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Home Genealogy/Family history History of the Administrative Division of Belarus

History of the Administrative Division of Belarus


In different historical periods the area of present-day Belarus (within the boundaries of the Republic of Belarus) formed part of different state formations:

  • Polotsk (10th-13th cc.), Turov (late 10th - early 14th cc.), Smolensk (12th-14th cc.), and also Kiev and Chernigov (southeastern parts of Belarus) principalities, which later broke up into smaller appanages
  • Grand Duchy of Lithuania (mid 13th - late 18th centuries; the full name from the mid-15th century was the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Rus and Samogitia)
  • Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita), 1569-1795, a federal state formed by a union of the Kingdom of Poland ("the Crown") and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania ("Duchy" or "Litva"), which had a common government and pursued a common foreign policy, but remained autonomous in matters of administration, legislation, finance and judicature, had its own separate army, etc.
  • Russian Empire (end 18th c. - 1917)
  • Socialist Soviet Republic of Belarus (SSRB, January - February 1919)
  • Lithuanian Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (Litbel, February - July 1919)
  • Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR, eastern part of Belarus in 1919-1924, certain districts in 1919-1926)
  • Republic of Poland (western part of Belarus in the 1920s-1930s)
  • Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR, 1920-1991), which was a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from 1922 to 1991
  • Republic of Belarus (since 1991)

The administrative division of these states, except for the Republic of Belarus, frequently changed. It should be noted that certain administrative entities that constituted the above state formations are today part of Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine.

The information offered about the administrative-territorial division of Belarus is arranged in the chronological order of events, according to the main administrative-territorial units:

  • voevodstvos (voivodeships) with further division into povets (districts) in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, including when it was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, from the early 15th to the late 18th centuries and in the Republic of Poland in the 1920s-1930s
  • gubernias (governorates, provinces) subdivided into uezds (districts) in the Russian Empire in the late 18th - early 20th centuries
  • okrugs (regions, areas) subdivided into raions (districts) in the BSSR in the 1920s-1930s
  • oblasts (regions) subdivided into raions (districts) in the BSSR from 1938 and in the Republic of Belarus since 1991.

There also existed other administrative units, such as volosts, principalities, lands, namestnichestvos, provinces etc., whose jurisdiction was not definitely determined by legislation nor documented or their existence was short-term.

* * *

In the earlier period as regards Belarus's statehood and political division--from the 10th to the mid-13th centuries during the period of Old Rus and appanage principalities and from the mid-13th to the early 14th centuries during the formation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania--there existed administrative units called volosts, which consisted of several village communities.

* * *

In the 15th and the first half of the 16th centuries, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was divided into the judicial administrative districts: principalities (the remains of the former appanage estates) and namestnichestvos (founded in connection with the liquidation of appanages and governed by the Grand Prince's deputies). The major namestnichestvos, which had elements of self-government, were named lands; their boundaries were set historically and were not determined by legislation. A smaller administrative subdivision, volost, was composed of several peasant communes.

* * *

A voivodeship as an administrative unit in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was introduced in the early 15th century. Later, village communities (volosts), which constituted each voivodeship, were combined into bigger administrative units called povets (districts).

In 1413, the Vilno and Troki voivodeships were established. The areas not included into these units retained the status of autonomous lands.

In 1471, the Kiev voivodeship was established, comprising, among others, the Mozyr povet and some lands in the far southeast of present-day Belarus.

After 1511, the Vitebsk voivodeship was created out of the Vitebsk land.

About 1504, the Polotsk voivodeship was created out of the Polotsk land.

In 1507, the Novogorodek (Novogrudok) voivodeship was split off from the Vilno voivodeship.

In 1513, several districts in the Troki voivodeship were merged into the Podlasie-Berestie voivodeship (from 1520, Podlasie voivodeship).

(See map "The Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 15th and the first half of the 16th centuries" http://www.vln.by/sites/default/files/map2_0.jpg).

* * *

In 1565-1566, an administrative reform was carried out in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, dividing Belarusian lands into the following voivodeships and povets (districts):

Berestie (Brest) voivodeship (Brest and Pinsk povets)
Vilno voivodeship (Braslav, Vilno, Lida and Oshmiany povets, and also the Vilkomir povet, the lands of which are now in the Republic of Lithuania)
Vitebsk voivodeship (Vitebsk and Oshmiany povets)
Mensk (Minsk) (Minsk and Rechitsa povets and from 1569, Mozyr povet)
Mstislavl voivodeship (no povets)
Novogorodek (Novogrudok) voivodeship (Volkovysk, Novogrudok and Slonim povets)
Polotsk voivodeship (no povets)
Troki voivodeship (Grodno povet, and also the Kovno (Kaunas), Troki and Upity povets, the lands of which are now in the Republic of Lithuania).

From 1569, the Kiev and Podlasie voivodeships were part of the Kingdom of Poland.

This administrative division was documented in the 1588 Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and existed until the late 18th century.

* * *

In the late 18th century, following the three partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth between Russia, Prussia and Austria in 1772, 1793 and 1795, the administrative division of Belarus underwent significant changes. In the areas incorporated into the Russian Empire a new administrative unit, gubernia (governorate, province) was introduced.

