Geography (географія; heohrafiia).The study of the spatial variation and interrelation of physical, biological, and social phenomena on the earth’s surface. A broad and general field of knowledge, it is divided into various narrower branches of science: physical geography includes geomorphology and biogeography (phytogeography and zoogeography); human geography incorporates ethnogeography, population geography (demography), economic geography, political geography, urban geography, historical geography, and regional geography. Related disciplines include geodesy, cartography, geology, soil science, ecology, climatology and meteorology, hydrology, and oceanography.

The earliest geographic accounts of what is today Ukraine were written by Greek scholars. Herodotus (ca 484–ca 425 BC) described the natural environment and the population of the Black Sea region. His account was corroborated and supplemented by Hippocrates (ca 460–ca 377 BC). In their works, two eminent Greek geographers of the ancient world, Strabo (64 BC–after AD 23) and Ptolemy (2nd century AD), and the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79) devoted some attention to the Black Sea region.

In the 10th century, the Byzantine scholar Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus and Arab travelers, such as Ahmad Ibn Fadlān, described Rus’ in their writings. Much geographic information can be found in the chronicle Povist’ vremennykh lit (Tale of Bygone Years), the richest source for the history and geography of 12th-century Kyivan Rus’. From the 13th century onward, descriptions of Ukraine were provided by western-European travelers: in the 13th century by the papal envoy Giovanni da Pian del Carpini and the envoy of Louis IX of France, Willem van Ruysbroeck; in the 15th century by the French minister G. de Lannoy and the Venetian noble J. Barbaro; and in 1523–4 by A. Campense in his report on Muscovy to Pope Clement VII.

Several important geographic sources on Ukraine were written in the early modern period. The ‘Two Sarmatias’ by Maciej of Miechów (1517) was translated into several languages and remained for many years a basic source of knowledge about Eastern Europe. The German Sigismund von Herberstein’s account of his 1517 and 1526 travels in Muscovy, Lithuania, and Ukraine was published in 1549. The travel accounts of Michalon Lithuanus (1550, publ 1615), Blaise de Vigenère (publ 1573), and Erich Lassota von Steblau (1594, publ 1854, 1866) contain much valuable information about Ukraine. Less important, but still valuable, are descriptions of Poland and Ukraine written by the Poles Marcin Kromer (1577) and Maciej Stryjkowski (1573). In the 17th century the most important works dealing with Ukraine’s geography were Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan’s Description of Ukraine (1650, 1660, 1661) and his maps (1:1,800,000 and 1:452,000).

The Cossack Hetman state established by Bohdan Khmelnytsky attracted many foreign visitors, some of whom included geographic descriptions in the accounts of their trips. Most were envoys: for example, the Venetian Alberto Vimina (1650, publ 1650, 1890); Paul of Aleppo, the secretary to Patriarch Makarios III of Antioch (1654 and 1656, publ 1896–1900); K. Hildebrandt, a Swedish legate in 1656–7 (publ 1937); the Swedish officer Weihe (ca 1709, publ 1907); and the Dane J. Just (1711).

The first census books of the towns and counties of Left-Bank Ukraine, containing a wealth of historical and geographical information, and the ‘chertezh’ [ie sketch] maps of Ukraine appeared in the second half of the 17th century. The topography of the Don region and the Sea of Azov region was mapped at the end of the 17th century, and Left-Bank Ukraine’s in the 1730s. These maps were used in preparing the atlas of Russia published by the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg in 1745. In the 18th century the first systematic geographic descriptions of Ukraine were commissioned by the Russian government. At the same time the first systematic topographic surveys were begun. In the latter half of the 18th century Russian officers charted the coast of the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea and the mouths of the Dnipro River, Dnister River, and Danube River. After the Russian annexation of Southern Ukraine (New Russia), the Imperial Academy of Sciences organized expeditions to study this territory. German scholars, such as Johann Anton Güldenstädt (in 1768 and 1773–4), Peter Pallas (in 1793–4 and 1796), and S. Gmelin (in 1768–9), played key roles in these expeditions. The results of the research conducted appeared in numerous records and publications. In 1781–2 Vasilii Zuev studied the lower Dnipro River, Dnister River, and Boh River basins. Later, in 1837, A. Demidov led a research expedition to the Crimea and the Donets Basin, which he described in a 4-volume account published in Paris in 1841–2.

