The Transcarpathia

  • he area of Transcarpathia (Hungarian:  Kárpátalja; Ukrainian: Zakarpattya) is located in southwestern Ukraine between the Carpathian Mountains and the Hungarian border.  This region is also known as Subcarpathia, Ruthenia or Carpatho-Ukraine.

  • The capital city is Ungvár/Užhorod near the Slovak border.

  • The geographic center of Europe is in Transcarpathia.

  • The longest river is the Theiss, which rises in the Carpathians and flows to Hungary.

  • Area of Transcarpathia is 12,900 km², or slightly smaller than Connecticut or Northern Ireland.

  • Population (based on latest Ukrainian census of Dec. 2001) ca. 1.3 million (cf. 1.8 million in Northern Ireland or 3.6 million in Connecticut)

  • Proportion of the population:  20% Hungarian (ca. 220,000), 65% Rusyn, 15% Russian and Ukrainian.

  • That would indicate the most common languages are Hungarian, Russian and Ukrainian. Increasingly English and German are being taught in schools.

  • There is virtually nothing left of the Jewish population which used to include a significant amount of the people.

Center of EuropeTheiss RiverJewish cemetery

  

History

The area of Transcarpathia belonged to Hungary for about 1000 years until the end of World War I. As a result of the peace treaty it was assigned to Czechoslovakia, which was formed in 1918. During World War II the overwhelming portion belonged to Hungary again for a short time. As a result of secret negotiations between Stalin and Benes, the president of Czechoslovakia, the area was annexed by the Soviet Union.

It was militarily very important for the Soviet Union to use it as a watchpost on the opposite side of the Carpathians to "supervise" the fraternal countries under socialism. From 1947 on, more and more Hungarian males aged 18 to 50 were deported to Soviet camps (ca. 40,000 men altogether), of whom a large number did not return home. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the area of Transcarpathia has belonged to Ukraine.

Verecke-Pas Hungarians under Arpad came here over 1000 years ago into the Carpathian basinMemorial in Szolyva for those deported into Soviet camps

 

Economic and social situation

During the Soviet era things were relatively good for people due to the strong ruble, and they could develop a modest level of prosperity. After the establishment of the independent state of Ukraine most of the people lost their savings overnight due to devaluation of the money and were desperately poor. There was often barely enough to buy bread. Chronic impoverishment and increasing income differences are the roots for pessimism and hopelessness. According to western estimates, 75% of the population in Ukraine is "very poor" and only 1.5% are "very rich". The daily struggle to survive has become a hard reality for a great many.

 

In the area of Transcarpathia ca. 80% of the people are unemployed. A social safeguard system in principle is non-existent. Wages were on average €80 to €100 ($90 to $110) per month, depending on the occupation. An average retirement benefit amounted to €60 to €65 (=$66 to $70). At the current time the living condition of people has gotten dramatically worse. Due to the drastic devaluation of the Ukrainian currency resulting from the war in the east of the country, a wage earner must now get buy on €40 ($45) per month, and a retiree with €30 ($33).

 

The area of Transcarpathia is thus surely among the poorest regions of central Europe!