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Quick Facts about Ukraine

  • The country of Ukraine is, geographicly, slightly larger than France. It is the second largest country in Europe after Russia.
  • Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, is one of the oldest cities in Europe.
  • The average salary in Ukraine, including doctors and other professionals, is only $435 US per month.
  • Ukraine has the second largest standing army in Europe (after Russia).
  • The region known as Crimea, a peninsula on the Black Sea, is an area of tropical beaches and resorts.


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Ukraine is a country geographicly slightly larger than France. It borders the Black Sea to the south, and Russia to the north. Ukrainians love their country and are deeply connected to their land. Their flag represents a field of wheat under the blue sky. Most of the country consists of fertile plains. As you travel around the countryside, you can see the black earth for which Ukraine is famous. Sixty percent of the world’s richest topsoil is in Ukraine, in some places up to three meters deep. Unfortunately, a great deal of damage was done to the agriculture of the region after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986.

Most of Ukraine has relatively temperate climate, except for the region known as Crimea which is warm year round. Ukraine has 2,782 kilometers of coastline, all on the Black Sea. There are also several large rivers in Ukraine such as the Dnieper River which flows from the northern part of the country to the Black Sea in the south.



The capital of Ukraine is Kiev. Founded in the 5th century AD, Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe. Through out its history, Kiev has been at the centre of political control over the region, and was central to the development of the slavic peoples.

Situated on the Dnieper River, today Kiev is home to over 2.6 million people. As a city with a long history and great heritage, Kiev contains within its boundaries such architectural monuments as The Kiev Opera house built in 1901 and several Cathedral’s such as St Sophia’s and St Andrew’s. St Sophia’s is part of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



Ukrainians make up 77.8% of the population of Ukraine, but the country is also home to many other ethnic groups such as Russians, Belorussians, Molvovans and Romanians. 67.2% of Ukraine’s population is urban. Unfortunately, the death rate in Ukraine far exceeds its birth rate. Part of the problem is the high mortality rate among men – largely due to alcohol poisoning. Since 1991, Ukraine has suffered from high inflation and a very slow economic growth. Even now, the average Ukrainian salary is only $105 US per month. Thus, a large percentage of the population lives below the poverty level, struggling for survival.

Although the majority of the population is Ukrainian, many people in Ukraine still use Russian as their primary language. Since declaring independence, Ukraine has instituted a policy of Ukrainisation, including encouraging the Ukrainian language. Today, Ukrainian is largely spoken in the western part of the country and Russian in the east, especially around the city of Kiev. Most Ukrainian language speakers are also fluent in Russian.

Ukraine has the second largest standing army in Europe (after Russia). Today, it contributes to many peacekeeping missions.



According to many historians and linguists, the word ‘Ukraine’ means border-land. Since the 6th century AD, Ukraine has been populated by slavic tribes. From the late 9th to the mid 13th century, Ukraine was part of a state known as Kievan Rus’. Once the largest state in Europe, Ruthenia (as it was known in western europe) encompassed nearly all of modern day Ukraine, Belarus, and much of western Russia. In the 12th century, Kievan Rus had begun to fracture into smaller principalities.

By the 14th century, Ukraine had lost its independence and was controlled by various regional powers, first by Lithuania and then by Poland. After the Grand Duchy of Poland took control of Ukraine, the Ukrainian peasants began to look to the Cossacks to protect them. Eventually, the Polish nobility employed the Cossacks as a fighting force to repel invading Turks and Tatars. When the Polish nobility refused to allow Ukrainians to express their Orthodox Christianity and refused to give them a voice in governing, Ukrainians turned to Orthodox Russia for protection. Eventually, after the fall of Poland from power, Ukraine was incorporated into the Russian empire.

After the Russian revolution in 1917, several independent Ukrainian states emerged briefly, but by March of 1919, Ukraine had officially become a part of the Soviet Union. It did not achieve independence again until August 24, 1991.

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