A raion (also rayon) is a type of administrative unit of several post-Soviet countries (such as part of an oblast). The term, which is from French "rayon" (meaning "honeycomb, department"), describes both a type of a subnational entity and a division of a city, and is commonly translated in English as "district".
The term "raion" also can be used simply as a second degree of administrative division without anything to do with ethnicity or nationality. A raion is a standardized administrative entity across most of the Soviet Union and is usually a subdivision two steps below the national level. However, in smaller countries, it could be the primary level of administrative division (Administrative divisions of Armenia, Administrative divisions of Azerbaijan). After the fall of the Soviet Union, some of its former republics dropped raion from their use (Armenia).
The word "raion" (or "rayon") is often used in translated form: Russian and Ukrainian: райо́н, Azerbaijani: rayon; Belarusian: раён; Georgian: რაიონი, raioni; Latvian: rajons; Lithuanian: rajonas; Romanian: raion.
List of countries with raion subdivisions 
- Russian Federation, inherited from the Russian SFSR
- Ukraine, inherited from the Ukrainian SSR
- Azerbaijan, inherited from the Azerbaijan SSR
- Belarus, inherited from the Belorussian SSR
- Georgia, inherited from the Georgian SSR
Raions in the Soviet Union 
In the Soviet Union, raions were administrative divisions created in the 1920s to reduce the number of territorial divisions inherited from the Russian Empire and to simplify their bureaucracies. The process of conversion to the system of raions was called raionirovanie ("regionalization"). It was started in 1923 in the Urals, North Caucasus, and Siberia as a part of the Soviet administrative reform and continued through 1929, by which time the majority of the country's territory was divided into raions instead of the old volosts and uyezds.
The concept of raionirovanie was met with resistance in some republics, especially in Ukraine, where local leaders objected to the concept of raions as being too centralized in nature and ignoring the local customs. This point of view was backed by the Soviet Commissariat of Nationalities. Nevertheless, eventually all of the territory of the Soviet Union was regionalized.
Soviet raions had self-governance in the form of an elected district council (raysovet) and were headed by the local head of administration, who was either elected or appointed.
Raions in the People's Republic of Romania 
- Districts of Latvia until July 1, 2009.
Modern raions 
Russian Federation 
Administrative raions 
In modern Russia, division into administrative raions largely remained unchanged after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The term "raion" is used to refer to an administrative division of a federal subject or to a district of a big city. In two federal subjects, however, the terminology was changed to reflect national specifics:
Municipal raion 
A municipal raion (municipal district, муниципа́льный райо́н) is a type of municipal formation which comprises a group of urban and/or rural settlements, as well as inter-settlement territories, sharing a common territory. The concept of the municipal districts was introduced during the 2004 municipal reform.
Municipal districts are commonly formed within the boundaries of existing administrative districts, although in practice there are some exceptions to this rule—Neryungrinsky Municipal District in the Sakha Republic, for example, is formed around the town of Neryungri, which neither has a status of nor is a part of any administrative district.
In Ukraine, there are a total of 450 raions which are the administrative divisions of oblasts (provinces) and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Major cities of regional significance as well as the two national cities with special status (Kiev and Sevastopol) are also subdivided into raions (constituting a total of 111 nationwide).
- Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1961, repr. 1981), s.v. raion.
- Saunders, R.A., Strukov, V. Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. "Scarecrow Press", 2010, ISBN 978-0-8108-5475-8, S. 477.
- James R. Millar. Encyclopedia of Russian History. Macmillan Reference USA. New York, 2004. ISBN 0-02-865693-8
- Constitution of the Tyva Republic, Article 138.2a
- 6 мая 2001 г. «Конституция Республики Тыва», в ред. Конституционного закона №1419 ВХ-2 от 10 июля 2009 г «О внесении изменений в статью 113 Конституции Республики Тыва». Вступил в силу со дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Тувинская правда", 15 мая 2001 г. (May 6, 2001 Constitution of the Tyva Republic, as amended by the Constitutional Law #1419 VKh-2 of July 10, 2009 On Amending Article 113 of the Constitution of the Tyva Republic. Effective as of the official publication date.).