Carpathian Ruthenia

From Academic Kids

Carpathian Ruthenia (Ukrainian Карпатська Русь, Karpats'ka Rus') or Carpatho-Ukraine or Carpathian Ukraine is a name for a small part of Central Europe that was a part of the Hungarian kingdom (since 1526 under Habsburg rule). It is located in western Ukraine and easternmost Slovakia, mostly in the Zakarpattia Oblast (Ukrainian Закарпатська область, Zakarpats'ka oblast').

It is inhabited mainly by Ruthenian-speaking population (Ukrainians, Rusyns). Note that the places inhabited by Rusyns also span other adjacent regions of the Carpathian Mountains.


Historic overview

The first Slavs came to the central part of Carpathian Ruthenia probably in the 6th century. A more dense Slavic population followed in the 8th century. Then, the western part of the territory was part of Great Moravia in the 9th century, and in the 10th and 11th century was a border region between the newly created Hungary and the Kievan Rus'. Since the mid-11th century part of the Kingdom of Hungary (counties MŠramaros, Ugocsa, Bereg, Zemplťn, SŠros and Ung).

After World War I and the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, it became part of Czechoslovakia.

In November 1938, under the First Vienna Award, which was a result of the Munich agreement, Czechoslovakia (and later Slovakia) was forced by Germany and Italy to cede southern third of Slovakia and southern Carpathian Ruthenia to Hungary. The remainder of Carpathian Ruthenia received autonomy.

Following Adolf Hitler's seizure of the country in 1939, on March 15 the Carpatho-Ruthenia declared its independence as Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine with Avhustyn Voloshyn as the head of state and was immediately invaded and annexed by Hungary. On March 23 Hungary annexed some further parts of eastern Slovakia starting from the Carpatho-Ukraine.

After World War II, in June 1945 a treaty ceding Carpatho-Ruthenia to the Soviet Union was signed between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. In 1946, the area was included into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The latter became the independent state of Ukraine in 1991, with Carpatho-Ruthenia as a part of that state.


The region was officially called Subcarpathia (KŠrpŠtalja) or North-Eastern Upper Hungary as part of Hungary; Subcarpathian Rus/Ruthenia/Russia or Subcarpathian Ukraine (Czech/Slovak PodkarpatskŠ Rus, Ukrainian Підкарпатська Русь) or since 1927 also Subcarpathian Land (Země/Zem podkarpatskoruskŠ, Země/Zem podkarpatskoruskŠ) after Trianon until 1938 as part of Czechoslovakia; Carpatho-Ukraine from November 1938 to March 1939, autonomous within Czechoslovakia; Subcarpathia again when it was reannexed by Hungary 1939-1945; and since then, as part of the Ukrainian SSR and later by an independent Ukraine it is called Transcarpathia.

Alternative unofficial names used in Czechoslovakia before WWII were: Subcarpathia (Podkarpatsko), Carpathian Rus/Ruthenia/Russia (KarpatskŠ Rus), Hungarian Rus/Ruthenia/Russia (UherskŠ/UhorskŠ Rus, rare). In a Ukrainian context, has been known as Transcarpathia or Transcarpathian Ukraine (Закарпаття, Закарпатська Україна, Zakarpattia, Zakarpats'ka Ukraina; Slovak: Zakarpatsko, ZakarpatskŠ Ukrajina), after which the modern province Zakarpats'ka oblast' is named.

Ruthenians of Carpathian Ruthenia

The area of present-day Carpathian Ruthenia was probably settled by Slavic tribes in the 6th century. The Ruthene population was ethnically the same as the population of the areas north of the Carpathian Mountains.

However, because of geographical and political isolation from the main Ukrainian-speaking territory, the inhabitants developed some distinctive features. In addition, between the 12th and 15th centuries, the area had been colonized by groups of Vlach highlanders. They were assimilated into the local Slavic population, but strongly influenced the culture, making it more distinctive from the culture of other Ruthenian-speaking areas.

