Last updated

An oblast ( /ˈɒblæst/ , UK also /ˈɒblɑːst/ ; plural oblasts, oblasti, or rarely oblasty; [1] Russian and Ukrainian : область, romanized: oblast'; Belarusian : вобласць, romanized: voblasc'; Bulgarian : област, romanized: oblast; Kazakh : облыс, romanized: oblys; Kyrgyz : облус, romanized: oblus) is a type of administrative division in Bulgaria and several post-Soviet states, including Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Historically, it was used in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. The term oblast is often translated in English as region or province. [2] [3] In some countries, oblasts are also known by cognates of the Russian term.



The English term oblast is borrowed from Russian : область, romanized: oblast', where it is inherited from Old East Slavic, in turn borrowed from Church Slavonic : область, romanized: oblastĭ, lit. 'power, empire', formed from the prefix oб-, оb- (cognate with Classical Latin : ob and Ancient Greek : ἐπί, ἔπι, romanized: epi) and Church Slavonic : власть, romanized: vlastĭ, lit. 'power, rule'. [1] In Old East Slavic it was used alongside оболость, obolost', equivalent of об-, ob-, 'against' and волость, volost', 'territory, state, power', cognate with English wield; see volost. [1] [4] [2]


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". [5]

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.


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.

Modern oblasts


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.

Post-Soviet states

Territorial entityLocal termEnglish termDetailsComment
Armenia marzprovince or region [6] see: marz (country subdivision) Oblast in the Russian version of a 1995 law. [7]
Belarus voblasts (voblasc) / oblastregion [8] 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 [9] 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 [10] see: regions of Turkmenistan
Ukraine oblastoblast or region [11] [12] see: oblasts of Ukraine In Ukraine, an oblast (Ukrainian : область [ˈɔblɐsʲtʲ] ; 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 3 to 10 per entity.

Uzbekistan viloyatregion [13] see: regions of Uzbekistan

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

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic</span> Republic of the Soviet Union

The Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, also known simply as Byelorussia, was a republic of the Soviet Union (USSR). It existed between 1920 and 1991 as one of fifteen constituent republics of the USSR, with its own legislation from 1990 to 1991. The republic was ruled by the Communist Party of Byelorussia and was also referred to as Soviet Byelorussia or Soviet Belarus by a number of historians. Other names for Byelorussia included White Russia or White Russian Soviet Socialist Republic and Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Volyn Oblast</span> Oblast (region) of Ukraine

Volyn Oblast or simply Volyn is an oblast (province) in northwestern Ukraine. It borders Rivne Oblast to the east, Lviv Oblast to the south, Poland to the west and Belarus to the north. Its administrative centre is Lutsk. Kovel is the westernmost town and the last station in Ukraine on the rail line running from Kyiv to Warsaw. The population is 1,021,356.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Urban-type settlement</span> Official designation for an urban locality in some countries of the former Soviet Union

Urban-type settlement is an official designation for lesser urbanized settlements, used in several Central and Eastern European countries. The term was primarily used in the Soviet Union and later also for a short time in socialist Bulgaria and socialist Poland. It remains in use today in nine of the post-Soviet states.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Regions of Belarus</span> First-level administrative divisions of Belarus

At the top level of administration, Belarus is divided into six regions and one capital city. The six regions are oblasts, while the city of Minsk has a special status as the capital of Belarus. Minsk also serves as the administrative center of Minsk Region.

An okrug is a type of administrative division in some Slavic-speaking states. The word okrug is a loanword in English, alternatively translated as area, district, or region.

A governorate, gubernia, province, or government was a major and principal administrative subdivision of the Russian Empire. After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, governorates remained as subdivisions in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, and in the Soviet Union from its formation until 1929. The term is also translated as government, governorate, or province. A governorate was headed by a governor, a word borrowed from Latin gubernator, in turn from Greek κυβερνήτης.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oblasts of Russia</span> Administrative division of Russia

In Russia, the oblasts are 46 administrative territories; they are one type of federal subject, the highest-level administrative division of Russian territory.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Administrative divisions of Ukraine</span> Political divisions of Ukraine

The administrative divisions of Ukraine are under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Constitution. Ukraine is a unitary state with three levels of administrative divisions: 27 regions, 136 raions and 1469 hromadas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oblasts of Ukraine</span> Type of first-level administrative division of Ukraine

An oblast in Ukraine, sometimes translated as region or province, is the main type of first-level administrative division of the country. Ukraine's territory is divided into 24 oblasts, as well as one autonomous republic and two cities with special status. Ukraine is a unitary state, thus the oblasts do not have much legal scope of competence other than that which is established in the Ukrainian Constitution and devolved by law. Articles 140–146 of Chapter XI of the constitution deal directly with local authorities and their competence.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of the administrative division of Russia</span>

The modern administrative-territorial structure of Russia is a system of territorial organization which is a product of a centuries-long evolution and reforms.

