Many years ago, Arthur J. May wrote, “Only the Bucovina provided a patch of blue in the beclouded nationality sky of Austria.” Without going into the comparative aspect of this assertion, the object of this study is to ascertain to what extent May's statement correctly reflects the complex relationships of the ethnoculrural or national groups in Bukovina. How blue was the sky really?
Acquired by Austria in 1774–75, Bukovina prior to 1918 was a small Crownland in the northeastern corner of the Austrian Empire. It bordered on Hungary, Romania, the Russian Empire, and the Austrian province of Galicia. Its area was about 410,000 square kilometers, and its population in 1910 was just over 800,000. Some of the land was rolling and fairly fertile countryside, especially in the north and east, merging into the foothills that in turn gave way to the Carpathian Mountains in the south and west. Much of Bukovina was forested. The estates of the large landowners, sometimes with a palace or large manor house, stood in glaring contrast to the small landholdings of the peasantry and their cramped housing. The capital, Czernowitz (Chernivtsi), with a population in 1910 of around 87,000, was the only sizable city.