It borders on one oblast of Kazakhstan, one oblast of China and two oblasts of Russia: in the west — with the Abai oblast; in the east — with the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China; in the north — with the Altai Territory and the Altai Republic of the Russian Federation.
The highest point is Mount Belukha.
The position of the East Kazakhstan oblast in the central part of Eurasia, as well as the Altai Mountains located on its territory.
Tribes of the Middle Zhuz lived in the territory of the East Kazakhstan oblast in the XIX century: Naimans (Bura, Karatai, Kokzharly, Karakerei, Sadyr, Tortuyl, Matai, Teristanbaly, Yergenekty, Saryzhomart, Aknaiman families), Kerei (Ashamaily, Abak), Uaks
On August 26, 1920, the Decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR “On the formation of the Kyrgyzskaya (Kazakhskaya) Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic” was adopted, which included the Semipalatinsk oblast with uezds: Pavlodar, Semipalatinsk, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Zaisansky and Karkaralinsky. Semipalatinsk oblast (from December 11, 1920 — the province) was subordinated to Sibrevkom until April 1921. Based on the Decree of the Central Executive Committee of June 13, 1921, Bukhtarminsky and part of Zmeinogorsky uezds were transferred from Altai province to Semipalatinsk.
On January 17, 1928, the Semipalatinsk okrug, consisting of 23 districts, was formed from the Semipalatinsk, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Bukhtarma, Zaisan uezds of Semipalatinsk province and part of the Lepsinsky district of Zhetysu province. On December 17, 1930, the okrug, like all other okrugs of Kazakhskaya ASSR, was abolished, its districts were enlarged and transferred to direct subordination to the republican authorities.
East Kazakhstan oblast was formed on February 20, 1932 with the administrative center of the oblast in Semipalatinsk city, as part of 21 districts. On October 14, 1939, by Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, separate Semipalatinsk oblast was allocated from a part of East Kazakhstan oblast. The administrative center of the East Kazakhstan oblast, reduced in size, was moved to Ust-Kamenogorsk city. In 1997, the territory of the abolished Semipalatinsk oblast was included in East Kazakhstan oblast. The administrative center of the enlarged oblast remained in Ust-Kamenogorsk.
East Kazakhstan oblast of the sample of 1939-1997 mainly included the territories of seven of the fifteen (eastern and northeastern) modern districts of East Kazakhstan oblast (Glubokovsky, Zaisansky, Zyryanovsky, Kurshimsky, Katon-Karagaysky (regfional center in Ulken-Naryn village), Ulansky (the regional center in Kassym Kaissenov village), Shemonaikhinsky) and two from four modern cities of regional subordination of East Kazakhstan oblast (Ridder, Ust-Kamenogorsk). 712,693 inhabitants (50.23% of the modern East Kazakhstan oblast) live in this former territory of East Kazakhstan oblast, including 45% of Russians, 54% of Kazakhs, 1.35% of Germans, 0.96% of Tatars, 0.91% of Ukrainians, 1.46% of other nationalities (2010).
In March 2022, the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has proposed to create Abai oblast, which will be separated from East Kazakhstan oblast. It will include the same districts and cities that were in Semipalatinsk.
The oblast includes (since June 2022):
1. Altai (Zyryanovsky) — the center is Altai city (Zyryanovsk)
2. Glubokovsky — the center is Glubokoye village
3. Zaisan — the center is Zaisan city
4. Katon-Karagaysky — the center is Ulken-Naryn village (Bolshenarymskoye)
5. Kurshimsky — the center is Kurshim village (Kurchum)
6. Samarsky — the center is Samara village
7. Tarbagatai — the center is Akzhar village
8. Ulansky — the center is Kassym Kaissenov village (Molodezhny)
9. Shemonaikhinsky — the center is Shemonaikha city
2 cities of regional subordination (city administrations):
1. Ridder (Leninogorsk)