Volhynia (Wołyń in Polish; Волинь, Volyn’ in Ukrainian; also called Volynia, Volyň in Czech) comprises the historic region in western Ukraine located between the rivers Pripyat and Western Bug. The area has one of the oldest Slavic settlements in Europe. Part of historical Volhynia now forms the Volyn region of Ukraine.
The ancient city of Halicz (Halych) first appears in history in 981 when taken over by Kievan Rus'. Volhynia's early history coincides with that of the duchies or principalities of Halych and Volodymyr Volynskyi (Włodzimierz Wołyński). These two successor states of Kievan Rus' formed Halych-Volhynia between the 12th and the 14th centuries.
After the disintegration of the Grand Duchy of Halych-Volodymyr (also called Galich-Vladimir Rus') circa 1340, Poland (Western Volhynia) and Lithuania (Eastern Volhynia) divided up the region between them. After 1569 Volhynia formed a province of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. During this period in province Poles and Jews settled in the area. Roman and Greek Catholic churches were established in the province. Records of the first agricultural colonies of Mennonites date from 1783.
After the third Partition of Poland in 1795 Volhynia became a province of Tsarist Russia. By the end of the 19th century Volhynia had over 200,000 German settlers, most of whom immigrated from Congress Poland. A small number of Czech settlers also arrived.
In 1921 after the end of the Polish-Soviet war, the treaty known as the Peace of Riga returned western Volhynia to Poland as the Wolhynian Voivodship. See the map at Voivodships of Poland.
In 1935-1938 Stalin had the Poles of Eastern Volhynia deported -- the first ethnic deportation in the history of the Soviet Union -- see Polish minority in Soviet Union.
In 1939 the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact allowed the Soviet Union to annex all of Volhynia (an annexation confirmed as a result of World War II). In the course of the Nazi-Soviet population transfers which followed this German-Soviet reconciliation, the German minority population of Vohynia migrated to Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany. The Nazi authorities later evacuated them.