As a result of the First Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the eastern part of Belarus was annexed by the Russian Empire and was incorporated into the newly formed Mogilev, Pskov and Polotsk gubernias (see map "The administrative-territorial division of Eastern Belarus. 1772-1792" http://www.vln.by/sites/default/files/map6.jpg).

In the Belarusian lands that remained in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania new districts were created in 1791: in Brest voivodeship - Pinsk-Zarechny povet with centre in the village of Plotnitsa (in 1792, renamed Zapinki povet with centre in the town of Stolin) and Kobrin povet; in Vilno voivodeship - Zavileika povet (centred in Postavy) and Eishishki povet; in Novogrudok voivodeship - Slucheretsk (Slutsk) povet.

After the Second Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the central part of Belarus was incorporated into the Russian Empire, where the Minsk gubernia was established (see map "The administrative-territorial division of Belarus. 1793-1796" http://www.vln.by/sites/default/files/map3.jpg).

In 1793, the Grodno povet of Troki voivodeship, which remained in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after the second partition, was reorganized as the Grodno voivodeship.

After the Third Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the western part of Belarus was incorporated into the Russian Empire, where the Vilno and Slonim gubernias were established.

* * *

When founded in 1772, the Mogilev gubernia consisted of the following provinces: Mogilev, Mstislavl, Orsha and Rogachev. In 1777, the gubernia was subdivided into 12 uezds (povets or districts, the term povet was officially used together with the word uezd until 1840): Babinovichi (abolished in 1840), Belitsk (renamed Gomel in 1852), Klimovichi, Kopys (abolished in 1861), Mogilev, Mstislavl, Orsha, Rogachev, Senno, Stary Bykhov (renamed Bykhov in 1852), Chausy and Cherikov.
In 1778, Mogilev gubernia was renamed a namestnichestvo (viceroyalty), which was governed along with the Polotsk namestnichestvo by Tsar's Deputy Governor General (see map http://militarymaps.org.ua/_atlases/maps/atl1792/map20.djvu). In 1796, the namestnichestvo was abolished and its districts were assigned to the Belarus gubernia.
In 1802, Mogilev gubernia was reconstituted to include its original 12 districts (see map http://militarymaps.org.ua/_atlases/maps/atl1823/atl1823_13.djvu).
In September 1917, the gubernia went into Western Region; in January 1919, the SSRB; and in February 1919, the RSFSR.
On 11 July 1919, Mogilev gubernia was abolished; its nine districts were assigned to the Gomel gubernia; Mstislavl district to the Smolensk gubernia; Senno district to the Vitebsk gubernia.

Founded in 1772, the Pskov gubernia originally comprised the provinces of Velikie Luki, Vitebsk, Dvinsk, Polotsk and Pskov.
In 1775, the provinces were divided into the following districts: Dvinsk Province - Dinaburg, Marienhauzen and Rezhitsk districts; Polotsk Province - Nevel, Polotsk and Sebezh districts; Vitebsk Province - Velizh, Vitebsk and Gorodok districts.

The Polotsk gubernia was formed in 1776 from the Vitebsk, Dvinsk and Polotsk provinces of the Pskov gubernia, comprising 11 districts: Velizh, Vitebsk, Gorodok, Drisa, Dinaburg, Lutsin, Nevel, Polotsk, Rezhitsk, Sebezh and Surazh.
In 1778-1796, the gubernia was renamed a namestnichestvo (see maps http://militarymaps.org.ua/_atlases/maps/atl1792/map19.djvu and http://militarymaps.org.ua/_atlases/maps/atl1792/map05.djvu).
A part of the former Polotsk voivodeship, which was incorporated into the Russian Empire after the second partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was reorganized in 1793 as the Lepel district of the Polotsk gubernia.

Founded in 1793, the Minsk gubernia initially comprised 13 districts: Bobruisk, Borisov, Vileika, David-Gorodok, Disna, Dokshitsy, Igumen, Mozyr, Nesvizh, Postavy, Pinsk and Slutsk.
In 1795-1796, Minsk gubernia was called a namestnichestvo.
In 1796, David-Gorodok, Dokshitsy, Nesvizh and Postavy districts were abolished; in 1797, Rechitsa district was added (see map http://militarymaps.org.ua/_atlases/maps/atl1823/atl1823_12.djvu).
In 1842, the gubernia received Novogrudok district from the Grodno gubernia, while the Vileika and Disna districts were assigned to the Vilno gubernia (see map http://militarymaps.org.ua/_atlases/maps/atl1871/map28.djvu).
From November 1917, Minsk gubernia was included into Western Region; from 1918, Western Commune; from January 1919, the SSRB; from February 1919, the Litbel.
In 1919, Baranovichi district was formed. The Rechitsa and Mozyr districts and certain parts of the Bobruisk, Borisov and Igumen districts were transferred to the Gomel gubernia. In 1920, Nesvizh district was formed.
In 1921, when a part of the gubernia went into the Republic of Poland, except for Bobruisk, Borisov, Igumen, Mozyr, Minsk and Slutsk districts, the Minsk gubernia ceased to exist.