The Rumiantsev census of 1765–9 yielded valuable geographic information, as did several economic-statistical surveys of Left-Bank Ukraine, including Opanas Shafonsky’s topographic and geographic surveys of Chernihiv vicegerency (1786, published 1851) and the Kharkiv region (1788), K. German’s survey of Tavriia (1807), and Dmytro Zhuravsky’s survey of the Kyiv gubernia (1852). Sections on Ukraine appeared in the geographic, statistical, and nature surveys of the Russian Empire by A. Büsching, Kh. Chebotarev (1776), I. Hackmann, S. Pleshcheev (1786), and notably J. Georgi (3 vols, 1797–1802). By the late 18th century fairly accurate topographical maps had been prepared in Russia and Austria.

The foundations of geography as an independent, modern science were laid in the early 19th century by the German scholars Alexander von Humboldt and Carl Ritter. Modern geography in the strict sense was unknown in 19th-century Russia and Ukraine. Its main branches—geomorphology and human geography—were not developed, and what passed for geography consisted mostly of a description of the earth, ie, of the sum total of geographical data. At the same time, however, certain branches of geography, such as climatology and meteorology, hydrogeography and oceanography, and phytogeography and zoogeography, developed independently. The Imperial Russian Geographic Society, which was founded in Saint Petersburg in 1845, primarily explored and studied the as yet unknown territories of the empire in Asia and conducted research in geology, ethnography, and statistics. In Ukraine, the Southwestern Branch of the Imperial Russian Geographic Society existed only in the years 1873–6, and it was not until the 1880s that geography chairs were established at Kharkiv University, Lviv University, and Chernivtsi University.

Studies in geography were usually written by specialists in related fields working in Ukraine. The statistician Peter Köppen, for example, produced an ethnographic map of European Russia (1851) and studied the physical geography of southern Ukraine and the Crimea. Johann Georg Kohl, a German geographer, wrote Reisen in Südrussland (1847). Research in geomorphology was conducted mostly by geologists, such as Nykyfor Borysiak, Konstantin Feofilaktov, A. Gurov, Vladimir Laskarev, Ivan Levakovsky, I. Sintsov, N. Sokolov, Gavriil Tanfilev, and Pavlo Tutkovsky. Research in climatology and meteorology was conducted by Petr Brounov, Oleksander Klosovsky, Borys Sreznevsky, and others. Mykola I. Maksymovych studied hydrology. Important contributions were made by the soil scientists Vasilii Dokuchaev and Yurii Vysotsky, and the phytogeographers Andrei Krasnov, Józef Paczoski, and Gavriil Tanfilev. Materials on the geography of Ukraine were published in regional and topographic series, such as Materialy dlia geografii i statistiki Rossii, Trudy Etnografichesko-statisticheskoi ekspeditsii v Zapadno-russkii krai (1872–8), and particularly volumes 2, 7, 9, and 14 of Rossiia: Polnoe geograficheskoe opisanie nashego otechestva (1899–1914) edited by V. Semenov, as well as in such reference works as Geografichesko-statisticheskii slovar' Rossiiskoi Imperii (Geographical-Statistical Dictionary of the Russian Empire, 5 vols, 1863–85), and Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich (Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and Other Slavic Countries, 15 vols, 1880–1900). Die österreichisch-ungarische Monarchie in Wort und Bild, of which vol 12 (1898) was devoted to Galicia and vol 13 (1899) to Bukovyna, was a useful reference tool to Western Ukraine. In Galicia geographic research was conducted at first by German and (mostly) Polish specialists, such as H. Stupnicki, K. Schmedes, J. Jandaurek, Antoni Rehman, and Eugeniusz Romer.

