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Encyclopedia > Bucovina

Bukovina (Bucovina in Romanian; Буковина, Bukovyna in Polish), on the slopes of the Carpathian mountains, comprises an historic province now split between Ukraine.


The term Bukovina has a Slavic origin and derives from the word for beech; the German equivalent Buchenland means "beech land". Most likely one of the names originated as a translation of the other. The name Bukovina came into use in 1775 with the region's annexation to the Austrian Empire.


Since ancient Roman times Dacian peoples (the ancestors of Romanians) inhabited the territory. In the 5th century the territory came under the rule of the Avars. By the 5th century, Slavic populations were forming in the region.

From the mid-14th century, this region became the nucleus of the Romanian Principality of Moldova, with the city of Suceava as its capital from 1388. In the 15th century parts of the region became objects of dispute between the Moldavian state and the Polish kingdom. In this period the patronage of Stefan cel Mare and his followers on the throne of Moldavia saw the painted Monasteries of Moldovita, Putna, Sucevita and Voronet erected. With their famous exterior frescoes, these monasteries remain some of the greatest cultural treasures of Romania today.

In the 18th century Bukovina fell under the control of the Ottoman Turks, then it was occupied by Russia in 1769, and then by the Habsburg Austrians in 1774. It remained under Austrian administration, in 1849 becoming a crown province.

Map of the Austrian province

In World War I several battles were fought in Bukovina between Austrian and Russian troops. Although the Russians were finally driven out in 1917, Austria would lose Bukovina with the war; the most part of the Austrian province, being majority Romanian, was reunited with Romania after the Treaty of St. Germain.

On June 28, 1940, northern Bukovina was occupied by Soviet troops as a consequence of the Ribbentrop_Molotov Pact between Hitler and Stalin. Almost the entire German population of the Bukovina emigrated into the Reich. It would change hands again during the course of World War II, notably when Petre Dumitrescu led the Romanian Third Army into the north. In the end, the northern half of Bukovina ended up in Soviet hands, while the southern half remained with Romania. During World War II, the Jewish community of the Bukovina was destroyed by the deportations over the Dnestr and Bug rivers.

A compact Romanian minority inhabits the southern Chernivtsi region of Ukraine. Main city: Chernivtsi (Cernăuţi in Romanian; Чернівці, Chernivtsi in Ukrainian; Czernowitz in German; Chernovtsy or Cernovcy in Russian; Czerniowce in Polish).

Most of the historical Bukovina is now included in the county of Suceava and the western part of Chernivtsi region.

Romanian historical regions:
Dobrogea : Cadrilater

Moldavia : Bessarabia | Bugeac | Bukovina

Transylvania : Banat | Crişana | Maramureş

Wallachia : Muntenia | Oltenia



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