Subcarpathia (Підкарпаття; Pidkarpattia). A physical-geographic region located between the Carpathian Mountains to the southwest, the Pokutian-Bessarabian Upland to the east, the Podolian Upland with its subregion, the Opilia Upland, to the northeast, and the Roztochia plateau to the north. To the northwest Subcarpathia passes into the Sian Lowland. The length of Subcarpathia (excluding the Sian Lowland) is 250 km; the width varies from 30 km in the southeast to 60 km in the northwest, for an approximate area of 10,000 sq km. Subcarpathia occupies approximately one-fifth of the historical regions of Galicia and Bukovyna and has a population of about 1.4 million.
Physical geography. From a geological-tectonic standpoint Subcarpathia represents a portion of a large foredeep that formed during the Miocene epoch in front of the folding Carpathian Mountains. The outer zone of the foredeep has as its foundation the Podolian Platform; the inner zone consists of severely dislocated flysch deposits. The foredeep itself is filled with thick Miocene deposits of clays, argillites, calcareous clays, and sandstones covered by diluvial and alluvial deposits. At the end of the Pliocene epoch Subcarpathia was an accumulative-denudational peneplain covered by fluvial deposits of sand, silt, and clay originating from the Carpathians. As a result of an uplift at the end of the Pliocene and the beginning of the Pleistocene epoch the rivers intensified their erosion and sculpted into the surface a number of wide valleys, lowlands, and intervening ridges. The uplift of Subcarpathia was not uniform, however, and the relief features are partly of tectonic origin. In the Dnieper glacial phase the northeastern part of Subcarpathia was occupied by a lobe of the European continental glacier, and the meltwaters temporarily ponded. By the end of the Pleistocene epoch Subcarpathia was covered by deposits of loess. At present the rivers from the Carpathian Mountains, most notably the Stryi River, carry silt and sand on to Subcarpathia and deposit them in their floodplains.
Intervalley ridges, with elevations of 300–500 m above sea level (asl), rise 80–120 m or more above the general surface of the lowland. The highest, Mount Tsetsyna, near Chernivtsi, attains 537 m asl. Some are relatively smooth; others are dissected, with a number (up to eight) of terraces of various ages along their sides. The major intervalley ridges are the Drohobych Ridge (300–400 m asl, dissected relief), the Middle Subcarpathian Ridge (between the Stryi River and the Bystrytsia River, with elevations of 350–450 m asl or more and slopes dissected by a network of gullies and ravines), the Southern Pokutian Ridge (300–500 m asl, with buttes near Sloboda-Rungurska consisting of Miocene deposits rising to 780 m asl), the Seret-Prut Ridge (a deeply dissected chain of hills with elevations of up to 550 m asl), and the Bukovyna Ridge. Of the lowlands, the Sian Lowland and the adjacent northwestern part of the Upper Dnister River Basin were covered by the glacier, and thus acquired distinct landscape attributes of the moraine-fluvioglacial lowlands; the rest of the Upper Dnister Basin is an alluvial-outwash plain. The remaining lowlands include the Halych-Bukachivtsi Basin, the Kalush Basin, the Stanyslaviv Depression (with an accumulative relief), the Kolomyia-Chernivtsi Basin along the Prut River (an alluvial-terraced valley), and the Seret Basin.
The soils of Subcarpathia are related to the relief and the recent geological past. The interbasin ridges and slopes are dominated by the gray-brown luvisols; in the valley bottoms are alluvial soils (gleysols). On the loess loams of both western and eastern parts of Subcarpathia are the gray forest and podzolized chornozem soils.
The climate of Subcarpathia is temperate continental, with increasing continentality from the northwest to the southeast. The mean annual temperatures range from 7°C to 8°C, the mean January temperatures, from –4°C in the west to –5°C in the east, and the mean July temperatures, from 18°C to 19.5°C. The number of days with temperatures above 15°C increases toward the southeast (95 at Sambir, 117 at Chernivtsi). The mean annual precipitation increases from 600 mm in the east to 800 mm at the higher elevations to the southwest. Three-quarters of the annual precipitation occurs from April to October, with 45 percent concentrated in June, July, and August. Locally the climate varies from the relatively cooler and more humid uplands to the warmer (notably in the summer) and drier basins.
