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Україна (Ukrainian)
Anthem: Державний Гімн України
Derzhavnyi Himn Ukrainy
"State Anthem of Ukraine"
Europe-Ukraine (orthographic projection; disputed territory).svg
Europe-Ukraine (и не контролируемые).png
and largest city
49°N 32°E / 49°N 32°E / 49; 32Coordinates: 49°N 32°E / 49°N 32°E / 49; 32
Official language
and national language
Ethnic groups
GovernmentUnitary semi-presidential republic
• President
Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Denys Shmyhal
Ruslan Stefanchuk
LegislatureVerkhovna Rada
18 August 1649
10 June 1917
22 January 1918
1 November 1918
22 January 1919
24 August 1991
1 December 1991
28 June 1996
18–23 February 2014
• Total
603,628[5] km2 (233,062 sq mi) (45th)
• Water (%)
• January 2022 estimate
Decrease 41,167,336[7]
(excluding Crimea) (36th)
• 2001 census
• Density
73.8/km2 (191.1/sq mi) (115th)
GDP (PPP)2021 estimate
• Total
Increase $584 billion[8] (48th)
• Per capita
Increase $14,150[8] (108th)
GDP (nominal)2021 estimate
• Total
Increase $181 billion[8] (55th)
• Per capita
Increase $4,380[8] (119th)
Gini (2020)Positive decrease 25.6[9]
HDI (2019)Increase 0.779[10]
high · 74th
CurrencyHryvnia (₴) (UAH)
Time zoneUTC+2[11] (EET)
• Summer (DST)
Driving sideright
Calling code+380
ISO 3166 codeUA
Internet TLD

Ukraine (Ukrainian: Україна, romanizedUkraïna, pronounced [ʊkrɐˈjinɐ] (listen)) is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the second-largest European country,[12] covering approximately 600,000 square kilometres (230,000 sq mi),[a] and has a population of around 40 million people.[13][14][b] It is bordered by Russia to the east and northeast;[c] by Belarus to the north; by Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary to the west; and by Romania and Moldova[d] to the southwest; with a coastline along the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov to the south and southeast, respectively. Kyiv is Ukraine's capital as well as its largest city. The country's language is Ukrainian, and many people are also fluent in Russian.[15]

During the Middle Ages, the area was a key centre of East Slavic culture under the state of Kievan Rus', which emerged in the 9th century and was destroyed by a Mongol invasion in the 13th century. Over the next 600 years, the area was contested, divided, and ruled by a variety of external powers, including the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Austrian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Tsardom of Russia. The Cossack Hetmanate emerged in central Ukraine in the 17th century, but was partitioned between Russia and Poland, and ultimately completely into the Russian Empire. Ukrainian nationalism grew in the 19th century, particularly in Galicia, a kingdom within Austria-Hungary. In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, a Ukrainian national movement re-emerged, and formed the Ukrainian People's Republic in 1917. This short-lived state was forcibly reconstituted by the Bolsheviks into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which became a founding member of the Soviet Union in 1922. In the 1930s, millions of Ukrainians were killed by the Holodomor, a man-made famine of the Stalinist era. In 1939, with the secret agreement of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union invaded and annexed lands with predominant Ukrainian population from Poland to western Ukraine.[16] Between 1922 and 1991, Ukraine was the most populous and industrialized Soviet republic after Russia.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine regained its independence, and has since been governed as a unitary republic under a semi-presidential system. Shortly after becoming one of the post-Soviet states it declared itself neutral;[17] forming a limited military partnership with Russia and the rest of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States, while also joining the Partnership for Peace with NATO in 1994. In 2013, a series of mass protests and demonstrations known as the Euromaidan erupted across Ukraine, eventually escalating into the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, which led to the establishment of a new government amidst a notable outbreak of pro-Russia unrest across Ukraine. During this period, unmarked Russian troops invaded the Crimean Peninsula, which was later annexed by Russia; and pro-Russia unrest in Ukraine's Donbas culminated in Russia-backed separatists seizing territory throughout the region, sparking the War in Donbas. This series of events marked the beginning of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War, and in a major escalation of the conflict in February 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Since the outbreak of war with Russia in 2014, Ukraine has continued to seek closer economic, political, and military ties with the Western world, including the European Union and NATO.[18]

Ukraine is a developing country and a middle power, ranking high in the Human Development Index. In 2021, it had the world's 55th largest economy by nominal GDP. Despite having a rapidly growing free-market economy, Ukraine remains among the poorest countries in Europe by nominal GDP per capita,[19] which some journalists have attributed to high corruption.[20][21] However, due to its extensive fertile land, pre-war Ukraine was one of the largest grain exporters in the world.[22][23] It is a founding member of the United Nations, as well as a member of the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization, the OSCE, and is currently in the process of joining the European Union.

Etymology and orthography

There are different hypotheses as to the etymological origins of the name of Ukraine. The most widespread hypothesis theorizes that it comes from the old Slavic term for "borderland",[24] as does the word krajina.

During most of the 20th century, Ukraine (whether independent or not) was referred to in the English-speaking world prefaced with the definite article, i.e., "the Ukraine".[25] This is because the word ukraina means "borderland"[26] and so an article would be natural in the English language; this is similar to "Nederlanden", which means "low lands" and is rendered in English as "the Netherlands".[27] However, since Ukraine's declaration of independence in 1991, the use of the definite article in the name has become politicised and is now rarer, and style guides advise against its use.[28][29] According to US ambassador William Taylor, as of the 2010s using "the Ukraine" implies disregard for Ukrainian sovereignty.[30] The official Ukrainian position is that "the Ukraine" is incorrect, both grammatically and politically.[31]


Early history

A gold Scythian neckpiece, from a royal kurgan in Pokrov (4th century BC).

