This historical region in the northeast of Ukraine borders the Russian Federation. Ukrainians actively settled in this region in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its name comes from the self-governed settlements (Ukr. "slobidky"), whose residents were free for a long time and enjoyed various benefits. Various crafts and arts were traditionally developed here, and a lively trade hub emerged. The largest cities of the region are Kharkiv and Sumy. The region's landscapes are diverse: forests, natural parks, and industrial centres. A ridge of chalk rocks and hills stretches for several kilometres in the protected areas of the Dvorichanskyi National Nature Park.