An oblast (//, UK also //; Russian and Ukrainian: область, romanized: oblast'; Belarusian: вобласць, romanized: voblasc'; Bulgarian: област; Kazakh: облыс, romanized: oblys; Kyrgyz: облус, romanized: oblus) 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 in English as region or province. In some countries, oblasts are also known by cognates of the Russian term.
In English, the term oblast is from Russian oblast' (область). In Russian, the word was borrowed from Old Church Slavonic; the native version being obolost' (оболость), equivalent of ob- ("against") and volost' ("power").
Main article: Oblasts of the 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.
Main article: Oblasts of the 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".
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.
Main article: Subdivisions of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
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.
Main article: Provinces of Bulgaria
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.
|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||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||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||In Ukraine, an oblast (Ukrainian: область [ˈɔblɐsʲtʲ] (listen); 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.|
|Uzbekistan||viloyat||region||see: regions of Uzbekistan|
Viloyat and welaýat are derived from the Turkish language term vilayet, itself derived from the Arabic language term wilāya (ولاية).