Settlement by modern humans in Ukraine and its vicinity dates back to 32,000 BC, with evidence of the Gravettian culture in the Crimean Mountains.[32][33] By 4,500 BC, the Neolithic Cucuteni–Trypillia culture was flourishing in wide areas of modern Ukraine, including Trypillia and the entire Dnieper-Dniester region. Ukraine is also considered to be the likely location of the first domestication of the horse.[34][35][36][37] During the Iron Age, the land was inhabited by Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians.[38] Between 700 BC and 200 BC it was part of the Scythian kingdom.[39]

From the 6th century BC, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine colonies were established on the north-eastern shore of the Black Sea, such as at Tyras, Olbia, and Chersonesus. These thrived into the 6th century AD. The Goths stayed in the area, but came under the sway of the Huns from the 370s. In the 7th century, the territory that is now eastern Ukraine was the centre of Old Great Bulgaria. At the end of the century, the majority of Bulgar tribes migrated in different directions, and the Khazars took over much of the land.[40]

In the 5th and 6th centuries, the Early Slavic, Antes people lived in Ukraine. The Antes were the ancestors of Ukrainians: White Croats, Severians, Eastern Polans, Drevlyans, Dulebes, Ulichians, and Tiverians. Migrations from the territories of present-day Ukraine throughout the Balkans established many South Slavic nations. Northern migrations, reaching almost to Lake Ilmen, led to the emergence of the Ilmen Slavs, Krivichs, and Radimichs, the groups ancestral to the Russians. Following an Avar raid in 602 and the collapse of the Antes Union, most of these peoples survived as separate tribes until the beginning of the second millennium.[41][need quotation to verify]

Golden Age of Kyiv

The furthest extent of Kievan Rus', 1054–1132.

The establishment of the Kievan Rus' remains obscure and uncertain; there are at least three versions depending on interpretations of the chronicles.[42] In general, the state included much of present-day Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.[43] According to the Primary Chronicle the Rus' elite and rulers initially consisted of Varangians from Scandinavia.[44] In 882, the pagan Prince Oleg (Oleh) conquered Kyiv from Askold and Dir and proclaimed it as the capital of the Rus'.[45] However, it also believed that the East Slavic tribes along the southern parts of the Dnieper River were already in the process of forming a state independently.[46]

During the 10th and 11th centuries, Kievan Rus' became the largest and most powerful state in Europe.[47] The Varangians later assimilated into the Slavic population and became part of the first Rus' dynasty, the Rurik dynasty.[43] Kievan Rus' was composed of several principalities ruled by the interrelated Rurikid kniazes ("princes"), who often fought each other for possession of Kyiv.[48]

The Golden Age of Kievan Rus' began with the reign of Vladimir the Great (980–1015), who turned Rus' toward Byzantine Christianity. During the reign of his son, Yaroslav the Wise (1019–1054), Kievan Rus' reached the zenith of its cultural development and military power.[43] The state soon fragmented as the relative importance of regional powers rose again. After a final resurgence under the rule of Vladimir II Monomakh (1113–1125) and his son Mstislav (1125–1132), Kievan Rus' finally disintegrated into separate principalities following Mstislav's death.[49]

The 13th-century Mongol invasion devastated Kievan Rus' and Kyiv was completely destroyed in 1240.[50] On today's Ukrainian territory, the principalities of Halych and Volodymyr-Volynskyi arose, and were merged into the state of Galicia–Volhynia.[51] Daniel of Galicia, son of Roman the Great, re-united much of south-western Rus', including Volhynia, Galicia and the ancient capital of Kyiv. He was subsequently crowned by the papal archbishop as the first king of the newly created Kingdom of Ruthenia in 1253.[52]

Foreign domination

The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth at its maximum extent in 1619. Poland and the Polish Crown exercised power over much of Ukraine since 1569 and rejected the Ukrainian call for autonomy.

In 1349, Ruthenia ceased to exist as an independent entity in the aftermath of the Galicia–Volhynia Wars, with its lands partitioned between the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[53] From the mid-13th century to the late 1400s the Republic of Genoa founded numerous colonies in the Black Sea region of modern Ukraine and transformed these into large commercial centers headed by the consul, a representative of the Republic.[54] In 1430, the region of Podolia was incorporated into Poland and Ukraine became increasingly settled by Polish colonisers.[55] In 1441, Genghisid prince Haci I Giray founded the Crimean Khanate on the Crimean Peninsula and the surrounding steppes;[56] the Khanate orchestrated Tatar slave raids and took an estimated two million Ruthenian slaves.[57][58]

In 1569 the Union of Lublin established the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and most of the former Ruthenian lands were transferred from Lithuania to the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, becoming de jure Polish territory. Under the pressures of Polonisation, many landed gentry of Ruthenia converted to Catholicism and joined the circles of the Polish nobility.[59]

Deprived of native protectors among Rus nobility, the peasants and townspeople began turning for protection to the emerging Zaporozhian Cossacks. In the mid-17th century, a Cossack military quasi-state, the Zaporozhian Host, was formed by Dnieper Cossacks and Ruthenian peasants.[60] Poland exercised little real control over this population, but found the Cossacks to be useful against the Turks and Tatars,[61] and at times the two were allies in military campaigns.[62] However, the continued harsh enserfment of Ruthenian peasantry by Polish overlords and the suppression of the Orthodox Church alienated the Cossacks.[61] The Cossacks did not shy from taking up arms against those they perceived as enemies and occupiers, including the Polish Catholic state with its local representatives.[63]

Cossack Hetmanate

Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky established an independent Cossack state after the 1648 uprising against Poland.

