Dnipro Upland

Dnipro Upland [Придніпровська височина; Prydniprovska vysochyna]. The central part of a chain of uplands in Ukraine lying between the Boh River and the Dnipro River. It extends from the northwest to the southeast and is the Dnipro section of the Ukrainian Crystalline Shield. In the north the Dnipro Upland borders on the lowland of Polisia; in the south, on the Black Sea Lowland; in the west, on the Podolian Upland (along the Boh River) and the Volhynia-Kholm Upland (along the Teteriv River); in the east, on the Dnipro Lowland (along the Dnipro River). The Zaporozhian Ridge (sometimes called the Zaporozhian Interior Plateau), which is the lowest part of the Ukrainian Crystalline Shield and lies on both sides of the Dnipro Rapids, is a southeastern continuation of the Dnipro Upland and connects it with the Azov Upland. The Dnipro Upland covers about 80,000 sq km. It coincides with the central part of the forest-steppe belt and the adjacent steppe belt.

The crystalline formations of the Dnipro Upland are covered with relatively thin layers of sedimentary, low-resistance deposits of the Paleogene and Neogene periods (mainly in the south and southwest): sand, limestone, clay, soft chalk. During the Dnipro glaciation the northeast section of the upland was under a glacier that reached south to the Pohrebyshche–Kamianka (Cherkasy oblast)–Verkhnodniprovsk line. The glacial layers that remained cover the loess and loesslike loam of the upland to a depth of up to 20 m. Only river bottoms and recently formed terraces are covered with alluvial layers.

Because sedimentary layers (especially in the northwest) are thin, the surface of the Dnipro Upland is very similar to the relief of crystalline formations, except that it is more level. The absolute height of the upland varies between 180 m and 300 m. It is highest (322 m) in the northwest part and lowest in the southeast part. Its slope is irregular: higher areas alternate with lower ones.

The Dnipro Upland, like the other uplands of Ukraine, was uplifted at the end of the Pliocene age and during the Pleistocene age. This brought about a rejuvenation of the pleateau that the Dnipro Upland formed at the end of the Pliocene. The lower sections of rivers, particularly of the large rivers and their tributaries, cut into the rock. Yet most of the upland, and especially its higher western part, is flat plain or undulating plain with a few wide valleys and gullies. As one approaches the Boh River and the Dnipro River, the watersheds become narrower, the valleys become deeper, and the gullies and ravines become more numerous. Here the tributaries of the Boh and the Dnipro cut up to 100 m into the crystalline foundation and appear as narrow slits. Sandbars and small rapids are often found in the rivers. Thus, a contrast is created between the monotonous, level landscape of the watersheds and the picturesque landscape of the valleys. The contrast is greatest in the precipitous Dnipro Valley. Many valleys of the Dnipro Upland have a distinct terrace system of usually three or four terraces. Spillways, which once carried the meltwaters of the Dnipro glacier, are widespread in the territory that was once covered with ice, and south of it the spillways attain a depth of 15–40 m and dissect the watersheds between the sources of rivers, which flow in opposite directions where there were once entire valleys. Spillways are most numerous beyond the Ros River and in the upper regions of the Tiasmyn River and the Inhulets River. Low hills formed by the uplifting of crystalline strata, which in the southwest reach the surface at certain points, and pody (saucerlike depressions) in the south provide some variation on the plateaus between the valleys.

The most picturesque part of the Dnipro Upland is the high, steep right bank of the Dnipro River. For almost 500 km (from Kyiv to Dnipro) the height of the bank is 80–150 m above the riverbed and the Dnipro Lowland. This escarpment is marked by erosion and dissected by valleys and gullies. Strata of different eras come to the surface. The beauty is enhanced by forest and bush. The formation of this steep bank was influenced by tectonic processes—the eastern break in the Ukrainian Crystalline Shield. Its tectonic structure in the Kaniv area is complex. The most impressive parts of the Dnipro banks are the Kyiv Hills (174 m high) and the Kaniv Hills (243 m high).

The climate of the Dnipro Upland is temperate-continental, approaching a steppe climate in the south. The climate becomes more continental the farther southeast one goes. The average annual temperature increases in the southward direction from 7° to 8° C; the average July temperature, from 18.5° to 21° C; and the average January temperature, from –5° to –6° C. The number of days per annum with an average temperature above 0° C increases from 245 in the northwest to 255 in the south, and the number of days with a temperature above 10° C from 155 to 170. The annual rainfall increases from 400 mm in the south to 600 mm in the north. The norm is 450–550 mm, 300–450 mm in warm seasons.

