Ukrainians (Ukrainian: Українці, אוקרייניש, Ukrayintsi, [ukrɑˈjinʲtsʲi]) are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens. Also among historical names of the people of Ukraine Rusyns, Cossacks, etc. can be found. According to some dictionary definitions, a descriptive name for the "inhabitants of Ukraine" is Ukrainian or Ukrainian people. Belarusians and Russians are considered the closest relatives of Ukrainians, while Rusyns are either considered another closely related group, or an ethnic subgroup of Ukrainians.
Ethnonym Ukrainians became widely accepted only in the 20th century when the land has finally obtained its own statehood in 1918. Since the establishing the Russian control in Ukraine in the second half of the 17th century Ukrainians were better known by their Russian name Little Russians (Malorhosy). On the lands that were not under control of the Russian state until the 20th century (Western Ukraine), Ukrainians were known by their pre-existing name as Ruthenians (Rusyns). Partially because of that modern Ukrainians identify their ancestry with differently named historical Slavic groups, who are often called Ukrainians too, in retrospect. The oldest recorded ethnonyms used for Ukrainian ancestors are Rusy, Rusyny, and Rusychi (from term Rus'). In the 10th to 12th centuries those names applied only to the Slavic inhabitants of what is today the national and ethnic territory of Ukraine, but later a similar designation was adopted by the proto-Russian inhabitants of the northeastern principalities of Kievan Rus.
Before the medieval period, Kievan Rus was preceded in the area by the ancient Celts, Greeks, Scythians, Sarmatians, Goths, Norsemen, and numerous Turkic people such as Cumans, Pechenegs, Tatars and Khazars. By 14th century, the Kievan Rus' disintegrated and the territory of modern Ukraine was split between several states. Until the 18th century, Ukrainians and Belarusians (from the early 13th century) were known as Ruthenians – a historic name for Ukrainians corresponding to the Ukrainian rusyny.
By the Early Modern Era and the age of Cossacks, the toponym Ukraine was accepted to denote the lands around Kiev and alongside the lower Dnieper River. The same region was also known as Little Russia (Malorussia), as the heartland of the Kievan Rus' had been designated by the Byzantine Greeks. The corresponding term Malorussians was widely accepted to identify the population of the area when it was a part of the Russian Empire. In the last few centuries, the population of Ukraine was subjected to periods of Polonization and Russification, but preserved common culture and a sense of common identity.
In the last decades of the 19th century, many Ukrainians were forced to move to the Asian regions of Russia, while many of their counterpart Slavs under Austro-Hungarian rule emigrated to the New World seeking work and better economic opportunities. Today, a large ethnic Ukrainian minority reside in Russia, Canada, the United States, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Italy and Argentina. According to some sources, around 20 million people outside Ukraine identify as having Ukrainian ethnicity, however the official data of the respective countries calculated together doesn't show more than 10 million. Ukrainians have one of the largest diasporas in the world.
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List of Ukrainians
Most ethnic Ukrainians live in Ukraine where they make up over three-quarters of the population. The largest population of ethnic Ukrainians outside of Ukraine live in Russia where about 1.9 million Russian citizens consider themselves ethnic Ukrainians, while millions of others (primarily in southern Russia and Siberia) have some Ukrainian ancestry. The inhabitants of the Kuban, for example, have vacillated among three identities, Ukrainian, Russian (supported by the Soviet regime), and "Cossack".
According to some previous assumptions, there are also almost an estimated 2.1 million of people of Ukrainian origin in North America (1.2 million in Canada and 890,000 in the United States). Large numbers of Ukrainians live in Brazil (500,000), Moldova (375,000), Kazakhstan (about 333,000), Poland (estimates from 300,000 to 400,000), Argentina (300,000), Belarus (estimates from 250,000 to 300,000), Portugal (100,000), Romania (estimates from 60.000 to 90.000) and Slovakia (55,000). There are also Ukrainian diasporas in the UK, Australia, Germany, Latvia, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Ireland, Sweden and the former Yugoslavia.
The modern name Ukraintsi (Ukrainians) is derived from Ukraina (Ukraine), a name first documented in 1187. There are several scientific theories about the etymology of the term, Ukrainian historians such as Hryhoriy Pivtorak, Vitaly Sklyarenko and other scholars, translate the term "u-kraine" as "in-land", "home-land" or "our-country". The name is derived from word "u-kraina" in the sense of "domestic region", "domestic land" or "country" (inside the country). According to some Russian scholars, it is derived from the Proto-Slavic root *kraj-, meaning ‘edge, border’, and originally had the sense off "periphery", "borderland" or "frontier region" etc.
