Urban-type settlement[note 1] is an official designation for a semi-urban settlement (previously called a "town"), used in several Eastern European countries. The term was historically used in Bulgaria, Poland, and the Soviet Union, and remains in use today in 10 of the post-Soviet states.
The designation was used in all 15 member republics of the Soviet Union from 1922, when it replaced a number of terms that could have been translated by the English term "town" (Russia – posad, Ukraine – містечко, mistechko, Belarus – мястэчка, miastečka (the last two are diminutives from місто and места, correspondingly, similarly to the Polish word: miasteczko, lit. 'small town' being derived from miasto) and others). It was introduced later in Poland (1954) and Bulgaria (1964). All the urban-type settlements in Poland were transformed into other types of settlement (town or village) in 1972, while in Bulgaria and five of the post-Soviet republics (Armenia, Moldova, and the three Baltic states), they were changed in the early 1990s. Today, this term is still used in the other nine post-Soviet republics – Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.
What counts as an urban-type settlement differs between time periods and countries and often between different divisions of a single country. However, the criteria generally focus on the presence of urban infrastructure or resort facilities for urban residents.
In the Soviet Union the criteria of urban-type settlements were set independently by the Soviet Republics. Those criteria, however, only differed very slightly from one republic to another.
In the Russian SFSR, urban-type settlements were subdivided into three types:
In 1981, the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic defined an urban-type settlement as follows: "To the category of an urban-type settlement may be included any settlement located near industrial enterprises, buildings, railroad connections, hydro-technical constructions, and enterprises in production and refining of agrarian products as well as settlements that include higher or middle occupation educational establishments, science-researching institutions, sanatoria, and other stationary treatment and recreation establishments that have a state housing provided to no less than 2,000 inhabitants out of which no less than two-thirds consist of workers, servicemen, and their families.
In exceptional cases, settlements could be classified to the category of urban-type settlements if they had a population less than 2,000, but more than 500; this happened when they had a close perspective of an economic and social development or a potential increase in number of people.
The term was introduced in Ukraine in 1920s and became official since the resolution of the Central Executive Committee of Ukraine of October 28, 1925 replacing all towns (mistechko) as urban-type settlement.
In accordance with the 2008 Law on Administrative and Territorial Subdivision of Kyrgyzstan, urban-type settlements are those that comprise economically significant facilities such as industrial plants, railway stations, construction sites, etc., as well as settlements with a recreational potential with population of at least 2,000. In exceptional cases, administrative, economic and cultural centers with a potential of economical development and population growth can be classified as urban-type settlements.
In modern Russia, the task of deciding whether an inhabited locality meets the criteria of urban-type settlements is delegated to the federal subjects. In most cases, the federal subject's legislative body is responsible for all administrative and territorial changes, including granting and revoking of the urban-type settlement and town status.
Apart from being used to refer to a type of inhabited locality, the term "urban-type settlement" and its variations is also used to refer to a division of an administrative district, and sometimes to a division administratively subordinated to a city district of a city of federal subject significance. This kind of administrative division is equal in status to the towns of district significance and selsoviets, and is normally centered on an inhabited locality with urban-type settlement status. As of 2013, the following types of such entities are recognized: