providing adult education by 1941. Higher education was conducted in one pedagogical and two engineering institutes, all established in 1930.

Although war devastated the city and the school system, recovery was swift. By the autumn of 1944, one year after the Red Army recaptured the city, 33 schools (with 10,000 pupils) were operating, compared to 58 schools and 37,200 pupils before the war. The school system's expansion continued during the post-war years and by 1993, there were 124 day schools with 109,200 pupils, with nearly all schools in the oblast (98 percent in 1992) being day schools.

The former Soviet educational system was retained after independence without any basic changes (Table 1). General education schools (grades 1-11) provide primary and secondary education. Rudimentary secondary education, combined with vocational training, is given in vocational schools. Specialized secondary schools provide semi-professional training, and secondary education for those entering with only an eighth grade education. Students with secondary or specialized secondary education are eligible to enter institutions of higher learning, where training lasts 4 to 6 years. The city has 14 specialized secondary schools, three institutes of higher learning and a university. The Zaporizhzhya University, established in 1984 as a pedagogical institute, had five departments and 4,500 students in 1988.

Zaporizhzhya is in a Russified portion of Ukraine and consequently, the Ukrainian language plays a secondary role in education. Data on the language of instruction were not published during the Soviet period, although presumably Ukrainian was taught as a subject in most general education schools. The situation has changed only slightly since independence. An unofficial source reported that of 101 general education schools in the city of Zaporizhzhya in 1987, one school taught in Ukrainian, five used both Ukrainian and Russian and the remaining 95 schools used Russian alone. Instruction in Ukrainian has increased in the last few years, but there is little evidence of rampant Ukrainization that is occasionally claimed by pro-Russian groups.

Cultural amenities in Zaporizhzhya, as of 1993, included 77 public libraries, three theaters, a philharmonic, two museums, numerous movie houses, clubs and parks. The Music and Drama Theater, located permanently in Zaporizhzhya since 1944, is the principal

theater staging a wide range of foreign and domestic plays. The other two theaters are more recent and specialized--the Puppet Theater was established in 1971 and the Young Spectator's Theater in 1979. All are housed in the Glinka Concert Hall. The art museum, established in 1971, exhibits paintings and decorative and applied art objects of Ukrainian and other artists of the former Soviet Union. The Regional Studies Museum dates to 1927 and exhibits about 70,000 items. Displays highlight the region's natural history and human activities since the earliest times. These include archeological artifacts, items from the Cossack era, the Revolution, industrialization and World War II.

Living standards have been eroding in Zaporizhzhya, as in other cities in Ukraine, but it is difficult to quantify the decline, due to insufficient city-level data. Oblast data, however, can be used as a surrogate since Zaporizhzhya accounts for 43 percent of the total and 56 percent of the oblast urban population. Per capita urban living space amounted to 16.6 sq. m. in 1992, slightly below the national average. Since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, per-capita living space has not changed, despite a decline in new construction. In the first 9 months of 1994, 64,000 square meters of living space were added in the city, a two-thirds decrease from the 196,000 sq. meters added during the same period of 1993. The stability in per-capita living space apparently is due to the near cessation of population growth.

Privatization of houses and apartments has been gaining momentum in recent years. The amount of publicly-owned housing sold to individuals increased from 66,500 square meters in 1990 to 838,400 square meters in 1992, a 12.6-fold increase in the oblast, compared to a 9.6-fold increase in Ukraine. By early 1993, the amount of privately-owned housing exceeded that in the public sector: 19.2 million square meters compared to 18.9 million square meters.

Health data provide little insight into the health care situation either in Ukraine or Zaporizhzhya. Statistics are reported by broad categories such as the number of physicians, auxiliary medical personnel, hospitals or hospital beds for Ukraine and by oblast, but rarely for lower jurisdictions. The city had 10,000 hospital beds in 1993, one-third of the oblast total. Although these figures show little change in recent years, increased mortality and a rise in the hospitalized population suggest deteriorating health conditions, at a time of insufficient medicine and medical supplies.

