Chita Oblast (431,500 km2, 1995 pop. 1,299,600 est.) is one of 49 regions (Oblasts) that along with 40 other administrative division constitute the Russian Federation. This SE Siberian oblast has extensive international borders with China (998 km) and Mongolia (868 km) and internal borders with Irkutsk and Amur oblasts, and the republics of Buryatia and Sakha (Yakutiya).
The territory that makes up today's Chita Oblast was first explored by Cossacks led by Petr Beketov in 1653. People began to move into and develop the area in order to strengthen Russia's border with China and Mongolia, extract mineral resources, and build the Trans-Siberian Railway. In 1920, Chita became the capital of the Far East Republic, which merged with the Russian Federation in November 1922, a month before the Soviet Union was constituted.
The oblast is rich in ferrous, non-ferrous, rare, and precious metals, coal, charcoal, and mineral waters. Forests cover about 60% of its territory. As a result, the oblast's main industries are metallurgy, fuel, and timber. It also has advanced light and food industries. Local agriculture focuses on cattle, sheep, and reindeer breeding.