The Belarus gubernia with the capital in Vitebsk was formed in 1796 from the Polotsk and Mogilev namestnichestvos, comprising 16 districts: Belitsk, Velizh, Vitebsk, Gorodok, Dinaburg, Lutsin, Mogilev, Mstislavl, Nevel, Orsha, Polotsk, Rogachev, Sebezh, Senno, Chausy and Cherikov.
In 1802, the Belarus gubernia was abolished, and its territory was divided into the Vitebsk and Mogilev gubernias.

Founded in 1796, the Slonim gubernia comprised 8 districts: Brest, Volkovysk, Grodno, Kobrin, Lida, Novogrudok, Pruzhany and Slonim.

Founded in 1795, the Vilno gubernia comprised 11 districts: Braslav (from 1836, Novo-Aleksandrov), Vilno, Vilkomir, Zavileisk, Kovno, Oshmiany, Rossieny, Troki, Upity (Ponevezhis), Teleshevo and Shavel (see map http://militarymaps.org.ua/_atlases/maps/atl1823/atl1823_05.djvu).
In 1801-1840, the Vilno gubernia was named Lithuania-Vilno gubernia.
In 1843, some of its districts were assigned to the newly formed Kovno gubernia, including Novo-Aleksandrov district.
In the Vilno gubernia remained Vilno, Oshmiany, Sventsiany (Zavileisk) and Troki districts, and the gubernia received additional districts: Lida district from the Grodno gubernia, and the Disna and Vileika districts from the Minsk gubernia (see maps "Belarus in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries" http://http://www.vln.by/sites/default/files/map5.jpg; http://militarymaps.org.ua/_atlases/maps/atl1871/map09.djvu).
In 1920, most part of the Vilno gubernia was occupied by the Polish troops; in 1922-1925, it constituted the Vilno Land; in 1925-1939, was included into the Vilno voivodeship of the Polish Republic; the remaining parts went into the Lithuanian Republic; a small part of the Vileika district was given to the Belarusian SSR.

In 1797, the Slonim and Vilno gubernias were united into the Lithuania gubernia with centre in Vilno, comprising 19 districts: Braslav, Brest, Volkovysk, Vilno, Vilkomir, Grodno, Zavileisk, Kobrin, Kovno, Lida, Novogrudok, Oshmiany, Pruzhany, Rossiena, Slonim, Teleshevo, Troki, Upity and Shavel.
In 1801, the Lithuania gubernia was again divided into the Vilno and Slonim (from 1802, Grodno) gubernias.

From 1802, the Grodno gubernia comprised 8 districts: Brest, Volkovysk, Grodno, Kobrin, Lida, Novogrudok, Pruzhany and Slonim (see map http://militarymaps.org.ua/_atlases/maps/atl1823/atl1823_04.djvu).
In 1843, the gubernia received Bialystok, Belsk and Sokolka districts from the abolished Bialystok Region, while the Novogrudok district was assigned to the Minsk gubernia and the Lida district to the Vilno gubernia (see map http://militarymaps.org.ua/_atlases/maps/atl1871/map16.djvu).
According to the Peace Treaty of Riga of 1921, the Grodno gubernia was assigned to Poland; its districts went into Bialystok (Bialystok, Belsk, Volkovysk, Grodno and Sokolka districts), Polesie (Brest, Kobrin and Pruzhany districts) and Novogrudok (Slonim district) voivodeships.

Founded in 1802, the Vitebsk gubernia comprised 12 districts: Velizh, Vitebsk, Gorodok, Dvinsk, Drisa, Lepel, Lutsin, Nevel, Polotsk, Rezhitsa, Sebezh and Surazh (abolished in 1866) (see map http://militarymaps.org.ua/_atlases/maps/atl1823/atl1823_11.djvu).
In November 1917, the Vitebsk gubernia was included into Western Region; in September 1918, Western Commune; in January 1919, the SSRB; in January 1919, the RSFSR.
Following the formation of the Gomel gubernia in April 1919, the Vitebsk gubernia received Senno district from the Mogilev gubernia (July 1919) and later Orsha district from the Gomel gubernia (November 1920).
According to the Peace Treaty of 11 August 1920 between the Russian SFSR and Latvia, the Dvinsk, Lutsin and Rezhitsk districts went into Latvia.
In February 1923, the Gorodok, Senno and Drisa districts were abolished; the Lepel district was renamed Bocheikovo. On 10 March 1924, following the 1st enlargement of the Belarusian SSR, the Vitebsk gubernia was abolished. The districts of Vitebsk, Gorodok, Drisa, Lepel, Polotsk, Senno and Surazh were included into the Belarusian SSR; the districts of Velizh, Nevel and Sebezh, into the Pskov gubernia of the Russian SFSR.

***

An oblast (region) as an administrative unit in Belarusian lands appeared for the first time in the early 19th century; the term to be reintroduced only over a century later.