The appellation Ukrainians initially came into common usage in Central Ukraine and did not take hold in Galicia and Bukovyna until the latter part of the 19th century, in Transcarpathia until the 1930s, and in the Preshov region until the late 1940s. Those Western Ukrainians used the name Rusyny (Ruthenians) prior to the national revival of the 19th century.
||This section may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. The specific problem is: The topic of ethnic genetics is considered controversial and its inclusion is currently under discussion. (February 2013)|
DNA tests of Y chromosomes from representative sample of Ukrainians were analyzed for composition and frequencies of haplogroups. The Ukrainian gene pool includes six haplogroups: R1a, F, E, J, N3, and P. The percentage of Ukrainians carrying the R1a genes was quite high at 41.5–54.0%. Such high frequencies of R1a have also been found only in Belarus, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, and on the Indian subcontinent. Haplogroup R1a is thought to mark the migration patterns of the early Indo-Europeans and is associated with the distribution of the Kurgan archaeological culture. The second major haplogroup is haplogroup F, found in the Balkan and Danube regions. Haplogroup P found represents the genetic contribution of the population originating from the ancient autochthonous population of Europe. Haplogroup J and Haplogroup E mark the migration patterns of the Middle-Eastern agriculturists during the Neolithic. The presence of the N3 lineage is likely explained by a contribution of the assimilated Finno-Ugric tribes.
A recent study (Rebala et al. 2007) examined several Slavic populations with the aim of localizing the Proto-Slavic homeland and concluded that based on Y chromosome data the origins of the Slavs are likely in the middle Dnieper basin of Ukraine.
In comparison to their neighbors, Ukrainians have a similar percentage of Haplogroup R1a (43%) in their population as do Poles, Russians and Belarusians (55%, 46%, and 49%, respectively). Unlike Poles and Russians, Ukrainians have a high percentage of I2a2, typical of the Danube region, but a smaller percentage than Russians of the N1c1 lineage found among Finnic, Baltics and Siberian populations and also less Haplogroup R1b than Poles. In terms of haplogroup distribution, the genetic pattern of Ukrainians most closely resembles that of Belarusians.
Cucuteni-Trypillian culture is a late Neolithic archaeological culture which flourished between ca. 5500 BC and 2750 BC, from the Carpathian Mountains to the Dniester and Dnieper regions. It is assumed that this is the first significant culture that influenced the culture of the Ukrainian people, although anatomically modern humans have been present in the region since 32,000 BCE. Later numerous nomadic tribes inhabited the territory of modern Ukraine. The Pontic-Caspian steppe region in the south of Ukraine and Russia is suspected to be the homeland of the Indo-Europeans. Groups would begin breaking off from the main Indo-European pool beginning around 4,000–4,500 BC and continued for centuries, with Indo-Iranian estimated to have separated about 2,000 BC.
In the framework of the Kurgan hypothesis, "the Indo-Europeans who remained after the migrations became speakers of Balto-Slavic". Some of the other Indo-European tribes would return to the region. They included Iranic-speaking Scythians and Sarmatians, Greeks from the Black Sea colonies, Thracians from modern-day Bulgaria and Romania, Illyrians from modern day Croatia, Germanic-speaking Goths and Varangians, and the Crimean Armenians in the early second millennium AD. There were also non-Indo-European Finno-Ugrians and Turkic-speaking Bulgars, Khazars, Pechenegs and Cumans.
At the beginning of 9th century a significant number of Varangians was present in central Ukraine. They used the water ways of Eastern Europe for military raids and trade, particularly the Trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks. Until 11th century these Varangians also served as key mercenary troops for a number of princes in medieval Kiev, as well as for some of the Byzantine emperors, while others occupied key administrative positions in Kievan Rus’ society. After a few centuries those Varangians have adopted local customs of Ukrainian ancestors and they have become slavicized. Besides the other cultural traces, today among Ukrainian names there can be notice a several of those who have Norman origins as a result of mutual influences from that period.
Modern research confirms that Ukrainian origins are predominantly Slavic, while non-Slavic nomads who lived in the steppes of eventually colonized southern Ukraine did not have a significant influence on the formation of modern Ukrainians. Gothic historian Jordanes and 6th-century Byzantine authors named two groups that lived in the south-east of Europe: Sclavins (western Slavs) and Antes. The Antes are normally identified with proto-Ukrainians. Historians believe that the ancestors of Ukrainians were members of large ethnic community of Antes. The name Antes is of probably of Iranic (Scythian) origin and means people living on the borderland. The state of Antes existed from the end of 4th to early 7th century.
