Ukraine

Date of establishment: August 24, 1991

Brief history:

9th Century: Formation of early Slavic settlements in the territory of present-day Ukraine.

10th – 12th Century: Kyivan Rus, a powerful medieval state, dominates the territory of Ukraine. Kyiv serves as its political and cultural center.

13th Century: Kyivan Rus disintegrates due to internal conflicts and Mongol invasions, leading to the fragmentation into various principalities. The territory eventually becomes part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

14th – 16th Century: The Grand Duchy of Lithuania and later the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth dominate the region. The Union of Lublin in 1569 integrates much of Ukrainian territory into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

17th Century: The Cossack Hetmanate emerges following a series of uprisings, most notably the Khmelnytsky Uprising (1648-1657), which leads to a semi-autonomous state under the suzerainty of the Russian Tsar after the Treaty of Pereyaslav (1654).

18th Century: The partitions of Poland result in western Ukrainian lands falling under the Habsburg Monarchy (Austria), while central and eastern regions come under the control of the Russian Empire.

19th Century: Ukrainian national consciousness and cultural revival grow, particularly under the influence of the Ukrainian intelligentsia. The region remains divided between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Russian Empire.

1917: During the Russian Revolution, the Ukrainian People’s Republic is declared. Simultaneously, the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic is established in the west, leading to a short-lived unification in 1919.

1922: Ukraine becomes one of the founding republics of the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

1932-1933: The Holodomor, a man-made famine orchestrated by Soviet policies, causes the deaths of millions of Ukrainians.

1941-1944: Ukraine is occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in significant devastation and loss of life.

1945: After World War II, Ukraine is reinstated as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic within the Soviet Union, gaining several territories, including western regions formerly under Polish control.

1991: Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine declares independence on August 24, 1991.

2014: Following the Euromaidan protests and the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych, Russia annexes Crimea in March 2014. This leads to ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists declare independence in parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

2022: On February 24, 2022, Russia launches a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, marking a significant escalation in the ongoing conflict and leading to widespread international condemnation and severe humanitarian impacts.

 

International abbreviation: UA

 

Currency: Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH)

The Ukrainian hryvnia was introduced on September 2, 1996, replacing the previous currency, the Ukrainian karbovanets, which had temporarily replaced the Soviet ruble following Ukraine’s declaration of independence in 1991. The Ukrainian hryvnia is divided into smaller units called kopiykas.

The denominations of banknotes currently in circulation include 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 hryvnias. Coin denominations include 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 kopiykas, as well as 1, 2, 5, and 10 hryvnias.

 

Internet domain: .ua

 

Dialing code: +380

 

Time zone: +2 GMT

 

Geography:

Ukraine, the second-largest country in Europe after Russia, is located by the Black and Azov Seas. The landscape is predominantly composed of plains and plateaus, known as steppes. Mountain ranges are found in the Crimean Peninsula and in southwestern Ukraine.

The Carpathian Mountains in western Ukraine feature rugged terrain with forested areas, river valleys, and mountain peaks, with the highest peak being Hoverla at 2,061 meters.

The region known as Zakarpattia (Transcarpathia) in the southwestern part of the country includes lower hills, valleys, and the picturesque landscapes of the Carpathian foothills.

Extensive plains are located in the central and northern parts of the country, characterized by wide lowlands, fertile agricultural lands, and numerous rivers.

The southern coast of Ukraine features the Black Sea with sandy beaches, popular resort towns, and important ports such as Odessa and Mykolaiv.

Ukraine is crisscrossed by many rivers, with the most significant being the Dnipro (Dnieper), which runs through the center of the country and is crucial for transportation and hydroelectric power. Other important rivers include the Dniester in the west, the Southern Bug, and the Desna.

 

Highest peak: Hoverla – 2 061 meters (6 762 feet) above sea level

It’s the highest peak in Ukraine and the Carpathian Mountains. Located in the western part of the country near the borders with Poland and Romania.

 

Climate:

Most of Ukraine experiences a temperate continental climate, with distinct temperature differences between winter and summer. Summers are usually warm, often reaching temperatures above 30°C (86°F), while winters can be cold, with temperatures commonly dropping below -10°C (14°F) and occasionally reaching -20°C (-4°F) in the northern and eastern regions. This climate is characteristic of the inland and northern parts of Ukraine.

