Region, eastern central Europe. It consists of part of the northeastern Carpathian Mtns. and the adjoining plain. Settled by both Ukrainians and Romanians, it became an integral part of Moldavia in the 14th century. It acquired its own name in 1775, when it was ceded to Austria by the Turks. Romania occupied it when Austria-Hungary collapsed in 1918, and was granted it through treaty in 1919. In 1944 the Soviet Union took the northern region, which became part of the Ukrainian S.S.R. (now Ukraine), while the rest became part of the Romanian People's Republic (now Romania).
Learn more about Bukovina with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Bukovina (Bucovina; Буковина/Bukovyna; German and Polish: Bukowina; see also other languages) is a historical region on the northern slopes of the northeastern Carpathian Mountains and the adjoining plains. It is currently split between Romania and Ukraine.
The official German name, die Bukowina, of the province under Austrian rule (1775–1918), was derived from the Polish form Bukowina, which in turn comes from the Slavic word for beech tree (бук [buk] in Ukrainian). This was due to the fact that from 1775 until 1849, Bukovina was administered as an integral part of neighbouring Galicia, whose internal government was, by active Austrian policy, controlled by Polish bureaucrats and nobles (szlachta). Another German name for region, das Buchenland, is mostly used in poetry, and means "beech land", or "the land of beech trees".
During the Middle Ages, the region was the northwestern third of "Ţara de Sus" (Upper Country in Romanian) part of the Moldavian Principality, as opposed to "Ţara de Jos" (Lower Country). The region was the cradle of the Moldavian Principality, and remained its political center until 1574, when its capital was moved from Suceava to Iaşi.
Nowadays in Ukraine it is common to use the terms Chernivtsi Oblast and Bukovina interchangeably, since over 2/3 of Oblast (province) is Northern Bukovina. In Romania the term Northern Bucovina is synonymous to Chernivtsi Oblast of Ukraine, and (Southern) Bucovina to Suceava County of Romania, although 10% of the Suceava County covers territory not included in historical Southern Bukovina.
In English, an alternate form is The Bukovina, increasingly an archaism, which, however, is found in older literature.
Starting with the 2nd millennium BC, it was inhabited by the Dacian tribes, such as Costoboci and Carpians, for a period cohabitated also by the Celto-Germanic tribe of Bastarnae. From approx. 70 BC to 44 BC, the region was incorporated in the Dacian polity of Burebista.
When the Dacian Kingdom of Decebal, which included the territories just on the other side of the Carpathian Mountains from what is today Bukovina, fell to the Romans in 106, the area came under linguistic and cultural influence of the Roman Empire.
Beginning with the 6th century, Slavic populations entered the region and influenced the locals in respect to language and certain agricultural methods (e.g. burning the forests to increase the cultivated land).
In 797 the Avars, who settled in today's Hungary and collected regular tribute from the peasants all over south-eastern Europe, were defeated by Charlemagne. The low-land teritorry of the present-day Bukovina was included in a Vlach polity, which had its center at Dorohoi (approx. 20 km east of Bukovina), then at Siret (in the center of Bukovina). The villages of the Campulung Valley formed a "republic" that preserved its autonomy even under the Principality of Moldavia.
Immediately to the north of Bukovina, in 12th to early 14th century was the East Slavic Principality of Halych-Volhynia, formerly a part Kievan Rus (880–12th century), which expanded over parts of the region. The Vlach voivodes and the Slavic Princes were often allied in defending against the Tatars in 1240s–1340s, but were defeated.
In the 15th century, Pokuttya, the region immediately to the north, became the subject of disputes between the Moldavian Principality and the Polish Kingdom, and in 1497 a battle took place at the Cosmin Forest (the hilly forests separating Chernivtsi and Siret valleys), at which Stephen III of Moldavia managed to defeat the much-stronger but demoralized army of King John I Albert of Poland, known in Polish popular culture as "the battle when the knights have perished".
In this period, the patronage of Stephen III of Moldavia and his successors on the throne of Moldavia saw the construction of the famous painted monasteries of Moldoviţa, Suceviţa, Putna, Humor, Voroneţ, Dragomirna, Arbore, and others. With their renowned exterior frescoes, these monasteries remain some of the greatest cultural treasures of Romania; some of them are World Heritage Sites, part of the painted churches of northern Moldavia. Stephen also settled the first Ruthenians in Bukovina with the hope of having a loyal and more numerous population that would contribute with taxes. In Suceava, in the 16th century, two percent of the population (i.e. about 500–1000 people) was Ruthenian.
In 1538, the Moldavian Principality came under the control of the Ottoman Turks, but it remained autonomous and was governed as before by a native Voivod. For short periods of time (during wars), the Polish Kingdom occupied parts of northern Moldavia. However, the old border was re-established every time after, as for example on 14 October 1703 the Polish delegate Martin Chometowski acknowledges "Between us and Wallachia (i.e. Moldavia) God himself set Dniester as the border" (Inter nos et Valachiam ipse Deus flumine Tyras dislimitavit).
