An oblast is a type of administrative division of Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine, and the now-defunct Soviet Union and Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The term is analogous to "state" or "province".
Official terms in successor states of the Soviet Union differ, but some still use a cognate of the Russian term, e.g. voblast (voblasts, voblasts', [ˈvobɫasʲtsʲ]) is used for regions of Belarus, and oblys (plural: oblystar) for regions of Kazakhstan.
The word "oblast" is a loanword in English, but it is, nevertheless, often translated as "area", "zone", "province", or "region". The last translation may lead to confusion, because "raion" may be used for other kinds of administrative subdivision, which may be translated as "region" or "district", depending on the context.
Since 1997, Bulgaria has been divided into 28 oblasts, usually translated as "provinces". Before, the country was divided into just nine units, also called oblast.
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.
In the now-dissolved 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".
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.
The oblasts in other post-Soviet countries are officially called:
|Territorial entity||Local term||English term||Details||Comment|
|Armenia||marz||province or region||see Marz (country subdivision)||Oblast in the Russian version of a 1995 law|
|Belarus||voblast (vobłaść) / oblast||region||see Regions of Belarus||Russian and Belarusian are both state languages|
|Kazakhstan||oblys||region||see Regions of Kazakhstan|
|Kyrgyzstan||oblast||region||see Regions of Kyrgyzstan|
|Russia||oblast||oblast or region||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 ||see Regions of Turkmenistan|
|Ukraine||oblast||oblast or region||see Oblasts of Ukraine|
|Uzbekistan||viloyat||region||see Regions of Uzbekistan|
During the Yugoslav Wars, several Serbian Autonomous Oblasts were formed in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. These oblasts were later merged into the Republic of Serbian Krajina and the Republika Srpska.
|Look up oblast in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Autonomous oblast
- Guberniya, an administrative unit of the Russian Empire, early Russian SFSR, and the Soviet Union, comparable to an oblast.
- Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2008. Entry on "oblast"
- Ekonomicheskoe raionirovanie Rossii, Gosplan, Moscow 1921
- Helix Consulting LLC. "Government - Regions - The Government of the Republic of Armenia". gov.am.
- "Legislation: National Assembly of RA". parliament.am.
- "Geography, Belarus - Belarus.by". belarus.by.
- "Chapter 3. The Federal Structure - The Constitution of the Russian Federation". constitution.ru.
- "Regions of Ukraine - MFA of Ukraine". mfa.gov.ua.