In contrast, the southern coast along the Black Sea, particularly in the Crimean Peninsula, has a more temperate maritime climate rather than a subtropical one. Winters are milder and shorter, with temperatures typically ranging from 0-5°C (32-41°F), while summers are warm and sunny, with temperatures generally ranging from 25-30°C (77-86°F).

 

Flora and fauna:

Wolves, lynxes, and brown bears inhabit some areas of the Carpathians and northern Ukraine. The Carpathians also provide a habitat for chamois and marmots.

Thanks to its rivers, lakes, and coastal areas, Ukraine is home to many species of freshwater and marine fish, such as pike, pike-perch, catfish, carp, sturgeon, and perch.

The country’s diverse habitats support a variety of bird species, including eagles, hawks, herons, owls, storks, and the endangered black stork. Wetlands and coastal regions attract migratory birds, making Ukraine an important stopover for many species.

Forested areas are inhabited by various game species like deer, roe deer, wild boars, and hares. Additionally, these forests are home to smaller mammals such as foxes, badgers, and martens.

Extensive steppes with grasslands and drought-resistant plants can be found in central and southern Ukraine. These areas are characterized by species like feather grass, sagebrush, and various wildflowers.

Mixed and deciduous forests dominate the western and northern parts of the country, with species like oak, beech, ash, maple, and pine. In addition, coniferous forests are found in higher elevations of the Carpathians.

Ukraine’s flora also includes unique plants like the Crimean pine and the endemic species found in the Crimean Mountains and other specific regions.

 

Agriculture:

Ukraine possesses vast cultivated land areas, including various types of soil such as chernozem (fertile black soil), which is renowned for its high fertility, brown soil, and meadow soil. Chernozem soil is particularly abundant in central and southern Ukraine, making these areas exceptionally productive for agriculture.

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of cereals, especially wheat, corn, and barley. Grains play a significant role in agricultural production and are exported to various countries, contributing substantially to the global food supply.

Ukraine is also a significant producer of oilseeds, including rapeseed and sunflowers, which are primarily used for vegetable oil production. Sunflower oil is a major export product.

In addition to cereals and oilseeds, Ukraine cultivates a variety of vegetables and fruits. Major crops include tomatoes, potatoes, cabbages, carrots, apples, pears, cherries, and plums. The country also produces significant quantities of sugar beets.

Livestock breeding and dairy production are essential components of Ukrainian agriculture. Key livestock include cattle, pigs, sheep, and poultry. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and butter are important both for domestic consumption and export.

Viticulture is practiced along the southern Black Sea coast, particularly in Crimea and the Odesa region. Ukraine has a rich tradition of winemaking, and its wines are well-known domestically. However, due to geopolitical changes, the wine industry in Crimea has faced challenges.

Ukraine also produces a variety of other agricultural products, including honey, which is a notable export item, and various legumes, nuts, and herbs.

 

Natural resource extraction:

Ukraine has significant coal reserves, particularly of anthracite and bituminous coal, which are used for energy and industrial purposes. The major coal mining regions are located in the Donbas (Donetsk Basin) in the eastern part of the country.

The country possesses rich iron ore deposits, which are crucial for the steel industry. The Kryvyi Rih basin in central Ukraine is especially renowned for its extensive iron ore mining activities.

Ukraine is an important producer and transit point for natural gas, holding strategic importance for energy in the region. However, Ukraine’s own natural gas production does not meet its consumption needs, leading to reliance on imports.

Extensive salt deposits are found in Ukraine, particularly in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and in the area around Artemivsk (Bakhmut). These deposits are used for table salt and also have significant applications in the chemicals industry.

Oil deposits are present in western Ukraine, particularly in the Precarpathian region and the Dnieper-Donets Basin in the east. The extraction of oil is a smaller industry compared to coal and natural gas but still contributes to the country’s energy resources. The annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 has affected Ukraine’s access to offshore oil and gas reserves in the Black Sea.

Additionally, Ukraine has significant deposits of other minerals and raw materials, including manganese, titanium, mercury, and uranium. The country is one of the world’s leading producers of manganese ore, which is used in steel production.

