The Novgorod region comprises 21 administrative districts, 10 cities, 18 settlements, and 3796 villages. At the beginning of 2004 the region had a population of 682.6 thousand. Over 70% of the region population lives in the cities, 220.2 thousand reside in the regional administrative centre – Veliky Novgorod.
About 315 thousand people are involved in the regional economy: industrial sector – 27 %, agricultural sector – 10 %, construction sector – 5 %, trade and catering – 13 %. The average age of a working person is 39 years. The region is situated far from so called “hot spots” and has a nearly homogeneous structure of population (around 90% are ethnic Russians), which provides for the relative absence of ethnic tension.
The industrial potential is represented by over 1500 enterprises, among which 200 are large and medium-scale ones. The industrial sites are mainly concentrated in Veliky Novgorod, Borovichi, Staraya Russa and Chudovo. It makes about 40 % of regional gross output and gives over 50% of tax revenues in the regional budget. The various shares of the total amount of industrial production belongs to the chemical industry (26%), the wood and wood working industry (21%), the food-processing industry (17%), the mechanical engineering industry (12%) and the electric power industry (10%). About 40% of production is exported.
The Novgorod region is a rare example of successful economic policies carried out by regional authorities. It managed to attract more foreign direct investments per capita than the overwhelming majority of the Russian regions, including St. Petersburg. Thus in 1995-1998 direct foreign investments made in the Novgorod region were 49 USD per capita (an average investment inRussia is 9 USD per capita). For the period 1994 - 2003 861 million USD was invested in the Novgorod region. At the moment such foreign companies as “Cadbury” (Great Britain), “Dandy” (Denmark), “Schauman Wood”, “Raute”, “UPM Kymmene”, “StoraEnso” (Finland), “Oldham” (France), “Sommer”, “Pfleiderer”, “Benteler” (Germany), “Amcor” (Australia), “Dresser Industries” (USA), have established themselves in the region. The reason for success is the simplification of administrative procedures and the granting of tax privileges to investors.
The use of qualified but less expensive labour forces, along with the experience, and scientific and technical qualifications of Novgorodians give tremendous advantages in comparison with their competitors, both for Russian and foreign investors not only in Russia but also on the world market. In this connection NovSU plays a special role: it has united earlier independent higher education institutions of the region in an educational complex. NovSU is successfully competing with 10 branches of St. Petersburg and Moscow higher education institutions functioning in the city, which charge a fee for educational services they provide. At the same time, NovSU is experiencing constant pressure from Universities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, attracting many potential students.