Most scholars before the First World War regarded Ukraine’s territories as integral parts of Russia, Poland, or Austria-Hungary; they did not envision Ukraine as a unified whole. The famous French geographer Jean-Jacques Elisée Reclus, however, who had been influenced by Mykhailo Drahomanov, presented the Ukrainians as a distinct entity in his multi-volume work. The best prewar account of the physical geography of Ukraine appeared in Gavriil Tanfilev’s four-volume geography of Russia (1916–24).

The beginnings of modern Ukrainian geography date from the first decade of the 20th century and are connected with the scholarly activity of the Mathematics–Natural Science–Medicine Section of the Shevchenko Scientific Society in Lviv and that of Stepan Rudnytsky, the acknowledged father of Ukrainian geography and author of the first geographic works in Ukrainian. During and immediately after the First World War Rudnytsky wrote works mostly on the geomorphology of the Carpathian Mountains and of Podilia; he produced the first study of Ukrainian geographic terminology and the first geographic conspectus of Ukraine’s national territories (see Territory, national and ethnic), which also examined the various branches of geography; he made a survey of the ethnogeography and political geography of Ukraine, and prepared the first and only textbook on Ukraine’s geography in a foreign language—Ukraina, Land und Volk (1916; English transl: Ukraine: The Land and Its People, 1918). The first maps of all of Ukraine’s territories were also prepared by him.

In the 1920s the flourishing growth of research on Ukraine’s natural world at the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (VUAN) did not embrace geography to any great extent. As before the First World War, geographic research was conducted mostly as a sideline by specialists in related disciplines, particularly in geology. The geologist Pavlo Tutkovsky, for example, produced the first comprehensive description of Ukraine’s landforms (1924). Research in economic geography was more advanced: in the 1920s several textbooks on Ukraine’s economic geography were written by such specialists as Ivan Feshchenko-Chopivsky, Kostiantyn Vobly, O. Sukhov, and P. Fomin. Finally, in 1927 the Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute of Geography and Cartography was established in Kharkiv. Its founders hoped to make it the center of geographic studies in Soviet Ukraine. Stepan Rudnytsky came from Prague at the invitation of the Soviet government to direct the institute; at the beginning of the 1930s he was also appointed to the newly created chair of geography at VUAN. Associates of the institute included such scholars as Mykola Dmytriiev, V. Butsura, and K. Dubniak. The institute published two volumes of its journal Zapysky and several maps before it was abolished in 1934 and Rudnytsky was exiled for ‘propagating nationalism and fascism in geography.’ Thus the Stalinist terror resulted in the decline of geography as an independent science.

Except for Kyiv University and Kharkiv University, no postsecondary school in Soviet Ukraine in the interwar period had a geography department. (A Geographic Institute was founded in 1917; directed by Pavlo Tutkovsky, it became part of Kyiv University in 1919.) As before the First World War, Ukrainian-language works dealing with geography continued to be written mostly by geologists. Contributions on Ukraine’s geomorphology were written by Roman Virzhykovsky, Mykola Dmytriiev, H. Zakrevska, Volodymyr Krokos, Boris Lichkov, and Dmytro Soboliev. V. Herynovych (who was persecuted in the 1930s) and Hryhorii Velychko, an urban geographer, researched the human geography of Podilia. Geographic methodology was studied by K. Dubniak. Besides the scholars who were active before the Second World War, L. Danylov, M. Danylevsky, Anatolii Ohiievsky, Yevhen Oppokiv, and others contributed to climatology and meteorology, and hydrology. Research in biogeography was conducted by Dmytro Zerov, Yevhen Lavrenko, Yurii Kleopov, Oleksander Fomin, Oleksander Yanata, Mykola Sharleman, and others. Hryhorii Makhiv studied soil science, and he, Tutkovsky, Fomin, and Yanata contributed works on physical-geographic regionalization and in regional studies. Most of these works appeared before the Stalinist suppression of Ukrainian studies and were a significant contribution to the geography of Ukraine.

