Oblasts of Ukraine

An oblast (Ukrainian: область), in English referred to as a region, refers to one of Ukraine's 24 primary administrative units. Ukraine is a unitary state, thus, the 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 of Ukraine
CategorySubdivision of a unitary state
Location Ukraine
Created27 February 1932 (1932-02-27)
Number24 (as of 1991)
Populations904,000 (Chernivtsi) – 4,450,000 (Donetsk)
Areas8,100 km2 (3,126 sq mi) (Chernivtsi) – 33,300 km2 (12,860 sq mi) (Odessa)
GovernmentOblast State Administration,
Oblast Council
Subdivisions490 raions (districts)[nb 1]

Oblasts are further subdivided into raions (districts), ranging in number from 11 to 27 per entity.[1]

General characteristics

In Ukraine the term Oblast denotes a primary administrative division. Under the Russian Empire and into the 1920s, Ukraine was divided between several Governorates. The term oblast itself was first introduced in 1932 by Soviet authorities when the Ukrainian SSR was divided into seven oblasts replacing the previous subdivision system based on okruhas and encompassing 406 raions (districts).[2] The first oblasts were Vinnytsia Oblast, Kiev Oblast, Odessa Oblast, Kharkiv Oblast, and Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. Soon after that in the summer of 1932 Donetsk Oblast was formed out of eastern parts of Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts; in the fall of 1932 Chernihiv Oblast was formed on the border of Kiev and Kharkiv oblasts.

Between 1935–1938 there existed several newly created and self-governed special border okrugs located along the western border of the Soviet Union in Ukraine and Belarus. Upon liquidation of the okrugs in 1937-38 Kiev, Vinnytsia, Odessa, and Kharkiv oblasts were each split into four additional oblasts (Zhytomyr Oblast, Kamianets-Podilsky Oblast (later  Khmelnytskyi), Mykolaiv Oblast, Poltava Oblast). Just before the World War II, the Donetsk Oblast was split into Stalino Oblast and Voroshylovhrad Oblast and the Kirovohrad Oblast was created out of portions of Kiev, Mykolaiv and Odessa oblasts.

During World War II Ukraine added eight additional oblasts of the West Ukraine and Bessarabia. Upon the occupation of Ukraine by the Nazi Germany the territory was split between General Government, Kingdom of Romania and Reichskommissariat Ukraine and carried out a completely different administrative division, see Reichskommissariat Ukraine. With the re-establishing of the Soviet power in the state after the war, the administrative division by oblast was resumed adding one more oblast—Zakarpattia. In 1954, the Crimean Oblast was transferred from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian SSR; parts of the surrounding oblasts were incorporated into the Cherkasy Oblast, while Izmail Oblast was absorbed by Odessa Oblast. In 1959, Drohobych Oblast was merged with Lviv Oblast.

Most of Ukraine's oblasts are named after their respective administrative centers, which are also the largest and most developed city in a given region. Each region generally consists of about one to two million of people, ranging anywhere from as low as 904,000 in Chernivtsi Oblast to 4.4 million in the eastern oblast of Donetsk. Each oblast is generally subdivided into about 20 raions (mean average, can range anywhere from 11 in Chernivtsi to 27 in Kharkiv and Vinnytsia Oblasts).

First oblasts of Ukraine in 1932

  • Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, centered in Dnipropetrovsk (subdivided into raions)
  • Kharkiv Oblast, centered in Kharkiv (subdivided into raions)
  • Kiev Oblast, centered in Kiev (subdivided into raions)
  • Odessa Oblast, centered in Odessa (subdivided into raions)
  • Vinnytsia Oblast, centered in Vinnytsia (subdivided into raions)
  • raions of republican subordination (directly to Kharkiv)
Later there were added
  • Donetsk Oblast, centered in Stalino (initially Artemivsk) (created on 17 July 1932 out of raions of Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts and raions of republican subordination)
  • Chernihiv Oblast, centered in Chernihiv (created on 15 October 1932 out of raions of Kharkiv and Kiev oblasts)

