Little Russia (Russian: Малороссия/Малая Россия, romanized: Malaya Rossiya/Malorossiya; Ukrainian: Малоросія/Мала Росія, romanized: Malorosiia/Mala Rosiia), or Little Rus' (Russian: Малая Русь, romanized: Malaya Rus'; Ukrainian: Мала Русь, romanized: Mala Rus'), also known as Rus' Minor (from Greek: Μικρὰ Ῥωσία, romanized: Mikrá Rosía), is a geographical and historical term used to describe the modern-day territories of Ukraine. As a justification for its use it was attributed to be first used by Masovian-Galician ruler Bolesław-Jerzy II (House of Piast) who in 1335 signed his decrees as Dux totius Russiæ minoris (at the time of Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia).
|Region of the Russian Empire|
A fragment of the “new and accurate map of Europe collected from the best authorities...” by Emanuel Bowen published in 1747 in his A complete system of geography. The territory around Voronezh and Tambov is shown as “Little Russia”. White Russia is located north-east of Smolensk, and the legend “Ukrain” straddles the Dnieper river near Poltava.
|Today part of||Belarus|
Little originally meaning the smaller part, with time, "Little Russia" developed into a political and geographical concept in Russia, referring to most of the territory of modern-day Ukraine before the 20th century. Accordingly, derivatives such as "Little Russian" (Russian: Малороссы, Malorossy) were commonly applied to the people, language, and culture of the area. The Russian-Polish geographer and ethnographer Zygmunt Gloger in his "Geography of historic lands of the Old Poland" (Polish: "Geografia historyczna ziem dawnej Polski") explains that at the time the term "Little" was interchangeably with word "new" and in his footnotes he clearly states that at least in 1903 the Little Russia (Malorossia) was perceived in such manner. Prior to the revolutionary events of 1917, a large part of the region's élite population adopted a Little Russian identity that competed with the local Ukrainian identity.
After the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917, and with the amalgamation of Ukrainian territories into one administrative unit (Ukrainian People's Republic), the term started to recede from common use. Today, the term is anachronistic, and many Ukrainians regard its usage as offensive.