Archeological and linguistic evidence indicates that at the dawning of the Christian era the lands between the Oder River or the Vistula River and the middle Dnieper River basins were inhabited by proto-Slavic tribes. The southern Ukrainian steppes were dominated by Iranian peoples and then Turkic nomadic peoples, although some Slavic agrarian colonization occurred. From the 5th to 7th century on, proto-Ukrainian tribes are known to have inhabited Ukrainian territory: the Volhynians, Derevlianians, Polianians, and Siverianians and the less significant Ulychians, Tivertsians, and White Croats. These tribes are the ancestors of the Ukrainian nation. Polianians founded the city of Kiev — later capital of a powerful state known as Rus' (aka Kievan Rus'). Polianians played the key role in the formation of the Kievan Rus' state. Polianians have played a key role in formation of future Ukrainian nation.
Historical theories that Ukrainians share certain linguistic traits with the two other East Slavic nations, the Belarusians and Russians, has been interpreted variously. That the three nations shared a religion and a ruling dynasty in the time of Kievan Rus’ has been used to hypothesize the existence of an "ancient Rus'" nationality, that is, one proto-Rus’ people, that disintegrated under the impact of Mongol, Lithuanian, and Polish domination during the 13th and 14th centuries. That originally Russian concept became dogma in the USSR and has often been repeated in the West; among Ukrainian scholars it was advocated by Myron Korduba. A second theory states that a single, proto-Ukrainian people lived in the area from the Carpathian Mountains to the White Sea, and that the Russians and Belarusians later separated from it. That thesis has been supported by many Ukrainian scholars.
Among Ukrainians, there are several distinct subethnic groups, especially in western Ukraine: places like Zakarpattia and Halychyna. Among them the most known are Hutsuls, Volhynians, Boykos and Lemkos (otherwise known as Rusyns – a derivative of Ruthenians), each with peculiar area of settlement, dialect, dress, anthropological type and folk traditions. There are several theories about the origin of each of these groups. Ukrainian subethnic groups also include Polishchuks, Bodnars and Kuban Cossacks. Some of these subethnic groups were strongly influenced by the neighboring nations, but according to all relevant indicators they belong to the mainstream of Ukrainian people.
Ukraine had a very turbulent history, a fact explained by its geographical position. In the 9th century the Varangians from Scandinavia conquered the proto-Slavic tribes on the territory of today's Ukraine, Belarus, and western Russia and laid the groundwork for the Kievan Rus’ state. The ancestors of the Ukrainian nation such as Polianians had an important role in the development and culturalization of Kievan Rus’ state. The internecine wars between Rus' princes, which began after the death of Yaroslav the Wise, led to the political fragmentation of the state into a number of principalities. The quarreling between the princes left Kievan Rus’ vulnerable to foreign attacks, and the invasion of the Mongols in 1236. and 1240. finally destroyed the state. Another important state in the history of the Ukrainians is Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia (1199–1349).
The third important state for Ukrainians is Cossack Hetmanate. The Cossacks of Zaporizhia since the late 15th century controlled the lower bends of the river Dnieper, between Russia, Poland and the Tatars of Crimea, with the fortified capital, Zaporizhian Sich. Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky is one of the most celebrated and at the same time most controversial political figures in Ukraine's early-modern history. A brilliant military leader, his greatest achievement in the process of national revolution was the formation of the Cossack Hetmanate state of the Zaporozhian Host (1648–1782). Period of the Ruin in the late 17th century in the history of Ukraine is characterized by the disintegration of Ukrainian statehood and general decline. During the Ruin Ukraine became divided along the Dnieper River into Left-Bank Ukraine and Right-Bank Ukraine, and the two halves became hostile to each other. Ukrainian leaders during the period were largely opportunists and men of little vision who could not muster broad popular support for their policies. There were roughly 4 million Ukrainians at the end of the 17th century.
At the final stages of the First World War, a powerful struggle for an independent Ukrainian state developed in the central Ukrainian territories, which, until 1917, were part of the Russian Empire. The newly established Ukrainian government, the Central Rada, headed by Mykhailo Hrushevsky, issued four universals, the Fourth of which, dated 22 January 1918, declared the independence and sovereignty of the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR) on 25 January 1918. The session of the Central Rada on 29 April 1918 ratified the Constitution of the UNR and elected Hrushevsky president.
