Soviet-era and Russian Monotowns

Geographic distribution of Monotowns in Russia – Manufacturing (blue), Mining (green), two principal industries (black), and other industries (red) – Source:

In Russia, cities and towns whose economy and existence are largely tied to a single, dominating industry are referred as “Monotowns,” which is short for Monofunctional Towns (or Cities). These are basically their equivalent to the Western terminology of Company Towns.” Most were established during the Soviet Era. The map provided at the top of the post identifies the geographical distribution of Russian Monotowns. Many of them are also listed in alphabetical order below.

Toyaltti, Russia – Source:

As with Company Towns here in the West, the economic, structural, and societal risks of being a Monotown are great. A downward turn in the economy, a collapsed trade agreement, a bad production cycle, economic malaise, government decisions, competition from home and abroad, technological changes, and a variety of other factors can directly impact the Monotown.

Without a diversified economy, such an event or event(s) can drastically impact the community and its citizenry, as there are limited alternatives for them to fall back on during a downturn. American cities like Youngstown, Flint, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and others have all learned the hard way that an economy too closely tied to one industry can have catastrophic consequences that can last for decades.

There are approximately 300 Monotowns in Russia. Here’s a list of some of the prominent ones and the industries they are tied to:

  • Anzhero-Sudzhensk – coal mining
  • Asha – metals manufactring
  • Baykalsk – paper
  • Belaya Kholunitsa – conveyors
  • Belebey – auto parts
  • Chegdomyn – coal mining
  • Cherepovets – ferrous metals
  • Chernogorsk – coal mining
  • Chusovoy – metal production
  • Dalnegorsk – chemicals
  • Gavrilov-Yam – aircraft engines
  • Gukovo – coal mining
  • Kamensk-Uralsky – metals manufacturing
  • Kameshkovo (Vladimir Oblast) – textiles
  • Kamskiye Polyany – pumps
  • Kanash – buses and trailers
  • Karabash (Chelyabinsk Oblast) – metals manufacturing
  • Karpinsk – mining machinery
  • Kaspiysk – watercraft motors
  • Kirovsk (Murmansk Oblast) – chemicals
  • Kirs – cables
  • Kondopoga – paper
  • Krasavino, Veliky Ustyug (Vologda Oblast) – electricity
  • Krasnoturyinsk – non-ferrous metals
  • Krasnovishersk – mining
  • Kumertau – helicopters
  • Kurlovo (Vladimir Oblast)- glass
  • Kuvandyk – non-ferrous metals
  • Kuvshinovo (Kuvshinovsky District, Tver Oblast)
  • Luza (Luzsky District, Kirov Oblast) – timber
  • Naberezhnye Chelny – heavy duty trucks
  • Novotroitsk – iron production
  • Nyazepetrovsk – machinery
  • Nytva – copper
  • Ochyor – oil field pumps
  • Onega – timber
  • Pervouralsk – metals manufacturing
  • Pestovo (Pestovsky District, Novgorod Oblast) – timber
  • Pikalyovo (Leningrad Oblast) – cement
  • Pitkyaranta – paper
  • Prokopyevsk – coal mining
  • Pudozh – timber
  • Raychikhinsk – coal mining
  • Revda (Murmansk Oblast)
  • Salair – silver
  • Sazonovo (Chagodoshchensky District, Vologda Oblast)
  • Selenginsk – paper
  • Severouralsk – copper mining
  • Shelekhov – aluminium
  • Spirovo (Spirovsky District, Tver Oblast) – glass
  • Suoyarvi – paper
  • Svobodny (Amur Oblast) – rail transportation
  • Tashtagol – iron ore mining
  • Tolyatti – the largest Monotown in terms of population = 707,408 (2018). Its economy is tied to automobile production.
  • Uralsky (Perm Krai) – timber
  • Ust-Katav – machinery
  • Velikooktyabrsky – glass
  • Verkhny Ufaley – metals manufacturing
  • Volchansk – coal machinery
  • Vyatskiye Polyany – hunting and sporting weapons
  • Yaroslavsky (Primorsky Krai) – metal production
  • Yurga – machinery
  • Zapadnaya Dvina – paper
  • Zelenodolsk – shipbuilding


If you find this topic of interest, here’s a book resource on the subject that’s available through*


*A small commission is earned from purchases that are made using these links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


This entry was posted in business, cities, civics, commerce, Economy, geography, health, history, humanity, industry, infrastructure, land use, Maps, Mining, pictures, place names, placemaking, planning, poverty, Russia, social equity, sustainability, Trade, transportation, urban planning and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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