Podolia [key], region, SW Ukraine, separated in the south from Moldova by the Dniester and in the west from W Galicia by the Southern Buh. It borders on Volhynia in the north. Kamyanets-Podilskyy (its historic capital), Mohyliv-Podilskyy, Vinnytsya, and Khmelnytskyy are the chief cities. The population is predominantly Ukrainian; the large Jewish minority that settled in Podolia in the Middle Ages was virtually exterminated by German occupation forces in World War II. A fertile hilly plain drained by the Dniester and the Southern Buh, Podolia is one of the richest and most densely populated agricultural regions of Ukraine. The principal crops are sugar beets, wheat, tobacco, and sunflowers. Dairy farming and beekeeping are also important, and phosphate is mined. Food processing, especially sugar milling, is the major industry. One of Ukraine's oldest regions, Podolia was part of Kievan Rus from the 10th cent. and later belonged to the Halych and Volhynia principalities. In the 14th cent. Polish colonists began to convert the region of Podolia from steppe into arable farmland. W Podolia was annexed to Poland in 1430; the eastern section was part of Lithuania until the latter's union with Poland in 1569. Occupied by Turkey in 1672, Podolia was returned to Poland by the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699. E Podolia passed to Russia in 1793. The western portion was transferred to Austria in 1772, belonged to Poland from 1918 to 1939, and was then annexed by the USSR in 1945.
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