Consisting solely of the Kaliningrad Oblast, and with the city of Kaliningrad as its administrative center, the Kaliningrad Region is one of Russia's twelve economic regions. Although it forms part of the Russian Federation, the Kaliningrad Region has no land ties with Russia, but is an exclave surrounded by the Baltic Sea, Lithuania and Poland. Furthermore, the Kaliningrad Oblast shares the Curonian Lagoon with Lithuania and the Vistula Lagoon with Poland. Both of these lagoons are separated from the Baltic Sea by a narrow strip of land, providing unique freshwater ecosystems and picturesque settings popular with tourists and holidaymakers.
The history of the Kaliningrad Region is both complex and turbulent, partly due to the fact that it is somewhat isolated from Russia. This came about because this wedge-shaped piece of land was awarded to the Soviet Union at the Potsdam Conference in 1945 where Europe was divided between the allied powers. It had previously been part of German East Prussia. Today, with both Poland and Lithuania having become member states of the European Union, Kaliningrad Oblast is, in effect, currently surrounded by EU countries, a situation which has raised security concerns with authorities. Some are calling for independence from Russia, to form a fourth Baltic State – the other three being EU members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - but it would seem that the majority of Kaliningrad Oblast’s inhabitants would prefer to remain under Russian rule.
Further evidence of the uniqueness of the Kaliningrad Region, in relation to the rest of Russia, is the fact that there are no less than 28 different nationalities living there as established through a census in 2002. More than 80 percent are Russians, with the balance of the population made up of (in descending order): Belarusians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Armenians, Germans, Tatars, Poles, Azeris, Mordvins, Chubash, Jews, Roma, Moldovans, Chechens, Latvians, Georgians, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Bashkirs, Yezidi, Mari Ossetians, Udmurts, Lezgins, Bulgarians, Tajiks and Americans. This multinational slice of Russia is beautiful, fascinating and certainly worth exploring