The rivers of the region are right-bank tributaries of the Dnister River. With their sources in the Carpathian Mountains, they form a well-developed network. They include the Stryvihor River (Strviazh), the Tysmenytsia River, the Stryi River, the Svicha River, the Limnytsia River, and the Bystrytsia Solotvynska River and the Bystrytsia Nadvirnianska River (which combine into one before joining the Dnister). In southeastern Subcarpathia the main rivers are the Prut River, the Cheremosh River, and the Seret River. The rivers of Subcarpathia flow swiftly over their stony river beds but freeze during the winter for two to two-and-one-half months. Rainfall and melting snow feed the rivers, which flood in the spring when the thaw combines with rainfall, or in the summer following downpours in the mountains.
The vegetation of Subcarpathia belongs to the Central European broad-leaved forest zone. In the uplands two basic types of forest are found, the oak forest (with an admixture of hornbeam, ash, elm, and sometimes aspen, birch, linden, and other trees) and the beech forest (with an admixture of hornbeam, maple, oak, and, at higher elevations, fir and spruce). The thickets are represented by the hazel, maple, honeysuckle, buckthorn, wild rose, and other shrubbery. Large areas in the uplands have been deforested and are now occupied by meadows (where the prominent grasses are meadow fescue, bent grass, mat grass, and many others) with intrusions of scrub. In the Upper Dnister Basin pine forests occur. Lowland vegetation is represented by riverbank groves (consisting mainly of alder, with an undergrowth of currants, osier, and other shrubbery) and sedge meadows. In the warmer reaches of southeastern Subcarpathia some steppe plants characteristic of the forest-steppe occur. Natural vegetation has been altered by human activity. Forests now constitute 25 percent of the area (ranging from 20 to 40 percent in the uplands and from 5 to 20 percent in the lowland basins); hayfields, meadows, and pastures cover 30 percent; and plowland (mostly in the basins) occupies 40 percent.
Population. Subcarpathia is one of the most densely populated areas of Ukraine. It supports 220 persons (including 80 rural residents) per sq km. For every rural resident there is about 0.5 ha of plowland and less than 0.8 ha of all agricultural land. Moreover, the distribution of population is uneven. The interbasin uplands and the Upper Dnister River Basin are less densely settled, with 75 persons per sq km, whereas the basins and valleys, notably the Stryi Basin, the Stanyslaviv Basin, the Prut Basin (over 200 persons per sq km), and especially the Drohobych-Boryslav Industrial Region (where the local concentration exceeds 300 persons per sq km), are densely settled. Urban population made up almost 25 percent of the population in the 1930s; it has grown to 43 percent (1987). The cities are located along major land routes (along the foothills and in the basins) parallel to the Carpathian Mountains at points of intersection with major routes crossing the Carpathians into Transcarpathia. The towns in the Carpathian foothills are generally small: Dobromyl (6,000), Khyriv (4,600), Staryi Sambir (5,600), Boryslav (40,700), Bolekhiv (11,300), Dolyna (20,700), Nadvirna (21,000), Deliatyn (8,300), Kosiv (8,300), Kuty (4,300), Vyzhnytsia (4,900), and Storozhynets (14,700). The larger cities are located at some distance from the Carpathians: Sambir (36,200), Drohobych (79,000), Stryi (60,000), Kalush (68,000), Ivano-Frankivsk (240,500), Kolomyia (70,000), Sniatyn (10,200), and Chernivtsi (243,500). All the larger cities have possessed administrative, trade, and industrial functions for a long time. The historical influence of some of the cities as Ukrainian cultural-educational centers extended well beyond their immediate areas, notably in the case of Sambir, Stryi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kolomyia, and, especially, Chernivtsi, the main city of Bukovyna. Drohobych and Boryslav were industrial centers. Today all the larger cities are also centers of industry.
At the end of the 18th century Ukrainians made up 90 percent of the population of Subcarpathia. As a result of the influx of Poles, Jews, and Germans, mainly into the cities and the Drohobych-Boryslav Industrial Region, the proportion of Ukrainians declined. By 1939 they constituted 70 percent of the population (81 percent of the rural population, but only 27 percent of the urban population). Poles, the dominant minority, represented 13 percent of the population and the associated latynnyky (Ukrainian-speaking Roman Catholics) 3 percent. Jews formed 11 percent, Germans 2 percent, and others (mostly Romanians in Bukovyna) 1 percent. The largest Polish concentrations were in Sambir and its vicinity, the Drohobych-Boryslav Industrial Region, Stanyslaviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk), Kolomyia, and Stryi. The Germans were concentrated in Chernivtsi (the administrative center of Bukovyna) and rural colonies in the vicinity of Stryi and Drohobych. The Jews constituted a relative majority in almost every city.
