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BUKOVINA - BUKOVYNA - BUKOWINA

Bukovina is a historical region which lies in the southwestern Ukraine and the northern Romania. The northern part of Bukovina, including Chernivtsi, belongs to Ukraine. Its south part, including Souchava, today is a part of neighboring Romania. The name "Bukovina" comes from the Slavic languages and refers to the widely spread beech forests in this area.

In the Southeast, the region borders the Carpathians so it touches the Vinnytsia, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil regions. Bukovina is not as rich with rivers, as Transcarpathians. In total in this region are more than 70 rivers including the largest of them – Dniester, Seret, Prut and Cheremosh.

The region is rich with natural resources: there are four gas fields as well as salt, gypsum, and marble deposits. Well-known are the mineral springs of "Ishevska", "Macesta", "Borzomi" and "Naftusia".

Bukovina is special with its high number of attractions, particularly landscapes which belong not only to Ukrainian conservation fund but also to the network of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.

The region includes 7 protected landscape areas, 8 nature preserves, botanical gardens and arboretums of the university in Chernivtsi, nature parks in Vyzhnytsia and Storozhynetskyi arboretum, which belongs to the important transnational ecological network of the Carpathians (TACIS project).

Additionally, there are 136 natural sites, 40 parks and 39 protected landscape areas defined as important on the local level.

This part of the Western Ukraine is characterized by a very diverse population. Due to the census of 2001, the largest and most important ethnic groups in Bukovina are Ukrainians (75%), Romanians (12.7%), Moldovans (7.3%), Russians (4.1%), Poles (0.3%), Bielorussians (0.2%), and the Jews (0.2%). Since years all those nationalities share common space and contribute to the development of their common history and culture. Particularly strong are the influences of Rumanian culture, dialects, and literature in this region.

The peculiarity of Bukovina region is it’s division into three ethnographic areas: Boikivshchyna, Huculshchyna and Lemkivshchyna. The Hutsuls ethnic group is one of the most interesting in the whole Ukraine. The home land of the Hutsuls is the forest mountains and valleys around Prut and Cheremosh.

By the end of the 19th century, Hutsuls lived according to their own laws and customs in their mountain regions and were cut off from the contemporary history and its’ developments. Even now after over the 100 years of modern civilization there are still people who live in the mountains in harmony with nature according to the ancient Hutsuls customs. During the summer months, groups of Hutsuls move to the Carpathians highland plains for pasturing their sheeps. For Hutsuls this is an old traditional profession which includes also the craft of preparing different sorts of dairy products, particularly of famous cheese which is called brynza.

Talking about religion, Hutsuls confess mainly the Greek Catholic and the Ukrainian Orthodox faith by Kiev patriarchy.

Hutsuls are known by bright colors of their national embroidered clothes, wood carving, songs and dances (the Kolomyjky dances), mysterious customs, traditions and, of course, by their unique dialect influenced by Romanian words which strongly differ from the Ukrainian language.

To the west of the Hutsul region in the Galician Carpathians since years live the Boykos’ ethnic group, nowadays Boykos ethnic territories partially belong to Poland. The center of this region is the Carpathian town Turka. In this town in 1640 was born Georg Franz Kolschitzky – military trader, Austrian diplomat and Ukrainian nobleman who founded the first coffee house in Europe.

The third ethnographic group is Lemkos who inhabits the western part of the Carpathians. The Carpathian Dividing Range separates the ethnic Lemkos territories of Lover Beskids (Nyzhni Beskydy) into the south and north Lemkivshchyna. Nowadays ethnic Lemkivshchyna expands on the territory of three countries – southeastern part of modern Ukraine and former ethnic Ukrainian territories which belong now mainly to Poland and partially to Slovakia. 

Representatives of both the Boikos and the Lemkos ethnic groups confess the Greek Catholic faith (there is also a small percentage of the orthodox believer) and speak their own dialects dialect.

The differences between the two ethnic groups are not significant, they are mainly characterized by clothing, ways of house construction or farming types.

In Western Europe, Lemkos are relatively unknown. For example, it’s barely known fact that Andy Warhol comes from Lemkos family, which immigrated to the USA in 1914-1921.