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Suvalkija region gained its name from Suwałki Governorate (1867–1914) of Russian Empire, it was named after the city of Suwałki located approximately in the centre of the region. Hence today there is a Polish half, Suwalczyzna, subregion of Polish Podlachia, and Lithuanian half, Suvalkija, with its centre and unofficial capital Marijampolė.
The name Sudovia (Lithuanian: Sūduva) refers to much earlier times. It is known that since 5th century BC the area approximately between Nemunas river in the north-east (city of Kaunas in Lithuania) and Narew river in the south (up to city of Łomża in Poland) was inhabited by the Baltic tribes which now are known as Yotvingians. Claudius Ptolemy in 2nd century AD mentioned the tribe of Soudinoi , Peter of Duisburg called them Suduwite and Teutonic Knights were dealing with Sudowite. While Hypatian Codex of Kievan Rus, as well as Polish sources were mentioning Jatviagy.
1230 was a significant milestone: Teutonic Order set a foot in western land of Baltic tribes. A campaign of christianisation has begun; the word of God was carried with sword and conveyed with coercion. In the middle of 13th century crusaders conquered Old Prussians and reached Samogitia in the north, Lithuania in the north-east and Sudovia in the east.
By that time Mindaugas, King of Lithuania, mentioned another name: Deynowe, inhabitants of Dainava (Songland), referring to the land on the left bank of Nemunas river, inhabited by Yotvingians. Southern Yotvingians were engaged in battles with the Poles, while western borders were constantly raided by Knights. Yotvingians supported Prussians during The Great Prussian Uprising (1260–1274), but eventually all the territories, known by Germans as Sudauen, were conquered by the Teutonic Knights; the rest of inhabitants took refuge in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
Since then on for more than one hundred years, until 27 September 1422 when the Treaty of Melno was signed between Teutonic Order and allied Poland and Lithuania, Yotvingian land was the never ending war. Even today the land that stretches along Nemunas river, a frontier zone at the time, is still called Dainava, a Land of Songs, referring to the times of King Mindaugas, when Yotvingian men had to go to war only to face death, and their yearning women would sing wistful songs which echo could be heard for miles throughout the Nemunas valley. Treaty of Melno determined the border line between Teutonic Order (German Prussia) and Lithuania in the middle of Sudovia, a northern land of Yotvingia, which became a total wilderness with no inhabitants. The border line was drawn along Šešupė river, same river that marks the modern border between Lithuania and Russian Kaliningrad Oblast. The territory was slowly repopulated by settlers from Lithuanian and Prussian lands and ultimately became a culturally distinctive region where live the proud and diligent people who consider to be an honor to be called Sudovians.
Plains in the north near Nemunas river, with a Novaraistis Ornithological Reserve in the large forest between Šakiai and Kaunas; towards SW transform to hilly Sudovian Hights, which are especially scenic near Kaliningrad Oblast and Poland. Fertile land, developed agriculture, dense forests.
Suvalkian land has brought many famous people in Lithuania. Most of the scholars who developed Lithuanian language, many writers, public and political figures were born here. The author of Lithuanian anthem, Vincas Kudirka, was born in a small village near Vilkaviškis and died in Naumiestis which was then named after him.
Suvalkian dialect has two subdialects: "zanavykian" and "kapsian". The Zanavykai live in NW area of the region - with Zapyškis at the east and Kudirkos Naumiestis in the south, Šakiai is a capital. This subdialect is closest to Standard Lithuanian. The Kapsai live in SE area, up to Kaunas in the north and Dzūkija region in the east, with Marijampolė being the centre.
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