The events of the Second World War and the subsequent resettlement of population changed Subcarpathia's population and its ethnic composition. Census figures from 1959 show that Ukrainians made up about 89 percent of the population (96 percent of the rural and 73 percent of the urban population); Russians, now the dominant minority, represented 5 percent; Jews had declined to 3 percent; Poles were down to 1 percent; and Romanians remained at about 1 percent. The largest concentrations of minorities were recorded in Chernivtsi (58 percent), Ivano-Frankivsk (33 percent), and Stryi and Drohobych (30 percent each). For the 1979 census year the approximate composition was as follows: Ukrainians, 87 percent; Russians, 6 percent; Jews, 2 percent; Poles, 1 percent; Romanians 3 percent; and others, 1 percent.
Economy. Most of the Subcarpathian population is employed in agriculture in spite of the fact that the region, with its acidic soils and surplus moisture, does not have the best natural conditions for crop growing. At the beginning of the 1960s nearly one-half of the sown area was occupied by grains: wheat (nearly 20 percent), rye (nearly 15 percent), corn for grain (mostly in the southeast), oats, leguminous grains, and barley. Potatoes occupied 20 percent, feed crops approximately 25 percent, and industrial crops (sugar beets, flax, and hemp) almost 10 percent, of the sown area. By the late 1980s the share of the grains had declined to about 40 percent (especially rye and oats), potatoes and vegetables had declined to about 11 percent, technical crops remained at approximately 10 percent, and feed crops had increased to about 39 percent, of the sown area. Animal husbandry, in fact, has become more important than crop production. Specializing in meat and milk production, it is supported by a strong feed base consisting of natural pastures and hayfields as well as feed crops.
The raw materials for industry consist not only of agricultural products and the forests of the Carpathian Mountains but also of the numerous mineral deposits found in the Subcarpathian foredeep. They include oil (near Boryslav and Dolyna), natural gas (deposits at Rudky, Opary, Uherske, Dashava, Kosiv, and elsewhere), ozocerite (at Boryslav), common salt (Stebnyk, Truskavets, Dobromyl, Deliatyn), potash (Stebnyk, Kalush; see Kalush-Holyn potassium deposits), native sulfur (Tlumach), and lignite (near Kolomyia). Despite the base of raw materials, industries were poorly developed in Subcarpathia, and simple extraction was emphasized. Hydroelectric energy resources likewise were scarcely tapped. Industrial development has increased since the 1960s. Today the main industrial branches of Subcarpathia are petroleum extraction and/or refining (Boryslav, Drohobych, Dolyna, Nadvirna, and Chernivtsi), the chemical processing of potash and natural gas, at Stebnyk (fertilizers) and Kalush (fertilizers and vinyl chloride), paints and enamels (Boryslav and Chernivtsi), woodworking (Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kolomyia, Dolyna, Bolekhiv, Rozhniativ, Nadvirna, Dobromyl, Vyzhnytsia, Berhomit, Storozhynets, and other places), food processing (Chernivtsi, Kolomyia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Stryi, Drohobych, Sambir, and other places), light industries (Chernivtsi, Kolomyia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Bolekhiv, Stryi, Drohobych, and other places), construction materials (Chernivtsi, Stryi, Kalush, and other places), and machine building (Chernivtsi, Kolomyia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Stryi, Drohobych, and Sambir).
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Voropai, L.; Kunytsia, M. Ukraïns’ki Karpaty: Fizyko-heohrafichnyi narys (Kyiv 1966)
Herenchuk, K. (ed). Pryroda Ukraïns’kykh Karpat (Lviv 1968)
Buchyns’kyi, I.; Volevakha, M.; Korzhov, V. Klimat Ukraïnskykh Karpat (Kyiv 1971)
Kopchak, S. Naselennia Ukraïns’koho Prykarpattia: Istoryko-demohrafichnyi narys: Dokapitalistychnyi period (Lviv 1974)
Hoshko, Iu. Naselennia Ukraïns’kykh Karpat XV–XVIII st: Zaselennia: Mihratsii: Pobut (Kyiv 1976)
Geodinamika Karpat (Kyiv 1985)
Ukrainskie Karpaty, 4 vols (Kyiv 1988–9)
Volodymyr Kubijovyč, Ihor Stebelsky
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]
Encyclopedia of Ukraine