Kyiv gubernia

Kyiv gubernia. An administrative-territorial unit in Russian-ruled Ukraine. From 1708, it existed alongside the regimental system of the Hetman state in Left-Bank Ukraine and in the non-Ukrainian territories of the Kursk region, Briansk region, and Orel region. From 1719 the gubernia consisted of Kyiv, Belgorod, Sevsk, and Orel provinces. The governor-general resided in Kyiv. The Russian palatines and garrisons in Kyiv, Pereiaslav, Nizhyn, and Chernihiv were under his authority, but the administrative bodies of the Hetman state were not. In 1781 the gubernia was replaced by Kyiv vicegerency, which was abolished in 1796 after the second partition of Poland (1793) and replaced by a new gubernia, this time in Right-Bank Ukraine, on the territory of the former counties of Kyiv vicegerency and one county of Volhynia vicegerency. From 1800 the gubernia’s territory (50,957 sq km) was divided among 12 counties: Kyiv, Vasylkiv, Zvenyhorodka, Radomyshl, Skvyra, Kaniv, Lypovets, Berdychiv, Cherkasy, Chyhyryn, Tarashcha, and Uman. Under Soviet rule, in 1925 the gubernia was abolished and replaced by Bila Tserkva, Berdychiv, Cherkasy, Kyiv, and Uman okruhas.

The gubernias’s population grew from 1,066,200 in 1811 to 1,459,800 in 1838, 1,635,800 in 1851, 2,012,100 in 1863, 2,847,600 in 1885, 3,559,200 in 1897, and 4,792,600 in 1914. It declined during the First World War and the revolutionary period. It was 4,258,800 in 1920 and 4,635,700 in 1924. In 1914 the population consisted of Ukrainians (78 percent), Jews (12 percent), Russians (7 percent), Poles (2 percent), and Germans (0.4 percent). The gubernia had the second-largest percentage of urban dwellers among the Ukrainian gubernias in 1914–8 percent, which rose to 25.4 percent in 1924. Ukrainians composed 51 percent of the urban population in 1923; Jews, 28.5 percent; and Russians, 16.5 percent. A large part of the urban population (48.3 percent in 1897) was born outside the gubernia.

The gubernia was primarily an agricultural region. In 1905 peasants (78 percent of the population) owned only 45.6 percent of the land; 45 percent was still owned by the gentry and rich landowners. Land hunger and poverty forced the peasants to seek seasonal work in Southern Ukraine and in the mines of the Donets Basin (200,000 annually) or to resettle in Siberia and the Far East (over 148,000 peasants resettled there in 1896–1912). Industry, with the exception of beet-sugar processing (in which the gubernia placed first in the Russian Empire), distilling, and flour milling, was poorly developed. There were only 75,700 industrial workers in the gubernia in 1912.

Roman Senkus, Arkadii Zhukovsky

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

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