Eastern Galicia

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Eastern and Western Galicia in the late 20th century (German-language map)

Eastern Galicia, or Eastern Halychyna (Ukrainian: Східна Галичина, romanizedSkhidna Halychyna, Polish: Galicja Wschodnia, German: Ostgalizien) is a geographical region in Western Ukraine (present day oblasts of Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil), having also essential historic importance in Poland.[1] Galicia was formed within the Austrian Empire during the years 1772–1918. Eastern Galicia now includes all of the Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk Oblasts (regions) of Ukraine as well as Ternopil Oblast, with its northern strip bordering the former Kremenets, Shumsk and Lanivtsi Raions and the northern part of Zbarazh Raion. The area of Eastern Galicia is about 46,800 km2 (18,100 sq miles).


In 1918, Western Galicia became a part of the restored Republic of Poland, which absorbed part of the Lemko region. The local Ukrainian population declared the independence of Eastern Galicia as the West Ukrainian People's Republic. The predominantly-Polish population of Lviv (Lwów, Lemberg) resisted, which led to the Polish-Ukrainian War during which the Poles took control of all of Galicia. In a pact with Poland, Herman Petyura of the Ukrainian People's Republic ceded Eastern Galicia in exchange for help against the Soviets. During the Polish–Soviet War, the Soviets established in July 1920 in Eastern Galicia the short-lived Galician Soviet Socialist Republic.

The Peace of Riga of 18 March 1921 assigned the contested Eastern Galicia to the Second Polish Republic. The Entente powers recognized the Polish possession of the territory on 15 May 1923.

The Ukrainians of the former Eastern Galicia and the neighbouring province of Volhynia made up about 12% of the population of the Second Polish Republic and were its largest minority. As the Polish government's policies were unfriendly towards minorities, tensions between the Polish government and the Ukrainian population grew, which eventually gave the rise to the militant underground Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists.[citation needed]


The name Galicia, or Halychyna in Ukrainian, is derived from the city of Halych (Latin Galic)[citation needed] which was the first capital of the Galician principality. The name Halych in turn derives from the Ukrainian word halka which means "crow", which is reflected by the crow at the center of the city's early modern coat of arms.[1]

Many also believe that the name Halych/Galic (and from it Halychyna/Galizia) is derived from the Greek word ἅλς (hals), meaning "salt". The Byzantines and the Greeks had a strong influence on these lands and it was from the Greeks that Galicia and Kievan Rus' were converted to Christianity. In fact the Greek word for salt pit is αλυκή (alyki), which makes a strong argument that Halych could be an alteration of that. Halych was rich in salt, which was mined in the region. During the early medieval period, salt was Halych's main export.[1] Today, however, there is no more salt mining in Halych.

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  1. ^ a b c "History of Galicia". www.torugg.org. Retrieved 2015-09-29.