Chumak (Ukrainian: чумак) is a historic occupation on the territory of the modern Ukraine as merchants or traders, primarily known for the trade in salt.
They prospered until the end of the 19th century, when competition from railroads made longer trade routes unprofitable. They were the most popular during the times of the Cossack Hetmanate (17th century) trading between the Moscow state, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Crimean Khanate, and Moldavia. Further modernization marginalized traditional economic activity, and relegated Chumak traders to areas in western Ukraine with the lowest levels of service. Their style of living set a great mark in the Ukrainian folklore, language, and the culture overall.
In Ukrainian language Milky Way is called the Chumaks' Way.
Chumak traders also were featured heavily in Ukrainian folklore and fables. Their trade is mentioned in the literal as well as artistic works of Taras Shevchenko, the Crimean-Armenian Ivan Aivazovsky, the motion movie Moskal, the Wizard (1995), song of Taras Petrynenko Ukraina.