The area which went into Prussia after the third partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and was later assigned to Russia according to the Peace Treaty of Tilsit of 1807 was named Bialystok Region, with centre in Bialystok The Region was composed of 4 districts: Bialystok, Belsk, Sokolka and Drogichin (see map http://militarymaps.org.ua/_atlases/maps/atl1823/atl1823_04.djvu and map "The administrative-territorial division of Belarus. The first half of the 19th century" http://www.vln.by/sites/default/files/map4.jpg). In 1842, Bialystok Region was abolished; its districts were transferred to the Grodno gubernia; the Drogichin and Belsk districts were reconstituted as the Belsk district.

In March 1917, the Western Region was established, comprising the gubernias of Vilno, Minsk and Mogilev, with the capital in Minsk.
After the October Revolution of 1917, the Region included the gubernias of Vilno, Vitebsk, Mogilev and Minsk. In February 1918, in view of the German occupation of some parts of Belarus, the center of the Region was moved to Smolensk.
In April 1918, the Smolensk gubernia went into the Western Region.
In September 1918, the Region was renamed Western Commune, which was abolished after the proclamation of the SSRB (January 1, 1919).

* * *

Founded on 1 January 1919, the Socialist Soviet Republic of Belarus (SSRB) comprised the gubernias of Vitebsk, Grodno, Minsk and Mogilev, certain districts of the Vilno and Kovno gubernias, and the western districts of the Smolensk gubernia. On 16 January 1919, by the resolution of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) Central Committee, the Vitebsk, Mogilev and Smolensk gubernias were transferred to the Russian SFSR.

In February 1919, the remaining part of the SSRB and the Socialist Soviet Republic of Lithuania were united to form the Soviet Socialist Republic of Lithuania and Belarus (Litbel), which comprised the Vilno and Minsk gubernias and parts of the Grodno and Kovno gubernias. By the end of summer 1919, most territory of the Litbel had been occupied by the Polish troops and the Republic de facto ceased to exist.

* * *

On 26 April 1919, the Gomel gubernia was formed, comprising nine districts of the abolished Mogilev gubernia (Bykhov, Gomel, Gorki, Klimivichi, Mogilev, Orsha, Rogachev and Chausy), the Rechitsa district of the Minsk gubernia, and the Mglin, Novozybkov, Starye Duby and Surazh districts of the Chernigov gubernia.
Between August 1919 and August 1920, the Gomel gubernia received Mozyr district and certain parts of the Bobruisk, Borisov and Igumen districts.
In November 1920, Orsha district was transferred to the Vitebsk gubernia.
In May 1922, Mglin and Chausy districts were abolished, Surazh district was renamed Klintsy, Pochepy district was formed.
In July 1922, most of the Gorki district was given to the Smolensk gubernia.
In February 1923, Bykhov district was abolished.
In May 1923, Pochepy district was transferred to the Briansk gubernia.
In March 1924, the districts of Bykhov, Klimovichi, Mogilev, Rogachev, Chausy and Cherikov and a part of the Rechitsa district were transferred to the Belarusian SSR.
In December 1926, Gomel gubernia was abolished: the Gomel and Rechitsa districts were assigned to the Belarusian SSR; the Klintsy, Novozybkov and Starye Duby districts went into the Briansk gubernia of the Russian SFSR.

* * *

On 31 July 1920, the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR) was re-established, comprising the Minsk gubernia (without Rechitsa district) and the Belarusian districts of the Grodno and Vilno gubernias.

According to the Peace Treaty of Riga of 18 March 1921, the western part of Belarus (Grodno gubernia, nearly half of the Minsk gubernia, and most of the Vilno gubernia) went into Poland.

The following six districts of the former Minsk gubernia remained in the BSSR: Bobruisk, Borisov, Igumen (from 1923 Cherven) and Mozyr districts and certain parts of the Minsk and Slutsk districts.

In March 1924, in connection with the return of eastern Belarusian lands from the Russian SFSR, or the so-called 1st enlargement of the BSSR, the Vitebsk, Gomel and Smolensk gubernias, where the Belarusian population prevailed, were incorporated into the Belarusian SSR.

* * *

On 17 July 1924, a new administrative unit called okrug (region, area) was introduced in Belarus, which further divided into raions (districts). In all, ten okrugs were formed, comprising 100 districts.

Bobruisk okrug comprised Bobruisk 1st, Bobruisk 2nd, Buda-Koshelevo, Gorodok, Glusk, Zhlobin, Klichev, Osipovichi, Parichi, Rogachev, Svisloch and Streshin districts.
On 9 June 1927, Krasnaia Sloboda, Luban, Slutsk, Starye Dorogi and Starobin districts were added to Bobruisk okrug.
On 4 August 1927, Bobruisk 1st and Bobruisk 2nd districts were united into the Bobruisk district; Gorodok and Streshin districts were abolished.

Borisov okrug comprised Begoml, Berezino, Borisov, Zembin, Krupki, Lepel, Pleshchenitsy, Kholopenichi and Chereia districts.

Vitebsk okrug comprised Beshenkovichi, Vitebsk, Vysochany, Gorodok, Ezerishche (abolished in 1929), Liozno, Losvid (renamed Kuznetsovo in 1924 and abolished in 1927), Mezhany, Senno, Sirotino, Surazh and Chashniki districts.

