Vilna Governorate
The Vilna Governorate or Government of Vilna was a governorate (guberniya
A guberniya was a major administrative subdivision of the Russian Empire usually translated as government, governorate, or province. Such administrative division was preserved for sometime upon the collapse of the empire in 1917. A guberniya was ruled by a governor , a word borrowed from Latin ,...

) of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 created after the Third Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

 in 1795. It was part of the Lithuanian General Governorate, which was called the Vilnius General Governorate after 1830, and was attached to the Northwestern Krai
Northwestern Krai
Northwestern Krai was a subdivision of Imperial Russia in the territories of the present day Belarus and Lithuania. Together with the Southwestern Krai it formed the Western Krai...

. The seat was in Vilna (Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

) where the Governors General resided.


The first governorates, Vilna Governorate (consisting of eleven uyezd
Uyezd or uezd was an administrative subdivision of Rus', Muscovy, Russian Empire, and the early Russian SFSR which was in use from the 13th century. Uyezds for most of the history in Russia were a secondary-level of administrative division...

s or districts) and Slonim Governorate, were established after the third partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Partitions of Poland
The Partitions of Poland or Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in the second half of the 18th century and ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland for 123 years...

. Just a year later, on December 12, 1796, by order of Tsar Paul I
Paul I of Russia
Paul I was the Emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801. He also was the 72nd Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta .-Childhood:...

 they were merged into one governorate, called Lithuania Governorate
Lithuania Governorate
The Lithuania Governorate was a short-lived governorate of the Russian Empire. After the third partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795, the former territories of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were divided between the Vilna Governorate and the Slonim Governorate by Catherine II of...

, with its capital in Vilnius. By order of Tsar Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

 on September 9, 1801 Lithuania Governorate was split into the Lithuania-Vilna Governorate and the Lithuania-Grodno Governorate. After thirty nine years, the word "Lithuania" was dropped from the two names by Nicholas I
Nicholas I of Russia
Nicholas I , was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855, known as one of the most reactionary of the Russian monarchs. On the eve of his death, the Russian Empire reached its historical zenith spanning over 20 million square kilometers...

. In 1843 another administrative reform took place, creating Kovno Governorate
Kovno Governorate
The Kovno Governorate or Government of Kovno was a governorate of the Russian Empire. Its capital was Kovno . It was formed on 18 December 1842 by tsar Nicholas I from the western part of the Vilna Governorate, and the order was carried out on 1 July 1843. It used to be a part of Northwestern Krai...

 out of seven western districts of the Vilna Governorate, including all of Samogitia
Samogitia is one of the five ethnographic regions of Lithuania. It is located in northwestern Lithuania. Its largest city is Šiauliai/Šiaulē. The region has a long and distinct cultural history, reflected in the existence of the Samogitian dialect...

. Vilna Governorate received three additional districts: Vileyka
Vileyka – town in Republic of Belarus, the capital of the Vileyka Raion in the Minsk Voblast. It is located on the river Viliya, 100 km to northwest from Minsk. First documental record: 16 November 1460....

 and Dzisna
Dzisna , is a town in the Vitsebsk Voblast of Belarus. It's located on the left bank of the Daugava River, near the confluence of Dysna. It has 2,700 inhabitants . The towns population has declined over the years; early in the 20th century it had close to 10,000 inhabitants....

 from Minsk Governorate
Minsk Governorate
The Minsk Governorate or Government of Minsk was a governorate of the Russian Empire. The seat was in Minsk. It was created in 1793 from the land acquired in the partitions of Poland, and lasted until 1921.- Administrative structure :...

 and Lida
Lida is a city in western Belarus in Hrodna Voblast, situated 160 km west of Minsk. It is the fourteenth largest city in Belarus.- Etymology :...

 from Grodno Governorate
Grodno Governorate
The Grodno Governorate, was a governorate of the Russian Empire.-Overview:Grodno: a western province or government of Europe lying between 52 and 54 N lat 23 and E long and bounded N by Vilna E by Minsk S Volhynia and W by the former kingdom of Poland The country was a wide plain in parts very...

