LEMKOVINA or Lemkovschina, is the very last part of the Russian ethnographic territory. It streches on both slopes of the Central Carpathian Mountains, from the San and Uzh Rivers to the Dunayets River. Lemkovina is the Western part of Carpatho-Russia. Since 1918 it has been divided in half by the Czeh-Polish border.
Lemkovina covers over 10,000 sq. kilometers of the Carpathian Mountains. (All of Carpatho-Russia, Lemkovina and Sub-Carpathia, covers approximately 24,000 sq. kilometers). The countryside is hilly and consists of poor farming land. It has, however, very rich forests, pasture lands, mineral water and other raw materials.
Lemkovina consists of about 500,000 people. Most of the Lemko people live in the 708 villages of Lemkovina. The rest live in the large cities of Tylich, Mushyna, Labova, Ustye Russkie, Baligorod, Lisko, Sanok and the resort city of Krynica, which is known throughout Europe. On the Czech side the larger cities are: Stara Lubovnia, Bardijov, V. Svidnik, Stropkov, Mezilaborce and Snina.
The main occupation of the Lemko people is farming and cattle herding. The poor farmland requires much time and toil with very little results. For this reason the Lemko people turn to the forest for extra money. Many Lemko people migrated to the United States and Canada to better their living standards.
The Carpathian people played an important role in the history of all eastern slavish races. Expanding to East Europe, the slavish race gave birth to the princedom of Kiev-Rus and thus to Russia. Historians think, that the Lemkos are decended from the so called White Croatians, who once belonged to Kiev-Rus. Up to the 13th century Lemkovina was part of the princedom of Galician-Rus. Many towns along the Poprad River, in this section, are mentioned in books on Russian History.
In the 14th Century Galician-Rus and Lemkovina were taken over by the Polish Kings and became part of Poland. After Poland was partioned Lemkovina became part of Austro-Hungaria. After the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Lemkovina was divided between Czechoslovakia and Poland.
After World War I, there started a movement among the Lemko emigrants in the United States and Canada, for national freedom in the old Country and to teach the new generations of Lemkos, in the U. S. and Canada, their cultural background. This movement created the Lemko Association of United States and Canada which publishes the paper, "Karpatska Rus", books and almanac of the Lemko people.
After World War II 160,000 Lemkos migrated from the Polish side of Lemkovina to Soviet Russia. In 1947, 100,000 Lemkos were evicted from their homes by the Polish government and were moved to the Western parts of Poland.
Today the Lemko people in Poland are struggling for the right to return to the home of their forefathers, so that they may continue to celebrate and develop their beautiful traditions and customs.