Kalinin okrug comprised Belynkovichi, Kostukovichi, Krasnopolie, Krichev, Miloslavichi, Mstislavl, Rasnena, Khotimsk and Cherikov districts.

Mogilev okrug comprised Belynichi, Bykhov, Zhurovichi, Korma, Lupolovo, Mogilev, Propoisk, Chausy, Chechevichi and Shklov districts.

Mozyr okrug comprised Zhitkovichi, Kalinkovichi, Karolin, Kopatkevichi, Lelchitsy, Mozyr, Narovlia, Ozarichi and Petrikov districts.

Minsk okrug comprised Zaslavl, Koidanovo, Logoisk, Ostroshitski Gorodok, Pukhovichi, Samokhvalovichi, Smilovichi, Uzda, Cherven and Shatsk (abolished in 1927) districts.

Orsha okrug comprised Bogushevsk, Gorki, Dribin, Dubrovno, Kopys, Kokhanov, Krugloe, Liadny, Orsha and Tolochin districts.

Polotsk okrug comprised Vetrino, Volyn (from 1929 Borkovichi), Dretun (later Krasnopolie, abolished in 1927), Drisa, Osveia, Polotsk, Rossony, Ulla and Ushachi districts.

Slutsk okrug comprised Gresk, Kopyl, Krasnaia Sloboda, Luban, Slutsk, Starye Dorogi and Starobin districts.

***

In December 1926, following the 2nd enlargement of the Belarusian SSR, the BSSR received the Rechitsa and Gomel districts of the Gomel gubernia from the Russian SFSR. On 8 December 1926, these districts were renamed okrugs, while their 18 volosts were renamed districts.

Gomel okrug comprised Vetka, Gomel, Diatlovichi (abolished 4 August 1927), Dobrush (abolished 4 August 1927), Krasnaia Buda (abolished 4 August 1927), Nosovichi (abolished 4 August 1927), Svetilovichi (abolished 4 August 1927), Uvarovichi and Chechersk districts.
The Bragin, Vasilevichi (abolished 4 August 1927), Gorval (abolished 4 August 1927), Komarin, Loev, Rechitsa, Khoiniki, and Kholmy (abolished 4 August 1927) districts were transferred to the Gomel okrug on 9 June 1927; Terekhov district was established on 4 August 1927; Buda-Koshelevo district was added on 27 October 1927.

Rechitsa okrug comprised Bragin, Vasilevichi, Gorval, Komarin, Loev, Rechitsa, Khoiniki, Kholmy and Yurovichi districts.

On 9 June 1927, Borisov, Kalinin, Rechitsa and Slutsk okrugs were abolished; their districts were reshuffled among the neighbouring okrugs. On 26 July 1930, the remaining eight okrugs were abolished. Only the system of districts remained in the BSSR.

The number of districts was changing: 16 districts were abolished on 4 August 1927, another 23 districts were abolished on 8 July 1931, 15 districts were re-established on 15 February 1935.

* * *

In the aftermath of the Soviet-Polish War of 1920, the western territories of Belarus (Western Belarus) were occupied by Poland and formed its part until September 1939. The main administrative division here was a voivodeship (province) with further subdivision into povets (districts) (see maps http://militarymaps.narod.ru/maps/atl1937/map07.djvu and http://militarymaps.narod.ru/maps/atl1937/map09.djvu).

Bialystok voivodeship was formed in 1919, comprising Avgustov, Bialystok, Belsk, Volkovysk (from 1921), Grodno (from 1921), Sokolka and other povets.

Novogrudok voivodeship was formed in 1921, comprising Baranovichi, Vileika, Volozhin, Disna, Dunilovichi, Lida, Nesvizh, Novogrudok, Slonim, Stolbtsy and Shchuchin (from 1929) povets.

Polesie voivodeship was formed in 1921, comprising Brest-Litovsk, Drogichin, Kamen-Kshirski, Kobrin, Kossovo, Luninets, Pinsk, Pruzhany and Sarno (in 1929 assigned to the Volyn voivodeship) povets.

In April 1922, the Vilno Land was formed, having the jurisdiction of a voivodeship and comprising Braslav, Vilno-Troki, Oshmiany and Sventsiany povets. In July 1922, Vileika, Disna and Dunilovichi (renamed Postavy in 1925) povets were added.
In December 1925, the Vilno voivodeship was formed, comprising Braslav, Vileika, Vilno-Troki, Disna, Oshmiany, Postavy, Sventsiany and Molodechno (founded in April 1927) povets.

* * *

On 21 June 1935, the Belarusian districts located along the Polish border were united into four okrugs (areas):

Lepel okrug, comprising four districts: Begoml, Lepel, Ushachi and Chashniki;
Mozyr okrug, comprising nine districts: Domanovichi, Elsk, Zhitkovichi, Kopatkevichi, Lelchitsy, Mozyr, Narovlia, Petrikov and Turov;
Polotsk okrug, comprising five districts: Vetrino, Drisa, Osveia, Polotsk and Rossony;
Slutsk okrug, comprising six districts: Gresk, Kopyl, Krasnaia Sloboda, Luban, Slutsk and Starobin.

