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Such natural wealth tempted conquerors. In 988 Vladimir the Great adopted Christianity—which evolved into Russian Orthodoxy—to unify the Kievan Rus, a confederation of Slavic peoples. The Mongols overran the land in the 13th century, followed by the Lithuanians in the 14th century. Poland asserted dominion in 1569. Defying their Polish masters, rebel-minded peasants—the Cossacks—gathered under warlike leaders called hetmans in the vastness of the steppe. After a revolt led by Bohdan Khmelnytsky, the Cossacks formed their own state in 1649. But in 1654—still fighting the Poles—they entered a pact with Russia, which soon exerted control.

At its greatest extent, about 1880, the Russian Empire encompassed 85 percent of present-day Ukraine; the remainder was under the influence of Austria-Hungary. After the Russian Revolution, Ukraine enjoyed brief independence.

Despite Lenin’s promises, however, the Red Army invaded, and by 1920 most of Ukraine was Bolshevik ruled. Joseph Stalin, fearing Ukrainian nationalism, killed the intelligentsia, and, through his policy of collectivization, engineered a famine in 1932 and 1933 that took at least five million lives. Nazi occupation scourged the country during the “Great Patriotic War.” The republic lost 7.5 million people, 4 million of them civilians and 2.2 million deported to Germany as laborers. After World War II, Soviet rule prevailed.

Ukraine suffered the world’s worst recorded nuclear accident. On the morning of April 26, 1986, reactor No. 4 at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, 80 miles north of Kiev, exploded, sending radioactive contaminants three miles up into the atmosphere and out over parts of Europe, Asia, and North America.

A political meltdown occurred in December 1991, when 90 percent of Ukrainians voted for independence, in effect dissolving the Soviet Union. Now Ukraine faces ongoing border disputes with Russia. The new millennium has brought economic growth, with rising industrial output and falling inflation. (Source:National Geography)

General Facts About Ukraine:


47 732 079 (25th in the world, population density – 80 p/km2)


Kiev is the capital city of Ukraine. With a population of 2,797,553 and covering an area of 323.9 square miles, it is the largest city of Ukraine. Kiev is the industrial, scientific, educational and cultural centre of Eastern Europe. There are many high-tech industries, colleges and universities, and world-famous historical landmarks in Kiev.


Ukrainian is the official language of Ukraine. Russian is spoken in eastern and southern parts of the country.


Orthodox Christianity is the dominant religion in Ukraine. The other Christian denominations include Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Small communities of Calvinists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutherans, Methodists and Seventh-day Adventists, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are also found. Judaism and Islam are also practiced.


The hryvnia, denoted by the ISO code UAH is the official currency of Ukraine. It was adopted as the national currency on September 2, 1996. The hryvnia is subdivided into 100 kopiyok.


The climate of Ukraine is mostly temperate continental. A subtropical Mediterranean climate is prevalent on the southern portions of the Crimean Peninsula. The average monthly temperature in winter ranges from -8° to 2° C (17.6° to 35.6° F), while summer temperatures average 17° to 25° C (62.6° to 77° F). The Black Sea coast is subject to freezing. Precipitation generally decreases from north to south; it is greatest in the Carpathians, where it exceeds more than 1500 mm (58.5 in) per year, and least in the coastal lowlands of the Black Sea, where it averages less than 300 mm (11.7 in) per year.

Bordered by

Romania (169 km), Moldova (939 km), Romania (362 km) and Hungary (103 km) on the southwest, Slovak Republic (90 km) on the west, Poland (428 km) on the northwest, Belarus (891 km) on the north, and Russia (1,576 km) on the north and on the east.


Ukraine is located in southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea. Ukraine is situated between 44″20′ and 52″20′ north latitude, and 22″5′ and 41″15′ east longitude.

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