In 1648, Bohdan Khmelnytsky led the largest of the Cossack uprisings against the Commonwealth and the Polish king.[64] After Khmelnytsky made an entry into Kyiv in 1648, where he was hailed liberator of the people from Polish captivity, he founded the Cossack Hetmanate, which existed until 1764 (some sources claim until 1782).[65] After Khmelnytsky suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Berestechko in 1651, he turned to the Russian tsar for help. In 1654, Khmelnytsky was subject to the Pereyaslav Council, forming a military and political alliance with Russia that acknowledged loyalty to the Russian monarch.

In the period 1657–1686 came "The Ruin", a devastating 30-year war amongst Russia, Poland, the Crimean Khanate, the Ottoman Empire, and Cossacks for control of the Cossack Hetmanate. The wars escalated in intensity with hundreds of thousands of deaths. The "Treaty of Perpetual Peace" between Russia and Poland in 1686 divided the lands of the Cossack Hetmanate between them, reducing the portion over which Poland had claimed sovereignty. In 1686, the Metropolitanate of Kyiv was annexed by the Moscow Patriarchate through a synodal letter of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Dionysius IV, thus placing the Metropolitanate of Kyiv under the authority of Moscow.

In 1709, Cossack Hetman Ivan Mazepa (1639–1709) defected to Sweden against Russia in the Great Northern War (1700–1721).[66] Eventually Tsar Peter recognized that to consolidate and modernize Russia's political and economic power it was necessary to do away with the Cossack Hetmanate as well as the Ukrainian and Cossack aspirations to autonomy.[66] Mazepa died in exile after fleeing from the Battle of Poltava (1709), in which the Swedes and their Cossack allies suffered a catastrophic defeat.[66]

Russia's victory over Charles XII of Sweden and his ally Ivan Mazepa at the Battle of Poltava (1709) destroyed Cossack autonomy.

In 1768, the Cossacks led yet another anti-Polish uprising, called Koliivshchyna, killing tens of thousands of Poles and Jews who settled Ukraine in the previous centuries.[67] Religious warfare also broke out between two Ukrainian groups. Increasing conflict between the Ruthenian Uniate Church and Orthodox parishes along the newly reinforced Polish-Russian border on the Dnieper eventually led to the uprising. Faith also reflected the opposing Polish (Western Catholic) and Russian (Eastern Orthodox) political allegiances.[68]

In the years 1764-1781, Catherine the Great incorporated much of Central Ukraine into the Russian Empire when the Cossack Hetmanate and the Zaporozhian Sich were abolished. After the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 1783, the newly acquired lands, now called Novorossiya were opened up to settlement by Russians.[69] The tsarist autocracy established a policy of Russification, suppressing the use of the Ukrainian language and curtailing the Ukrainian national identity.[70] The western part of present-day Ukraine was subsequently split between Russia and Habsburg-ruled Austria after the fall of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795.

19th and early 20th century

Polish troops enter Kyiv in May 1920 during the Polish–Soviet War. Following the Peace of Riga signed on 18 March 1921, Poland took control of modern-day western Ukraine while Soviets took control of eastern and central Ukraine.

Beginning in the 19th century, there was migration from Ukraine to distant areas of the Russian Empire. According to the 1897 census, there were 223,000 ethnic Ukrainians in Siberia and 102,000 in Central Asia.[71] An additional 1.6 million emigrated to the east in the ten years after the opening of the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1906.[72] Far Eastern areas with an ethnic Ukrainian population became known as Green Ukraine.[73]

The 19th century saw the rise of Ukrainian nationalism, particularly in Austrian Galicia under the relatively lenient rule of the Habsburgs.[74] With growing urbanization and modernization, and a cultural trend toward romantic nationalism, a Ukrainian intelligentsia committed to national rebirth and social justice emerged. The serf-turned-national-poet Taras Shevchenko (1814–1861) and the political theorist Mykhailo Drahomanov (1841–1895) led the growing nationalist movement.[75][76]

Ukrainians entered World War I on the side of both the Central Powers, under Austria, and the Triple Entente, under Russia. Around 3.5 million Ukrainians fought with the Imperial Russian Army, while 250,000 fought for the Austro-Hungarian Army.[77] During the Russian Revolution and War of Independence, the short-lived Ukrainian People's Republic was proclaimed on 23 June 1917. The Bolshevik Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (or Soviet Ukraine) successively established territories in the former Russian Empire; while the West Ukrainian People's Republic and the Hutsul Republic emerged briefly in the Ukrainian lands of former Austro-Hungarian territory.[78]

Inter-war Ukraine

A starved man on the streets of Kharkiv, 1933. Collectivization of crops and their confiscation by Soviet authorities led to a major famine in Soviet Ukraine known as the Holodomor.