* * *

On 15 January 1938, the system of okrugs was abolished, and an oblast (region, province) division was introduced in the BSSR. On 20 February 1938, all 90 districts existing at the time were distributed among five oblasts (see map http://militarymaps.narod.ru/maps/atl1939/atl1939_38.djvu).

Vitebsk oblast comprised 20 districts: Beshenkovichi, Bogushevsk, Vetrino, Vitebsk, Gorogok, Drisa, Dubrovno, Lepel, Mekhovo, Orsha, Osveia, Polotsk, Rossony, Senno, Sirotino, Surazh, Tolochin, Ushachi and Chashniki.

Gomel oblast comprised 14 districts: Buda-Koshelevo, Vetka, Gomel, Dobrush, Zhlobin, Zhuravichi, Korma, Loev, Rechitsa, Rogachev, Svetilovichi, Terekhovka, Uvarovichi and Chechersk. In 1939, Streshin district was founded.

Minsk oblast comprised 20 districts: Begoml, Borisov, Gresk, Zaslavl, Kopyl, Krasnaia Sloboda, Krupki, Logoisk, Luban, Minsk, Pleshchenitsy, Pukhovichi, Rudnia, Slutsk, Smolevichi, Starobin, Starye Dorogi, Uzda, Kholopenichi and Cherven. In 1939, Dzerzhinsk district was founded.

Mogilev oblast comprised 21 districts: Belynichi, Berezino, Bobruisk, Bykhov, Gorki, Dribin, Kirovsk, Klimovichi, Klichev, Kostiukovichi, Krasnopolie, Krichev, Krugloe, Mogilev, Mstislavl, Osipovichi, Propoisk, Khotimsk, Chausy, Cherikov and Shklov.

Polesie oblast comprised 15 districts: Bragin, Vasilevichi, Glusk, Domanovichi, Elsk, Zhitkovichi, Komarin, Kopatkevichi, Lelchitsy, Mozyr, Narovlia, Parichi, Petrikov, Turov and Khoiniki. In 1939, Okiabrski and Kalinkovichi districts were founded.

* * *

Following the reunification of Western Belarus with the Belarusian SSR, the town of Vilno and the Vilno Land in November 1939 according to the resolution of the USSR government were assigned to Lithuania. On 4 December 1939, on the remaining territory of Western Belarus were formed five oblasts (regions) and 101 raions (districts) (see map http://militarymaps.narod.ru/maps/atl1940/map20.djvu).

Baranovichi oblast comprised 26 districts: Byten, Valev (in 1940 renamed Korelichi), Vasilishki, Volozhin, Voronovo, Gorodishche, Diatlovo, Zheludok, Zelva, Ivenets, Ivie, Kletsk, Kozlovshchina, Lida, Lubcha, Liakhovichi, Mir, Mosty, Nesvizh, Novogrudok, Novaia Mysh, Radun, Slonim, Stolbtsy, Shchuchin and Yuratishki.

Bialystok oblast comprised 24 districts: Avgustov, Bialystok, Belsk, Bransk, Volkovysk, Graevo, Grodno, Dombrovo, Edvabno, Zabludovo, Zambrov, Kolno, Krynki, Lapy, Lomzha, Monki (later renamed Knyshin), Porechie, Svisloch, Skidel, Sniadov, Sokolka, Sopotskin, Tsekhanovichi and Chizhovo.

Brest oblast comprised 18 districts: Antopolie, Bereza, Brest, Vysokoe, Gaina, Divin, Domachevo, Zhabinka, Kamenets, Kleshchi, Kobrin, Kossovo, Malorita, Porozovo, Pruzhany, Ruzhany, Semiatichi and Shereshevo.

Vileika oblast comprised 22 districts: Braslav, Vidzy, Glubokoe, Godutishki, Disna, Dokshitsy, Dunilovichi, Iliani, Krivitsa, Kurenets, Miory, Molodechno, Miadel, Ostrovets, Oshmiany, Plisa, Postavy, Radoshkovichi, Sventsiany, Svir, Smorgon and Sharkovshchina.

Pinsk oblast comprised 11 districts: Gantsevichi, David-Gorodok, Drogichin, Zhabchitsy, Ivanovo, Lenin, Logishin, Luninets, Pinsk, Stolin and Telekhany.

In November 1940, following the transference of certain areas to Lithuania, the districts of Godutishki, Porechie and Sventsiany were abolished.

* * *

During the Second World War, in 1941-1944, Belarus was divided by the German Nazis into:
the General Okrug Belarus as part of the Reichscommissariat Ostland;
the Rear Region of the Centre Army Group; and
the Okrug Bialystok as part of the Province East Prussia.
Some of Belarusian districts were included into the Reichscommissariat Ukraine; some of them, into the General Okrug Lithuania.

