Low Beskyd

Image - Low Beskyd landscape in the Radocyna River valley. Image - Low Beskyd landscape: a rocky hill in the vicinity of Losie. Image - Low Beskyd landscape in the vicinity of Losie.

Low Beskyd [Низький Бескид (Nyz’kyj Beskyd); Polish: Beskid Niski; aka Лемківський бескид; Lemko Beskyd]. (Map: Carpathian Mountains, Division.) The section of the Beskyds between the Biała River at Tylych Pass and the Toplia River in the west, and between the Sian River along Oslava and Lupkiv Pass and the Laborets River in the east. (See map: Carpathian Mountains, Divisions.) The Low Beskyd has the lowest elevation and widest area of the external flysch part of the Carpathian Mountains. It includes, from north to south, the Carpathian foothills, the Gorlice-Sianik Basin, and the Low Beskyd itself.

The foothills, composed of soft sand-hills, slate, clay, and marls, roll gently along a path 30–50 km across. Wide ridges reaching 350–450 m in height rise 150–200 m above wide valleys. A truly mountainous aspect is found only on the Chornorih Ridge (592 m) north of Krosno and in the eastern part along the middle Sian River (Peremyshl foothills). That area was settled by a pocket of Ukrainians (see Zamishantsi).

The Gorlice-Sianik Basin is a zone nearly 80 km in length and 8–12 km in width between the foothills and the Low Beskyd itself. Partially forested, it includes several plateaus (270–350 m) and low hills. Owing to advantageous natural conditions and a favorable location, the area is densely populated, with 150 to 200 persons per sq km. Its eastern region (including the town of Sianik) was populated by Ukrainians until 1946.

The Low Beskyd itself, which rises 200–300 m above the Gorlice-Sianik Basin, constitutes a long-standing ethnographic border between Ukraine and Poland. The Low Beskyd is the lowest and (along with the Middle Beskyd) the gentlest part of the Carpathian Mountains. Only a few peaks exceed 1,000 m (such as Busiv, at 1,010 m), and a large portion of the region consists of elevations similar in landscape to foothills. The ravines are also low and easily traversed. The most massive ridges reach over 800 m in the middle part of the Low Beskyd, but only on the Galician side. The southwestern region is characterized by insular hills, and the eastern region has a lattice structure (lengthwise ridges and valleys). In the south, between the Toplia River and the Laborets River, the Low Beskyd becomes the Ondava Highlands, at 400–500 m, which are crossed by relatively deep perpendicular valleys at 200–300 m.

The Low Beskyd is the largest deforested area in the Ukrainian Carpathians (29 percent forested, 40 percent cultivated, 26 percent hayfields and pasture). The forests in the lower regions consist of oak, elm, linden, and other trees; beech and fir are common in the upper reaches.

Until 1946 the entire northern (Galician) part of the Low Beskyd lay in Ukrainian ethnographic territory, and the southern (Transcarpathian) part was mainly Ukrainian and partly Slovak. The Ukrainian population consisted predominantly of Lemkos. Since the resettlement of Ukrainians from the Lemko region (see Operation Wisła), Ukrainians have been found only in the southern parts of the Low Beskyd.

Volodymyr Kubijovyč

  [This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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