A village (selo) is the lowest administrative unit in Ukraine. Ukrainian villages often have individual administrations (sils’ka rada or silrada), sometimes administration is joint (two or more villages combined). Earlier a village considered to be a rural settlement, the inhabitants of which were occupied in agriculture. But times have changed and now village isn’t associated only with fields and farming.
History of Ukrainian village
In the medieval times most of rural inhabitants lived in family or individual homesteads. Extended families (40-50 members) lived in dvoryshches, which soon became a base of village community.
In XVI century villages began to emerge – dvoryshches were joining to create more complex and larger settlements of individuals that weren’t related. This process was a result of population growth, serfdom intensification, spread of the seigniorial economy. Separate homesteads merged into villages also because of protection needs – against Tatar raids.
Emergence of villages was a rapid process in Right-Bank Ukraine, where the population density was high; in Left-Bank Ukraine the pace of the process was slower (during XVI-XVII, and even XVIII centuries).
With the removal of Tatar threat at the end of XVIII century villages became common in Steppe Ukraine; steppes were settled by large landlords with peasant colonies in a planned manner. In 1861 with the serf emancipation many peasants left villages and settled on individual farmsteads named khutirs.
Ukrainian village can have different patterns depending on natural environment and terrain. The most popular patterns are:
- linear and complex linear;
In chain pattern houses are strung along a winding and long road (most often), they can be more or less regularly spaced. Chain patterns are characteristic of Carpathian foothills and Carpathian Mountains.
Linear pattern presupposes spacing cottages evenly on one or both sides of the road. Gardens stretch at right angles from the road. The form is common in western Polisia. Complex linear pattern is a multistreet variant with several parallel streets. There are also star-shaped, fork-shaped and horseshoe-shaped variants along lakes, river bends and river junctions.
Regular village has rectangular or square shape and grid layout. Such settlements can be found in southern regions.
Irregular form is the most common form for Ukrainian villages; most of the villages have cluster form (called hurtove in Ukrainian language). Streets are crooked, they run in an irregular pattern and lead to an open yard.
Radial villages are usually built around a common square.
Role in culture and literature
Village is an important symbol in Ukrainian literature and culture. Most of the Ukrainian Romantic and realist writers chose glorification of rural life as a main subject for their works. Village was portrayed as a cradle of Ukrainian national renaissance since Ukrainian cities were Polonized or Russified.
Biggest Ukrainian villages
Some Ukrainian villages are quite populous and have a vast area.
The largest Ukrainian village is Kosmach (Ivano-Frankovsk Oblast). Its area is 84,3 square kilometers.
The most populous Ukrainian village is Kostyantynivka (Zaporizhia Oblast). Its population is more than 12 thousand inhabitants.
10 most populous Ukrainian villages
- Kostyantynivka (Melitopol Raion, Zaporizhia Oblast) – 12 081
- Zymna Voda (Pustomyty Raion, Lviv Oblast) – 9 985
- Chervona Sloboda (Cherkassy Raion, Cherkassy Oblast) – 9 501
- Chornobaivka (Bilozersky Raion, Kherson Oblast) — 9 275
- Velyki Luchky (Mukachevo Raion, Zakarpattia Oblast) – 9 028
- Velyka Znamyanka (Kamianka-Dniprovska Raion, Zaporizhia Oblast) – 8 989
- Ilnytsya (Irshava Raion, Zakarpattia Oblast) – 8 902
- Nerubaiske (Bilyaev Raion, Odessa Oblast) – 8 552
- Dachne (Bilyaev Raion, Odessa Oblast) – 8 549
- Bilozir’ya (Cherkassy Raion, Cherkassy Oblast) – 8 506