Area: 5, 792 sq. mi. (15,000 sq. km)
Population: 946,700 (2001 est.)
When quickly scanning a map, geographic separation or isolation might on occasion be mistaken for political independence. Wedged between Lithuania and Poland’s northern border is one such example, a patch of Europe formerly known as East Prussia. Ceded to the USSR after the Second World War, Kaliningrad, as the enclave is now called, is the youngest, as well as the smallest oblast, or administrative division, in the entire Russian Federation. Located at the nation’s westernmost edge (and about 200 miles from the rest of the country mind you), low-lying Kaliningrad remains economically significant because of its rich amber deposits and is strategically important due in large part to the fact that it possesses Russia’s only port on the Baltic Sea that remains ice-free year round.
Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.