Following the Polish–Ukrainian War and the Polish–Soviet War, western Ukraine was incorporated into Poland and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was formed in lands annexed by the Bolsheviks (1921 Peace of Riga). Modern-day Bukovina was occupied by Romania and Carpathian Ruthenia was admitted to Czechoslovakia as an autonomy.[79]

In Poland, the Polish government openly propagated anti-Ukrainian sentiment and restricted rights of people who declared Ukrainian nationality and belonged to the Eastern Orthodox Church.[80][81] In consequence, an underground Ukrainian nationalist and militant movement arose in the 1920s and 1930s, which gradually transformed into the Ukrainian Military Organization and later the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).

The Russian Civil War devastated the whole Russian Empire including eastern and central Ukraine. It left over 1.5 million people dead and hundreds of thousands homeless in the former Russian Empire territory. Soviet Ukraine also faced the Russian famine of 1921 (primarily affecting the Russian Volga-Ural region).[82][83] During the 1920s,[84] under the Ukrainisation policy pursued by the national Communist leadership of Mykola Skrypnyk, Soviet leadership encouraged a national renaissance in Ukrainian culture and language. Ukrainisation was part of the Soviet-wide policy of Korenisation (literally indigenisation). Starting from the late 1920s with a centrally planned economy, Soviet Ukraine took part in an industrialisation scheme which quadrupled its industrial output during the 1930s.

During the early Soviet period, the Ukrainian peasantry suffered from the programme of collectivization of agricultural crops. Collectivization was part of the first five-year plan and was enforced by regular troops and the secret police known as Cheka. Those who resisted were arrested and deported to gulags and work camps. As members of the collective farms were sometimes not allowed to receive any grain until unrealistic quotas were met, millions starved to death in a famine known as the Holodomor or the "Great Famine", which was recognized by some countries as an act of genocide perpetrated by Joseph Stalin and other Soviet notables.[85] Largely the same groups were responsible for the mass killing operations during the civil war, collectivization, and the Great Terror.[86]

World War II

The territorial evolution of the Ukrainian SSR, 1922–1954

Following the Invasion of Poland in September 1939, German and Soviet troops divided the territory of Poland. Thus, Eastern Galicia and Volhynia with their Ukrainian population became part of Ukraine. For the first time in history, the nation was united.[87][88]

In 1940, the Soviets annexed Bessarabia and northern Bukovina. The Ukrainian SSR incorporated the northern and southern districts of Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina, and the Hertsa region. But it ceded the western part of the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to the newly created Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. These territorial gains of the USSR were internationally recognized by the Paris peace treaties of 1947.[citation needed]

Marshal Timoshenko (born in the Budjak region) commanded numerous fronts throughout the war, including the Southwestern Front east of Kyiv in 1941.

German armies invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, initiating nearly four years of total war. The Axis initially advanced against desperate but unsuccessful efforts of the Red Army. In the encirclement battle of Kyiv, the city was acclaimed as a "Hero City", because of its fierce resistance. More than 600,000 Soviet soldiers (or one-quarter of the Soviet Western Front) were killed or taken captive there, with many suffering severe mistreatment.[89][90]

Although the majority of Ukrainians fought in or alongside the Red Army and Soviet resistance,[91] in Western Ukraine an independent Ukrainian Insurgent Army movement arose (UPA, 1942). It was created as the armed forces of the underground Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).[92][93]

Both organizations, the OUN and the UPA, supported the goal of an independent Ukrainian state on the territory with a Ukrainian ethnic majority. Although this brought conflict with Nazi Germany, at times the Melnyk wing of the OUN allied with the Nazi forces. From mid-1943 until the end of the war the UPA carried out massacres of ethnic Poles in the Volhynia and Eastern Galicia regions, killing around 100,000 Polish civilians,[94] which brought reprisals.[95]

These organized massacres were an attempt by the OUN to create a homogeneous Ukrainian state without a Polish minority living within its borders, and to prevent the post-war Polish state from asserting its sovereignty over areas that had been part of pre-war Poland.[96] After the war, the UPA continued to fight the USSR until the 1950s.[97][98] At the same time, the Ukrainian Liberation Army, another nationalist movement, fought alongside the Nazis.[99]

Kyiv suffered significant damage during World War II, and was occupied by the Germans from 19 September 1941 until 6 November 1943.

In total, the number of ethnic Ukrainians who fought in the ranks of the Soviet Army is estimated from 4.5 million[91] to 7 million.[100][c] The pro-Soviet partisan guerrilla resistance in Ukraine is estimated at 47,800 from the start of occupation to 500,000 at its peak in 1944, with about 50% being ethnic Ukrainians.[101] Generally, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army's figures are unreliable, with figures ranging anywhere from 15,000 to as many as 100,000 fighters.[102][103]

Most of the Ukrainian SSR was organised within the Reichskommissariat Ukraine, with the intention of exploiting its resources and eventual German settlement. Some western Ukrainians, who had only joined the Soviet Union in 1939, hailed the Germans as liberators. Brutal German rule eventually turned their supporters against the Nazi administrators, who made little attempt to exploit dissatisfaction with Stalinist policies.[104] Instead, the Nazis preserved the collective-farm system, carried out genocidal policies against Jews, deported millions of people to work in Germany, and began a depopulation program to prepare for German colonisation.[104] They blockaded the transport of food on the Kyiv River.[105]

