Territory and administrative division of the Estonian SSR

​The territory of Soviet Estonia made up about 0.2% of the territory of the Soviet Union. During the process of Sovietisation, the borders and administrative divisions of the Republic of Estonia did not survive. In 1944-1945, the Estonian territory was reduced: three rural municipalities beyond Narva River were added to Leningrad oblast, and the newly established Pskov oblast now contained most of Petseri county, including the town of Petseri. The existing Petseri county was abolished and the remaining area was added to Võru county. The territories joined to Leningrad and Pskov oblasts (2330 sq km, about 5% of the Estonian territory) had been assigned to Estonia on the basis of the Tartu Peace Treaty (1920); most of the population (over 80%) in these territories was Russian. Simultaneously with reducing the Estonian territory, the Latvian borders were also ‘adjusted’ – as a result, both formerly independent countries were left without significant military-strategic border areas. Smaller alterations on the Russia-Estonia borders occurred as late as 1957.

When the Estonian SSR was restored, the existing administrative division was initially left unchanged. In 1945, Soviet Estonia had 10 counties and 236 rural municipalities, which were split into village councils in autumn 1945. In 1950, the rural municipalities were abolished and a system of districts was established; the counties (the bigger counties had been split up and their number now totalled 13) were replaced with 39 rural districts. Estonia was briefly (1952-1953) divided into three oblasts. After the oblasts were abolished, the Soviet administrative division was gradually reorganised: the number of districts was reduced, which meant that the Soviet administrative division more closely resembled the old division. In 1986, Estonia had 15 rural districts, 33 towns, 24 townships, 189 village councils, 167 small towns and 3274 villages.

The administrative division of the Estonian SSR largely survived in the restored Republic of Estonia; districts were renamed counties and village councils became rural municipalities.

Details about this article