Leningrad Oblast (Ленингра́дская о́бласть, Leningradskaya oblast) is a federal subject of Russia (an oblast). It was established on August 1, 1927, although it was not until 1945 that the oblast's borders had been mostly settled in their present position. The oblast was named after the city of Leningrad. Known after 1991 as Saint Petersburg, it is the administrative center of the oblast, although it constitutes a separate federal subject (a federal city) and has been administratively separate from the oblast since 1931. The first governor of Leningrad Oblast was Vadim Gustov (in 1996-1998). Since 1999 he has been succeeded by Valery Serdyukov.
Leningrad Oblast is bordered by Finland in the northwest, Estonia in the west, as well as five federal subjects of Russia: Republic of Karelia in the northeast, Vologda Oblast in the east, Novgorod Oblast in the south, Pskov Oblast in the southwest, and the federal city of Saint Petersburg on the west.
The oblast has an area of 84,500 km² and a population 1,669,205 (as of the 2002 Census); up from 1,661,173 recorded in the 1989 Census. The most populous town of the oblast is Gatchina, with 88,659 inhabitants (as of the 2002 Census).
In the 12th-15th century the territory was divided between the Kingdom of Sweden and Novgorod Republic (see Swedish-Novgorodian Wars) and mostly populated by Karelians (northwest), Izhorians and Votes (west), Veps (east) and Novgorodian East Slavs (south). During the Russo-Swedish Wars of the 15th-17th centuries the border moved back and forth over the land.
The central part of the territory is known as the historical region of Ingria and in the 17th century, after most of the present-day territory of Leningrad Oblast was once again gained by Sweden with the Treaty of Stolbovo of 1617, became subject to substantial Finnish Lutheran population influx from Finnish Karelia (which included Karelian Isthmus, the northwestern part of present-day Leningrad Oblast) and Savonia. Ingrian Finns soon became the dominant ethnic group.
During the Great Northern War (1700-1721) the territory of Leningrad Oblast was captured from Sweden by Russia under Peter I, who founded Saint Petersburg amidst the land in 1703, which soon became the capital of the Russian Empire. In 1708 most of the territory was organized into the Ingermanland Governorate under Governor General Alexander Menshikov. It was renamed Saint Petersburg Governorate in 1710 (Borders of the governorate, however, differed very significantly from those of the present-day oblast). In 1721 the territorial concessions of Sweden were confirmed with the Treaty of Nystad.
The life of the countryside was greatly influenced by the vicinity of the imperial capital, which became a growing market for its agricultural production as well as the main consumer of its mineral and forest resources. In 1719-1810, Ladoga Canal was dug between the River Svir and the River Neva as part of the Volga-Baltic waterway to bypass stormy waters of Lake Ladoga. Since the advent of the rail transport in the late 19th century, the vicinity of Saint Petersburg has been a popular summer resort (dacha) place for its residents. However, while Saint Petersburg itself from the very beginning was populated mostly by Russians, it wasn't until the 20th century that its surroundings were russified.
In 1914 with the beginning of World War I the governorate was renamed Petrograd Governorate after its namesake city. After the Russian Revolution, in 1918 the capital was transferred from Petrograd (how Saint Petersburg came to be named in 1914) to Moscow, farther from the borders of the country. In 1919 during the Russian Civil War the Northwestern White Army advancing from Estonia and led by Nikolai Yudenich tried to capture Petrograd and even managed to reach its southern outskirts, but the attack against the Red Army under Leon Trotsky ultimately failed, and Yudenich retreated back. The border with Estonia was established in the Russian-Estonian Treaty of Tartu of 1920. Ingrian Finns of North Ingria attempted to secede in 1918-1920, but were incorporated back with the Russian-Finnish Treaty of Tartu, which settled the border between Finland and Soviet Russia. In 1924 Petrograd Governorate was renamed to Leningrad Governorate, again after its namesake city.
In the fall of 1934 the Forbidden Border Zone along the western border of the Soviet Union was established, where nobody could appear without special permission issued by NKVD. It was officially only 7.5 km deep initially, but along the Estonian border it extended to as much as 90 km. The zone was to be free of Finnic and some other peoples, who were considered politically unreliable. Starting from the 1935, the Soviet authorities caried out mass forced transfer of the Ingrian Finnish population of the oblast, which constituted majority in many rural localities as late as in the beginning of the centurty, to the east, replacing them with people from other parts of the Soviet Union.
