1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Podolia
PODOLIA, a government of south-western Russia, having Volhynia on the N., Kiev and Kherson on the E. and S., Bessarabia on the S.W., and Galicia (Austria) on the W., from which it is separated by the Zbrucz, or Rodvocha, a tributary of the Dniester. It has an area of 16,219 sq. m., extending for 200 m. from N.W. to S.E. on the left bank of the Dniester. In the same direction the government is traversed by two ranges of hills separated by the Bug, ramifications of the Avratynsk heights. These hills nowhere exceed an elevation of 1185 ft. Two large rivers, which numerous tributaries, drain the government—the Dniester, which forms its boundary with Bessarabia and is navigable throughout its length, and the Bug, which flows almost parallel to the former in a higher, sometimes swampy, valley, and is interrupted at several places by rapids. The Dniester is an important channel for trade, corn, spirits and timber being exported from Mogilev, Kalus, Zhvanets, Porog and other Podolian river-ports. The rapid smaller tributaries of the Dniester supply numerous Hour-mills with motive power. The soil is almost throughout “black earth,” and Podolia is one of the most fertile governments of Russia. Forests cover nearly 15% of the total area Marshes occur only beside the Bug. The climate is moderate, the average temperature of the year at Kamenets being 48.3° (24.5° in January, 69° in July).
The estimated population in 1906 was 3,543,700. It consists chiefly of Little Russians, Poles (31 %), and Jews (12 %). There are besides a few Armenians, some Germans, and 50,000 Moldavians There are many Nonconformists (18,000) among the Russians, Tulchin being the seat of their bishops and a centre of propaganda. After Moscow, Podolia is the most densely inhabited government of Russia outside Poland. It is divided into twelve districts, the chief towns of which are Kamenets-Podolskiy, the capital, Balta, Bratslav, Gaisin, Letichev, Litin, Mogilev-on-Dniester, Novaya-Ushitsa, Olgopol, Proskurov, Vinnitsa and Yampol. The chief occupations of the people are agriculture and gardening. The principal crops are wheat, rye, oats, barley, maize, hemp, flax, potatoes, beetroot and tobacco. Podolia is famous for its cherries and] mulberries, its melons, gourds and cucumbers. Nearly 67,000 gallons of wine are obtained annually. Large numbers of horses, cattle and sheep are bred, the cattle being famous. Bee-keeping is an important industry. Sugar factories, distilleries, flour-mills, woollen mills, tanneries, potteries, tobacco factories, breweries, candle and soap factories, have an annual output valued at £4,000,000. An active trade is carried on with Austria, especially through the Isakovets and Gusyatin custom-houses, corn, cattle, horses, skins, wool, linseed and hemp seed being exported, in exchange for wooden wares, linen, woollen stuffs, cotton, glass and agricultural implements. The trade with the interior is also carried on very briskly, especially at the twenty-six fairs, the chief of which are Balta and Yarmolintsy Podolia is traversed by a railway which runs parallel to the Dniester, from Lemberg to Odessa, and has two branch lines, to Kiev (from Zhmerinka) and to Poltava (from Balta).
History.—The country has been inhabited since the beginning of the Neolithic period. Herodotus mentions it as the seat of the Graeco-Scythian Alazones and the Scythian Neuri, who were followed by the Dacians and the Getae The Romans left traces of their rule in the Wall of Trajan, which stretches through the modern districts of Kamenets, Ushitsa and Proskurov. During the great migrations many nationalities passed through this territory, or settled within it for some time, leaving traces in numerous archaeological remains. Nestor mentions that the Bujanes and Dulebes occupied the Bug, while the Tivertsi and Ugliches, apparently all four Slav tribes, were settled on the Dniester. These peoples were conquered by the Avars in the 7th century. Oleg, prince of Kiev, extended his rule over this territory—the Ponizie, or “lowlands,” which became later a part of the principalities of Volhynia, Kiev and Galicia. In the 13th century the Ponizie was plundered by the Mongols; a hundred years afterwards Olgierd, prince of Lithuania, freed it from their rule, annexing it to his own territories under the name of Podolia, a word which has the same meaning as Ponizie. After the death (1430) of the Lithuanian prince Vitovt, Podolia was annexed to Poland, with the exception of its eastern part, the province of Bratslav, which remained under Lithuania until its union (1501) with Poland. The Poles retained Podolia until the third division of their country in 1793, when it was taken by Russia. (P. A. K.; J. T. Be.)