During 1932–1933 millions of Ukrainians were forced in starvation to death by a Soviet regime which led to a famine, known as the Holodomor. The Soviet regime remained silent about the Holodomor and provided no aid to the victims or the survivors. But news and information about what was going on reached the West and evoked public responses in Polish-ruled Western Ukraine and in the Ukrainian diaspora. Since the 1990s the independent Ukrainian state, particularly under President Viktor Yushchenko, the Ukrainian mass media and academic institutions, many foreign governments, most Ukrainian scholars, and many foreign scholars have viewed and written about the Holodomor as genocide and issued official declarations and publications to that effect. Modern scholarly estimates of the direct loss of human life due to the famine range between 2.6 million (3-3.5 million) and 12 million although much higher numbers are usually published in the media and cited in political debates. As of March 2008, the parliament of Ukraine and the governments of several countries have recognized the Holodomor as an act of genocide.
Historical maps of Ukraine
The Ukrainian state has occupied a number of territories since its initial foundation. Most of these territories have been located within Eastern Europe, however, as depicted in the maps in the gallery below, has also at times extended well into Eurasia and South-Eastern Europe. At times there has also been a distinct lack of a Ukrainian state, as its territories were on a number of occasions, annexed by its more powerful neighbours.
|Historical maps of Ukraine and its predecessors|
Identity and national oppression
The watershed period in the development of modern Ukrainian national consciousness was the struggle for independence during the creation of the Ukrainian People's Republic from 1917 to 1921. A concerted effort to reverse the growth of Ukrainian national consciousness was begun by the regime of Joseph Stalin in the late 1920s, and continued with minor interruptions until the most recent times. The man-made Famine-Genocide of 1932–3, the deportations of the so-called kulaks, the physical annihilation of the nationally conscious intelligentsia, and terror in general were used to destroy and subdue the Ukrainian nation. Even after Joseph Stalin's death the concept of a Russified though multiethnic Soviet people was officially promoted, according to which the non-Russian nations were relegated to second-class status. The creation of a sovereign and independent Ukraine in 1991, however, pointed to the failure of the policy of the "merging of nations" and to the enduring strength of the Ukrainian national consciousness. Today, one of the consequences of these acts is Ukrainophobia.
Biculturalism is especially present in southeastern Ukraine where there is a significant Russian minority. Historical colonization of Ukraine is one reason that creates confusion about national identity to this day. Many citizens of Ukraine have adopted the Ukrainian national identity in the past 20 years. According to the concept of nationality dominant in Eastern Europe the Ukrainians are people whose native language is Ukrainian (an objective criterion) whether or not they are nationally conscious, and all those who identify themselves as Ukrainian (a subjective criterion) whether or not they speak Ukrainian.
Attempts to introduce a territorial-political concept of Ukrainian nationality on the Western European model (presented by political philosopher Viacheslav Lypynsky) were unsuccessful until the 1990s. Territorial loyalty has also been manifested by the historical national minorities living in Ukraine. The accepted view in Ukraine today is that all permanent inhabitants of Ukraine are its citizens (i.e., Ukrainians) regardless of their ethnic origins or the language in which they communicate. The official declaration of Ukrainian sovereignty of 16 July 1990 stated that "citizens of the Republic of all nationalities constitute the people of Ukraine."
Due to Ukraine's geographical location, its culture primarily exhibits central and eastern European influences. Over the years it has been invariably influenced by movements such as those brought about during the Byzantine Empire and the Renaissance. Today, the country is somewhat culturally divided with the western regions bearing a stronger central European influence and the eastern regions showing a significant Russian influence. A strong Christian culture was predominant for many centuries, although Ukraine was also the center of conflict between the Catholic, Orthodox and Islamic world. Ukrainian culture has elements of some of the oldest cultures in the world such as Trypillian culture.
Ukrainian (украї́нська мо́ва, ukrayins'ka mova, [ukraˈjinʲsʲka ˈmɔʋa]) is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the only official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a Cyrillic alphabet. The language shares some vocabulary with the languages of the neighboring Slavic nations, most notably with Belarusian, Polish, Russian and Slovak.
The Ukrainian language traces its origins to the Old East Slavic language of the medieval state of Kievan Rus'. In its earlier stages it was called Ruthenian language. Ukrainian, along with other East Slavic languages, is a lineal descendant of the colloquial language used in Kievan Rus' (10th–13th century).
