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Russia is the largest country in the world, covering almost twice the territory of the next-largest country, Canada, and has the world's eighth-largest population (149 million people). The Russian Federation spans nine time zones.
Russia shares land borders with the following countries (counter-clockwise from northwest to southeast): Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It is also close to the United States and Japan across relatively small stretches of water (the Bering Strait and La Pérouse Strait, respectively).
Russia was an independent country for many centuries, then following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 became the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), a republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Russia is now known as the Russian Federation since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.
Imperial Russia was divided into gubernias/provinces, which were divided into uyezds/districts. Soviet Russia and Ukraine and other former Soviet republics were, and are still, divided into oblasts/provinces which were and are divided into raions/districts. Peripheral areas like the Caucasus sometimes use krai instead of raion for district. It is generally good to know both the old and the new jurisdictions in which a smaller place is located, because currently the Family History Library Catalog uses the new jurisdictions for Ukraine, but the old ones for Russia. Archives all over the former Soviet Union concentrate their holdings according to oblast borders. Old documents refer to the old jurisdictions, and most of our Russian and Ukrainian microfilms are from the old Imperial time.
Imperial Russia (Russian Empire) before 1917 was divided into gubernias or provinces. These were sub-divided into several uyezds or districts.
Current administrative division consist of 46 oblasts (oblastey, singular - oblast), 21 republics (respublik, singular - respublika), 4 autonomous okrugs (avtonomnykh okrugov, singular - avtonomnyy okrug), 9 krays (krayev, singular - kray), 2 federal cities (goroda, singular - gorod), and 1 autonomous oblast (avtonomnaya oblast') as follows.
Although retaining a lot of similarities, administrative-territorial division and regions boundaries undergo substantial changes during the 20th century, affecting the records storage sites.
Note: Administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)
- Beginning Russian Research
- Join our group of Russia researchers on Facebook
- See tutorials on FamilySearch Learning Center forRussian Research and Reading Russian Handwritten Records
- Calendar: Soviet
- Emigration Records of Europe
- Finding Places in the Former Russian Empire
- German Collections in Russian Archives
- Guide to reading Old Church Slavonic
- Russian Genealogical Word List and Resources by BYU*Russian Empire Genealogical Primer
- Word List
Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:
- Russia Births and Baptisms (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Russia Deaths and Burials (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Russia, Lutheran Church Book Duplicates (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Russia Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Russia, Samara Province Orthodox Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Russia, Tver Province Orthodox Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Russia, Tver Province Orthodox Confession Lists (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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