* * *

In September 1944, after the liberation of Belarus from the Nazi invaders, three districts of the Brest oblast (Gaina, Kleshchi and Semiatichi) and 17 districts of the Bialystok oblast (Avgustov, Bialystok, Belsk, Bransk, Graevo, Dombrovo, Edvabno, Zabludovo, Zambrov, Kolno, Lapy, Lomzha, Knyshin, Sniadov, Sokolka, Tsekhanovichi and Chizhovo) were assigned to Poland. The Bialystok oblast was abolished.

On 20 September 1944, new oblasts were added to the above-mentioned oblasts previously existing in the BSSR.

Bobruisk oblast comprising 14 districts: Bobruisk, Glusk, Gresk, Kirovsk, Klichev, Kopyl, Krasnaia Sloboda, Luban, Oktiabrski, Osipovichi, Parichi, Slutsk, Starye Dorogi and Starobin.

Grodno oblast comprising 15 districts: Berestovitsa (formerly Krynki), Vasilishki, Volkovysk, Voronovo, Grodno, Zheludok, Zelva, Lida, Mosty, Porozovo, radun, Svisloch, Skidel, Sopotskin and Shchuchin.

Polotsk oblast comprising 15 districts: Braslav, Vetrino, Vidzy, Glubokoe, Disna, Dokshitsy, Drisa, Dunilovichi, Miory, Osveia, Plisa, Polotsk, Rossony, Ushachi and Sharkovshchina.

Molodechno oblast (formerly named Vileika oblast) included Volozhin, Ivie, Iliany (abolished in 1957), Krivitsa, Kurenets (renamed Vileika in 1946), Molodechno, Miadel, Ostrovets, Oshmiany, Postavy, Radoshkovichi, Svir (abolished in 1959), Smorgon and Yuratishki districts.
In 1954, Molodechno oblast received the districts of Braslav, Vidzy, Glubokoe, Disna (abolished in 1959), Dokshitsy, Dunilovichi, Miory, Plisa and Sharkovshchina from the abolished Polotsk oblast and the Ivenets district from the abolished Baranovichi oblast; Ivie district was assigned to the Grodno oblast.

In 1944, the Berezino district was transferred from the Mogilev oblast to the Minsk oblast. In 1945, the Propoisk district of the Mogilev oblast was renamed Slavgorod.

In 1946, the districts of Kokhanovo, Orekhovo and Ulla were established in the Vitebsk oblast.

In 1947, the Kossovo district of the Brest oblast was renamed Ivatsevichi.

The administrative division into 12 oblasts existed until 1954.

* * *

From the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s an administrative division in the Belarusian SSR underwent another significant reorganization.

On 8 January 1954, the Baranovichi, Bobruisk, Pinsk, Polesie and Polotsk oblasts were abolished and their districts were again reshuffled.

The districts of the Baranovichi oblast went into:
Brest oblast - Byten, Gorodishche, Liakhovichi and Novaia Mysh (in 1957, renamed Baranovhici) districts;
Grodno oblast - Diatlovo, Kozlovshchina, Korelichi, Lubcha, Mir, Novogrudok and Slonim districts;
Minsk oblast - Kletsk, Nesvizh and Stolbtsy districts;
Molodechno oblast - Ivenets district.

The districts of the Bobruisk oblast went into:
Gomel oblast - Oktiabrski and Parichi districts;
Minsk oblast - Glusk, Gresk, Kopyl, Krasnaia Sloboda, Luban, Slutsk, Starye Dorogi and Starobin districts;
Mogilev oblast - Bobruisk, Kirovsk, Klichev and Osipovichi districts.

The districts of the Pinsk oblast went into the Brest oblast.

The districts of the Polesie oblast went into the Gomel oblast.

The districts of the Polotsk oblast went into:
Vitebsk oblast - Vetrino, Drisa, Osveia, Polotsk, Rossony and Ushachi districts;
Molodechno oblast - Braslav, Vidzy, Glubokoe, Disna, Dokshitsy, Dunilovichi, Miory, Plisa and Sharkovshchina districts.

In 1958, the Mekhovo district of the Vitebsk oblast was renamed Ezerishche.

On 20 January 1960, the Molodechno oblast was abolished and its districts went into:
Vitebsk oblast - Braslav, Vidzy, Glubokoe, Dokshitsy, Dunilovichi, Miory, Postavy, Plisa and Sharkovshchina districts;
Grodno oblast - Ostrovets, Oshmiany, Smorgon and Yuratishki districts;
Minsk oblast - Vileika, Volozhin, Ivenets, Krivichi, Molodechno, Miadel and Radoshkovichi districts.

