Oblasts of Russia

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CategoryFederated state
LocationRussian Federation
Number46 (48 if counting Kherson and Zaporozhye oblasts, which are internationally recognised as a part of Ukraine)
Populations156,996 (Magadan Oblast) – 7,095,120 (Moscow Oblast)
Areas15 100 km2 (Kaliningrad Oblast) - 767 900 km2 (Irkutsk Oblast)
GovernmentOblast Government, Oblast Duma
SubdivisionsRaion, City of oblast significance, Selsoviet, Okrug, Urban-type settlement

An oblast (Russian: область) is a type of federal subject of the Russian Federation.

Politics[change | change source]

Oblasts are political entities in a federal union. They have representation in the Federation Council. They serve as a first-level administrative division. Each oblast has a state government. It has control over its territory. They have a state legislature, the Oblast Duma. It is democratically elected. The Governor is the highest executive position of an oblast. He/she is elected by its people.

Subdivisions under oblasts[change | change source]

Oblasts are divided into raions (districts), cities of oblast significance (district-equivalent independent cities), and autonomous okrugs. These are legally federal subjects equal to an oblast but are different from others. Two oblasts have autonomous okrugs: Arkhangelsk Oblast (Nenets Autonomous Okrug) and Tyumen Oblast (Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug).

Naming[change | change source]

The term oblast can be translated into English as "province" or "region". There are currently 46 oblasts (48 if counting Kherson and Zaporozhye oblasts, which are internationally recognised as a part of Ukraine). It is the most common type of the 85 federal subjects of Russia. Most oblasts are named after their administrative center. It is the official term for a capital city in an oblast, which is usually the largest city. Exceptions to this include Leningrad Oblast and Moscow Oblast, which have no official capital. Sakhalin Oblast is named after an island. Leningrad Oblast and Sverdlovsk Oblast keep the old names of Saint Petersburg and Yekaterinburg.

Demographics[change | change source]

Oblasts are usually areas that are mostly populated by ethnic Russians and native speakers of the Russian language. They are mostly located in European Russia.

Statistics[change | change source]

The largest oblast by size is Tyumen Oblast at 1,435,200 km2 (when excluding autonomous okrugs Irkutsk Oblast is the largest at 767,900 km2) and the smallest is Kaliningrad Oblast at 15,100 km2. The most populous oblast is Moscow Oblast at 7,095,120 and the least populous is Magadan Oblast at 156,996.

History[change | change source]

In the Russian Empire, oblasts were a third-level administrative division. It was created in 1849. Oblasts split the larger guberniyas (governorates) within the first-level krais.

Soviet era[change | change source]

After the many changes during the Soviet era, the number of oblasts went up as they became the top-level administrative divisions of the Soviet Socialist Republics (SSRs). These oblasts held very little autonomy or power.

Post Soviet era[change | change source]

When the Soviet Union dissolved into sovereign states along the lines of the SSRs, they became the first-level administrative divisions. The oblasts of the Russian SFSR, which turned into the Russian Federation, became the first-level administrative divisions of the new country. They received greater devolved power.

On September 30, 2022, Russia annexed the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts of Ukraine after a controversial referendum.[1] These four regions are internationally recognized as part of Ukraine.[2]

List of Russian oblasts[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. "U.S. imposes new sanctions over Russia's illegal annexation". The Washington Post. 30 September 2022. Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  2. "Putin recognizes independence of 2 Ukrainian regions amid furor over annexation plans". CBC. 29 September 2022. Retrieved 30 September 2022.