 

Industry:

Given its rich iron ore reserves, metallurgy is a crucial industry in Ukraine. Ukrainian steel mills, particularly in cities like Kryvyi Rih, Mariupol, and Zaporizhzhia, produce steel and other metal products that are used in various industrial sectors, including construction, automotive, and manufacturing. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest steel exporters.

Ukraine has a diverse energy sector, including electricity production from various sources such as natural gas, coal, nuclear energy, hydroelectric power, and renewables. The country operates several nuclear power plants, with the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant being one of the largest in Europe. The energy sector is critical for domestic consumption and export.

The chemical industry is another significant sector, producing fertilizers, acids, synthetic resins, and other chemical products. Ukraine’s chemical plants, such as those in Dnipro and Sumy, play a vital role in both domestic markets and exports.

Food and beverage production is a key component of Ukraine’s economy, leveraging its extensive agricultural output. This sector includes the processing of grains, dairy products, meat, vegetables, and fruits. Ukraine is a major producer and exporter of sunflower oil, sugar, and various processed foods.

The textile and garment industries are part of Ukraine’s industrial sector, though they are relatively smaller compared to other industries. These industries focus on producing clothing, fabrics, and home textiles for both domestic use and export.

Additionally, Ukraine has a robust machinery and equipment manufacturing sector, producing a wide range of products from agricultural machinery to aerospace components. The aerospace industry, particularly in cities like Kyiv and Kharkiv, includes the production of aircraft, rockets, and related technologies.

 

Services and other economic sectors: Services, IT, railway and road transportation, and river and maritime transportation

 

Natural and historical attractions: Cities like Kyiv, Odesa, and Lviv, Chotyn Fortress, Chernobyl Power Plant, Chersonesus, Holy Mountains National Parks, Carpathian Mountains, and Oleshky Sands, Carpathian Wooden Churches, Bukovynian Metropolitans’ Residence, and the Sofiyivka Park Complex

Ukraine has a long history and offers numerous historical and cultural landmarks. Kyiv, the capital, boasts many cathedrals, churches, and historic buildings, including the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Monastery and the Kyiv Opera House. Lviv is another significant city with beautiful architecture, historic squares, and castle complexes.

Festivals like the “Lviv Coffee Festival” or “Gogolfest” provide opportunities for tourists to experience Ukrainian culture and traditions.

Despite the international disputes triggered by Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Crimea remains a popular destination for tourists, featuring beautiful beaches, historical sites, and spa towns.

The southern coast of the Black Sea, including cities like Odesa, offers tourists sunny beaches, water sports, and a vibrant nightlife.

The Khanivske Baths are among the oldest in Europe, providing relaxation and therapeutic procedures.

 

 

Form of government: Semi-presidential republic

Ukraine is a semi-presidential republic with a presidential system of government. This system combines democratic elements with a significant role for the president and parliamentary oversight. The president serves as the head of state and is directly elected by citizens for a five-year term. His/her powers include appointing the prime minister, approving government members, representing the country abroad, and approving laws. Additionally, the president plays a key role in foreign policy and strategic decisions.

The government operates on a parliamentary system where the prime minister is the head of government. The president appoints the prime minister, who then needs approval from the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament. This unicameral parliament consists of 450 members elected for five-year terms. The Verkhovna Rada has the authority to pass laws, make constitutional changes, and oversee the government’s activities.

The judicial branch in Ukraine is an independent part of the government, comprising the court system. The Constitutional Court of Ukraine is responsible for constitutional law and ensuring that laws and regulations comply with the constitution. The Supreme Court of Ukraine is the highest judicial body for general jurisdiction, responsible for resolving legal disputes and ensuring justice. The system aims to ensure justice and uphold legal principles.

 

Capital city: Kyiv

Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine, is situated on the banks of the Dnipro River.

Kyiv has a history spanning over 1,400 years and was the capital of Kyivan Rus, a powerful medieval state that encompassed much of present-day Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. The city played a crucial role in the cultural and political development of the Eastern Slavs.

Prominent landmarks include the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Monastery, also known as the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves, where early Christian monks are interred, and the Kyiv National Opera House. Another significant landmark is the Golden Gate, a historic gateway dating back to the 11th century.