In interwar Western Ukraine geographical research was conducted in Lviv by Polish scholars, such as Eugeniusz Romer, A. Zierhoffer, and J. Czyżewski of the Geographic Institute at Lviv University, and by the Geographic Commission of the Shevchenko Scientific Society, which was chaired by Volodymyr Kubijovyč, a specialist in the human geography of the Carpathian Mountains region and the demography of Ukraine. Yurii Poliansky’s geological research, particularly on Podilia, touched on questions of geography. Among the geographers associated with the commission were M. Dolnytsky (who lived and taught in Prague), Ihor Fediv, Mykola Kulytsky, Volodymyr Ohonovsky, Stefaniia Pashkevych, Olena Stepaniv, and Ivan Teslia.

From the 1930s geography in the Ukrainian SSR was subservient to Soviet economic policy, and the political aims and economic programs of the Communist Party have directly influenced not only the scientific pursuits of Ukrainian geographers, but also geography as a science. During the Stalin period Soviet geography was severely circumscribed. To legitimize his grandiose economic plans, which demanded extraordinary effort, Joseph Stalin proclaimed that it was incorrect to connect the economic laws of development with nature’s physical processes. Consequently Soviet geography was divided into two separate systems of science—the physical sciences and the economic sciences (ie, physical geography and economic geography). The division of theoretical work into narrow specialties and the underestimation of the practical value of geography resulted in major blunders in the utilization of natural resources.

Nikita Khrushchev’s economic reforms, which introduced decentralization and regional administration, induced the enthusiastic study of economic regionalization, a discussion on integrating the physical and economic aspects of the environment in research, and even the proposal that geography be treated as a unified science. Khrushchev’s ambitious plans, however, were questioned by specialists, and to preserve party discipline the concept of geography as a unified science was rejected officially.

After Nikita Khrushchev’s ouster Leonid Brezhnev’s cautious policies and the Communist Party’s appeals to make better use of natural resources, to protect the environment, and to plan economic complexes more efficiently obliged physical geographers to focus on the influence of human activity on the natural world, and allowed economic geographers to assess natural environment as an important factor in economic development. The study of labor resources, urban planning and regional planning, and the interaction between human groups and the environment pointed out the need for an understanding of sociological processes. As a result of the emphasis placed on the social aspects of development in the plans of the CPSU, economic geography was officially renamed socioeconomic geography at the 1980 congress of the Geographic Society of the USSR.

Geography in Soviet Ukraine developed through similar stages to that in the USSR as a whole. It has not been directed, however, as in Moscow or to some extent in Leningrad, toward the development of theory or a broader range of problems, but toward the republic’s internal, practical needs. With the aim of improving agriculture, work was undertaken in the study of natural-territorial complexes, the production of large-scale soil maps, the assessment of soils and the compilation of a land cadastre, the testing of countermeasures against soil erosion, waterlogging, droughts, and hot, dry wind action, studies of the thermal and water regime of Ukraine, particularly in areas of agricultural irrigation, the introduction of agroclimatic regionalization, and the assessment of natural resources. To meet the demands of industry and economic development in general, work on economic regionalization and research on territorial production complexes, on the geography of separate branches of the economy, and on human geography and urban geography by scientific research institutes, planning institutes, and university geography departments was promoted.

The Stalinist terror decimated the number of geographers in Ukraine, and new specialists were trained only after the Second World War, when geography chairs were established at many higher educational institutions and geography faculties were created at Kyiv University, Kharkiv University, Lviv University, Odesa University, Chernivtsi University, and Simferopol University. Because of the shortage of Ukrainian geographers, many graduates of Moscow University received teaching appointments in Ukraine. Later, candidates of geographic sciences from Kyiv University were hired by the faculties of some universities, by economic and pedagogical institutes, and by research agencies in Ukraine.