The vast majority of the fighting in World War II took place on the Eastern Front.[106] By some estimates, 93% of all German casualties took place there.[107] The total losses inflicted upon the Ukrainian population during the war are estimated at 6 million,[108][109] including an estimated one and a half million Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen,[110] sometimes with the help of local collaborators. Of the estimated 8.6 million Soviet troop losses,[111][112][113] 1.4 million were ethnic Ukrainians.[111][113][c][d] Victory Day is celebrated as one of ten Ukrainian national holidays.[114] The losses of the Ukrainian people in the war amounted to 40–44% of the total losses of the USSR.[115]

Post–World War II

Two future leaders of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev (left, pre-war CPSU chief in Ukraine) and Leonid Brezhnev (an engineer from Kamianske)

The republic was heavily damaged by the war, and it required significant efforts to recover. More than 700 cities and towns and 28,000 villages were destroyed.[116] The situation was worsened by a famine in 1946–1947, which was caused by a drought and the wartime destruction of infrastructure. The death toll of this famine varies, with even the lowest estimate in the tens of thousands.[109] In 1945, the Ukrainian SSR became one of the founding members of the United Nations organization,[117] part of a special agreement at the Yalta Conference.[118]

Post-war ethnic cleansing occurred in the newly expanded Soviet Union. As of 1 January 1953, Ukrainians were second only to Russians among adult "special deportees", comprising 20% of the total.[119] In addition, over 450,000 ethnic Germans from Ukraine and more than 200,000 Crimean Tatars were victims of forced deportations.[119]

Following the death of Stalin in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev became the new leader of the USSR. Having served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukrainian SSR in 1938–1949, Khrushchev was intimately familiar with the republic; after taking power union-wide, he began to emphasize "the friendship" between the Ukrainian and Russian nations. In 1954, the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav was widely celebrated. Crimea was transferred from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.[120]

By 1950, the republic had fully surpassed pre-war levels of industry and production.[121] Soviet Ukraine soon became a European leader in industrial production[122] and an important centre of the Soviet arms industry and high-tech research. Such an important role resulted in a major influence of the local elite. Many members of the Soviet leadership came from Ukraine, most notably Leonid Brezhnev. He later ousted Khrushchev and became the Soviet leader from 1964 to 1982.

On 26 April 1986, a reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded, resulting in the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history.[123] At the time of the accident, 7 million people lived in the contaminated territories, including 2.2 million in Ukraine.[124]

After the accident, the new city of Slavutych was built outside the exclusion zone to house and support the employees of the plant, which was decommissioned in 2000. A report prepared by the International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organization attributed 56 direct deaths to the accident and estimated that there may have been 4,000 extra cancer deaths.[125]


On 21 January 1990, over 300,000 Ukrainians[126] organised a human chain for Ukrainian independence between Kyiv and Lviv, in memory of the 1919 unification of the Ukrainian People's Republic and the West Ukrainian National Republic. Citizens came out to the streets and highways, forming live chains by holding hands in support of unity.

On 16 July 1990, the new parliament adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine.[127] This established the principles of the self-determination, democracy, independence, and the priority of Ukrainian law over Soviet law. A month earlier, a similar declaration was adopted by the parliament of the Russian SFSR. This started a period of confrontation with the central Soviet authorities. On 2–17 October 1990, the Revolution on Granite took place in Ukraine, the main purpose of the action being to prevent the signing of a new union treaty of the USSR. The demands of the students were satisfied by signing a resolution of the Verkhovna Rada, which guaranteed their implementation.[128]

In August 1991, a faction among the Communist leaders of the Soviet Union attempted a coup to remove Mikhail Gorbachev and to restore the Communist party's power. After it failed, the Ukrainian parliament adopted the Act of Independence on 24 August 1991.[129]

Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin signed the Belavezha Accords, dissolving the Soviet Union, on 8 December 1991.

A referendum and the first presidential elections took place on 1 December 1991. More than 92%[130] of the electorate expressed their support for the Act of Independence, and they elected the chairman of the parliament, Leonid Kravchuk, as the first president of Ukraine. At the meeting in Brest, Belarus on 8 December, followed by the Alma Ata meeting on 21 December, the leaders of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine formally dissolved the Soviet Union and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).[131] On 26 December 1991 the Council of Republics of the USSR Supreme Council adopted the declaration "In regards to creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States" which de jure dissolved the Soviet Union, and the Soviet flag was lowered over the Kremlin.[132] The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine did not ratify the accession, so Ukraine has never been a member of the CIS.[133]

Ukraine was initially viewed as having favourable economic conditions in comparison to the other regions of the Soviet Union.[134] However, the country experienced deeper economic slowdown than some of the other former Soviet Republics. During the recession, between 1991 and 1999, Ukraine lost 60% of its GDP[135][136] and suffered five-digit inflation rates.[137] Dissatisfied with the economic conditions, as well as the amounts of crime and corruption in Ukraine, Ukrainians protested and organized strikes.[138]

The Ukrainian economy stabilized by the end of the 1990s. A new currency, the hryvnia, was introduced in 1996. After 2000, the country enjoyed steady real economic growth averaging about seven percent annually.[139][140] A new Constitution of Ukraine, under the second President Leonid Kuchma in 1996, turned Ukraine into a semi-presidential republic and established a stable political system. Kuchma was, however, criticised by opponents for corruption, electoral fraud, discouraging free speech and concentrating too much power in his office.[141] Ukraine also pursued full nuclear disarmament, giving up the third largest nuclear weapons stockpile in the world and dismantling or removing all strategic bombers on its territory in exchange for various assurances (main article: Nuclear weapons and Ukraine).[142]