. This arrangement remained unchanged until World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. A part of it was then included in the Lithuania District
Lithuania District
Lithuania District was an administrative division of German-controlled territory of Ober-Ost during World War I. It was bordered by the Bialystok-Grodno District to the south and the Courland District to the north.-History:...

 of Ober-Ost, formed by the occupying German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...


During the Polish-Soviet War
Polish-Soviet War
The Polish–Soviet War was an armed conflict between Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine and the Second Polish Republic and the Ukrainian People's Republic—four states in post–World War I Europe...

 the area was annexed by Poland, and in 1923 the Wilno Voivodeship was founded here, which existed until 1939.


In 1834 the governorate had about 789,000 inhabitants; in 1897 the population grew to about 1,591,000 souls (37 per square kilometer) and consisted of 56,1 percent Belorussians, 17,6 percent Lithuanians, 12,7 percent Jews and 8,2 percent Poles.


Uyezds in 1795 Uyezds in 1843
Braslaw (since 1835 Novoaleksandrovsk (Zarasai
Zarasai is a city in northeastern Lithuania, surrounded by many lakes and rivers: to the southwest of the city is Zarasas, north – Zarasaitis, southeast – Baltas, and east – Griežtas. Zarasaitis and Griežtas are connected by Laukesa rivulet....

To Kovno Governorate
From Minsk Governorate Dzisna
Dzisna , is a town in the Vitsebsk Voblast of Belarus. It's located on the left bank of the Daugava River, near the confluence of Dysna. It has 2,700 inhabitants . The towns population has declined over the years; early in the 20th century it had close to 10,000 inhabitants....

Kovno (Kaunas
Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and has historically been a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the center of a powiat in Trakai Voivodeship of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. During Russian Empire occupation...

To Kovno Governorate
From Grodno Governorate Lida
Lida is a city in western Belarus in Hrodna Voblast, situated 160 km west of Minsk. It is the fourteenth largest city in Belarus.- Etymology :...

Raseiniai is a city in Lithuania. It is located on the south eastern foothills of the Samogitians highland, some north from the Kaunas–Klaipėda highway.- Grand Duchy of Lithuania :...

To Kovno Governorate
Šiauliai , is the fourth largest city in Lithuania, with a population of 133,900. It is the capital of Šiauliai County. Unofficially, the city is the capital of Northern Lithuania.-Names:...

To Kovno Governorate
Švenčionys is a city located north of Vilnius in Lithuania. It is the capital of the Švenčionys district municipality. As of 2005, it had population of 5,658 of which about one-third is part of the Polish minority in Lithuania.- Name :...

Telšiai , is a city in Lithuania with about 35,000 inhabitants. It is the capital of Telšiai County and Samogitia region, and it is located on Lake Mastis.-Names:...

To Kovno Governorate
Trakai is a historic city and lake resort in Lithuania. It lies 28 km west of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Because of its proximity to Vilnius, Trakai is a popular tourist destination. Trakai is the administrative centre of Trakai district municipality. The town covers 11.52 km2 of...

-Early history:Ukmergė was first mentioned as a settlement in 1333. It was essentially a wooden fortress that stood on a hill, near the confluence of the Vilkmergė River and the Šventoji River. Ukmergė was attacked by the Teutonic Knights and the Livonian Order in 1333, 1365, 1378, 1386, and even...

To Kovno Governorate
Upytė is a small village in Panevėžys district municipality in northern Lithuania. It is situated some 12 km southwest of Panevėžys on the banks of Vešeta Creek. It is now the capital of an elderate. In 1987 it had 580 residents...

 (since 1843 Panevėžys
Panevėžys see also other names, is the fifth largest city in Lithuania. As of 2008, it occupied 50 square kilometers with 113,653 inhabitants. The largest multifunctional arena in Panevėžys is the Cido Arena...

