Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ukraine: An Artifact Like an African Country But One People Call Home

African countries are usually used as examples of geopolitical gerrymander that ignores history and ethnicity.  This complaint however overlooks that the nation-state was most a Western European creation that has been overlooked elsewhere including in parts of Europe.

Ukraine is one of these artifacts.  The below map from Twitter got me thinking about the creation of Ukraine.

Besides claiming there was one "Ukrainian territory" this map shows how much Russia was needed to expand Ukraine.  From @ianbremmer

The map is fairly accurate.  However, there never was one "Ukraine."  In the past Ukraine was a series of various Cossack states, Turkic colonies, Mongol vassals, and pieces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.  The region was constantly torn between Polish, Russian, Turkish, and Hapsburg powers until World War II and even then the modern-day borders of what would become Ukraine were not set until 1954.

In January 1896 National Geographic showed just how new/artificial Ukraine as we know it is.  In the "Map of European Russia", the ethnic Ukraine homeland is known as "Little Russia".  "South Russia" (also known as New Russia) is the Black Sea coastline which was colonized by ethnic Russians and a few ethnic Ukrainians after Russia's conquest of the area from Turkey.

I geo-referenced the map as well as possible and drew in the borders of modern-day Ukraine.  Note how modern-Ukraine pulls from so many different realms.

Modern Ukraine outlined in Yellow.  Note how it was a mixture of Polish, Hapsburg, ethnic Russian, and "Little Russian" (Ukrainian) lands back in 1896.  Base map from National Geographic, georeferenced by Geographic Travels.
This is not to say that many Ukrainians are calling for a split.  Most calls for an east-west split are coming from outside of Ukraine.  Not one Ukrainian politician of any merit on either side is calling for splitting the country.  Even though Ukraine was formed many different regions a nationalism has formed which has kept the country together and hopefully will keep bloodshed low.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Do people not call African countries home?