Hutsuls (Гуцули, singular Гуцул, Romanian: Huţuli, singular Huţul, Hutsul dialect: Hutsule, singular Hutsul; alternatively spelled Huculs, Huzuls, Hutzuls, Gutsuls, Guculs, Guzuls, or Gutzuls; Polish: Hucuł, plural Huculi, Hucułowie) are an ethno-cultural group of Ukrainian highlanders who for centuries have inhabited the Carpathian mountains, mainly in Ukraine, but also in the northern extremity of Romania (in the areas of Bukovina and Maramureş), as well as in Slovakia and Poland.
There are several hypotheses concerning the origin of Hutsuls. According to one of them, Hutsuls are descendants of Slavic tribe Ulichs, that had to leave their previous homes near the Buh river under the pressure of Pechenegs.
Hutsuls identify themselves as a part of Ukrainian ethnos, having at the same time their local identity as a sub-ethnos.
Due to the current educational system, the Hutsul dialect is in danger of extinction. Compulsory education is done only in standardized literary Ukrainian. In recent times there has been a roots movement to keep the traditional Hutsul language alive.
Hutsul society was traditionally based on forestry and logging, as well as cattle and sheep breeding; the Hutsuls are credited with having created the breed of horse known as the Hucul pony. They use unique musical instruments, including the "trembita" (trâmbiţa), a type of alpenhorn of Dacian origin, as well multiple varieties of the fife, or sopilka, that are used to create unique folk melodies and rhythms. Also frequently used are the bagpipe (duda), the jew's harp (drymba), and the hammered dulcimer - tsymbaly.
The Hutsuls served as an inspiration for many writers, such as Ivan Franko, Lesya Ukrainka, Mykhailo Kotsiubyns'kyi, Vasyl Stefanik, Marko Cheremshyna and Mihail Sadoveanu. Sergei Parajanov's 1964 film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Тіні забутих предків), which is based on the book by Mykhailo Kotsiubyns'ky, portrays scenes of traditional Hutsul life.
Every summer, the village of Sheshory in Ukraine hosts a three-day international festival of folk music and art. Two Hutsul-related museums are located in Kolomyia, Ukraine: the Pysanky museum and the Museum of Hutsul and Pokuttya Folk Art. Traditional Hutsul sounds and moves were effectively used by the Ukrainian winner of the 2004 Eurovision song contest, Ruslana Lyzhychko.