While the Golden Horde placed officials in key Russian areas, practised forced resettlement, and even renamed urban centers to suit their own language, the Mongols did not attempt to annihilate Kievan society and culture. The second onslaught began with the destruction of Kiev by the Golden Horde in 1240. This khanate formed the western part of a great Mongol Empire that had been founded by Genghis Khan in the early 13th century. After the Mongol destruction of Kievan Rus in the 13th century, literary activity in Ukraine declined. A revival began in the late 18th century in eastern Ukraine with overlapping literary and academic phases at a time when nostalgia for the Cossack past and resentment at the loss of autonomy still lingered on.
The language has persisted despite several periods of bans and/or discouragement throughout centuries as it has always nevertheless maintained a sufficient base among the people of Ukraine, its folklore songs, itinerant musicians, and prominent authors.
According to 2001 All-Ukrainian census, 85.2% of all people of Ukrainian ethnicity living in Ukraine named Ukrainian as their mother-tongue, and 14.8% named Russian as their mother-tongue. This census doesn't cover Ukrainians living in other countries.
Historically Ukraine was inhabited by pagan tribes, but Byzantine rite Christianity was introduced by the turn of the first millennium. It was imagined by later writers who sought to put Kievan Christianity on the same level of primacy as Byzantine Christianity that Apostle Andrew himself had visited the site where the city of Kiev would be later built.
However it was only by the 10th century that the emerging state, the Kievan Rus' became influenced by the Byzantine Empire, the first known conversion was by the Princess Saint Olga who came to Constantinople in 945 or 957. Several years later, her grandson, Knyaz Vladimir baptised his people in the Dnieper River. This began a long history of the dominance of the Eastern Orthodoxy in Ruthenia (Ukraine).
Ukrainians are predominantly Orthodox Christians. In the eastern and southern areas of Ukraine the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate is the most common. In central and western Ukraine there is support for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate headed by Patriarch Filaret and also in the western areas of Ukraine and with smaller support throughout the country there is support for the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church headed by Metropolitan Mefodiy.
In the Western region known as Galicia the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, one of the Eastern Rite Catholic churches has a strong membership. Since the fall of the Soviet Union there has been a growth of Protestant churches and Rodnovery, a contemporary Slavic pagan religion. There are also ethnic minorities that practice other religions, i.e. Crimean Tatars (Islam), and Jews and Karaim (Judaism).
Ukrainian music is considered one of the most influential high-quality music in the world and its content covers diverse and multiple component elements of the music that is found in Western and Eastern musical civilization. It also has a very strong indigenous Slavic and Christian uniqueness whose elements were used among many neighboring nations.
Ukrainian folk oral literature, poetry, and songs (such as the dumas) are among the most distinctive ethnocultural features of Ukrainians as a people. Religious music existed in Ukraine before the official adoption of Christianity, in the form of plainsong "obychnyi spiv" or "musica practica". Traditional Ukrainian music is easily recognized by its somewhat melancholy tone. It first became known outside of Ukraine during the 15th century as musicians from Ukraine would perform before the royal courts in Poland (latter in Russia).
A large number of famous musicians around the world was educated or born in Ukraine, among them are famous names like Dmitry Bortniansky, Sergei Prokofiev, Myroslav Skoryk, etc. Ukraine is also the rarely acknowledged musical heartland of the former Russian Empire, home to its first professional music academy, which opened in the mid-18th century and produced numerous early musicians and composers.
Ukrainian dance refers to the traditional folk dances of the peoples of Ukraine. Today, Ukrainian dance is primarily represented by what ethnographers, folklorists and dance historians refer to as "Ukrainian Folk-Stage Dances", which are stylized representations of traditional dances and their characteristic movements that have been choreographed for concert dance performances. This stylized art form has so permeated the culture of Ukraine, that very few purely traditional forms of Ukrainian dance remain today.
Ukrainian dance is often described as energetic, fast-paced, and entertaining, and along with traditional Easter eggs (pysanky), it is a characteristic example of Ukrainian culture recognized and appreciated throughout the world.
The national flag of Ukraine is a blue and yellow bicolour rectangle. The colour fields are of same form and equal size. The colours of the flag represent a blue sky above yellow fields of wheat. The flag was designed for the convention of the Supreme Ruthenian Council, meeting in Lviv in October 1848. Its colours were based on the coat-of-arms of the Galicia-Volhynia Principality.
The Coat of arms of Ukraine features the same colours found on the Ukrainian flag: a blue shield with yellow trident—the symbol of ancient Slavic tribes that once lived in Ukraine, later adopted by Ruthenian and Kievan Rus rulers. Others say that the coat represents also the importance of the Holy Trinity, although coincidentally prior to Christianity the people of today's Ukraine believed in Triglav, with the similar concept of three.
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