Living standards unquestionably have declined in Zaporizhzhya since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, but the extent is unclear due to unreported economic activity. One example is the impact on production of grain-based foods. The oblast's 1993 output of grains and basic vegetables was three percent higher than in 1991, but bread and baked goods production fell 13 percent. Also, during that period, meat output (slaughter weight) fell 32 percent, but processed meat and meat product production dropped more significantly, by 57 percent. Retail sales of these foods fell even further (with private trade activity filling much of the gap).

The nascent market economy has changed the manner by which income is earned and spent. Between 1991 and 1993, wages's share of income fell from 57 to 36 percent, while income from unidentified "other sources" rose from 9 to 44 percent. An increasing share of that income is spent in private trade, despite prices that far exceed those in state or cooperative stores. Consequently, higher prices increased food and consumer good's share of total expenditures, from 66 percent to 84 percent of between 1991 and 1993.

Zaporizhzhya city's economy has been in serious decline since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Industrial output fell 24 percent during the first 11 months of 1994, compared with the same period of 1993. Similar comparisons for an eight-month period showed a 28 percent decrease in the oblast and 33 percent for Ukraine. The most severe downturns were seen in heavy industry, since food and consumer industries fell only 16 percent (see Figure 3 for information on specific products). Food industry output declined 7 percent, while the consumer goods industry (including both consumer durables and soft goods) dropped 18 percent. In the city, 110 enterprises, comprising 76 percent of the total, reduced their production.

Despite this downturn, Zaporizhzhya remains a major industrial center, with a diversified manufacturing base. Metallurgy and machine-building, started by foreign industrialists before the Revolution, remain the principal industries in the city. These were supplemented during the Soviet period by production of chemicals, oil refined products, antibiotics, construction materials, food industry and light industry, mostly clothing and footwear manufacturing. Completion of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station in 1932 provided ample electricity, and coupled with Donbas coking coal, Kryvy Rih iron ore and Nikopol manganese, all in close proximity, turned Zaporizhzhya into a key metallurgical center. The Zaporizhstol plant, the largest metallurgical complex in the city, was completed in 1933, evacuated during the war and rebuilt by 1947. The plant produces a wide range of metals including hot and cold rolled and sheet steel, castings and iron plates with several finishes. It was the first in the former Soviet Union to feature a continuously poured steel process, and by the 1970's, employed over 7,000 workers.

The city's best known product is the Zaporozhets automobile, produced by the Komunar plant. The facility, opened in 1923 to produce agricultural machinery, was converted to automobile production between 1958 and 1960. Production grew steadily, so that by 1970, annual production reached 84,400 vehicles. The plant was integrated in 1977 with smaller plants in Melitopol (Zaporizhzhya Oblast), Lutske and Dnipropetrovsk, to form the Automobile Manufacturing Consortium, which produced 150,000 cars in 1978. In addition to the Zaporozhets, the consortium also produces a smaller car, the Tavria and several specialized cars for the disabled. The output of the Zaporizhzhya and Melitopol plants was 139,400 cars in 1991 and 128,900 cars in 1993, or 90 and 92 percent of Ukraine's auto output in those years.

The chemical industry, an important component of Zaporizhzhya's economy, is comparatively new. Ukraine is a major manufacturer of fertilizers and coking gas obtained from Zaporizhzhya metallurgical plants. About 100 tons of ammonium sulfate, extracted from the gas annually in the late 1980's, was used to produce fertilizer because of its nitrogen content. Nitrate fertilizer output in Zaporizhzhya decreased from 5,800 tons to 5,000 tons between 1991 and 1993. The industry expanded in the 1960's with the construction of the Kremynypolymyr plant (producing lacquers, enamels and lubricants from silicone polymers). Subsequent products included vinyl and feed additives.

In conclusion, Zaporizhzhya has cause for optimism regarding its future. Its diverse array of industrial facilities, and large numbers of technically skilled workers give Zaporizhzhya the means to produce many of the goods that may be in increased demand as the economy rebounds. In addition, the Soviet-era concentration of the economy in the state sector is diminishing comparatively rapidly, as the privatization program is comparatively stronger than in many other areas of Ukraine.

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