The Boykos (Rusyn: Бойкы, romanized: Boiky; Ukrainian: Бойки, romanized: Boiky; Polish: Bojkowie; Slovak: Pujďáci), or simply Highlanders (верховинці, verkhovyntsi), are a ethnolinguistic group located in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland. Along with the neighboring Lemkos and Hutsuls, the Boykos are a sub-group of the Rusyns and speak a dialect of Rusyn language. However, at the official level within Ukraine, the Boykos and other Rusyns are regarded as a sub-group of ethnic Ukrainians, and the Rusyn language is regarded as part of a dialect continuum within Ukrainian.[3][4][5][6][7] Boykos differ from their neighbors in dialect, dress, folk architecture, and customs.

Boyko family of Maniava, late 19th century
Regions with significant populations
 Ukraine131 (2001)[1]
 Poland258 (2011)[2]
Eastern Catholic, Orthodox Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Ukrainians  · Rusyns  · Lemkos  · Hutsuls


Museum of Boyko culture, Dolyna

Regarding the origin of the name Boyko there exist several etymological hypotheses,[8] but it is generally considered, as explained by priest Joseph Levytsky in his Hramatyka (1831), that it derives from the particle boiie.[9] Specifically, it derives from the exclamation "бой!, бойє!" (< bo-i-je >), meaning "it is really so!", which is often used by the population.[10] The 19th-century scholar Pavel Jozef Šafárik, with whom Franjo Rački and Henry Hoyle Howorth agreed, argued a direct connection of the Boykos with the region of Boiki mentioned in the 10th century De Administrando Imperio,[9][11] but this thesis is outdated and rejected,[10] as most scholars, Mykhailo Hrushevsky among them, already dismissed it in the 19th century because Boiki is a clear reference to Bohemia, which in turn derives from the Celtic tribe of Boii.[12][13][14] The derivation from Boii,[8] is also disputed because there is not enough evidence.[9] They are also called as Vrchovints (Highlanders).[15] As in the case of Hutsuls and Lemkos, they are recorded in historical and ethnographic sources since the 18th and 19th century.[16]


Map of Ukrainian dialects (2005). Boyko dialect (13)

Boykos are considered as one of the descendants of East Slavic tribes, specifically White Croats who lived in the region,[8][9][17] possibly also Ulichs who arrived from the East,[18] and partly Vlach shepherds who later immigrated from Transylvania.[17]


In the region inhabited by Boykos, named Boikivshchyna, there lived up to 400,000 people of whom most were Boykos.[9][19] They also lived in Sanok, Leskom and Przemyśl County of the Podkarpackie Voivodeship in Poland, before the forced relocation in 1947.[20] In commemoration of Boykos, Ukraine's national parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, in 2016 renamed Telmanove Raion into Boykivske Raion where Boykos were deported from Czarna, Bieszczady County (today in Poland) after the 1951 Polish–Soviet territorial exchange. It is evaluated that in 1970 there lived 230,000 people of Boyko origin.[20]

In Ukraine, the classification of Boykos and other Rusyns as an East Slavic ethnicity, distinct from Ukrainians is controversial.[21][22][23] The deprecated and archaic term Ruthenian, while also derived from Rus', is ambiguous, as it technically may refer to Rusyns and Ukrainians, as well as Belarusians and even Russians, depending on the historical period. According to the 2001 Ukraine census, only 131 people identified themselves as Boykos, separate from Ukrainians.[1] However, this figure is distorted because some people otherwise identifiable as Boykos regard that name as derogatory and call themselves highlanders (verkhovyntsi).[9] In the Polish census of 2011, 258 people identified their nationality as Boyko, with 14 people listing it as their only national identification.[2]


To the west of Boykos live Lemkos, east or southeast Hutsuls, northward Dnistrov'yans, Opolyans.


Most Boykos belong to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, with a minority belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The distinctive wooden church architecture of the Boyko region is a three-domed church, with the domes arranged in one line, and the middle dome slightly larger than the others.

