Geography and natural resources
Stavropol Krai is situated in the South of European Russia, in the Northern Caucasus (northern foothills of the main Caucasian range). The central part of the territory occupies the Stavropol Plateau, a hilly region (rising to c.2,730 ft, or 832 m), drained by the Kuma and Kuban rivers. Geographically, Stavropol Krai is situated exactly half way between the North Pole and Equator.
Thanks to temperate continental climate, natural growth is diverse; steppes give way to coniferous and deciduous forests (4% of the territory) and subalpine meadows. Soils are classed as chernozems (over 41% ) and chestnut soils (52%).
There are oil and natural-gas deposits, but key natural resource is presented by numerous mineral springs that make the region a major resort area (has been exploited since 1803).
Stavropol Krai (or Stavropol Territory) was first organized on February 13, 1924, when it was called North Caucasus Territory. It was renamed
Ordzhonikidze Territory in 1943 and was given its present name in 1943.
Stavropol Krai is divided on 26 administrative districts; the chief towns
are Stavropol, the capital; Pyatigorsk; Kislovodsk; and Nevinnomysk.
Governor, Alexander Chernogorov, in 2000 was elected on second term.
For many years agriculture has been the main branch of the Stavropol Krai's economy. The once drought-ridden territory has been irrigated since 1945. Winter wheat, corn, sunflowers, and cotton are grown; along the Kuma River grapes, other fruits, and vegetables are also cultivated. The main grain-crop in plant growing is the winter wheat. Its sown area is 1.2 million hectares. Additionally, the spring and industrial crops are cultivated in the Stavropol Krai. Sugar beet, sunflower, oil-seed rape, corn, buckwheat, mustard, vegetable, fruit and grape also occupy large sown areas.
At eastern parts of the region sheep raising is an important occupation.
Due to the fact that the major part of the livestock industry belongs now to the individual farms, large livestock farms mainly grow fast growing strains of cattle and poultry, especially broilers and pigs.
The Stavropol Krai is famous for mineral and mud springs. Mineral waters like Narzan and Essentuki are famous worldwide, as well as based on the resource recreational complex Kavkazskie Mineralny Vody. It includes such towns as Pyatigorsk, Kislovodsk, Essentuky and Zheleznovodsk.
The population is for the most part Russian (a large part identify
themselves with Cossacks), Armenian, Ukrainian, and Greek; minority groups are Circassians, Karachays, Abazins, and Nogays. Geopolitical changes set in motion significant human flow former Soviet Union countries and republics of North Caucasus.
Judging by archeological sites, the region was heavy populated as early as the fourth thousand years BCE. Great Silk Route passed via the modern Krasnodar Krai's territory, Golden Horde established here the town Majary (the second half of the 13th century), later on transformed into a large trade city, a crossroad between the Orient and the Occident.
Up to the second half of the 18th century the territory was under the dominion of Ottoman Empire, outpost of which was situated at Azuv. To strengthen and control her southern boundaries, Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, ordered an establishing of Azuv-Mosdok fortification line that consisted from 9 fortresses and a line of redoubts and Cossack pickets. Stavropol was founded on October 22, 1777, as one of the fortresses of the Asov-Mosdok defense line. In 1785 it has acquired the status of the city.
In Greek, "Stavropol" means "The City of The Cross". The legend says that when the soldiers of the Vladimir Division started the construction of the fortress in 1777, they had discovered a big stone cross under the ground. Local historians attributed this to their theory, which holds that the Cross belonged to the first Christians, who had found there an asylum from their enemies.
Since then the region had been developed under the protection of
fortresses; later on the defence establishments gave rise to such cities and townships as Kislovodsk, Pyatigorsk, Georgievsk, Nevinnomyssk, etc.