Orange Revolution

Protesters at Independence Square on the first day of the Orange Revolution

In 2004, Viktor Yanukovych, then prime minister, was declared the winner of the presidential elections, which the Supreme Court of Ukraine later ruled had been largely rigged.[143] The results caused a public outcry in support of the opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, who challenged the outcome. During the tumultuous months of the revolution, candidate Yushchenko suddenly became gravely ill, and was soon found by multiple independent physician groups to have been poisoned by TCDD dioxin.[144][145] Yushchenko strongly suspected Russian involvement in his poisoning.[146] All of this eventually resulted in the peaceful Orange Revolution, which brought Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko to power, while casting Yanukovych in opposition.[147]

Yanukovych returned to power in 2006 as prime minister in the Alliance of National Unity,[148] until snap elections in September 2007 made Tymoshenko prime minister again.[149] Amid the 2008–09 Ukrainian financial crisis the Ukrainian economy shrank by 15%.[150] Disputes with Russia briefly stopped all gas supplies to Ukraine in 2006 and again in 2009, leading to gas shortages in other countries.[151][152] Yanukovych was elected President in 2010 with 48% of the vote.[153]

Euromaidan and the Revolution of Dignity

Pro-EU demonstration in Kyiv, 27 November 2013, during the Euromaidan protests

The Euromaidan (Ukrainian: Євромайдан, literally "Eurosquare") protests started in November 2013 after the president, Viktor Yanukovych, began moving away from an association agreement that had been in the works with the European Union and instead chose to establish closer ties with the Russian Federation.[154][155][156] Some Ukrainians took to the streets to show their support for closer ties with Europe.[157]

Meanwhile, in the predominantly Russian-speaking east, a large portion of the population opposed the Euromaidan protests, instead supporting the Yanukovych government.[158] Over time, Euromaidan came to describe a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine,[159] the scope of which evolved to include calls for the resignation of President Yanukovych and his government.[160]

Violence escalated after 16 January 2014 when the government accepted new Anti-Protest Laws. Violent anti-government demonstrators occupied buildings in the centre of Kyiv, including the Justice Ministry building, and riots from 18 to 20 February left 98 dead, with approximately fifteen thousand injured and 100 missing.[161][162][163][164][165][166] On 21 February, President Yanukovych signed a compromise deal with opposition leaders that promised constitutional changes to restore certain powers to Parliament and called for early elections to be held by December.[167]

However, Members of Parliament voted on 22 February to remove the president and set an election for 25 May to select his replacement, a move described by Russia and US academic John Mearsheimer as a coup.[168][169][170][171] The ousting[172] of Yanukovych prompted Vladimir Putin to begin preparations to annex Crimea on 23 February 2014.[173][174] Petro Poroshenko, running on a pro-European Union platform, won with over fifty percent of the vote, therefore not requiring a run-off election.[175][176][177] Upon his election, Poroshenko announced that his immediate priorities would be to take action on the civil unrest in Eastern Ukraine and mend ties with the Russian Federation.[175][176][177] In October 2014 Parliament elections, the party Petro Poroshenko Bloc won 132 of the 423 contested seats.[178]

2014 Russian armed interventions and invasion

Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, is shown in pink. Pink in the Donbas area represents areas held by the DPR/LPR separatists in September 2014 (cities in red).

Using the Russian naval base at Sevastopol as cover, Putin directed Russian troops and intelligence agents to disarm Ukrainian forces and take control of Crimea.[179][180][181][182] After the troops entered Crimea,[183] a controversial referendum was held on 16 March 2014 and the official result was that 97 percent wished to join with Russia.[184]

On 18 March 2014, Russia and the self-proclaimed Republic of Crimea signed a treaty of accession of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol in the Russian Federation. The UN General Assembly immediately responded by passing resolution 68/262 declaring that the referendum was invalid and supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine; only Russia voted against the resolution. However, it was not enforceable.[185][186][187][188] Attempts to pass enforceable resolutions in the U.N. Security Council were blocked by Russian vetoes.[187][188][189]

Separately, in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, armed men declaring themselves as local militia and supported by pro-Russian protesters[190] seized government buildings, police and special[clarification needed] police stations in several cities and held unrecognised status referendums.[191] The insurgency was led by Russian emissaries Igor Girkin[192] and Alexander Borodai[193] as well as militants from Russia, such as Arseny Pavlov.[194] They proclaimed the self styled Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic which have controlled about 13 of the oblasts since then.[195]

Talks in Geneva between the EU, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States yielded a Joint Diplomatic Statement referred to as the 2014 Geneva Pact[196] in which the parties requested that all unlawful militias lay down their arms and vacate seized government buildings, and also establish a political dialogue that could lead to more autonomy for Ukraine's regions. When Petro Poroshenko won the presidential election held on 25 May 2014, he vowed to continue the military operations by the Ukrainian government forces to end the armed insurgency.[197]

In August 2014, a bilateral commission of leading scholars from the United States and Russia issued the Boisto Agenda outlining a 24-step plan to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.[198] The Boisto Agenda was organized into five imperative categories for addressing the crisis requiring stabilization identified as: (1) Elements of an Enduring, Verifiable Ceasefire; (2) Economic Relations; (3) Social and Cultural Issues; (4) Crimea; and, (5) International Status of Ukraine.[198] In late 2014, Ukraine ratified the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement, which Poroshenko described as Ukraine's "first but most decisive step" towards EU membership.[199] Poroshenko also set 2020 as the target for EU membership application.[200]