On November 30, 1939, the Soviet Union waged the Winter War against neighboring Finland and with the Moscow Peace Treaty in 1940 gained some territories, including Karelian Isthmus. Their Karelian population was hastily evacuated to inner Finland and later replaced with people from other parts of the Soviet Union. A small part of the territory (the districts of Kanneljärvi, Koivisto and Rautu) was incorporated into Leningrad Oblast, the rest being included within the Karelo-Finnish SSR.
In 1941 Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in the Operation Barbarossa, and shortly thereafter the territory became place of the Battle of Leningrad. Wehrmacht captured the southwestern part of the oblast and reached Tikhvin in the east, while Finnish troops quickly recaptured the ceded territories in the Continuation War, encircling Leningrad from the land. In 1944 Soviet offensives managed to expel Wehrmacht and put military pressure on Finland, which ceded Karelian Isthmus again with the Moscow Armistice of September 19, 1944. This time the gained territories of the isthmus was incorporated within Leningrad Oblast (Vyborgsky and Priozersky Districts). In 1947 the territorial gains were confirmed with the Paris Peace Treaty. Novgorod and Pskov Oblasts were formed out of the southern parts of Leningrad Oblast in 1944. In January 1945 a small part of the Estonian SSR to the east of the River Narva with the town of Jaanilinn (now Ivangorod) was transferred to the Russian SFSR and incorporated into Leningrad Oblast. Since then, the territory of Leningrad Oblast hasn't changed much, although some suburbs of Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) have been excluded from the oblast and incorporated into the city. In October 1946 Leningrad gained from the oblast some former Finnish territories along the northern coast of the Gulf of Finland divided into Sestroretsky District and Kurortny District, including the town of Terijoki.
In 1953 Pavlovsky District of the oblast was abolished, and parts of its territory including Pavlovsk were made subordinate to Leningrad. In 1954 the settlements Levashovo, Pargolovo and Pesochny were also transferred to Leningrad. In 1956 Boksitogorsky District of Leningrad Oblast gained a small territory of Novgorod Oblast. Uritsk was transferred from the oblast to the city of Leningrad in 1963, Krasnoye Selo and several settlements nearby -- in 1973, Lomonosov -- in 1978.
Rare vascular plant species listed in the local red data book are Actaea erythrocarpa, Agrostis clavata, Ajuga pyramidalis, Aldrovanda vesiculosa, Alisma wahlenbergii, Allium angulosum, Allium schoenoprasum, Allium ursinum, Anemone sylvestris, Armeria maritima, Artemisia oelandica, Asplenium septentrionale, Asplenium trichomanes, Astragalus arenarius, Astragalus danicus, Astragalus subpolaris, Astrantia major, Betula humilis, Blysmus rufus, Botrychium lanceolatum, Botrychium matricariifolium, Botrychium simplex, Botrychium virginianum, Brachypodium sylvaticum, Calypso bulbosa, Campanula bononiensis, Cardamine hirsuta, Cardamine parviflora, Carex arenaria, Carex bohemica, Carex caryophyllea, Carex davalliana, Carex flacca, Carex glareosa, Carex hartmanii, Carex heleonastes, Carex hostiana, Carex livida, Carex mackenziei, Carex paniculata, Carex pilosa, Carex remota, Carex tenuiflora, Carex tomentosa, Carex umbrosa, carolinum, Caulinia flexilis, Caulinia tenuissima, Centaurium erythraea, Centaurium littorale, Centaurium pulchellum, Centunculus minimus, Cephalanthera rubra, Chamaepericlymenum suecicum, Cirsium rivulare, Cladium mariscus, Coeloglossum viride, Cohlearia