An oblast (/ˈɒblæst/, UK also /ˈɒblɑːst/; plural oblasts, oblasti, or rarely oblasty;[1] Russian and Ukrainian: область, romanizedoblast'; Belarusian: вобласць, romanizedvoblasc'; Bulgarian: област, romanizedoblast; Kazakh: облыс, romanized: oblys; Kyrgyz: облус, romanizedoblus) 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 into 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, romanizedoblast', 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, romanizedepi) 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 entity Local term English term Details Comment
Armenia marz province or region[6] see: marz (country subdivision) Oblast in the Russian version of a 1995 law.[7]
Belarus voblasts (voblasc) / oblast region[8] see: regions of Belarus Belarusian and Russian are both state languages.
Kazakhstan oblys region see: regions of Kazakhstan
Kyrgyzstan oblus / oblast region see: regions of Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyz and Russian are both official languages
Russia oblast oblast 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 viloyat region see: regions of Tajikistan
Turkmenistan welaýat region[10] see: regions of Turkmenistan
Ukraine oblast oblast 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 viloyat region[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



  1. ^ a b c "oblast, n.", Oxford English Dictionary, July 2023, doi:10.1093/OED/6423855087, retrieved 2023-12-01
  2. ^ a b "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.
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