Notable people

See also


  1. Ukrainian Census 2001
  2. Ludność. Stan i struktura demograficzno-społeczna. Narodowy Spis Ludności i Mieszkań 2011 (National Census of Population and Housing 2011). GUS. 2013. p. 264.
  3. Vasyl Greshchuk. Lexicographical Studies on the Southwestern Dialects of the Ukrainian Language
  4. The Vanishing Galician Lexicon and How It Lingers in the Diaspora
  6. [Richard T.Schaefer (ed.), 2008, Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society, Volume 1, Sage Publications, p. 1341.
  7. James Stuart Olson, Lee Brigance Pappas & Nicholas Charles Pappas, 1994, An Ethnohistorical Dictionary of the Russian and Soviet Empires, Greenwood Publishing Group, pp. 109–110.
  8. Войналович В.А. (2003). "БОЙКИ". Encyclopedia of Ukrainian History (in Ukrainian). 1. Naukova Dumka, NASU Institute of History of Ukraine. p. 688. ISBN 966-00-0734-5. Стосовно походження та етимології назви "Б." існує кілька гіпотез. Одні пов'язують її з особливостями психічного складу певної групи людей, ін. – з особливостями їхніх мовнодіалектичних ознак (бойківський говір – одна з пд.-зх. карпатських говірок – зберіг чимало архаїчних рис, переважно фонетичних та морфологічних). Достатньо обґрунтованою є гіпотеза, що пов'язує цю назву з етнонімом кельтських племен – "бойї", які мігрували у 6 ст. на Балкани і в Карпати. Подекуди Б. називають себе верховинцями. На Закарпатті назва "Б." мало поширена ... Гадають, що Б. – нащадки давнього слов'ян. племені білих хорватів, яких Володимир Святославич приєднав до Київської Русі
  9. Sofiia Rabii-Karpynska (2013) [1984]. "Boikos". Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine. 1. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0802033628. The name Boiko is thought to be derived from the frequent use of the particle boiie by the population. The Boikos are believed to be the descendants of the ancient Slavic tribe of White Croatians that came under the rule of the Kyivan Rus’ state during the reign of Prince Volodymyr the Great. Before the Magyars occupied the Danube Lowland this tribe served as a direct link between the Eastern and Southern Slavs. Some of the early Slav specialists, such as Pavel Šafařík and F. Rački, interpreted the remark of the Byzantine king Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (10th century) that the ‘Boiky’ locality situated beyond Turkia (i.e., Hungary) was the homeland of the White Serbs as a reference to the present Boiko region. This hypothesis is possibly true, but unproved. Likewise, no evidence exists to establish a connection between the name of the Boikos and the Celtic tribe of Boii, according to Yaroslav Pasternak.
  10. Jaroslav Rudnyckyj (1962–1972). An Etymological Dictionary of the Ukrainian Language: Parts 1–11, A–G (in English and Ukrainian). 1. Winnipeg: Ukrainian Free Academy of Sciences (UVAN). p. 162.
  11. Howorth, H. H. (1878). "The Spread of the Slaves. Part I. The Croats". The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 7: 326. doi:10.2307/2841009. JSTOR 2841009.
  12. Mykhailo Hrushevsky (1997) [1898]. Andrzej Poppe; Frank E. Sysyn; Uliana M. Pasiczny (eds.). History of Ukraine-Rus'. Volume 1: From Prehistory to the Eleventh Century. Translated by Marta Skorupsky. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press. pp. 161–162. ISBN 978-1-895571-19-6. The second detail in Constantine's account, which supposedly points to the eastern Carpathians, is his reference to a 'place called Boiki (Boiki)' on the border with the White Serbs; for a long time this was considered — and some consider it still – to be a reference to the Ukrainian Boikos. That is very unlikely, however, because the location is too far east for the Serbs, nor is there any indication that the name of the Boikos was ever in such wide usage. So all we are left with to suggest the existence of a Rus' Croatia in the Carpathians is the Primary Chronicle ... Published by H. Jireiek, the Karten zur Geschichte (1897) also show the 'Boiki' on the Dnister (map 4). It is more likely that Boiki is a distorted variant of the name Boiohem, or Bohemia, as most scholars now believe...
