Political subdivisions twelve uyezds
Vitebsk Governorate (Витебская губерния, Vitebskaya guberniya) was an administrative unit (guberniya) of the Russian Empire, with the seat of governorship in Vitebsk. It was established in 1802 by splitting the Byelorussia Governorate and existed until 1924. Today most of the area belongs to Belarus, the northwestern part to Latvia and the northeastern part to Pskov and Smolensk Oblasts of Russia.
In 1772, as a result of the First Partition of Poland, Inflanty Voivodeship and eastern Belarus were transferred to Russia. In order to accommodate these areas, Pskov Governorate was created. It was proven too big to be manageable, and in 1776 it was split into Pskov and Polotsk Governorates. In 1778 Polotsk Governorate was transformed into Polotsk Viceroyalty. In 1793, the Second Partition of Poland followed, which resulted in the expansion of Polotsk Viceroyalty. In 1796, viceroyalties were abolished. In particular, Polotsk and Mogilev Viceroyalties were merged into Byelorussia Governorate. On February 27, 1802 Byelorussia Governorate was split into Vitebsk and Mogilev Governorates.
The governorate consisted of 12 uyezds (the administrative centers, which all had the town status, are given in parentheses),
In 1866, Surazhsky Uyezd was abolished and split between Gorodoksky, Velizhsky, and Vitebsky Uyezd.
On 31 December 1917, Dvinsky, Lyutsinsky and Rezhitsky Uyezds, populated mostly by Latvians and known in Latvian as Latgale, were transferred to Governorate of Livonia, becoming a part of the Latvian Soviet autonomy of Iskolat. Following the Latvian War of Independence, in 1920 the area became a part of the Republic of Latvia under the Latvian–Soviet Peace Treaty. After 1919, the rest of Vitebsk Governorate was a part of Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.
In 1924, Vitebsk Governorate was abolished. Most of it was transferred to Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, which at the time had districts as the first-level administrative division. Three uyezds, Sebezhsky, Nevelsky, and Velizhsky, were transferred to Pskov Governorate.
The administration of the governorate was performed by a governor. The governors of Vitebsk Governorate were