Geographic research was conducted not only at the universities, but also by the Ukrainian Geological Committee (est 1918) (see Ukrainian Geological Administration), the Ukrainian Geodetic Administration (est 1919), the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Service (est 1921), the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute (est 1953), the Council for the Study of the Productive Resources of the Ukrainian SSR (est 1934), the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, the Institute of Geological Sciences of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, the Institute of Botany of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, the Institute of Zoology of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, the Institute of Hydrobiology of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, the Institute of the Biology of Southern Seas of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, the Marine Hydrophysical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and the Institute of Geophysics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, and such Ukrainian planning and scientific research institutes as the Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry, the Ukrainian Institute of City Planning, the Institute of Water Management Construction, the Institute of Land Regulation, and the Institute of the Coal, Ore, Petroleum, and Gas Industries. The Sector of Geography was established in 1964 at the Institute of Geological Sciences of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR; after 1982 it was a section of the Marine Hydrophysical Institute. Its six departments have adopted a multifaceted research program, but an authoritative institute of geography like the one that existed in Kharkiv from 1927 to 1934 was established only in 1991 following the 1991 Ukraine’s Declaration of Independence (see Institute of Geography of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine).

The Geographic Society of the USSR, which superseded the Imperial Russian Geographic Society, co-ordinated and popularized geographic research in the Soviet Union. In 1947 it established a branch in Kyiv, with 27 city and oblast departments. In 1959 this branch was named the Ukrainian Geographical Society; in 1964 it was renamed the Geographic Society of the Ukrainian SSR.

From 1935 to 1953 geographic works published in Soviet Ukraine had small pressruns and were written almost without exception in Russian. After Joseph Stalin’s death the number of Ukrainian-language publications increased, and new periodicals, monographs, and atlases appeared. Monograph publications in the physical and biological branches of geography were more numerous and of a better quality than those in the human geography and social geography branches. Many good monographs and textbooks in geomorphology, in particular, were written by such scholars as Volodymyr Bondarchuk, K. Herenchuk, A. Lanko, Oleksander Marynych, Petro Tsys, and M. Veklych. Many monographs in climatology and meteorology, hydrography, soil science, and phytogeography also appeared. The first volumes in a series of attractive, well-researched monographs on the natural environment of Ukraine’s oblasts were published under the general editorship of Marynych in Kyiv and K. Herenchuk in Lviv. Ukraïna i Moldaviia (Ukraine and Moldavia, 1972), edited by Marynych and Maksym Palamarchuk, was a solid contribution to the all-Union series Prirodnye usloviia i estestvennye resursy SSSR (The Natural Conditions and Natural Resources of the USSR).

Human geography in Soviet Ukraine was dominated by economic geography, and most textbooks were surveys of the physical geography of Ukraine and economic geography. They included Oleksii Dibrova’s Heohrafiia Ukraïns'koï RSR (Geography of the Ukrainian SSR, 1954, 2nd edn 1958), and a more recent text with the same title edited by M. Pistun and Ye. Shypovych (1982). Maksym Palamarchuk’s Ekonomichna heohrafiia Ukraïns'koï RSR (Economic Geography of the Ukrainian SSR, 1975) was used as a handbook by teachers. The large work published by the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, Narysy ekonomichnoï heohrafiï URSR (Studies of the Economic Geography of the Ukrainian SSR, 2 vols, 1949, 1952), was not surpassed by any other Soviet publication, including the two all-Union series, each of which had two volumes devoted to the Ukrainian SSR (Moscow 1957–8 and 1969). Most monographs in economic geography, by such authors as O. Davydenko, H. Hradov, I. Mukomel, Palamarchuk, Ye. Pitiurenko, V. Popovkin, and F. Zastavny, were devoted mostly to the development of economic regions (see Economic regionalization), territorial specialization, industrial complexes, or urban systems.