* * *

In 1956-1962, during the districts enlargement, the following districts were abolished:

in Brest oblast - Domachevo, Shereshevo (1956); Byten, Zhabchitsy (1957); Antopolie, Divin, Zhabinka, Telekhany (1959); Lenin (1960); David-Gorodok (1961); Vysokoe, Gantsevichi, Gorodishche, Ivanovo, Ivatsevichi, Logishin, Malorita, Ruzhany (1962);
in Vitebsk oblast - Kokhanov, Orekhovo, Ulla (1956); Osveia (1959); Bogushevsk, Vetrino, Vidzy, Dunilovichi, Surazh (1960); Dokshitsy, Drisa, Dubrovno, Ezerishche, Plisa, Rossony, Ushachi, Chashniki, Sharkovshchina, Shumilino (1962);
in Gomel oblast - Zhuravichi, Svetilovichi, Streshin (1956); Vasilevichi (1959); Domanovichi (1960); Vetka, Komarin, Kopatkevichi, Korma, Lelchitsy, Loev, Narovlia, Oktiabrski, Terekhovo, Turov, Uvarovichi, Chechersk (1962);
in Minsk oblast - Gresk (1956); Zaslavl, Krasnaia Sloboda (1959); Begoml, Radoshkovichi, Rudensk, Kholopenichi (1960); Berezino, Volozhin, Ivenets, Kletsk, Krivichi, Pleshchenitsy, Smolevichi, Starobin, Starye Dorogi, Uzda (1962);
in Mogilev oblast - Dribin, Krugloe, Cherikov (1956); Glusk, Klichev, Krichev, Osipovichi, Slavgorod, Khotimsk (1962);
in Molodechno oblast - Ilia (1957); Disna, Svir (1959).

In 1960, the Glusk district was transferred from the Minsk oblast to the Mogilev oblast.

In 1961, the Sirotino district of the Vitebsk oblast was renamed Shumilino; the Parichi district of the Gomel oblast was renamed Svetlogorsk.

In 1962, the Verkhnedvinsk district was established in the Vitebsk oblast.

* * *

In 1965 and 1966, the abolished districts were restored and additional districts were formed:

in Brest oblast - Ivanovo, Ivatsevichi, Malorita (1965); Gantsevichi, Zhabinka (1966) districts;
in Vitebsk oblast - Dokshitsy, Dubrovno, Rossony, Chashniki (1965); Ushachi, Sharkovshchina, Shumilino (1966) districts;
in Gomel oblast - Vetka, Lelchitsy, Narovlia, Chechersk (1965); Korma, Loev, Oktiabrski (1966) districts;
in Minsk oblast - Berezino, Volozhin, Smolevichi, Soligorsk (1965); Kletsk, Starye Dorogi, Uzda (1966) districts;
in Mogilev oblast - Klichev, Krichev, Osipovichi, Slavgorod (1965); Glusk, Krugloe, Khotimsk, Cherikov (1966) districts.

The Dribin district of the Mogilev oblast was restored in 1989.

* * *

As of 1 January 2009 the territory of the Republic of Belarus is divided into six oblasts (regions, provinces) with further subdivision into 118 raions (districts) (see map http://www.belarus.by/ru/about-belarus/map):

Brest oblast comprising 16 districts: Baranovichi, Bereza, Brest, Gantsevichi, Drogichin, Zhabinka, Ivanovo, Ivatsevichi, Kamenets, Kobrin, Luninets, Liakhovichi, Malorita, Pinsk, Pruzhany and Stolin (see map http://www.belarus.by/rimage/305 ).

Vitebsk oblast comprising 21 districts: Beshenkovichi, Braslav, Verkhnedvinsk, Vitebsk, Glubokoe, Gorodok, Dokshitsy, Dubrovno, Lepel, Liozno, Miory, Orsha, Polotsk, Postavy, Rossony, Senno, Tolochin, Ushachi, Chashniki, Sharkovshchina and Shumilino (see map http://www.belarus.by/rimage/310).

Gomel oblast comprising 21 districts: Bragin, Buda-Koshelevo, Vetka, Gomel, Dobrush, Elsk, Zhitkovichi, Zhlobin, Kalinkovichi, Korma, Lelchitsy, Loev, Mozyr, Narovlia, Oktiabrski, Petrikov, Rechitsa, Rogachev, Svetlogorsk, Khoiniki and Chechersk (see map http://www.belarus.by/rimage/306).

Grodno oblast comprising 17 districts: Berestovitsa, Volkovysk, Voronovo, Grodno, Diatlovo, Zelva, Ivie, Korelichi, Lida, Mosty, Novogrudok, Svisloch, Slonim, Smorgon, Ostrovets, Oshmiany and Shchuchin (see map http://www.belarus.by/rimage/309).

Minsk oblast comprising 22 districts: Berezino, Borisov, Vileika, Volozhin, Dzerzhinsk, Kletsk, Kopyl, Krupki, Logoisk, Liuban, Minsk, Molodechno, Miadel, Nesvizh, Pukhovichi, Slutsk, Smolevichi, Soligorsk, Starye Dorogi, Stolbtsy, Uzda and Cherven (see map http://www.belarus.by/rimage/304).

Mogilev oblast comprising 21 districts: Belynichi, Bobruisk, Bykhov, Glusk, Gorki, Dribin, Kirovsk, Klimovichi, Klichev, Kostiukovichi, Krasnopolie, Krichev, Krugloe, Mogilev, Mstislavl, Osipovichi, Slavgorod, Khotimsk, Chausy, Cherikov and Shklov (see map http://www.belarus.by/rimage/308).

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Please NOTE that the names of localities and administrative units on our website are transliterated into Latin characters from the Russian Cyrillic. They have different spelling in Belarusian, Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian or Latvian languages.

Archival news
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