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An oblast ( /ˈɒblæst/ ; also UK: /ˈɒblɑːst/ ) [1] is a type of administrative division of Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine and the former Soviet Union and 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., voblast (voblasts, voblasts', [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.


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

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 Russian and Belarusian are both state languages.
Georgia mkhareregionsee Mkhare
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 1922, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was divided into 33 administrative divisions 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 Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. These oblasts were later merged into the Republic of Serbian Krajina and the Republika Srpska.

See also

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Krais of Russia

A krai is a type of federal subject of Russia. The country is divided into 85 federal subjects, of which nine are krais. Oblasts, another type of federal subject, are legally identical to krais and the difference between a political entity with the name "krai" or "oblast" is purely traditional, similar to the commonwealths in the United States; both are constituent entities equivalent in legal status in Russia with representation in the Federation Council. During the Soviet era, the autonomous oblasts could be subordinated to republics or krais, but not to oblasts. Outside of political terminology, both words have very similar general meaning and can often be used interchangeably.

Autonomous okrugs of Russia

Autonomous okrug, occasionally referred to as "autonomous district", "autonomous area", and "autonomous region", is a type of federal subject of Russia and simultaneously an administrative division type of some federal subjects. As of 2014, Russia has four autonomous okrugs of its 85 federal subjects. The Chukotka Autonomous Okrug is the only okrug which is not subordinate to an oblast. The other three are Arkhangelsk Oblast's Nenets Autonomous Okrug, and Tyumen Oblast's Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug.

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Oblasts of Ukraine Type of first-level administrative division of Ukraine

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Okruhas of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic

An okruha, okruh (округ), or okrug is a one the historical administrative division of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic that existed between 1923 and 1930. The system was intended as a transitional system between the Russian Imperial division of governorates and the modern equivalent of oblasts.


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  2. Ekonomicheskoe raionirovanie Rossii, Gosplan, Moscow 1921
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