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"New Russia" redirects here. For other uses, see New Russia (disambiguation).
This article is about the historical term. For the political party, see Novorossiya (political party). For the separatist entity, see Federal State of Novorossiya.
A map of Novorossiya (New Russia), c. 1897.
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Novorossia (Russian: Новоро́ссия, Ukrainian: Новоросія, Romanian: Noua Rusie; literally New Russia) was a historical term of the Russian Empire in 1764-1873 denoting an area north of the Black Sea, presently part of Ukraine. It used to be Ukrainian Cossack heartland until the Cossack Hetmanate was dismantled.

The region was conquered by the Russian Empire at the end of the 18th century from the Ottoman Empire and remained under its control until the October Revolution and the collapse of the empire in 1917. In modern terms this historic territory overlaid what is now Donetsk Oblast, small portions of Luhansk Oblast, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Zaporizhia Oblast, Mykolaiv Oblast, Kherson Oblast, Odessa Oblast and Crimea in Ukraine; Krasnodar Krai, Stavropol Krai, Rostov Oblast, and the Republic of Adygea in Russia.


Ukraine 1648 (south on top) with a broad belt of "loca deserta", Latin for desolated areas
Map of the Wild Fields in the 17th century
The Crimean Khanate in 1600
Novorossiysk Governorate of Russian Empire. Its central city was Dnipropetrovsk, which was briefly renamed "Novorossiysk" during the reign of Paul I

When the Russian Empire annexed the northern coast of Black Sea from the Ottomans in the 18th century after the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-1774, Russian officialdom established the Novorossiysk Governorate there, administered from Kremenchuk[citation needed]. Historically, it was known as the Wild Fields (Dykra) or Devastated Fields, as several centuries of wars had driven off agriculture and urban settlement. The Wild Fields had covered roughly the southern territories of modern Ukraine; some[who?] say they extended into Russia.

After the fall of the Golden Horde, the eastern portion was claimed by the Crimean Khanate (one of its multiple successors), while its western regions were divided between Moldavia and Lithuania. With the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, the whole Black Sea northern littoral region came under the control of Crimean Khanate that in its turn became vassal of the Turks[citation needed]. Sometime in the 16th century Crimean Khanate allowed to settle in the Black Sea steppes the Nogai Horde which were displaced from its native Volga region by Muscovites and Kalmyks[citation needed].

The Russian Empire gradually gained control over the area, signing peace treaties with the Cossack Hetmanate and with the Ottoman Empire at the conclusion of the Russo-Turkish Wars of 1735–39, 1768–74, 1787–92 and 1806–12. Saint Petersburg forcefully liquidated the Free lands of the Zaporizhian Sich in the 18th century, thus eliminating the independent rule of the area by ethnic Ukrainian Cossacks, as they became inconvenient for Russian colonization[citation needed]. Prince Grigori Potemkin (1739-1791) directed the Russian colonization of the land at the end of 18th century - the Russian Empress Catherine the Great granted him the powers of an absolute ruler over the area from 1774[citation needed]. Administratively the newly incorporated area became known as the Novorossiysk Governorate with Novorossiysk (present-day Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk, not to be confused with present-day Novorossiysk, Russian Federation) as its capital[citation needed]. The new rulers of Novorossiya gave out land generously to the Russian dvoryanstvo (nobility), and the enserfed peasantry - mostly from Ukraine and fewer from Russia - immigrated to cultivate the then sparsely populated steppe[citation needed]. According to the Historical Dictionary of Ukraine:

The population consisted of military colonists from hussar and lancer regiments, Ukrainian and Russian peasants, Cossacks, Serbs, Montenegrins, Hungarians, and other foreigners who received land subsidies for settling in the area.[1]

In the 19th century Novorossiya was the name of the General Government centered in Odessa[citation needed], a major port on the north-west coast of the Black Sea. When it was taken from the Ottomans, the region was sparsely populated and home to several ethnic groups, of which the most numerous were Romanians and Ruthenians (Ukrainians)[citation needed]. According to the first Tsarist census of the Yedisan region conducted in 1793, after the expulsion of the Nogai Tatars, 49 villages out of 67 between the Dniester and the Southern Bug were Romanian.[2] East of the Southern Bug, in the so-called New Serbia region, in 1757 the largest ethnic group were Romanians at 75%, followed by Serbs at 12% and 13% others.[3] The Russian authorities commenced a program of colonization of the region when they acquired it, encouraging large migrations into the region, including Romanians from Moldavia, Wallachia and Transylvania, as well as Ukrainians, Russians and Germans; in 1792 the Russian government declared that the region between the Dniester and the Bug was to become a new principality named "New Moldavia", under Russian suzerainty.[4]

A map of what was called New Russia overlaid on recent map of the Ukraine.

Catherine the Great also invited European settlers to these newly conquered lands: Romanians, Bulgarians, Serbs, Greeks, Macedonians[citation needed], Albanians, Germans, Poles, Italians, and others. Inhabitants of the former New Russia commonly speak the Russian language in cities and some areas outside, while Ukrainian generally predominates in rural areas, smaller towns, and villages.[clarification needed] With its history, the ethnic composition varies.[clarification needed] Apart from ethic Russians and Ukrainians, the population includes communities of Greeks, Armenians, Tatars, and many others. Novorossiya changed during the beginning of the 19th century due to the intensive movement of colonists of various nationalities, who rapidly created towns, villages and agricultural colonies in the area. During the Russo-Turkish Wars, the major Turkish fortresses of Ozu-Cale, Akkerman, Khadzhibei, Kinburn and many others were conquered and destroyed. New cities and settlements were established in their places.

