Guberniya ( _ru. губе́рния, IPA-ru|guˈbʲɛrnʲɪjə) (also gubernia, guberniia, gubernya) was a major administrative subdivision of Imperial Russia, usually translated as "government", "governorate", or "province". A guberniya was ruled by a governor or ( _ru. губернатор, "gubernator"), a word borrowed from Latin "gubernator", in turn from Greek "kybernates". Sometimes the term "guberniya" was informally used to refer to the office of a governor.

This subdivision type was created by the edict (ukase) of Peter the Great on December 18, 1708, which divided Russia into eight guberniyas. In 1719, guberniyas were further subdivided into "provinces" (провинции). Later the number of guberniyas was increased to 23.

By the reform of 1775, subdivision into guberniyas and further into "uyezds" (уезды) was based on the amount of population, and the term "guberniya" was replaced by the synonym of Russian origin: namestnichestvo ( _ru. наместничество), sometimes translated as "viceroyalty". The term "guberniya", however, still remained in use. These viceroyalties were governed by "namestniks" (наместник) (literal translation: "deputy") or Governors General (генерал-губернатор). Correspondingly, the term Governorate General (генерал-губернаторство) was in use to refer to the actual territory being governed . The office of Governor General had more administrative power and was in a higher position than the previous office of Governor. Sometimes a Governor General ruled several guberniyas.

By the ukase of Russian Senate by December 31, 1796, the office of Governorate General was demoted to the previous level of Governorate, and Russia was again divided into guberniyas, which were subdivided in "uyezds", further subdivided into "volosts" (волость), nevertheless several Governorates General made from several guberniyas existed until 1917.

The latter subdivision existed until after the Russian Revolution of 1917.

For the guberniya (Polish "gubernia") as a subdivision of the Congress Kingdom of Poland ("Russian Poland"), see Administrative division of Congress Poland.

After the February Revolution, the Russian Provisional Government renamed governors into "guberniya commissars". The October Revolution left the subdivision in place, but the governing apparatus was replaced by "guberniya soviets" (губернский совет).

Actual subdivisions of the Soviet Union into particular territorial units was subject to numerous changes, especially during the 1918–1929 period. Eventually, in 1929, the subdivision was replaced by the notions of oblast, okrug, and raion.

In modern Russia, although the term "Guberniya" is obsolete, the word "gubernator" is used when referring to a governor of an oblast or a krai.

ee also

*History of the administrative division of Russia

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