A raion (or rayon) is the name of a way several former Soviet republics are divided. The word is from French rayon which means 'honeycomb, department'. It describes both a type of a subnational entity and a division of a city. It is commonly written in English as "district". Raion also can be used simply as a second division without anything to do with ethnicity or nationality. A raion is usually two steps below the national level. In smaller countries it could be the first level.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, some of the republics kept the raion (e.g. Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) while others dropped it (e.g. Georgia, Uzbekistan, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Armenia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan).
- Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1961, repr. 1981), s.v. raion.