Administrative Territorial Structure

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Administrative Territorial Structure


the division of a state’s territory into constituent parts: oblasts, provinces, guberniias, departments, and so on. The administrative territorial structure of any state depends on the state’s class nature, its tasks, and functions; the aim of such structure is the most efficient organization and functioning of the whole state mechanism, in particular the system of local agencies of state authority, that is, local self-government.

In the capitalist states the administrative territorial structure is guided primarily by considerations of administrative convenience and by fiscal and police interests.

The Soviet administrative territorial structure is guided by considerations of natural, historic and economic conditions—that is, natural resources, the nature and development of the economy, the structure and development of means of communication, the size and density of the population. It is also guided by national factors, that is, the national composition and culture of the population, and by the goal of bringing state machinery as close as possible to the populace so that the workers can most fully participate in the exercise of state authority.

The basic administrative territorial units in the USSR are the oblast, raion, city, selo (stanitsa, village, khutor, kishlak, aul), and settlement (the last including workers’ settlements, summer or dacha settlements, and resort settlements). The RSFSR also has krais in addition to the above units. The constitutions of those Union republics divided into oblasts or krais list the oblasts (krais) that constitute the republic. The constitutions of Union republics not divided into oblasts list the republic’s cities and raions. Changes in the oblast (krai) division are carried out by the supreme body of state authority of the Union republic in the manner prescribed for amending constitutions of Union republics. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union republic is the sole authority to introduce changes in the internal structure of an oblast (krai), that is, eliminating raions, or breaking them up and forming new ones, in Union republics with oblast divisions and in those without oblasts. The creation and elimination of villages and settlements and their transfer to another raion is decided by the krai (oblast) Soviet, and in the Union and autonomous republics without oblast division, by the Presidium of the republic Supreme Soviet.

In the other socialist countries administrative territorial structure is guided by specific conditions and is regulated by constitutions, laws and decrees on administrative territorial division and by laws on local agencies of state authority.


Barakhatian, V. A., and R. S. Pavlovskii. “Sozdanie i razvitie sovetskogo administrativno-territorial’nogo ustroistva.” Uch. zap. Khar’kovskogo iuridicheskogo instituta, 1957, vol. 11, issue 1.
Rusinova, S. I. Go sudarstvennoe ustroistvo sotsialisticheskikh stran Evropy, ch. 3. Leningrad, 1966. Pages 90–112.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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