In the course of the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774, the Ottoman armies were defeated by the Russian Empire, that occupied the region during 15 December 1769 – September 1774, and previously during 14 September–October 1739. Bukovina was the reward the Habsburgs received for aiding (saving) the Ottomans in that war. Prince Grigore III Ghica of Moldavia protested and was prepared to take action to recover the territory, but was assassinated, and a Greek-Phanariot foreigner was put on the throne of Moldavia by the Ottomans.
The Austrian Empire occupied Bukovina in October 1774. Following the first partition of Poland in 1772, the Austrians claimed that they needed it for a road between Galicia and Transylvania. Bukovina was formally annexed in January 1775. On 2 July 1776, at Palamutka, Austrians and Ottomans signed a border convention, Austrians giving back 59 of the previously occupied villages, and remaining with 278 villages.
Bukovina was a closed military district (1775–1786), then the largest district, Kreis Czernowitz (after its capital Czernowitz) of the Austrian constituent Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria (1787–1849), and, finally, on 4 March 1849, became a separate Austrian Kronland 'crown land' under a Landespräsident (not a Statthalter, as in other crown lands) and declared Herzogtum Bukowina (nominal duchy, as part of the official full style of the Austrian Emperors). In 1860 it was again amalgamated with Galicia, but reinstated as a separate province once again 26 February 1861, a status that would last until 1918.
In 1849 Bukovina got a representative assembly, the Landtag (diet). The Moldavian nobility had traditionally formed the ruling class in that territory. In 1867 it remained part of the Cisleithanian or Austrian territories of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918.
According to the 1775 Austrian census, the province had the total population of 86,000, made up mostly of Romanians (Moldovans), and up to 10,000 Slavs (Polish, Ruthenians and Hutzuls). During the 19th century the Austrian Empire policies encouraged the influx of many immigrants such as Germans, Poles, Jews, Hungarians, and Ukrainians (that time referred to as Ruthenians) from Galicia. By 1900 the Romanian population decreased to roughly 40% of Bukovina, with significant Ukrainian (including Hutzuls) (especially in villages in the northern half), German, Jewish, Polish (especially in towns), and Hungarian (several villages) minorities. To reflect this ethnicity shift, in 1843 the Ruthenian language was recognized, along with the Romanian language, as 'the language of the people and of the Church in Bukovina'
Despite the influx of migrants encouraged under the Austrian rule, Romanians continued to be the largest ethnic group in the province until 1880, when Ruthenians (Ukrainians) outnumbered the Romanians 5:4. According to the 1880 census there were 239,690 Ruthenians and Hutzuls, or roughly 41.5% of the population of the region, while Romanians were second with 190,005 people or 33%, a ratio that remained unchanged until World War I. Ruthenian is an archaic name for Ukrainian, while the Hutsuls are nowadays considered as an ethnic group of Ukrainian stock (ethnically Vlach shepherds who acquired a Slavic (Ukrainian) language).
Under Austrian rule Bukovina remained ethnically mixed: predominantly Romanian in the south, Ukrainian (commonly referred to as Ruthenians in the Empire) in the north, with small numbers of Hungarian Székely, Slovak and Polish peasants, and Germans, Poles and Jews in the towns. The 1910 census counted 800 198 people, of which: Ruthenian 38.88%, Romanian 34.38%, German 21.24%, Jews 12.86%, Polish 4.55%, Hungarian 1.31%, Slovak 0.08%, Slovene 0.02%, Italian 0.02%, and a few Armenian, Croat, Gypsy, Serbian, and Turkish. Romanians were still present in all settlements of the region, but their number decreased in the villages in the north. Many of Bukovina's Germans, and a few Romanians, emigrated in 19th and 20th century to North America.
In 1783, by an imperial decree Greek Orthodox eparchies in Bukovina and Dalmatia form an Archbishopric with seat in Czernowitz, later rased to the rank of Metropolitanate Some friction appeared in time between the Serb archbishops, and the Romanians complaining that Old Slavonic is favored to Romanian, and that family names are being slavicized. In spite of Romanian-Slav frictions over the influence in the local Orthodox clerical hierarchy, there was no Romanian-Ukrainian inter-ethnic tension, and both cultures developed in educational and public life. Moreover, at the end of the 19th century, the development of Ukrainian culture in Bukovina surpassed Galicia and the rest of Ukraine with a network of Ukrainian educational facilities.
