Galicia (historic region of Central Europe)

{guh-lish'-ee-uh}

Galicia is a historic region of Eastern Europe, located north of the Carpathian Mountains and extending from the area around Krakow in Poland as far east as Ternopol in UKRAINE. Annexed by Austria in the First Partition of Poland (1772), Galicia existed from then until 1918 as a separate province of the Austrian monarchy.

The official Austrian name for the region--Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria--derived from the medieval principality of Galich (Polish, Halicz), which was united with Volhynia in 1199. The region came under Mongol rule before becoming part of Poland in 1340. The Hungarians had earlier laid claim to the region, and the Austrian Habsburgs, who inherited the Hungarian crown, used this claim as a legal pretext for taking these lands in 1772.

Forming the northeastern part of the Austrian Empire, Galicia had a population of 7,316,000 in 1910; 59% spoke Polish, 31% Ukrainian, and 10% Yiddish. Ukrainians predominated in eastern Galicia and Poles in western Galicia. Poor soil, lack of significant industry, and rural overpopulation led to massive emigration around the turn of the century. In 1868, Galicia was accorded limited self-government, with Polish education and administration. Thus it was the only part of partitioned Poland in which Polish political and cultural life could develop freely. The region returned to Polish control when Poland was reestablished in 1918, and the eastern portion was annexed by the USSR after the signing of the NAZI-SOVIET PACT (1939).