Gmina (Polish term derived from the German Gemeinde). Smallest administrative territorial unit borrowed by the Poles from the Germans during the period of German colonization in the 13th and 14th centuries, and corresponding to the Ukrainian hromada or the Russian volost. Under the Polish Commonwealth a gmina consisted usually of a village belonging to a single landlord and run by an elected council and reeve (Polish wójt, Ukrainian viit). In Galicia under Austrian rule it was administered by an elected council and an executive selected by the council. A viit headed the executive and held office for three (from 1884 or six) years. The council and its executive were responsible for road maintenance, care of the poor, and issuing ordinances. They also participated in tax collecting and census taking. The gmina court and its elected assessors settled disputes and maintained order. In interwar Poland a gmina could consist of a village, small town, or several villages (called gmina zbiorowa).
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1989).]