In the early 20th century, a group of scholars surrounding the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand created a plan (that never came to pass) of United States of Greater Austria. The specific proposal was published in Aurel C. Popovici's book „Die Vereinigten Staaten von Groß-Österreich“ [The United States of Greater Austria], Leipzig, 1906. According to it, most of Bukovina (including Czernowitz) would form, with Transylvania, a Romanian state, while the north-western portion (Zastavna, Kozman, Waschkoutz, Wiznitz, Gura Putilei, and Seletin districts) would form with the bigger part of Galicia a Ukrainian state, both in a federation with 13 other states under the Austrian crown.
With the collapse of Austria-Hungary in 1918, both the local Romanian National Council and the Ukrainian National Council based in Galicia claimed the region. A Constituent Assembly on 14/27 October 1918 formed an Executive Committee, to whom the Austrian governor of the province handed power. The Executive Committee called a General Congress of Bukovina for 15/28 November 1918, where 74 Romanians, 13 Ruthenians, 7 Germans, and 6 Poles were elected (this is the linguistic composition, and Jews were not recorded as a separate group). A popular enthusiasm sprang throughout the region, and a large number of people gathered in the city to wait for the resolution of the Congress.
The Congress elected the Romanian Bukovinian politician Iancu Flondor as chairman, and voted for the union with the Kingdom of Romania, with the support of the Romanian, German, Jewish, and Polish representatives, and the opposition of the Ukrainian ones. The reasons stated were that, until its takeover by the Habsburg in 1775, Bukovina was the heart of the Principality of Moldavia, where the "gropniţele domneşti" (voivods' burial sites) are located, and "dreptul de liberă hotărâre de sine" (right of self-determination).
After an official request by Iancu Flondor, Romanian troops swiftly moved in to take over the territory, against Ukrainian protest. Although local Ukrainians attempted to incorporate parts of northern Bukovina into the short-lived West Ukrainian People's Republic, this attempt was defeated by the Polish and Romanian troops. Romanian control of the province was recognized internationally in the Treaty of St. Germain in 1919.
During the interwar period Romanian authorities directed Rumanization policies at the Ukrainian population of the region. Romanian language was introduced into ethnic minority schools in 1923, and by 1926 all Ukrainian schools in Bukovina were closed.
At the same time, the Ukrainian enrollment in the Cernăuţi University fell from 239 out of 1671, in 1914, to 155 out of 3,247, in 1933, while Romanian enrollment in the same period increased several times to 2,117 out of 3,247. This was partly due to attempts to switch to mostly Romanian language, and partly to the fact that the university was one of only five in Romania, and was considered prestigious.
From 1928, as Romania tried to improve its relations with Soviet Union during 1928–1938, Ukrainian culture was given some limited means to redevelop, though the gains were sharply reversed in 1938.
According to the 1930 Romanian census, Romanians made up almost 45% of the total population of Bukovina and Ruthenians (Ukrainians) 29.2%. However, in the northern part of the region, which subsequently was ceded to the USSR following the June 1940 Soviet Ultimatum, Romanians made up only 32.6% of the population, while Ukrainians slightly outnumbered Romanians.
In 1940, when the region was occupied by the Soviet Union, Chernivtsi Oblast (2/3 of which is Northern Bukovina) had a population of circa 805,000, out of which 47.5% were Ukrainians in 1940, and 28.3% were Romanians, with Germans, Jews, Poles, Hungarians and Russians comprising the rest. Some Romanian intellectuals fled the region before the Soviet occupation. The prevailing Ukrainian population was a motivation for inclusion of the region into the Ukrainian SSR, but not into the newly-formed Moldavian SSR. Whether the region would have been included in the Ukrainian SSR, if the commission presiding over the division had been led by someone else than the Ukrainian communist leader Nikita Khrushchev, remains a debate among scholars.
In the course of the 1941 attack on the Soviet Union by the Axis forces, the Romanian Third Army led by General Petre Dumitrescu (operating in the north) and the Romanian Fourth Army (operating in the south) re-occupied Northern Bukovina, as well as Hertsa district, and Bassarabia, during June–July 1941. However, then it continued the war, and occupied during 1941–1944 proper Soviet territories in the south of Ukrainian SSR — the Odessa Oblast, and parts of Mykolaiv and Vinnytsia oblasts.
During 1940–1950, major demographic changes occurred in northern Bukovina. These demographic shifts are explained by several separate but concurrent phenomena:
In the first year of Soviet occupation, the population of the region decreased by more than 250,000. According to NKVD orders, tens of thousands of Romanian families were deported to Siberia during this period , with 12,191 people deported on 2 August 1940 (less than a month after the occupation) , and another 2,057 persons deported to Siberia in December 1940, together with their families The largest action took place on 13 June 1941, when about 13,000 people were deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan.
Until the repatriation convention of 15 April 1941, NKVD troops killed hundreds of Romanian peasants of Northern Bukovina as they tried to cross the border into Romania in order to escape from Soviet authorities. This culminated on 1 April 1941 with the Fântâna Albă massacre.
