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An oblast ( /ˈɒblæst/ ; also UK: /ˈɒblɑːst/ ; Cyrillic (in most languages, including Russian and Ukrainian): область, Bulgarian: област) [1] is a type of administrative division of Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Ukraine, as well as the former Soviet Union and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.


Official terms in successor states of the Soviet Union differ, but some still use a cognate of the Russian term, e.g., vobłasć (voblasts, voblasts', official orthography: вобласць, Taraškievica: вобласьць, [ˈvobɫasʲtsʲ] ) is used for regions of Belarus, oblys (plural: oblystar) for regions of Kazakhstan, and oblusu (облусу) for regions of Kyrgyzstan.

The term is often translated as "area", "zone", "province" or "region". The last translation may lead to confusion, because "raion" may be used for other kinds of administrative division, which may be translated as "region", "district" or "county" depending on the context. Unlike "province", translations as "area", "zone", and "region" may lead to confusion because they have very common meanings other than a political division.


Since 1999, Bulgaria has been divided into 28 oblasts, usually translated as "provinces". Before, the country was divided into just nine units, also called oblasts.

Russian Empire

In the Russian Empire, oblasts were considered to be administrative units and were included as parts of Governorates General or krais. The majority of then-existing oblasts were on the periphery of the country (e.g. Kars Oblast or Transcaspian Oblast) or covered the areas where Cossacks lived.

Soviet Union

In the Soviet Union, oblasts were one of the types of administrative divisions of the union republics. As any administrative units of this level, oblasts were composed of districts ( raions ) and cities/towns directly under oblasts' jurisdiction. Some oblasts also included autonomous entities called autonomous okrugs. Because of the Soviet Union electrification program under the GOELRO plan, Ivan Alexandrov, as director of the Regionalisation Committee of Gosplan, divided the Soviet Union into thirteen European and eight Asiatic oblasts, using rational economic planning rather than "the vestiges of lost sovereign rights". [2]

The names of oblasts did not usually correspond to the names of the respective historical regions, as they were created as purely administrative units. With a few exceptions, Soviet oblasts were named after their administrative centers.

Post-Soviet countries

The oblasts in other post-Soviet countries are officially called:

Territorial entityLocal termEnglish termDetailsComment
Armenia marzprovince or region [3] see Marz (country subdivision) Oblast in the Russian version of a 1995 law. [4]
Belarus voblast (vobłaść) / oblastregion [5] see Regions of Belarus Belarusian and Russian are both state languages.
Kazakhstan oblysregionsee Regions of Kazakhstan
Kyrgyzstan oblus / oblastregionsee Regions of Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyz and Russian are both official languages
Russia oblastoblast or region [6] see Oblasts of Russia According to the Constitution of Russia, oblasts are considered to be subjects of the Federation, which is a higher status than that of administrative units they had within the Russian SFSR before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The federal subject status gives the oblasts some degree of autonomy and gives them representation in the Federation Council.
Tajikistan viloyatregionsee Regions of Tajikistan
Turkmenistan welaýatregion [7] see Regions of Turkmenistan
Ukraine oblastoblast or region [8] [9] see Oblasts of Ukraine
Uzbekistan viloyatregion [10] see Regions of Uzbekistan

Viloyat and welaýat are derived from the Turkish language term vilayet , itself derived from the Arabic language term wilāya (ولاية)


In Ukraine, an oblast (Ukrainian : область, romanized: óblastʹ [ˈɔbɫɐsʲtʲ] ; in English called a province or region) refers to one of the country's 24 primary administrative units. Since Ukraine is a unitary state, the provinces (or regions) do not have much legal scope of competence other than that which is established in the Ukrainian Constitution and by law. Articles 140–146 of Chapter XI of the constitution deal directly with local authorities and their competency.

Oblasts are further subdivided into raions (districts), ranging in number from 11 to 27 per entity. [11]


In 1922, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was divided into 33 administrative divisions also called oblasts. In 1929, oblasts were replaced with larger administrative units known as banovinas.

During the Yugoslav Wars, several Serb Autonomous Oblasts were formed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia. These oblasts were later merged into the Republic of Serbian Krajina and the Republika Srpska.

See also

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  2. Ekonomicheskoe raionirovanie Rossii, Gosplan, Moscow 1921
  3. "Government - Regions - The Government of Armenia". gov.am.
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  5. "Geography, Belarus - Belarus.by". belarus.by.
  6. "Chapter 3. The Federal Structure - The Constitution of the Russian Federation". constitution.ru. Archived from the original on 2018-12-25. Retrieved 2014-10-16.
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  11. Decrees of Kyiv City Council Archived 2007-07-07 at the Wayback Machine Kyiv City Council decree No. 280/1257: Description of New Administrative Raions of the City of Kyiv. Passed on 2001-04-27. (in Ukrainian)

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