Kyiv is home to numerous prestigious higher education institutions, universities, and research centers. Notable institutions include the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, the National Technical University of Ukraine (Kyiv Polytechnic Institute), and the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. The city has a longstanding tradition of education and research, attracting students and scholars from around the world.

The city houses the presidential residence, the parliamentary building (Verkhovna Rada), and other key state institutions, making it the political center of Ukraine.

Kyiv features many beautiful cathedrals and churches showcasing various architectural styles. The St. Sophia Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery are particularly renowned for their historical and architectural significance. Additionally, the St. Andrew’s Church, designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, is a notable example of Baroque architecture.

Kyiv also boasts vibrant cultural life, with numerous theaters, museums, galleries, and music venues contributing to its status as a major cultural hub in Eastern Europe. The city’s rich cultural heritage, coupled with its modern amenities, makes it a dynamic and multifaceted metropolis.

The city has a population of about 3 020 000.

 

Area: 603 628 km2 (233 062 square miles)

 

Population: 39 700 000 (2022 estimate)

Most of the population are ethnic Ukrainians. There are also ethnic minorities, including Russians, Belarusians, Poles, Bulgarians, Hungarians, and others.

The official language is Ukrainian, deeply rooted in the country’s history and culture. Russian is also widely spoken and holds significance, especially in the eastern and southern regions.

Orthodox Christianity, represented by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), is the predominant religion. There are also Greek Catholics, Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Jews.

Ukraine boasts several major cities, with Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, and Kharkiv being the most notable. Urbanization is on the rise, but rural areas still play a crucial role in agriculture and cultural heritage.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 8

 

  1. Kyiv: Saint Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings, Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (1990) – The historic Saint Sophia’s Cathedral and Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Monastery associated with Orthodoxy.
  2. Lviv – the Ensemble of the Historic Centre (1998) – The medieval city of Lviv, the center of administration, religion, and commerce.
  3. Struve Geodetic Arc (2005) – A chain of triangulation points across 10 countries, measuring the Earth’s curvature, with specific points in Ukraine.
  4. Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe (2007) – Virgin beech forests in Slovakia, Ukraine, and other European countries.
  5. Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans (2011) – A residence complex with the influence of architect Josef Hlávka, located in Chernivtsi.
  6. Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine (2013) – Wooden churches of Greek Catholic and Orthodox denominations.
  7. Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora (2013) – An ancient Greek city founded in the 5th century BCE, located in Crimea.
  8. Historic Centre of Odessa (2023) – Odessa, a World Heritage site endangered by its condition.

 

National parks: 38

 

  1. Khortytsia National Park
  2. Oleshky Sands National Park
  3. Carpathian National Nature Park
  4. Skole Beskids National Park
  5. Shatsky National Nature Park
  6. Synevyr National Nature Park
  7. Buzkiy Gard National Nature Park
  8. Vyzhnytsia National Nature Park
  9. Dniester Canyon National Nature Park
  10. Hutsulshchyna National Nature Park
  11. Lower Dniester National Nature Park
  12. Podilski Tovtry National Nature Park
  13. Polissya National Nature Park
  14. Dvorichanskyi National Nature Park
  15. Azov-Syvash National Nature Park
  16. Pyriatynsky National Nature Park
  17. Slobozhanskyi National Nature Park
  18. Cheremskyi National Nature Park
  19. Pripyat-Stokhid National Nature Park
  20. Tuzlivski Lymany National Nature Park
  21. Halytsky National Nature Park
  22. Verkhovyna National Nature Park
  23. Yavoriv National Nature Park
  24. Zacharovany Krai National Nature Park
  25. Ichnianskyi National Nature Park
  26. Kniazhdvir National Nature Park
  27. Kremenetski Hory National Nature Park
  28. Mezyn National Nature Park
  29. Desniansko-Starogutskyi National Nature Park
  30. Nizhnosulskyi National Nature Park
  31. Beloberezhye Svyatoslava National Nature Park
  32. Nadsyansky Regional Landscape Park
  33. Homilshanski Lisy National Nature Park
  34. Uzhanskyi National Nature Park
  35. Hetman National Nature Park
  36. Pivnichne Podillya National Nature Park
  37. Sviati Hory National Nature Park
  38. Zhuravlyne Lake National Nature Park