  13. Gyula Moravcsik, ed. (1949). De administrando imperio. Pázmány Péter Tudományegyetemi Görög Filoĺ́ogiai Intézet. pp. 130–131. ...should be modern Saxony, where remnants of Serbs (Sorbs) are still living. The name 'Boiki' has been much disputed over by specialists ... has proved that the 'place called Boiki' can only be Bohemia. Grégoire (L'Origine, 98) rejects Skok's proposal to read 'Boioi', and suggests 'Boimi'. C.'s account contains one serious inexactitude: namely, the statement that the Serbs lived 'in a place called by them Boiki'. Although we have documentary proof of the existence of Croats in Bohemia, we have none to suggest that Serbs lived there. Bohemia was in fact another neighbour of White Serbia
  14. Łowmiański, Henryk (2004) [1964]. Nosić, Milan (ed.). Hrvatska pradomovina (Chorwacja Nadwiślańska in Początki Polski) [Croatian ancient homeland] (in Croatian). Translated by Kryżan-Stanojević, Barbara. Maveda. p. 16. OCLC 831099194.
  15. "Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine" (PDF) (Press release). Warsaw – Kiev. UNESCO. 2011. p. 9. Retrieved 2020-08-03. The Boykos: an ethnic group using a local dialect of the Carpathian Ruthenian language inhabiting the Western Carpathians. The Boykos – also called the Vrchovints – were descendants of pastoralists who had come from the south and assimilated with the local society.
  16. Вортман Д.Я., Косміна О.Ю. (2007). "КАРПАТИ КРАЇНСЬКІ". Encyclopedia of Ukrainian History (in Ukrainian). 4. Naukova Dumka, NASU Institute of History of Ukraine. ISBN 978-966-00-0692-8. Історико-етнографічні джерела кін. 18 – поч. 19 ст. фіксують наявність у К.У. субетнічних груп українців: бойків, лемків, гуцулів.
  17. Magocsi, Paul Robert (1995). "The Carpatho-Rusyns". Carpatho-Rusyn American. XVIII (4). The purpose of this somewhat extended discussion of early history is to emphasize the complex origins of the Carpatho-Rusyns. They were not, as is often asserted, exclusively associated with Kievan Rus', from which it is said their name Rusyn derives. Rather, the ancestors of the present-day Carpatho-Rusyns are descendants of: (1) early Slavic peoples who came to the Danubian Basin with the Huns; (2) the White Croats; (3) the Rusyns of Galicia and Podolia; and (4) the Vlachs of Transylvania.
  18. George Shevelov (2002) [1979]. "A Historical Phonology of the Ukrainian Language" (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2008-07-23. Говорячи про Україну, слід брати до уваги такі доісторичні слов’янські племена, перелічені та/або згадані в Київському Початковому літописі, як деревляни (Середнє Полісся), сіверяни (Східне Полісся), поляни (Київщина, цебто ядро Русі), бужани (називані також волинянами або дулібами), уличі або улучі, тиверці (Подністров’я) та хорвати (Карпати? Перемищина?). Дуліби востаннє згадуються в записі за 907 р., уличі за 922 р., поляни й тиверці за 944 р., деревляни за 990 р., хорвати за 992 р., сіверяни за 1024 р. Дивлячись суто географічно, середньополіські говірки можуть бути виведені від деревлян, східнополіські від сіверян, західноволинські від дулібів; висловлено також гіпотезу, обстоювану — з індивідуальними нюансами — низкою вчених (Шахматовим, Лєр-Сплавінським, Зілинським, Нідерле, Кобилянським та ін.), що гуцули, а можливо й бойки, є нащадками уличів, які під тиском печенігів залишили свої рідні землі над Богом, переселившися до цієї частини карпатського реґіону. Проте нам нічого не відомо про мовні особливості, якими відрізнялися між собою доісторичні слов’янські племена на Україні, а отже будь-які спроби пов’язати сучасні говірки зі згаданими племенами ані довести, ані, навпаки, спростувати незмога.
  19. Ісаєвич Я.Д. (2003). "БОЙКІВЩИНА". Encyclopedia of Ukrainian History (in Ukrainian). 1. Naukova Dumka, NASU Institute of History of Ukraine. p. 688. ISBN 966-00-0734-5.
  20. И. А. Бойко (2016). "БО́ЙКИ". Great Russian Encyclopedia (in Russian). Bolshaya Rossiyskaya Entsiklopediya, Russian Academy of Sciences. До насильственного переселения 1947 жили также в Саноцком, Леском и Перемышльском поветах Подкарпатского воеводства в Польше. В 1970 насчитывалось ок. 230 тыс. чел. (оценка).
  21. Professor Ivan Pop: Encyclopedia of Subcarpathian Ruthenia(Encyclopedija Podkarpatskoj Rusi). Uzhhorod, 2000..
  22. Paul Robert Magocsi, Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture . University of Toronto Press, June 2002.
  23. Tom Trier (1998), Inter-Ethnic Relations in Transcarpathian Ukraine