Further division in 1937-38

  • Kamianets-Podilsk Oblast, centered in Kamianets-Podilsk (out of raions of Vinnytsia Oblast)
  • Mykolaiv Oblast, centered in Mykolaiv (out of raions of Odessa and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts)
  • Poltava Oblast, centered in Poltava (out of raions of Kharkiv and Kiev oblasts)
  • Zhytomyr Oblast, centered in Zhytomyr (out of raions of Vinnytsia and Kiev oblasts)
In 1938 there were added
  • Donetsk Oblast was split into Stalino Oblast, centered in Stalino, and Voroshylovhrad Oblast, centered in Voroshylovhrad

New creations and World War II territorial expansions in 1939-40

  • Kirovohrad Oblast, centered in Kirovohrad (out of raions of Kiev, Odessa, Poltava and Mykolaiv oblasts)
  • Sumy Oblast, centered in Sumy (out of raions of Chernihiv, Poltava and Kharkiv oblasts)
  • Zaporizhia Oblast, centered in Zaporizhia (out of raions of Dnipropetrovsk and Mykolaiv oblasts)
  • Drohobych Oblast, centered in Drohobych
  • Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, centered in Ivano-Frankivsk
  • Lviv Oblast, centered in Lviv
  • Volyn Oblast, centered in Lutsk
  • Rovno Oblast, centered in Rovno
  • Tarnopol Oblast, centered in Tarnopol
In 1940 there were added
  • Chernivtsi Oblast, centered in Chernivtsi
  • Izmail Oblast, centered in Izmail

Post World War II

  • Kherson Oblast, centered in Kherson
  • Zakarpattia Oblast, centered in Uzhhorod
  • Cherkasy Oblast, centered in Cherkasy
  • Crimean Oblast, centered in Simferopol


Constitutional provisions and authority

The Ukrainian constitution establishes Ukraine as a unitary state. The specific text of the constitution that refers to the territorial structure is as follows.

The territorial structure of Ukraine is based on the principles of unity and indivisibility of the state territory, the combination of centralisation and decentralisation in the exercise of state power, and the balanced socio-economic development of regions that takes into account their historical, economic, ecological, geographical and demographic characteristics, and ethnic and cultural traditions.

Each of Ukraine's oblasts have their own legislative and executive authority, most of which is subordinate to the central government authorities in Kiev. Each region is administered under laws passed by the Ukrainian government and the Constitution of Ukraine. Each region levies its own taxes and, in return, receive a portion of their budget from Kiev, which gives them a portion of the taxes they levy.[3]

Executive power each of the oblasts (as well as in other subdivisions of Ukraine) are exercised by local elected administrations.[4] The heads of local administrations are in turn appointed and dismissed by the President of Ukraine upon nomination by the Cabinet of Ministers.[4][5] Since Ukraine is a unitary state, there is little true political power and weight that these local administrations actually hold. Carrying out their authorities, the heads of local administrations are accountable to the President and are subordinate to higher bodies of executive leadership.[4]

Legislative power in the oblast governments is exercised by their respective oblast councils, which in turn supervise the activities of local administrations.[4] They also have considerable budgets managed by an oblast council (Ukrainian: обласна рада) made up of people's deputies (representatives) voted into office in regional elections every 4 years, the last of which took place in 2014.


The name of each oblast is a relative adjective, formed by adding a feminine suffix to the name of respective center city. E.g. Poltava is a center of Poltavs'ka oblast' (Poltava Oblast). Most of them are also sometimes referred to in a feminine noun form, following the convention of traditional regional place names, ending with the suffix "-shchyna". E.g. Poltava Oblast is also called Poltavshchyna.

Exceptions to this rule include:

  • Two oblasts, Volyn and Zakarpattia, which retain the names of their respective historical regions, Volyn' (Volhynia) and Zakarpattia (Transcarpathia), whose respective capitals are Lutsk and Uzhhorod.[6]
  • The capital cities of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast and Kirovohrad Oblast were renamed to Dnipro and Kropyvnytskyi in 2016 as part of a process of replacing Soviet toponyms. However, as the names of the oblasts are mentioned in the Ukrainian Constitution changing them requires a complicated and lengthy process, thus as of 2017 the two oblasts still formally retain their soviet names.[7]

