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Ukraine

Background

Ukraine

Ukraine was the center of the first eastern Slavic state, Kyivan Rus, which during the 10th and 11th centuries was the largest and most powerful state in Europe. Weakened by internecine quarrels and Mongol invasions, Kyivan Rus was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and eventually into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The cultural and religious legacy of Kyivan Rus laid the foundation for Ukrainian nationalism through subsequent centuries. A new Ukrainian state, the Cossack Hetmanate, was established during the mid-17th century after an uprising against the Poles. Despite continuous Muscovite pressure, the Hetmanate managed to remain autonomous for well over 100 years. During the latter part of the 18th century, most Ukrainian ethnographic territory was absorbed by the Russian Empire. Following the collapse of czarist Russia in 1917, Ukraine was able to achieve a short-lived period of independence (1917-20), but was reconquered and forced to endure a brutal Soviet rule that engineered two forced famines (1921-22 and 1932-33) in which over 8 million died. In World War II, German and Soviet armies were responsible for some 7 to 8 million more deaths. Although final independence for Ukraine was achieved in 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR, democracy and prosperity remained elusive as the legacy of state control and endemic corruption stalled efforts at economic reform, privatization, and civil liberties. A peaceful mass protest "Orange Revolution" in the closing months of 2004 forced the authorities to overturn a rigged presidential election and to allow a new internationally monitored vote that swept into power a reformist slate under Viktor YUSHCHENKO. Subsequent internal squabbles in the YUSHCHENKO camp allowed his rival Viktor YANUKOVYCH to stage a comeback in parliamentary elections and become prime minister in August of 2006. An early legislative election, brought on by a political crisis in the spring of 2007, saw Yuliya TYMOSHENKO, as head of an "Orange" coalition, installed as a new prime minister in December 2007. Viktor YANUKOVUYCH was elected president in a February 2010 run-off election that observers assessed as meeting most international standards. The following month, the Rada approved a vote of no-confidence prompting Yuliya TYMOSHENKO to resign from her post as prime minister.

About

Ukraine (Ukrainian: Україна, Ukrayina) is a country in Eastern Europe. It lies at the northwest end of the Black Sea, with Russia to the east, Belarus to the north, Poland to the northwest, Slovakia and Hungary to the west, and Romania to the south west and south, with Moldova in between.

Most of the country (the central and eastern portions) was formerly a part of Russian Empire; after the October Revolution and the Civil War, the entire country, known as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, was a part of the Soviet Union. Ukraine is the second-largest country in Europe, albeit with a slightly declining population.

History

Ukrainian history is long and proud, with the inception of Kievan Rus as the most powerful state in Medieval Europe. While this state fell prey to Mongol conquest, the western part of Ukraine became part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from the 14th until the 18th century, even modern Ukraine owes it a debt of sorts. A subsequent Ukrainian state was able, in the face of pressure from the ascendant Muscovy, to remain autonomous for more than a century, but the Russian Empire absorbed much of Ukraine in the 18th century to the detriment of their culture and identity.

Despite a brief, but uncertain, flash of independence at the end of the czarist regime, Ukraine was incorporated into the new USSR after the Russian Civil War in 1922 and subject to two disastrous famines (1932-33 and 1946) as well as brutal fighting during World War II. As a Soviet republic, the Ukrainian language was often 'sidelined' when compared to Russian to varying degrees; Stalinist repressions during the 1930s, attempts at decentralisation during the Khrushchev administraion and the retightening of controls during the Brezhnev-Kosygin era of the 1970s and early 1980s. In any case, the traditionally bilingual province had signs in both Russian and Ukrainian in virtually all cities, including Lviv, where Ukrainian is most prevalent. The 1986 Chernobyl accident was a further catastrophe to the republic but also widely considered as an event which, in the long run, galvanized the population in regional sentiment and led to increasing pressure on the central government to promote autonomy.

Ukraine declared its sovereignty within the Soviet Union in July 1990 as a prelude to unfolding events in the year to come. The Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's Parliament) again declared its independence in early December 1991 following the results of referendum in November 1991 which indicated overwhelming popular support (90% in favour of independence). This declaration became a concrete reality as the Soviet Union formally ceased to exist on December 25, 1991. Initially, there were severe economic difficulties, hyperinflation, and oligarchal rule prevailed in the early years following independence. The issues of cronyism, corruption and alleged voting irregularities came to a head during the heavily-disputed 2004 Presidential election, where allegations of vote-rigging sparked what became known as the "Orange Revolution". This revolution resulted in the subsequent election of opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko as President.

Read more about Ukraine in our Ukraine travel guide »

Featured journals from

Ukraine

Summer 2017 Northern Europepalooza trip! Three weeks / five countries / lots of food and drink....

by LJField14

"Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.." - Anthony Bourdain

Jun 2017 - Jul 2017  »  Russia | Belarus | Latvia | Ukraine | United Kingdom | United States

Журнал путешествий

by golembowskyy

Все и обо всем

Aug 2011  »  Ukraine

Featured hotels in

Ukraine

UkraineDonbass Palace Hotel 

80 Artema Street
Donetsk 83001
Ukraine

Price (US$): $224 - $482 / night

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Location. Donbass Palace Hotel is a business friendly hotel located in central Donetsk, close to Forged Figures Park, Donetsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, and Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral. Additional points of interest include John Hughes Statue and Aqua Sferra. Hotel Features. Dining options at Donbass Palace Hotel include 2 restaurants. A bar/lounge is open for drinks. Room service is available 24 hours a day. The hotel serves a complimentary hot and cold buffet… more »