In 19th and 20th centuries, Carpathian Ruthenia was a field of struggle between Ukrainian nationalist and pro-Russian activists. The former claimed the Carpatho-Ruthenians were part of the Ukrainian nation, while the latter claimed them to be a separate ethnicity and nationality, or part of the Russian ethnos.

The present-day inhabitants usually consider themselves Ukrainians or Rusyns.

Ethnic minorities


Carpathian Ruthenia was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary before the First World War. At the beginning of the 20th century, the nobility and middle class was almost solely Hungarian-speaking. Following separation of Carpathian Ruthenia from Hungary, the Hungarian population decreased slightly; the Hungarian census of 1910 shows 185,433, the Czechoslovak census of 1921 shows 111,052, but much of this difference presumably reflects differences in methodology and definitions rather than such a large decline in the region's ethnic Hungarian (Magyar) or Hungarian-speaking population. Even according to the 1921 census, Hungarians still constituted about 18% of the region's total population.

On the eve of World War II, the First Vienna Award allowed Hungary to re-annex Carpathian Ruthenia. However, the end of the war was a cataclysm for the ethnic Hungarian population of the area: 10,000 fled before the arrival of Soviet forces. Many of the remaining adult men (25,000) were deported to the Soviet Union; about 30% of them died in Soviet gulags. As a result of war losses, emigration and extermination of Hungarian-speaking Jews, the Hungarian-speaking population of Carpathian Ruthenia decreased to from 161,000 in 1941 (Hungarian census) to 66,000 in 1947 (Soviet census); the low 1947 number is doubtless in part a result of Hungarians' fear to declare their true nationality.

As of 2004, about 170,000 (12-13%) inhabitants of Transcarpathia declare Hungarian as their mother tongue.


See main article History of the Jews in Carpathian Ruthenia.

Memoirs and historical studies provide much evidence that in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Rusyn-Jewish relations were generally peaceful. In 1939, census records showed that 80,000 Jews lived in the autonomous province of Ruthenia.

During the Holocaust 17 main ghettos were set up in cities in Ruthenia, from which all Jews were taken to Auschwitz for extermination. Almost all the Jews of Carpathian Ruthenia were killed and the handful who survived, were hidden by their neighbours.


to be written


There are approximately 25,000 ethnic gypsies (Roma) in present-day Carpathian Ruthenia. Some estimates point to a number as high as 50,000 but a true count is hard to obtain as many Roma will claim to be Hungarian or Romanian when interviewed by Ukrainian authorities.

They are by far the poorest and least-represented ethnic group in the region and face intense predjudice. The years since the fall of the USSR have not been kind to the Roma of the region, as they have been particularly hard hit by the economic problems faced by peoples all over the former USSR. Some Roma in western Ukraine live in major cities such as Uzhhorod and Mukachiv, but most live in encampments on the outskirts of cities. These encampments are known as "taberi" and can house up to 300 families. These encampments tend to be fairly primitive with no running water or electricity.

For further information, see

Western view on Ruthenia

For urbane European readers in the 19th century, Ruthenia, whether seen as at the far end of Slovakia, or in the distant corner of Ukraine or as a forgotten piece of Hungary, was one original of the 19th century's imaginary "Ruritania" the most rural, most rustic and deeply provincial tiny province lost in forested mountains that could be imagined. Conceived sometimes as a kingdom of central Europe, Ruritania was the setting of several novels by Anthony Hope, especially The Prisoner of Zenda (1894).

Recently Vesna Goldsworthy, in Inventing Ruritania: the imperialism of the imagination (1998) has explored the origins of the ideas that underpin Western perceptions of the “Wild East” of Europe, especially of Ruthenian and other rural Slavs in the upper Balkans, but ideas that are highly applicable to Carpathian Ruthenia, all in all "an innocent process: a cultural great power seizes and exploits the resources of an area, while imposing new frontiers on its mind-map and creating ideas which, reflected back, have the ability to reshape reality."

Cities in Carpathian Ruthenia

See also

de:Karpato-Ukraine hu:KŠrpŠtalja ja:ザカルパッチャ pl:Ruś Zakarpacka sk:PodkarpatskŠ Rus uk:Карпатська Україна


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