The Chernozem Countryside
Soils in the Chernozem region are truly black (Chernozem means "black soil"), their humus content is 8-12%, and they are over one meter thick. During the Second World War, German occupiers loaded Ukrainian and southern-Russian Chernozem onto cargo platforms and shipped whole trains of it at a time to the Vaterland. Officially, five provinces belong to the Central Chernozem economic region, those of Belgorod, Voronezh, Kursk, Lipetsk, and Tambov; together they comprise 1% of Russia's total land area. The Central Chernozem region is a typical agrarian belt of European Russia with arable land accounting for 60-70% of the region's total land area and mostly situated on watersheds. The Chernozem region had been one of the most ailing regions of Russia, and then became a relatively successful one. During the 17th century an all-Russian market was taking shape, fixing a division of labor between the northern (forest) industrial belt and the agricultural Chernozem south.