To Kovno Governorate
From Minsk Governorate Vileyka
Vileyka – town in Republic of Belarus, the capital of the Vileyka Raion in the Minsk Voblast. It is located on the river Viliya, 100 km to northwest from Minsk. First documental record: 16 November 1460....

Vilna (Vilnius)

Governors General residing in Vilnius

  • Nikolai Vasilyevich Repnin (1794 — 1797)
  • Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov
    Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov
    Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov was a Field Marshal of the Russian Empire. He served as one of the finest military officers and diplomats of Russia under the reign of three Romanov Tsars: Catherine II, Paul I and Alexander I...

     (1799 — 1801)
  • Levin August, Count von Bennigsen
    Levin August, Count von Bennigsen
    Levin August Gottlieb Theophil , Count von Bennigsen was a German general in the service of the Russian Empire....

     (1801 - 1806)
  • Alexander Michailovič Rimsky-Korsakov
    Alexander Korsakov
    Alexander Mikhailovich Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian General remembered as an unlucky assistant to Alexander Suvorov during his Swiss expedition of 1799–1800....

     (1806 - 1830)
  • Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov-Vilensky
    Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov-Vilensky
    Count Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov was one of the most reactionary Russian imperial statesmen of the 19th century...

     (1863 - 1865)
  • Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman
    Konstantin Petrovich Von Kaufman
    Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman was the first Governor-General of Russian Turkestan.-Early life:His family was Austrian in origin, but had been in the service of the Tsars for over 100 years, and had long since converted to Orthodoxy...

     (1865 — 1866)
  • Aleksandr Potapov (1868-1874)
  • Eduard Totleben
    Eduard Totleben
    Eduard Ivanovich Totleben was a Baltic German military engineer and Imperial Russian Army general. He was in charge of fortification and sapping work during a number of important Russian military campaigns.-Early life:...

     (1880 — 1884)
  • Pyotr Dmitrievich Sviatopolk-Mirskii
    Pyotr Dmitrievich Sviatopolk-Mirskii
    Prince Pyotr Dmitrievich Sviatopolk-Mirskii was a Russian politician and police official, Minister of the Interior in 1904–1905. He was the son of the general Dmitry Ivanovitch Sviatopolk-Mirskii and father of the literary historian D. S. Mirsky....

     (1902 — 1904)

Ethnic composition

Russian authorities periodically performed censuses. However, they reported strikingly different numbers:
Year Total Lithuanians Poles Belarusians Russians Jews Other
1862 838,464 418,880 50% 154,386 18% 146,431 17% 14,950 2% 76,802 9% 27,035 3%
1865 891,715 210,273 24% 154,386 17% 418,289 47% 27,845 3% 76,802 9% 4,120 0%
1883 1,192,000 417,200 35% 281,312 24% 239,592 20% - 176,416 15% 77,480 7%
1897 1,561,713 274,414 18% 126,770 8% 880,940 56% 75,803 5% 197,929 13% 5,857 0%
1909 1,550,057 231,848 15% 188,931 12% 570,351 37% 408,817 26% 146,066 9% 4,094 0%

See also

  • Ethnic history of the Vilnius region
  • History of Vilnius
    History of Vilnius
    This article is about the history of Vilnius, the capital and largest city of Lithuania.-Middle Ages:The earliest settlements in the area of present day Vilnius appear to be of mesolithic origin. Numerous archaeological findings in different parts of the city prove that the area has been inhabited...

  • Poland
    Second Polish Republic
    The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

    ’s Wilno Voivodeship
  • Byelorussia’s Vileyka Voblast
    Vileyka Voblast
    Vileyka Voblast was a territorial unit in the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic created out of the eastern powiats of the Wilno Voivodeship after the annexation of West Belarus into the BSSR in November 1939. The administrative centre of the province was the city of Vileyka. The Voblast...

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