A raion is a type of administrative unit of several post-Soviet states. The term is used for both a type of subnational entity and a division of a city. The word is from the French rayon, and is commonly translated as "district" in English.

A selsoviet is the shortened name for a rural council and for the area governed by such a council (soviet).

Volost was a traditional administrative subdivision in Kievan Rus', the Grand Duchy of Moscow, and the Russian Empire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic</span> Soviet socialist state from 1917 to 1991

The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, previously known as the Russian Soviet Republic and the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, as well as being unofficially referred to as Soviet Russia, the Russian Federation, or simply Russia, was an independent federal socialist state from 1917 to 1922, and afterwards the largest and most populous Soviet socialist republic of the Soviet Union (USSR) from 1922 to 1991, until becoming a sovereign part of the Soviet Union with priority of Russian laws over Union-level legislation in 1990 and 1991, the last two years of the existence of the USSR. The Russian SFSR was composed of sixteen smaller constituent units of autonomous republics, five autonomous oblasts, ten autonomous okrugs, six krais and forty oblasts. Russians formed the largest ethnic group. The capital of the Russian SFSR and the USSR as a whole was Moscow and the other major urban centers included Leningrad, Stalingrad, Novosibirsk, Sverdlovsk, Gorky and Kuybyshev. It was the first socialist state in the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Development of the administrative divisions of Ukraine</span>

Administrative divisions development in Ukraine reviews the history of changes in the administrative divisions of Ukraine, in chronological order.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Monastyrshchinsky District</span> District in Smolensk Oblast, Russia

Monastyrshchinsky District is an administrative and municipal district (raion), one of the twenty-five in Smolensk Oblast, Russia. It is located in the west of the oblast and borders with Smolensky District in the north, Pochinkovsky District in the east, Khislavichsky District in the south, Mstsislaw District of Mogilev Region of Belarus in the west, and with Krasninsky District in the northwest. The area of the district is 1,513.75 square kilometers (584.46 sq mi). Its administrative center is the urban locality of Monastyrshchina. Population: 10,788 ; 13,876 (2002 Census); 17,559 (1989 Census). The population of Monastyrshchino accounts for 37.7% of the district's total population.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Okruhas of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic</span> Defunct transitional administrative divisions of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (1923–1930)

An okruha is a 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.

Batum <i>oblast</i> Oblast of the Russian Empire

The Batum oblast was a province (oblast) of the Caucasus Viceroyalty of the Russian Empire, with the Black Sea port of Batum as its administrative center. The Batum oblast roughly corresponded to most of present-day southwestern Georgia, and part of the Artvin Province of Turkey.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Administrative divisions of Ukraine (1918–1925)</span>

The administrative division of Ukraine in 1918 was inherited from the Russian Empire, and based on the largest unit of the gubernia with smaller subdivisions county or district, and rural district.

Mochalyshche is a village in Nizhyn Raion of Chernihiv Oblast, Ukraine. It belongs to Nova Basan rural hromada.


  1. 1 2 3 "oblast, n.", Oxford English Dictionary, July 2023, doi:10.1093/OED/6423855087 , retrieved 2023-12-01
  2. 1 2 "Oblast definition and meaning", Collins English Dictionary, retrieved 25 December 2022
  3. "What Is An Oblast?", World Atlas, 2017, retrieved 25 December 2022
  4. Фасмера, Макса (2006). "область". Этимологический онлайн-словарь русского (in Russian) (4th ed.). Retrieved May 1, 2023.
  5. Ekonomicheskoe raionirovanie Rossii, Gosplan, Moscow 1921
  6. "Government - Regions - The Government of Armenia". gov.am.
  7. "Legislation: National Assembly of RA". parliament.am.
  8. "Geography, Belarus - Belarus.by". belarus.by.
  9. "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.
  10. "Microsoft Word - Newsletter II-2 2010-06-30.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-03-07.
  11. "Regions of Ukraine - MFA of Ukraine". mfa.gov.ua. Archived from the original on 2014-10-08. Retrieved 2014-10-16.
  12. "Ukraine's Snap Parliamentary Elections". Ria Novosti. Archived from the original on 2014-10-31. Retrieved 2014-10-31.
  13. "The Governmental portal of the Republic of Uzbekistan - Local authority". Archived from the original on 2014-10-19. Retrieved 2014-10-16.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Oblasts at Wikimedia Commons