Almost the entire German population of northern Bukovina was forcibly resettled in 1940–1941 (Umsiedlung) to the Reichland, during 15 September 1940 – 15 November 1940. About 45,000 ethnic Germans had left Northern Bukovina by November 1940. This figure, higher than the size of the German minority, included also a couple thousand Romanians, Ukrainian, etc., posing as Germans to flee the Soviet rule.
In July 1941, the new Romanian military government counted at least 36,000 missing persons.
Almost the entire Jewish community of Northern Bukovina was destroyed by the deportations to the death camps (see Bogdanovka) over the Dniester River. Despite his promise that he would treat Jews from territories not occupied by the Soviets differently, Romanian leader Ion Antonescu ordered deportation of Jews also from Suceava county. Consequently, in 1941 and 1942, 21,229 Jews from southern Bukovina were deported.
As a reaction, partisan groups (composed of both Romanians and Ukrainians) began to operate against the Soviets in the woods around Cernăuţi, Crasna and Codrii Cosminului. In Crasna (in the former Storozhynets county) villagers attacked Soviet soldiers who were sent to "temporarily resettle" them, since they feared deportation. This resulted in dead and wounded among the villagers, who had no firearms.
Spring 1945 saw the formation of transports of Polish repatriates who (voluntarily or by coercion) had decided to leave. Between March 1945 and July 1946, 10,490 inhabitants left northern Bukovina for Poland, including 8,140 Poles, 2,041 Jews and 309 of other nationalities.
Overall, between 1930 (last Romanian census) and 1959 (first Soviet census), the population of northern Bukovina decreased by 31,521 people. According to official data from those two censuses, the Romanian population had decreased by 75,752 people, and the Jewish population by 46,632, while the Ukrainian and Russian populations increased by 135,161 and 4,322 people, respectively.
After 1944, the human and economic connections between the northern (Soviet) and southern (Romanian) parts of Bukovina were severed. While the northern part is the nucleus of the Ukrainian Chernivtsi Oblast, the southern part is tightly integrated with Romanian historic regions.
The ethnic composition of Bukovina changed dramatically after 1774, when the region was occupied by the Austrian Empire. The population of Bukovina increased steadily, primarily through immigration, which Austrian authorities encouraged in order to develop the economy. In 1774 the Romanians constituted an overwhelming majority, roughly 64,000 (85%) of the 75,000 total population, while about 8,000 (10%) were Ruthenians/Ukrainians and 3,000 (4%) others. By 1810 the Romanian share had fallen from 85% to 75% and in 1848 to only 55%. In the same period, the Ukrainian population rose from 8,000 in 1774 to 108,907 in 1848 and the Jewish population from 526 in 1774 to 11,600 in 1848.
This dramatic change in Bukovina's ethnic composition changed the proportion of Romanians from an overwhelming absolute majority (more than 85% before 1774) to a relative majority (40.5% in 1869) and then a minority (33.4% in 1880).
According to the census data of Austria-Hungary, the population of Bukovina was:
The present demographic situation in Bukovina hardly resembles the one of the times of the Austrian Empire. The Northern (Ukrainian) and Southern (Romanian) parts became significantly dominated by their Ukrainian and Romanian majorities, respectively, with the representation of other ethnic groups being decreased significantly.
According to the Ukrainian Census (2001) data , the Ukrainians represent about 75% (689,100) of the population of Chernivtsi Oblast, which is the closest, although not an exact, approximation of the territory of the historic Northern Bukovina. The census also identified a fall in the Romanian and Moldovan populations to 12.5% (114.6 thousand) and 7.3% (67.2 thousand), respectively. Russians are the next largest ethnic group with 4.1%, while Poles, Belarusians, and Jews comprise the rest 1.2%. The languages of the population closely reflect the ethnic composition, with over 90% within each of the major ethnic groups declaring their national language as the mother tongue (Ukrainian, Romanian, and Russian, respectively).
The fact that Romanians and Moldovans were presented as separate categories in the census results, has been criticized by the Romanian Community of Ukraine - Interregional Union, which complains that this old Soviet-era practice, results in the Romanian population being undercounted, as being divided between Romanians and Moldovans.
A compact Romanian majority inhabits the southern part of Chernivtsi region, in Hertsa, Novoselitsa, Hlyboka, and Storozhinets raions (districts). In Putyla and Vyzhnytsia raions Ukrainians Hutzuls form the majority. In the other five districts, and the city of Chernivtsi, non-Hutzul Ukrainians are in the majority.
The southern, or Romanian Bukovina has a significant Romanian majority (97.5%), largest minority group being the Ukrainians, who make up 1.2% of the population (2002 census). The Romanian 2002 census was subject to a criticism of undercounting of ethnic minorities in Romania brought up by the Ukrainian communities inside and outside Romania.