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Transcarpathia, Zakarpats’ka in the Ukrainian language, is a province in the far south western part of Ukraine. Ungvar, Uzhhorod in Ukrainian, is the largest city and the capital of Transcarpathia. Historically much of Transcarpathia has been part of Hungary and to this day approximately 160,000-180,000 ethnic Hungarians live in the borderlands. Today Hungarians make up about 15% of the total population of the 1.2 million people living in the province. Ukrainians, Russians, Roma (Gypsies), Romanians and Rusyns form the remainder of the population.
Following WWII in 1945 Transcarpathia was annexed by the Soviet Union and became part of the region of Ukraine within the Soviet Union. This marked the first time in the history of Transcarpathia and much of Western Ukraine that the area was under the influence and control of Russians in Moscow. Prior to this, Transcarpathia had mostly been a part of Hungary and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. In the nearby area of Galica in western Ukraine, Poland also had a historical influence.Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Transcarpathia became part of the independent nation of Ukraine.
Hungarians have a Reformed and Catholic heritage, leaving Transcarpathia with a strong Reformed tradition and a thriving Reformed community among the Hungarian populations. Greek Catholic and Eastern Orthodoxy are the predominant religions of the non-Hungarian communities.
Geographically the land is flat coming over the border from Hungary out of the Danube basin and turns to foothills followed by the Carpathian Mountains as you travel further to the East, into Transcarpathia. The Carpathian Mountains isolate the region from Ukraine Proper, forming a divide both geographically and culturally between the historically Protestant and Catholic communities of Central Europe and the Eastern Orthodox communities of Ukraine Proper and Russia.
Agriculture dominates the region. Wheat, corn, potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, various fruit trees, strawberries, beets and carrots are all grown in abundance.
As mentioned before, we live in a Hungarian village called Peterfalva, located near the border. We work with a Reformed High school set up by the Hungarian Reformed church after the fall of Communism and among the youth in the local area.