OSCE SMM monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine, 4 March 2015

In February 2015, after a summit hosted in Minsk, Belarus, Poroshenko negotiated a ceasefire with the separatist troops. The resulting agreements, known as the Minsk Protocol, included conditions such as the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the front line and decentralisation of rebel regions by the end of 2015.[201] They also included conditions such as Ukrainian control of the border with Russia in 2015 and the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Ukrainian territory. The ceasefire began on 15 February 2015. Participants in this ceasefire also agreed to attend regular meetings to ensure that the agreement was respected.[202]

On 1 January 2016, Ukraine joined the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the European Union,[18] which aims to modernize and develop Ukraine's economy, governance and rule of law to EU standards and gradually increase integration with the EU Internal market.[203] In 2017 the European Union approved visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens: entitling Ukrainians to travel to the Schengen area for tourism, family visits and business reasons, with the only document required being a valid biometric passport.[204]

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

Ukraine with the annexed Crimea at bottom and two self-proclaimed separatist republics in Donbas at right

In the spring of 2021, Russia began building up troop strengths along its border with Ukraine.[205][206] On 22 February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered military forces to enter the breakaway Ukrainian republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, calling the act a "peacekeeping mission". Putin also officially recognized Donetsk and Luhansk as sovereign states, fully independent from the Ukrainian government.[207][208]

In the early hours of 24 February 2022, Putin announced what he called a "special military operation" to "demilitarise and denazify" Ukraine, launching a large-scale invasion of the country.[209] Later in the day, the Ukrainian government announced that Russia had taken control of Chernobyl.[210] On 28 February 2022, Ukraine asked for immediate admission to the European Union in response to the invasion.[211] Initially Russian troops were told that the “special military operation” of the invasion of Ukraine would last for only four or five days. [212]

One month later it appeared that early Russian predictions for a quick victory in Ukraine had been based on faulty Russian intelligence.[213] At this point in time after the first thirty days of fighting of the war, Russia had not yet achieved either of its two primary initial objectives, the capture of Ukraine's two largest cities, Kyiv and Kharkiv, with Ukrainian counter-offensives pushing back Russian front lines around Kyiv.[214][unreliable source?] Meanwhile, several newspapers were reporting a woefully under-trained Russian army and of a lack of adequate Russian equipment, food, and weaponry.[215][216]

In late March Ukrainian forces began to reclaim territory in the Kyiv region which had previously been taken and held by Russian troops. Eventually the Kyiv regional Ukrainian forces pushed the Russian front lines in the Kyiv vicinity all of the way back to the Ukrainian border. Meanwhile Russia declared that the Russian “retreat” in the Kyiv region had been a part of its plan all along, and that Russia would merely be repositioning its troops in the Ukrainian east, placing them there to enable a new Donbas area offensive.[217]

On April 14, Ukrainian forces sank the Russian flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva with a missile strike.[218] By the end of April, one month into Russia's new “Donbas Offensive,” Russian forces had not yet managed to advance significantly in the Donbas region, not yet having fully taken a single major metropolitan area in the region since announcing its new “Donbas Offensive." Military analysts continue to refer to the progress of the war as devolving into a "stalemate situation".[219][220]


Simplified depiction of the biomes lying north of the Black Sea. The bright green belt girdling the Black Sea's southern coast, extending westwards, denotes a region of subtropics.
Topographic map of Ukraine (with borders and towns)

Ukraine is the second-largest European country, after Russia. Lying between latitudes 44° and 53° N, and longitudes 22° and 41° E., it is mostly in the East European Plain. Ukraine covers an area of 603,628 square kilometres (233,062 sq mi), with a coastline of 2,782 kilometres (1,729 mi).[47]

The landscape of Ukraine consists mostly of fertile plains (or steppes) and plateaus, crossed by rivers such as the Dnieper (Dnipro), Seversky Donets, Dniester and the Southern Bug as they flow south into the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov. To the southwest, the delta of the Danube forms the border with Romania. Ukraine's various regions have diverse geographic features ranging from the highlands to the lowlands. The country's only mountains are the Carpathian Mountains in the west, of which the highest is Hoverla at 2,061 metres (6,762 ft), and the Crimean Mountains, in the extreme south along the coast.[221]

Ukraine also has a number of highland regions such as the Volyn-Podillia Upland (in the west) and the Near-Dnipro Upland (on the right bank of Dnieper). To the east there are the south-western spurs of the Central Russian Upland over which runs the border with the Russian Federation. Near the Sea of Azov can be found the Donets Ridge and the Near Azov Upland. The snow melt from the mountains feeds the rivers and their waterfalls.

