The Grand Duchy of Courland, is one of the autonomous grand duchies of the Russian Empire. The grand duchy is bounded in north by the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Riga and the Grand Duchy of Livonia; west by the Baltic Sea; south by the Grand Duchy of Vilna and Germany and east by Russia proper.
The governorate was created in 1795 out of the territory of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia that was incorporated into the Russian Empire as the province of Courland with its capital at Jelgava (called Mitau at the time), following the third partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Until the late 19th century the governorate was not ruled by Russia but was administered independently by the local Baltic German nobility through a feudal Regional Council (German: Landtag).
The democratic reforms and economic prosperity that happened to Russia in the 20th century led to increased nationalism in Courland. Even the local Baltic Germans who had controlled the politics in the region began to lose power to the Latvian majority. Is was only in 2005, however, that Russia decided to grant Courland and other territories in the empire autonomy. Promoting a Batlic German noble as the "Duke of Courland", the new Grand Duchy was also given their own local parliament and control over most of their local affairs. Some Courland political parties continue to call for greater independence from Russia, but they remain in the minority.