The area of the oblast is 116,280 km (4.3% of the territory of the republic). The distance between the northernmost and southernmost sections in a straight line is 506 km. The northern part is occupied by Betpak-Dala desert, in the extreme south — the Hungry Steppe (Myrzashol). The middle part of the oblast is occupied by Karatau ridge (Mount Bessaz — 2,176 m, length 500 km), in the south-east — the western edge of Talas Alatau, the Karzhantau ridges (height up to 2823 m) and Ugamsky (the highest point — Sairam peak — 4,299 m).
The largest rivers — Syr Darya (with tributaries Arys, Akhangaran, Gavasai, Isfayramsai, Isfara, Karadarya, Karaozek, Kasansai, Keles, Naryn, Sokh, Khojabakirgan, Chadak, Chirchik, Shakhimardan) crosses the territory of the oblast from south to northwest, and Chu River (lower course) flowing in the north and lost in the sands of Moiynkum.
The oblast is located in a zone of extremely continental climate.
Tribes of the Middle Zhuz lived in the territory of the Turkestan region in the XIX century: Konyrats (Koktinuly, Kotenshi); Naimans (Baganaly), tribes of the Senior Zhuz: Shanyshkyly, Dulats (Sikym, Zhanys, Shymkent), Oshakty, Sirgeli, Ysty.
The oblast was formed on March 10, 1932 as part of Kazakhskaya ASSR (which itself was part of the Russian SFSR) mainly from the districts of the former Syr-Darya okrug (1928-1930) and it is called the South Kazakhskaya oblast, but in the documents of the local party-soviet bodies it was called South Kazakhstan oblast.
In February 1936, due to the renaming of Kazakhskaya ASSR into Kazahskaya ASSR, the name of the oblast was changed to South Kazakhstan oblast (in Kazakh Оңтүстік Қазақстан облысы). On December 05, 1936, South Kazakhstan oblast became part of the newly formed Kazakhskaya SSR, which was separated from Russian SFSR.
In 1938, part of the territory of South Kazakhstan oblast was transferred to newly formed Kyzyl-Orda oblast.
On June 19, 2018, by the Decree of the President of Kazakhstan, South Kazakhstan oblast was renamed Turkestan, and its administrative center was moved from Shymkent to Turkestan city. Shymkent was withdrawn from South Kazakhstan oblast, having received the status of a city of republican significance.
The administrative-territorial structure of the oblast includes 14 districts and 3 cities of regional subordination: