Chernivtsi Oblast

Chernihivets'ka Oblast'
Черніветська область
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Location of Chernivtsi Oblast

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Detailed map of Chernivtsi Oblast

Total (2004)
Area 8,100 km²
Raions 11
Cities 11
City districts 3
Urban localities 8
Villages 398

Chernivtsi Oblast (Черніветська область, Chernivets’ka oblast’ or Чернівеччина, Chernivechchyna in Ukrainian) is an oblast in southwestern Ukraine, bordering on Romania and Moldova. It has a large variety of landforms: the Carpathian Mountains and picturesque hills at the foot of the mountains gradually change to a broad plain situated between the Dniester and Prut rivers.


The Chernivtsi region, most part of which known by its ethnographic name Northern Bukovina, was created in 1940 (after being taken from Romania by Soviet Union, as an outcome of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact). It has a population (as of 2004-05-01) of 913,275 (with an important Romanian minority) and spans 8,100 km.

Geographically/historically, the region is composed of northeren Bukovina, northern half of the Chotin (Hotin) county of Bessarabia, and the Herţa district, which prior to 1940 was part of the Dorohoi (presently Botoşani) county of Romania.


Northern Bukovina, together with the southern Bukovina (most of the Suceava county of Romania) were cedeed in 1775 by the Ottoman empire from the principality of Moldova to Austria. There it was first part of Galitsia, then after the 1848 revolution, an autonomuous grand duchy. At the disintegration of Austro-Hungary in 1918, the elected representatives of Bukovina decided in Chernivtsi (Cenăuţi), the capital of the province, upon indisoluble union with Romania. On June 28, 1940, in accordance with the Article 3 of the additional protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, Soviet Union ocupied from Romania Bessarabia, northern Bukovina and the Herţa district. The Soviet take-over of Bukovina was motivated as a compensation for the belonging of Bessarabia from 1918 till 1940 to Romania and not to Russia/Soviet Union. The ocupation of the Herţa district, which prior to that was never part of neither Austro-Hungary, nor Russian Empire, was not even mentioned in the Soviet-Nazi ageements, and was the result of simply where the Soviet troops stopped in 1940.

On August 2, 1940, out of some of the territories occupied on June 28, Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic was formed, the 15th republic of the Soviet Union. The remainder of the territories were included in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic - the northern part formed the Chernivtsi region, the southern part was included in the Odessa region. It has been argued on why did the Soviets split the taken territories like this. In the case of the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), their borders were largely preserved, and even the Soviet press before August 2, 1940 described a Moldavian SSR with all the occupied territories included. It is very possible that the sole reason for this late change of intentions was the fact that the Soviet commission that redraw the border was headed by Nikita Khrushchev, the then leader of the Ukrainian SSR, and later (1956-1964) leader of the USSR, who simply wanted more territory for Ukraine.

Unlike the Bessarabian population that was somewhat accustomed to Russian rule (it was part of the Russian Empire before 1918), the Bukovinian population has never been expecting a possible Russian attempt for take-over, and staged many protests, without realizing that that could provoke serious Soviet reprisals.

In the winter and spring of 1941, Soviet troops have opened fire on many groups of locals trying to cross the border into Romania. It is famous the case of a 3000 to 5000-strong march of civilians that gathered momentum in the small city of Storojinet on March 26 1941, where it simply overthrew the Soviet administration. It was fired upon by NKVD from an well-organized ambush on April 1 1941 near Fntna-Albă, a few kilometres from the Romanian border, killing around a thousand unarmed civilians, men, women, children and eldery alike. Only 300 were killed "on the spot", the others, injured, were chased through woods and fields, caught, tied to horses and draged to already digged spots where if still alive were given the last shots. (for more, see: Fntna-Albă massacre).

Between September 17 and November 17, 1940, by a mutual agreement between USSR and Germany, 43 641 "ethnic Germans" from the Chernivtsi region were moved to Germany. The total German population was however only 34 500, and of these 3 500 did not go to Germany. The obvious difference accounts for Romanians, Ukrainins and Poles that the local German organizers included as "Germans". Unfortunately, upon their arrival the Nazi government sent over half of them to concentration camps, and only some were freed after protests of the Romanian government.

Throughout 1940-41 several tens of thousand Bukovinians were deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan, of which 13 000 alone on June 13, 1941; regardless of their ethnicity. In 1944, when the Soviet troops returned to Bukovina, many fled to Romania, and the region has been seriously depopulated. Also the ethnic composition has changed. In 1940, there were roughly 6:4:2:1:1 Ukrainians:Romanians:Jews:Germans:Poles. Today the number of Jews, Germans and Poles is statistically insignificant, the number of Romanians has decreased substancially, while many imigrants have appeared from eastern Ukraine and Russia proper. During the Soviet times (1940-1941, 1944-1991) there has been slow but constant migration of ethnical Romanians to Moldavian SSR, where they could learn in schools and universities in Moldavian/Romanian language, unlike in the Chernivtsi region. Many ethnical Romanians/Moldavians are to this date officially registered as Russians or Ukrainins, a legacy of the former USSR.

It must be noted that there was always a small Ukrainian minority in Bukovina: in 1775 Ukrainians (Ruthenians) and Polish in Bukovina (including the south) were together ten thousand-strong (out of 75,000 total), in 1918 as a result of migration from Galicia, there were approximately 200,000 Ukrainians only, out of a total of 730,000 (again, including the south Bukovina, where there are fewer Ukrainians).

The ethnic Ukrainians in the south-western mountain part of the Chernivtsi region belong to the Hutsul ethnicity, which inhabits an area in the Carpathian Mountains from the Bukovinian town of Putila, then across the Ceremus River in southern Pocutia (southern part of the Ivano-Frankivs'k region) until the northern Maramures town of Bychkiv (Transcarpathia region).

Presently, the population of the Chernivtsi region is approximately 920,000, of which almost 70% are Ukrainians, and only 181 900 are Romanian and Moldavian (again, as a legacy of Soviet period, there still exists a formal distinction between people which in documents are registered Romanians or Moldavians, even sometimes members of the same family). In the Herta district, the Romanian population is over 95%, while in the city of Chernivtsi (Cernauti), only 14 400 of the 250 000 are Romanians, the rest being mostly Ukrainians. In Novoselita(Sulita Noua) district Romanians comprise 60% of the population and in Hylboka(Adancata) district they represent 50%. Storozhinetz(Storojinet) distrcit has a compact Romanian population in the south around the village of Crasna. Despite all this, there has never been in the recent history any ethnical incident.

Subdivisions of Ukraine Flag of Ukraine
oblasts: Cherkasy | Chernihiv | Chernivtsi | Dnipropetrovsk | Donetsk | Ivano-Frankivsk | Kharkiv | Kherson | Khmelnytskyi | Kirovohrad | Kiev | Luhansk | Lviv | Mykolaiv | Odessa | Poltava | Rivne | Sumy | Ternopil | Vinnytsia | Volyn | Zakarpattia | Zaporizhia | Zhytomyr
autonomous republic: Crimea
cities with special status: Kiev | Sevastopol

de:Oblast Czernowitz es:Chernivtsi (regin) pl:Obwód czerniowiecki uk:Черніветська область


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