UkraineVilla Elena Hotel & Residences 

3A, Morskaya Street
Yalta 98600
Ukraine

Price (US$): $193 - $1340 / night

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Location. Villa Elena Hotel & Residences is located near the beach in central Yalta and close to Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Yalta Cable Car, and Yalta Lighthouse. Nearby points of interest also include Livadia Beach and Livadia Palace. Hotel Features. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool, a spa tub, a sauna, and a fitness facility. Spa amenities include spa services and beauty services. This 5 star property offers a meeting/conference room, a technology helpdesk, and audiovisual… more »

UkraineOpera Hotel 

53, B. Khmelnitskogo str.
Kiev 01 054
Ukraine

Price (US$): $168 - $650 / night

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Location. Opera Hotel is located in Kiev's Right Bank West neighborhood, close to A.V. Fomin Botanical Garden, St. Volodymyr's Cathedral, and Kiev Opera House. Nearby points of interest also include Golden Gate and Saint Sophia Cathedral. Hotel Features. Opera Hotel's restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A bar/lounge is open for drinks. Room service is available 24 hours a day. Recreational amenities include a spa tub, a sauna, and a fitness facility. Spa amenities include spa… more »

UkraineVictoria Hotel 

14-A, Mira av.
Donetsk 83000
Ukraine

Price (US$): $134 - $172 / night

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Location. Victoria Hotel is located in Donetsk, close to Donbas Arena, Expo Donbass Exhibition Centre, and Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral. Nearby points of interest also include Donetsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre and Forged Figures Park. There are no room charges for children 2 years old and younger who occupy the same room as their parents or guardians, using existing bedding.  more »

UkraineInterContinental Kiev 

2a Velyka Zhytomyrska Street
Kiev 01025
Ukraine

Price (US$): $363 - $912 / night

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Location. Located in central Kiev, InterContinental Kiev is a business friendly hotel within walking distance of St. Michael's Golden Domed Monastery, St. Andrew's Church, and Saint Sophia Cathedral. Additional points of interest include Center of all Pointers of Ukraine and Independence Square. Hotel Features. Dining options at InterContinental Kiev include 2 restaurants. 2 bars/lounges are open for drinks. Room service is available 24 hours a day. Recreational amenities include an indoor… more »

Browse more hotels in Ukraine »

Ukraine

Capital
Kiev
Location

Eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Poland, Romania, and Moldova in the west and Russia in the east

Geographic coordinates

49 00 N, 32 00 E

Area comparative

slightly smaller than Texas

Border countries

Belarus 891 km, Hungary 103 km, Moldova 940 km, Poland 428 km, Romania (south) 176 km, Romania (southwest) 362 km, Russia 1,576 km, Slovakia 90 km

Coastline

2,782 km

Climate

temperate continental; Mediterranean only on the southern Crimean coast; precipitation disproportionately distributed, highest in west and north, lesser in east and southeast; winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold farther inland; summers are warm across the greater part of the country, hot in the south

Terrain

most of Ukraine consists of fertile plains (steppes) and plateaus, mountains being found only in the west (the Carpathians), and in the Crimean Peninsula in the extreme south

Lowest point

Black Sea 0 m

Highest point

Hora Hoverla 2,061 m

Natural resources

iron ore, coal, manganese, natural gas, oil, salt, sulfur, graphite, titanium, magnesium, kaolin, nickel, mercury, timber, arable land

Population

45,415,596 (July 2010 est.)

Ethnic groups

Ukrainian 77.8%, Russian 17.3%, Belarusian 0.6%, Moldovan 0.5%, Crimean Tatar 0.5%, Bulgarian 0.4%, Hungarian 0.3%, Romanian 0.3%, Polish 0.3%, Jewish 0.2%, other 1.8% (2001 census)

Religions

Ukrainian Orthodox - Kyiv Patriarchate 50.4%, Ukrainian Orthodox - Moscow Patriarchate 26.1%, Ukrainian Greek Catholic 8%, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox 7.2%, Roman Catholic 2.2%, Protestant 2.2%, Jewish 0.6%, other 3.2% (2006 est.)

Languages

Ukrainian (official) 67%, Russian 24%, other 9% (includes small Romanian-, Polish-, and Hungarian-speaking minorities)

Government type

republic

Independence

24 August 1991 (from the Soviet Union)

National holiday

Independence Day, 24 August (1991); note - 22 January 1918, the day Ukraine first declared its independence (from Soviet Russia) and the day the short-lived Western and Greater (Eastern) Ukrainian republics united (1919), is now celebrated as Unity Day

Chief of state

President Viktor YANUKOVYCH (since 25 February 2010)

Head of government

Prime Minister Mykola AZAROV (since 11 March 2010); First Deputy Prime Minister Andriy KLYUYEV (since 11 March 2010); Deputy Prime Ministers Borys KOLESNIKOV, Serhiy TIHIPKO, Viktor TYKHONOV (all since 11 March 2010)

Internet country code

.ua

Internet users

7.77 million (2009)

Airports

425 (2010)

Ports and terminals

Feodosiya (Theodosia), Illichivsk, Mariupol', Mykolayiv, Odesa, Yuzhnyy

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