Lemko Region — name for Rusyn-inhabited territory in present-day southeastern Poland. It refers to an area encompassing about 250 villages, at least 50 percent of whose inhabitants (and usually much more) were Rusyns at the outset of the twentieth century. The territory itself is only about 25 to 50 kilometers wide and is bordered along its entire length in the south by the crests of the *Carpathian Mountains, which coincide with the present-day Polish-Slovak border. In the west, the Lemko Region begins near the Tatra mountain range and stretches eastward for about 140 kilometers. There is no concensus regarding its eastern boundary: according to linguistic and ethnographic criteria that boundary lies somewhere between the Oslawa and Solinka rivers; according to criteria put forth by political activists, the boundary is the upper San River, i.e., the present-day Polish-Ukrainian border (see Ethnography; Language). The Lemko Region was until 1918 part of the Austrian Habsburg province of Galicia, specifically the southern parts of the *districts of Nowy Sacz, Grybow, Gorlice, Jaslo, Krosno, Sanok, Lesko, and a very small portion (four villages) of Nowy Targ (see Map 9). Presently, this area falls within two palatinates in Poland: the southeastern corner of Malopolskie (parts of the Nowy Targ, Nowy Sacz, and Garlice districts/powiaty) and far southern Podkarpackie (parts of the Jaslo, Krasno, Sanok, and Ustrzyki Dolne districts).
The term Lemko Region (Rusyn: Lemkovyna/Lemkovshchyna) has never had official status in whatever state has ruled the area. Of recent origin, it began to be used only at the outset of the twentieth century, when the local Rusyn population first began to refer to itself as Lemkos. The entire Lemko population was resettled and forcibly deported between 1945 and 1947, so that at present only about 20,000 returnees and their descendants live in villages scattered throughout the area. Nevertheless, the term Lemko Region, in the sense of all the villages where Lemko Rusyns had lived before 1945, continues to be used in publications and by organizations that promote historical and civic Lemko interests. Ukrainian popular and scholarly writings also refer to the Lemko Region (Ukrainian: Lemkivshchyna), although they include as well what they consider to be the “southern” Lemko Region, that is, the Rusyn-inhabited *Presov Region in Slovakia.
Bibliography: Bohdan Struminsky, “The Name of the Lemkos and of their Territory,” in Jacob P. Hursky, ed., Studies in Ukrainian Linguistics in Honor of George Y. Shevelov/Annals of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences, XV (New York, 1981-83), pp. 301-307; Bohdan Strumins’kyi, “Nazva liudei i kraiu,” in idem, Lemkivshchyna: zemlia—liudy—istoriia—kul’tura, Vol. I (New York, Paris, Sydney, and Toronto, 1988), pp. 11-86.
Paul Robert Magocsi
Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.