A darkly colored soil, chernozem or “black earth” contains high percentages of humus, phosphorus, and ammonia, thus making it one of the most fertile types of soil on Earth. There are two chernozem belts in the world; one is the Black Earth Region (tsentral’ no-chernozemnyi region), which stretches from Ukraine to Siberia, and the other is found in the Canadian prairies. The Russian regions that span the Eurasian chernozem belt include Voronezh, Lipetsk, Belgorod, Tambov, Oryol, and Kursk. Historically, this region, along with parts of Ukraine, has served as the breadbasket of Russia, as well as providing grain exports to Europe and forming the agricultural core of the country. During the mid-19th century, tsarist authorities, hoping to better understand the ecology of the chernozem zone, established a large area that was to remain uncultivated and in its natural state; this area is today known as the Central Chernozem Biosphere Reserve. Due to the presence of iron ores associated with the Kursk Magnetic Anomaly, the Soviets also industrialized much of the area during the 1930s and beyond. In the post-Soviet period, the chernozem region formed the core of the Red Belt, and reliably supported the Communist Party of the Russian Federation during the 1990s.
   See also Industry.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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