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Volhynia, Volynia, or Volyn ( , , or Wolynien, ; ) is a historic region in western Ukrainemarker located between the rivers Prypiat and Western Bug, to the north of Galicia and Podolia. The area has some of the oldest Slavic settlements in Europe. Part of historical Volhynia now form the Volyn, Rivne, and parts of Zhytomyr and Ternopil Oblastsmarker of Ukrainemarker, as well as parts of Polandmarker (see Chełmmarker). Other major cities include Lutskmarker, Kovelmarker, Kremenetsmarker, Volodymyr-Volynskyi, and Starokostiantynivmarker (Khmelnytskyi Oblast). Many Jewish shtetls (villages) like Trochenbrodmarker and Lozisht were once an integral part of the region.


The ancient city of Halychmarker first appears in history in 981 when taken over by Vladimir the Great of the Kievan Rus. Volhynia's early history coincides with that of the duchies or principalities of Halych and Volodymyr-Volynsky. These two successor states of the Kievan Rus formed Halych-Volhynia between the 12th and the 14th centuries.

After the disintegration of the Grand Duchy of Halych-Volhynia (also called Galich-Vladimir Rus) circa 1340, the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania divided up the region between them, Poland taking Western Volhynia and Lithuania Eastern Volhynia (1352-1366). After 1569 Volhynia formed a province of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. During this period Poles and Jews settled in the area. The Roman and Greek Catholic churches became established in the province, and many Orthodox churches were forcibly annexed by the latter. Records of the first agricultural colonies of Mennonites date from 1783.

After the Third Partition of Poland in 1795 Volhynia became the Volhynian Governorate of the Russian Empiremarker. By the end of the 19th century Volhynia had over 200,000 German settlers, most of whom immigrated from Congress Polandmarker. A small number of Czech settlers also arrived. Although economically the area was developing rather quickly, upon the eve of the First World War it was still the most rural province in Western Russia.

In 1921, after the end of the Polish-Soviet war, the treaty known as the Peace of Riga divided Volhynia between Poland and the Soviet Unionmarker. Poland took the larger part and established a Volhynian Voivodeship. Most of eastern Volhynia became part of the Zhytomyr Oblast.

From 1935-38 Joseph Stalin had the Poles of Eastern Volhynia deported — the first ethnic deportation in the history of the Soviet Union (see Polish minority in Soviet Union).

Following the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, and the subsequent invasion and division of Polish territories between the Reich and the USSR, Volhynia was annexed by the Soviet Union. In the course of the Nazi-Soviet population transfers which followed this German-Soviet reconciliation, most of the German minority population of Volhynia were transfered to Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany. The Nazi authorities later evacuated them.

In March 1943, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army launched an ethnic cleansing operation against the ethnic Polish population that lasted until the end of 1944. Estimates of the number of Polish casualties in Volhynia during this period range from 50,000 to 60,000 people.

Volhynia remained a part of the Soviet Ukraine after the end of World War II. Most of the remaining ethnic Polish population were expatriated to Poland in 1945 (see Recovered Territories). Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Volhynia has been an integral part of Ukraine.

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