The Dnipro Upland is dissected by two large rivers—the Dnipro River and the Boh River—and their tributaries. The main tributaries of the Dnipro are the Teteriv River, Irpin River, Ros River, Tiasmyn River, and Inhulets River; the main tributaries of the Boh River are the Dokhna River, Sob River, Sonytsia River, Syniukha River, and Inhul River. Besides the large, man-made water reservoirs on the Dnipro, there are many small, usually man-made, ponds in the upland.

The soils of the Dnipro Upland are mainly chernozems: typical poor-humus, typical medium-humus, and ordinary medium-humus soils. Some of the chernozems have become degraded under the influence of the forests to podzolized and leached chernozems and gray forest soils. In the central part of the upland (south of the Ros River) the soils vary mosaically.

Almost 80 percent of the Dnipro Upland consisted at one time of forest-steppe with oak and elm forests, and of a fescue-feather-grass colored steppe in the southern part. Today forests cover about 10 percent of the upland. Seventy percent of the land is cultivated. Meadows and pasture cover 10 percent.

The Dnipro Upland included parts of the following historical-geographical regions: the Kyiv region, Podilia, Volhynia, and southern Ukraine. Today it includes parts of the following oblasts: Zhytomyr oblast, Kyiv oblast, Vinnytsia oblast, Cherkasy oblast, Kirovohrad oblast, and Dnipropetrovsk oblast.

The Dnipro Upland, together with Galicia and Podilia, was, until the early 1930s, one of the most populated regions of Ukraine. In 1932 the forest-steppe part of the upland had almost 90 inhabitants per sq km. In 1970 there were approximately 91 inhabitants per sq km in an area that included Kyiv but not the Dnipro Industrial Region. Excluding Kyiv, the area had a density of 70 people per sq km (46 in rural areas). The rural population density of the forest-steppe regions varied from 40 to 60 people per sq km, and in the steppe regions it varied from 20 to 40. The cities (excluding Kyiv) contain 34 percent of the population (53 percent if Kyiv is included). In 2001 there were about 70 urban centers (not counting the Dnipro Industrial Region) in the Dnipro Upland, and 10 of them had populations of over 50,000: Kyiv, 2,602,000; Kamianske, 256,000; Kropyvnytskyi, 253,000; Zhytomyr, 284,000; Cherkasy, 295,000; Kremenchuk, 234,000; Bila Tserkva, 200,000; Berdychiv, 88,000; Uman, 89,000; and Smila, 70,000.

According to the 1970 census, 91 percent of the population in the upland (excluding Kyiv) was Ukrainian, 5 percent Russian, and 4 percent other.

Almost half of the population is engaged in agriculture. The Dnipro Upland belongs to the grain-cultivation belt. Sugar beets are cultivated in the forest-steppe region, and sunflowers are grown mostly in the south. Forty-eight percent of the cultivated land is devoted to grain growing (wheat, 24 percent; corn, 8 percent); 15 percent is devoted to industrial crops (sugar beets, 10 percent; sunflowers, 3 percent); 8 percent is devoted to potatoes, vegetables, and melons; 7 percent is devoted to legumes; and 29 percent is devoted to fodder crops.

The main industry of the upland (excluding Kyiv and the Dnipro Industrial Region) is the food industry, with food products constituting about 50 percent of the total industrial output. Sugar manufacturing is the main industry, followed by machine building (mostly agricultural machines) and metallurgy (15 percent), light industry (10 percent), and building materials (5 percent). Kirovohrad oblast possesses the largest deposits of lignite coal in Ukraine. The energy supply is based on local lignite and on imported anthracite coal and natural gas. Electricity is supplied by the Kremenchuk Hydroelectric Station, Kaniv Hydroelectric Station, and other hydroelectric stations, and by thermoelectric stations in Kropyvnytskyi and elsewhere, which run on lignite.

Bondarchuk, V. Heomorfolohiia URSR (Kyiv 1949)
Chyzhov, M. Ukraïns'kyi Lisostep (Kyiv 1961)
Tsys', P. Heomorfolohiia URSR (Lviv 1962)
Lan'ko, A.; Marynych, O.; Shcherban', M. Fizychna heohrafiia Ukraïns'koï RSR (Kyiv 1969)

Volodymyr Kubijovyč

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]

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