danica, Colchicum autumnale, Corydalis intermedia, Cotoneaster integerrimus, Cotoneaster melanocarpus, Cotoneaster scandinavicus, Crambe maritima, Crepis czerepanovii, Crepis sibirica, Cyperus fuscus, Cypripedium calceolus, Dactylorhiza baltica, Dactylorhiza traunsteineri, Dentaria bulbifera, Dianthus arenarius, Diplazium sibiricum, Dracocephalum ruyschiana, Drosera intermedia, Eleocharis parvula, Empetrum hermaphroditum, Epipactis atrorubens, Epipogium aphyllum, Equisetum scirpoides, Equisetum variegatum, Eremogone micradenia, Eremogone procera, Eupatorium cannabinum, Festuca altissima, Filipendula vulgaris, Gagea rubicunda, Galium hercynicum, Galium intermedium, Galium pumilum, Gentiana cruciata, Gladiolus imbricatus, Gymnadenia densiflora, Gymnocarpium robertianum, Gypsophila fastigiata, Helianthemum nummularium, Helichrysum arenarium, Helictotrichon pratense, Herminium monorchis, Hierochloe australis, Hottonia palustris, Iris sibirica, Isatis tenctoria, Isoеtes echinospora, Isoеtes lacustris, Jovibarba globifera, Juncus capitatus, Juncus squarrosus, Juncus stygius, Lathraea squamaria, Lathyrus laevigatus, Lathyrus linifolius, Lathyrus pisiformis, Ligularia sibirica, Liparis loeselii, Lithospermum officinale, Littorella uniflora, Lobelia dortmanna, Lonicera caerulea, Lunaria rediviva, Luzula campestris, Lycopodiella inundata, Melampyrum cristatum, Melica picta, Moehringia lateriflora, Myosotis ramosissima, Myrica gale, Najas major, Najas marina, Neottia nidus-avis, Nymphaea alba, Nymphaea tetragona, Onobrychis arenaria, Ophrys insectifera, Orchis militaris, Orchis ustulata, Orobanche bartlingii, Orobanche pallidiflora, Oxitropis sordida, Oxytropis pilosa, Pedicularis sceptrum-, Persicaria mitis, Petasites frigidus, Petesites spurius, Phleum alpinum, Phyteuma orbiculare, Pinguicula vulgaris, Polystichum aculeatum, Polystichum braunii, Potentilla crantzii, Poterium sanguisorba, Primula elatior, Primula farinosa, Pulsatilla patens, Pulsatilla pratensis, Pulsatilla vernalis, Pulsatilla vulgaris, Radiola linoides, Ranunculus bulbosus, Ranunculus subborealis, Rhizomatopteris sudetica, Rhynchospora fusca, Rosa mollis, Rubus humulifolius, Ruppia brachypus, Sagittaria natans, Sanicula europaea, Saussurea alpina, Saxifraga granulata, Saxifraga hirculus, Saxifraga tridactylites, Schoenus ferrugineus, Scutellaria hastifolia, Sedum album, Sedum annuum, Sedum sexangulare, Selaginella selaginoides, Senecio aquaticus, Senecio paludosus, Senecio tataricus, Sesleria caerulea, Silene chlorantha, Silene rupestris, Silene tatarica, Steris alpina, Swertia perennis, Tephroseris integrifolia, Tephroseris palustris, Teucrium scordium, Thymus pycnotrichus, Tillaea aquatica, Trichophorum cespitosum, Tripleurospermum maritimum, Tripleurospermum subpolare, Tripolium vulgare, Trisetum sibiricum, Valeriana dioica, Veratrum lobelianum, Viola hirta, Viola selkirkii, Viola uliginosa, Woodsia ilvensis.
Ethnic groups: According to the (2002 Census) there were thirteen recognised ethnic groups of more than two thousand persons each; the 'national composition' was • Russian 89.58% • Ukrainian 2.51% • Belarusians 1.70% • Tatar 0.57% • Finnish 0.48% • Armenian 0.33% • Roma 0.27 • Azeri 0.23% • Chuvash 0.17% • German 0.14% • Mordvin 0.13% • Karelian 0.12% • Vep 0.12% • Moldovan 0.12% • Jewish 0.10% • Polish 0.10% • Georgian 0.09% • Estonian 0.08% • Bashkir 0.07% • Korean 0.06% • Uzbek 0.06% • Mari 0.06% • Udmurt 0.06% • Tajik 0.05% • Kazakh 0.05% and many other ethnic groups of less than eight hundred persons each. • A further 2.34% of residents declined to state their nationality on the census questionnaire.