List of former and renamed oblasts

Former Oblasts

  • Izmail Oblast (initially as Akkerman Oblast) existed in 1940–41 and 1944–54 (under Romanian occupation, later was added to Odessa Oblast)
  • Drohobych Oblast existed in 1939–1941 and 1944–1959 (under German occupation, it was merged into Lviv Oblast)
  • Crimean Oblast (1954–1991) was transformed into Crimean ASSR

Renamed Oblasts

  • Stalino Oblast was the name of Donetsk Oblast 1938-41 and 1943-61 (created out of the united Donetsk Oblast 1932–38, German occupation 1941–43)
  • Akkerman Oblast was the name of Izmail Oblast 1940
  • Stanislav Oblast was the name of Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast 1939–41 and 1944–62 (German occupation 1941–44)
  • Kamianetsk-Podilska Oblast was the name of Khmelnytskyi Oblast 1937-41 and 1944-54 (German occupation 1941–44, later transfer of administrative center to Khmelnytskyi)
  • Voroshylovhrad Oblast was the name of Luhansk Oblast 1938–42, 1943–58 and 1970–90 (German occupation 1942–43)
  • Tarnopil Oblast was the name of Ternopil Oblast 1939–41 (renamed soon after World War II)

The Dnipropetrovsk Oblast and Kirovohrad Oblast are pending renaming following the renaming of their capital cities to Dnipro and Kropyvnytskyi.

List of oblasts

Region HASC Area (km2) Population (2010) Pop. density Administrative center Raions/Districts Cities of regional significance [nb 2]
 Cherkasy Oblast CK 20,891 1,291,135 61.80 Cherkasy 20 6
 Chernihiv Oblast CH 31,851.3 1,104,241 34.67 Chernihiv 22 3
 Chernivtsi Oblast CV 8,093.6 903,782 111.67 Chernivtsi 11 2
 Dnipropetrovsk Oblast DP 31,900.5 3,344,073 104.83 Dnipro 22 13
 Donetsk Oblast DT 26,505.7 4,448,031 167.81 Donetsk 18 28
 Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast IF 13,894.0 1,380,770 99.38 Ivano-Frankivsk 14 5
 Kharkiv Oblast KK 31,401.6 2,755,177 87.74 Kharkiv 27 7
 Kherson Oblast KS 28,449 1,091,151 38.35 Kherson 18 3
 Khmelnytskyi Oblast KM 20,636.2 1,331,534 64.52 Khmelnytskyi 20 6
 Kiev Oblast KV 28,118.9 1,719,602 61.15 Kiev 25 13
 Kirovohrad Oblast KH 24,577.5 1,014,809 41.29 Kropyvnytskyi 21 4
 Luhansk Oblast LH 26,672.5 2,300,412 86.25 Luhansk 18 14
 Lviv Oblast LV 21,823.7 2,545,634 116.65 Lviv 20 9
 Mykolaiv Oblast MY 24,587.4 1,186,452 48.25 Mykolaiv 19 5
 Odessa Oblast OD 33,295.9 2,387,636 71.71 Odessa 26 7
 Poltava Oblast PL 28,735.8 1,493,668 51.98 Poltava 25 5
 Rivne Oblast RV 20,038.5 1,152,576 57.52 Rivne 16 4
 Sumy Oblast SM 23,823.9 1,166,765 48.97 Sumy 18 7
 Ternopil Oblast TP 13,817.1 1,086,694 78.65 Ternopil 17 1
 Vinnytsia Oblast VI 26,501.6 1,646,250 62.12 Vinnytsia 27 6
 Volyn Oblast VO 20,135.3 1,038,223 51.56 Lutsk 16 4
 Zakarpattia Oblast ZK 12,771.5 1,246,323 97.59 Uzhhorod 13 5
 Zaporizhia Oblast ZP 27,168.5 1,805,431 66.45 Zaporizhia 20 5
 Zhytomyr Oblast ZT 29,819.2 1,283,201 43.03 Zhytomyr 23 5

See also


  1. A total of 490 raions exist within the first-level subdivisions of Ukraine, including the 24 oblasts and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
  2. "cities of oblast significance" is a translation of Ukrainian: Міста обласного значення.
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