Human geography, in which ethnographic, sociological, historical, and political factors play an important role, did not exist in the USSR. Research on the history of population shifts and migration, particularly in southern Ukraine, was conducted by demographers or historians, such as E. Druzhinina, V. Kabuzan, and H. Makhnova. Similarly, ethnographers, and not geographers, studied regional and ethnic traits, interethnic relations, and the interrelationship between ethnicity and the natural environment. Only a few monographs were published on these subjects in the Ukrainian SSR, several of them by Vsevolod Naulko.

Soviet geographic periodicals reflected the skewed and fragmented state of geography in Soviet Ukraine. Until 1956 articles on physical geography of Ukraine dominated in university serial publications. Later research in other areas developed, particularly in economic geography. The Ukrainian Branch of the Geographic Society of the USSR (see Geographic Society of the Ukrainian SSR) began publishing Heohrafichnyi zbirnyk in 1956, and its Lviv, Kharkiv, Crimea, Chernivtsi, Dnipropetrovsk, and Melitopol departments published their own series and bulletins in Ukrainian or Russian. Several important serial publications and interagency series appeared: Kyiv University’s Naukovi zapysky Kyïvs'koho universytetu: Trudy heohrafichnoho fakul'tetu (from 1950), Visnyk Kyïvs'koho universytetu: Seriia heolohiï ta heohrafiï (from 1958), Rozmishchennia produktyvnykh syl Ukraïns'koï RSR: Mizhvidomchyi naukovyi zbirnyk (from 1964), and Ekonomichna heohrafiia: Mizhvidomchyi naukovyi zbirnyk (from 1966); Lviv University’s Visnyk L'vivs'koho universytetu: Seriia heohrafichna (from 1962); Kharkiv University’s Ekonomicheskaia geografiia: Respublikanskii mezhvedomstvennyi nauchnyi sbornik (from 1964); Heohrafichni doslidzhennia na Ukraïni (from 1969), published jointly by the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR and the Geographic Society of the Ukrainian SSR; Demohrafichni doslidzhennia: Respublikans'kyi mizhvidomchyi naukovyi zbirnyk (from 1970) of the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR; Fizychna heohrafiia ta heomorfolohiia: Mizhvidomchyi naukovyi zbirnyk (from 1970); Ukraïns'kyi istoryko-heohrafichnyi zbirnyk (from 1971) of the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR; and Problemy heohrafichnoï nauky v Ukraïns'kii RSR (from 1972) of the Sector of Geography of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR. Geographic serials did not flourish, however. After a few years many were discontinued, while the leading interagency collections Ekonomichna heohrafiia and Fizychna heohrafiia i heomorfolohiia were published, like Geodeziia, kartografiia i aerofotos'emka: Respublikanskii mezhvedomstvennyi nauchno-tekhnicheskii sbornik (1964), in Russian after 1977.

Tanfil'ev, Gavriil. Geografiia Rossii. Chast' I. Vvedenie: Istoriia issledovaniia, uchrezhdeniia i izdaniia, kartografiia (Odesa 1916)
Sichynsky, Volodymyr. Ukraine in Foreign Comments and Descriptions from the VIth to the XXth Century (New York 1953)
Prykladni pytannia heohrafiï Ukraïns'koï RSR (Kyiv 1964)
Baranskii, Nikolai, et al (eds). Ekonomicheskaia geografiia v SSSR: Istoriia i sovremennoe razvitie (Moscow 1965)
Suchasni problemy heohrafichnoï nauky v Ukraïns'kii RSR (Kyiv 1966)
Problemy heohrafichnoï nauky v Ukraïns'kii RSR, nos 1–3 (Kyiv 1972–5)
Teoretychni i prykladni pytannia heohrafiï (Kyiv 1972)
Ocherki istorii geograficheskoi nauki v SSSR (Moscow 1976)

Volodymyr Kubijovyč, Ihor Stebelsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

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