OK, here is my approach to an overarching geographic hierarchy for Russia. The top level categories are based on the newish Russian Federal Districts + one for Kaliningrad. I made a separate category for Kaliningrad because a) this makes the subregions for Northwestern Russia total up to a maximum 9 and b) Kaliningrad is really much more in Northern Europe than in Northwestern Russia, at least from a "getting in" or "getting out" perspective. I don't think we need many smaller subdivisions, at least until a lot more Russia content gets developed.
The two aspects of this hierarchy that I find least satisfying are the sub-regions under Central Russia (Golden Ring, Don-Voronezh Region, and Western Russia) and under Volga Region (West Volga Region and East Volga Region). Of all Russia, I am least familiar with the Central and Volga regions so I had to just improvise to subdivide these regions. It would probably be better if someone could come up with alternative subdivisions for these two top-level regions based on something actually related to differences in culture, geography, history, or politics.
Lastly, I do intend to make maps (and articles where they are lacking) for subdivisions, but would of course welcome help ;) --PeterfitzgeraldTalk 01:43, 7 April 2007 (EDT)
Hey there Peter! Nice work, this seems like quite a large task!
One question about the name (or maybe they existed before and you just combined them), but to me it sounds a little weird to have Western Russia as a subregion of Central Russia. And to a lesser extent, Northeastern & Southeastern as a subregion of Far-Eastern (but I get that one a little more). I don't know anything about Russia, just sounded weird at first sight. :) – cacahuatetalk 14:59, 26 May 2007 (EDT)
Agreed about the weirdness. I would prefer, I think, to leave the Far East as is—Russians refer to the Northeast as such and I don't know of a better name for the Southeast.
I'm not very satisfied with any of the three Central Russia regions (Don-Voronezh Region, Golden Ring, and Western Russia). I don't know this particular region very well (which is odd, since it is the most important region) and I basically just made those up myself for lack of any better ideas. The "Central Russia" name is common use and we shouldn't replace it, but it actually is westernmost Russia. Accordingly, I called the western chunk of it "Western Russia," because "Western Central Russia" seemed too silly. And it is the extreme west of Russia, where the most intense WWII fighting occurred (which destroyed most of the legacy of this historically rich region). There is some basis for calling the "Golden Ring" area as such, but the "Don-Voronezh Region" is a bogus term I just dreamed up for the leftover category and would probably best be replaced. I'm not at all averse to completely resorting the regions of Central Russia—I just don't have any better ideas, let me know if you do. --PeterfitzgeraldTalk 15:20, 26 May 2007 (EDT)
I don't since I don't know Russia at all, but thanks for explaining that. It seems like the way you've divided it is reasonable and digestible to the traveler, and that's the most important part... if someone thinks of a better name later, it's super easy to just move the article then. – cacahuatetalk 16:04, 26 May 2007 (EDT)
It's going to look like I'm making random changes to this hierarchy (in particular, the European Russian hierarchy) without consulting anyone. To the contrary, we've had a good debate on the Russian version over whether and how to move away from the somewhat arbitrary administrative Federal District boundaries to a more intuitive scheme that makes more sense for travel. The relevant discussions, for those interested, are here and here. The changes are as follows:
1) Split off kursk, orlov, lipetsk, tambov, voronezh, belgorod, and bryansk oblasts from Central Russia to a new top-level region, "Black Earth." I don't know if that's the optimal name, but we can always change that. Other names would be Black Earth Region, Central Black Earth, Chernozemye, Chernozem, etc.
2) Keep the rest of the Central Russian oblasts as one non-subdivided top-level region (that is, no intermediate divisions between it and the oblasts).
3) Astrakhan & Volgograd oblasts moved to the Volga Region.
4) Volga Region split into three subdivisions: Upper Volga (Kirov, Nizhny Novgorod oblasts, Mari El, Udmurtia, & Chuvashia); Middle Volga (Ulyanov, Penza, Samara oblasts, Tatarstan, and Mordovia); and Lower Volga (Astrakhan, Volgograd, and Saratov oblasts).
5) Perm, Orenburg oblasts, and Bashkiria moved to Urals.
I'm pretty sure that's it. I'd normally wait a while to see if anyone else wants to make suggestions before moving forward, but I've already changed the maps per the Russian discussions and would like to keep things on the same page. More importantly, with the exception of one current unrelated discussion about Kamchatka & Koryakia, no one else on the English version has shown any real interest in delving into the nitty-gritty of Russia's regional organization; and that's in the entire history of Wikitravel! --PeterTalk 00:26, 28 February 2009 (EST)
Noone gives a fuck about Russian travel except for visa details and how to rush through all of Russia towards the Mongolian border as quickly as possible :/ anyway, I assume that black earth region is derived from a Russian equivalent - it might make sense just to use that word instead, it looks a bit arbitrary in English no? --Stefan (sertmann)Talk 02:09, 28 February 2009 (EST)
Ah missed that - I'd propose we use Chernozemye instead. --Stefan (sertmann)Talk 02:11, 28 February 2009 (EST)
Sounds fair to me. I get roughly the same number of English-language search results for both Chernozem & Chernozemye. --PeterTalk 13:51, 28 February 2009 (EST)
This is a smaller update, but I wanted to make sure that any interested parties were aware of the proposal at Talk:Far Eastern Russia to rename Far Eastern Russia to Russian Far East, flatten its hierarchy, and split Sakhalin Oblast in two. --PeterTalk 15:19, 30 December 2009 (EST)
And it is done. --PeterTalk 15:21, 12 January 2010 (EST)