Multiple ethnicities participated in the founding of the cities of Novorossiya.[clarification needed] For example:

  • Zaporizhzhya started as a Cossack fort
  • Odessa, founded in 1794 on the site of a Romanian or Tatar village by a Spanish general in Russian service, Jose de Ribas, had a French mayor, Richelieu (in office 1803-1814)
  • Donets'k, founded in 1869, was originally named Yuzovka (Yuzivka) in honor of John Hughes, the Welsh industrialist who developed the coal region of the Donbass

According to the report of governor Shmidt ethnic composition of Kherson Governorate and city of Odessa in 1851 was following:[5]

Nationality Number  %
Ukrainians 703,699 69.14
Moldovans and Vlachs 75,000 7.37
Jews 55,000 5.40
Germans 40,000 3.93
Russians 30,000 2.95
Bulgarians 18,435 1.81
Belorussians 9,000 0.88
Greeks 3,500 0.34
Romani people 2,516 0.25
Poles 2,000 0.20
Armenians 1,990 0.20
Karaites 446 0.04
Serbians 436 0.04
Swedes 318 0.03
Tatars 76 0.01
Former Officials 48,378 4.75
Nobles 16,603 1.63
Foreigners 10,392 1.02
Total Population 1,017,789 100

The 1897 All-Russian Empire Census statistics show that Novorossiya included some areas where people spoke Ukrainian as their mother tongue (especially in rural areas), with Great Russians and Jews dominating in city areas.[6][7][8]

Russian poster from 1921 — "Donbass is the heart of Russia".
Language Kherson Guberniya Yekaterinoslav Guberniya Tavrida Guberniya
Ukrainian 53.4% 68.9% 42.2%
Russian 21.0% 17.3% 27.9%
Belarusian 0.8% 0.6% 6.7%
Polish 2.1% 0.6% 0.6%
Bulgarian 0.9% - 2.8%
Moldovan and Romanian 5.3% 0.4% 0.2%
German 4.5% 3.8% 5.4%
Jewish(sic) 11.8% 4.6% 3.8%
Greek 2.3% 2.3% 1.2%
Tatar 8.2% 8.2% 13.5%
Turkish 2.6% 2.6% 1.5%
Total Population 2,733,612 2,311,674 1,447,790

The 1897 All-Russian Empire Census statistics:[9]

Language Odessa Yekaterinoslav Nikolaev Kherson Sevastopol Mariupol Donetsk district
Russian 198,233 47,140 61,023 27,902 34,014 19,670 273,302
Jewish(sic) 124,511 39,979 17,949 17,162 3,679 4,710 7
Ukrainian 37,925 17,787 7,780 11,591 7,322 3,125 177,376
Polish 17,395 3,418 2,612 1,021 2,753 218 82
German 10,248 1,438 813 426 907 248 2,336
Greek 5,086 161 214 51 1,553 1,590 88
Total Population 403,815 112,839 92,012 59,076 53,595 31,116 455,819

Integration into Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic[edit]

Ukraine demograpics in 1925[citation needed]

After the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917, Novorossiya ceased to exist as an administrative component of the Russian Empire. For several years, the rule of the region was uncertain as the area was enmeshed in war. It was claimed as a part of the Ukrainian People's Republic as well as the Communist Ukrainian People's Republic of Soviets. Theaters of the Russian Civil War also occurred in this region between the Red Army and the White Army, as well as the Black Army (Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine) of anarchist Nestor Makhno which was based in Yekaterinoslav. Moreover, both the Donetsk–Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic and the Odessa Soviet Republic were declared on the territory of Novorossiya, although neither lasted for more than two months. Eventually, the Soviet forces gained control to the exclusion of all others.

In 1922, most of the former region of Novorossiya was added to the newly formed Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic within the Soviet Union, as part of the then-prevailing policy of Korenization or "putting down roots," in which territories of the Soviet Union were allocated based upon the ethnic composition of those territories. Because this area historically had a majority Ukrainian population,[citation needed] the Soviets allocated it to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic under this policy, which emphasized building up the nations of the new Soviet Union.

The former territory of Novorossiya, which was now the southeastern part of Ukraine suffered significant population loss during the Holodomor of 1932-33 and the Great Purge of 1937-38. The region also experienced significant population loss during World War II (1941-1945) (called the Great Patriotic War by the Soviet Union), and its Jewish population was nearly destroyed in the Holocaust. After the war, it was redeveloped and its industry increased.[citation needed] Many settlers came in from other regions of the Soviet Union to replace the population lost due to these earlier events.[citation needed] After Ukraine obtained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the territory remained part of Ukraine.

List of founded cities[edit]

Many of the cities that were founded during the colonial period are major cities today.

First wave[edit]

Second wave[edit]

Third wave[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Historical Dictionary of Ukraine". Ivan Katchanovski, Zenon E. Kohut, Bohdan Y. Nebesio, Myroslav Yurkevich (2013). p.392. ISBN 081087847X
  2. ^ E. Lozovan, Romanii orientali, "Neamul Romanesc", 1/1991, p.32.
  3. ^ Olga M. Posunjko, Istorija Nove Srbije i Slavenosrbije, Novi Sad, 2002, page 36.
  4. ^ E. Lozovan, Romanii orientali, "Neamul Romanesc", 1/1991, p.14]
  5. ^ Шмидт А. "Материалы для географии и статистики, собранные офицерами генерального штаба. Херсонская губерния. Часть 1". St. Petersburg, 1863, p. 465-466
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°30′N 34°30′E / 47.5°N 34.5°E / 47.5; 34.5