Significant natural resources in Ukraine include lithium,[222] natural gas,[223] kaolin,[223] timber[224] and an abundance of arable land.[225] Ukraine has many environmental issues.[226][227] Some regions lack adequate supplies of potable water.[228] Air and water pollution affects the country, as well as deforestation, and radiation contamination in the northeast stemming from the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.[229]


Ukraine has a mostly temperate climate, except for the southern coast of Crimea which has a subtropical climate.[230] The climate is influenced by moderately warm, humid air from the Atlantic Ocean.[231] Average annual temperatures range from 5.5–7 °C (41.9–44.6 °F) in the north, to 11–13 °C (51.8–55.4 °F) in the south.[231] Precipitation is highest in the west and north and lowest in the east and southeast.[231] Western Ukraine, particularly in the Carpathian Mountains, receives around 120 centimetres (47.2 in) of precipitation annually, while Crimea and the coastal areas of the Black Sea receive around 40 centimetres (15.7 in).[231]

Water availability from the major river basins is expected to decrease due to climate change, especially in summer. This poses risks to the agricultural sector.[232] The negative impacts of climate change on agriculture are mostly felt in the south of the country, which has a steppe climate. In the north, some crops may be able to benefit from a longer growing season.[233] The World Bank has stated that Ukraine is highly vulnerable to climate change.[234]


Pine forest near Klavdievo, Bucha Raion, Kyiv Oblast

Ukraine contains six terrestrial ecoregions: Central European mixed forests, Crimean Submediterranean forest complex, East European forest steppe, Pannonian mixed forests, Carpathian montane conifer forests, and Pontic steppe.[235] There is somewhat more coniferous than deciduous forest.[236] The most densely forested area is Polisia in the northwest, with pine, oak, and birch.[236] There are 45,000 species of animal,[237] with approximately 385 endangered species listed in the Red Data Book of Ukraine.[238] Internationally important wetlands cover over 7,000 square kilometres (2,700 sq mi), with the Danube Delta being important for conservation.[239][240]

Urban areas

Ukraine has 457 cities, of which 176 are designated as oblast-class, 279 as smaller raion-class cities, and two as special legal status cities. There are also 886 urban-type settlements and 28,552 villages.[241]

Largest cities or towns in Ukraine
2021 [2]
Rank Name Region Pop. Rank Name Region Pop.
1 Kyiv Kyiv (city) 2,962,180 11 Luhansk Luhansk 399,559 Odessa
2 Kharkiv Kharkiv 1,433,886 12 Vinnytsia Vinnytsia 370,601
3 Odessa Odessa 1,015,826 13 Makiivka Donetsk 340,337
4 Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 980,948 14 Sevastopol Sevastopol (city) 340,297
5 Donetsk Donetsk 905,364 15 Simferopol Crimea 336,330
6 Zaporizhzhia Zaporizhzhia 722,713 16 Chernihiv Chernihiv 285,234
7 Lviv Lviv 721,510 17 Kherson Kherson 283,649
8 Kryvyi Rih Dnipropetrovsk 612,750 18 Poltava Poltava 283,402
9 Mykolaiv Mykolaiv 476,101 19 Khmelnytskyi Khmelnytskyi 274,582
10 Mariupol Donetsk 431,859 20 Cherkasy Cherkasy 272,651


Ukraine is a republic under a semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches.[242]


Chart of the political system of Ukraine

The Constitution of Ukraine was adopted and ratified at the 5th session of the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament of Ukraine, on 28 June 1996.[243] The constitution was passed with 315 ayes out of 450 votes possible (300 ayes minimum).[243] All other laws and other normative[clarification needed] legal acts of Ukraine must conform to the constitution. The right to amend the constitution through a special legislative procedure is vested exclusively in the parliament. The only body that may interpret the constitution and determine whether legislation conforms to it is the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. Since 1996, the public holiday Constitution Day is celebrated on 28 June.[244][245] On 7 February 2019, the Verkhovna Rada voted to amend the constitution to state Ukraine's strategic objectives as joining the European Union and NATO.[246]

President, parliament and government

Volodymyr Zelensky Official portrait.jpg Денис Шмигаль 2020 3 (cropped).jpg
Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Denys Shmyhal
Prime Minister

The president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and is the formal head of state.[247] Ukraine's legislative branch includes the 450-seat unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.[248] The parliament is primarily responsible for the formation of the executive branch and the Cabinet of Ministers, headed by the prime minister.[249] The president retains the authority to nominate the ministers of foreign affairs and of defence for parliamentary approval, as well as the power to appoint the prosecutor general and the head of the Security Service.[250]

Laws, acts of the parliament and the cabinet, presidential decrees, and acts of the Crimean parliament may be abrogated by the Constitutional Court, should they be found to violate the constitution. Other normative acts are subject to judicial review. The Supreme Court is the main body in the system of courts of general jurisdiction. Local self-government is officially guaranteed. Local councils and city mayors are popularly elected and exercise control over local budgets. The heads of regional and district administrations are appointed by the president in accordance with the proposals of the prime minister.[251]

Courts and law enforcement

Martial law was declared immediately upon the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022,[252] and is currently ongoing.[253][254]

The courts enjoy legal, financial and constitutional freedom guaranteed by Ukrainian law since 2002. Judges are largely well protected from dismissal (except in the instance of gross misconduct). Court justices are appointed by presidential decree for an initial period of five years, after which Ukraine's Supreme Council confirms their positions for life. Although there are still problems, the system is considered to have been much improved since Ukraine's independence in 1991. The Supreme Court is regarded as an independent and impartial body, and has on several occasions ruled against the Ukrainian government. The World Justice Project ranks Ukraine 66 out of 99 countries surveyed in its annual Rule of Law Index.[255]

Prosecutors in Ukraine have greater powers than in most European countries, and according to the European Commission for Democracy through Law 'the role and functions of the Prosecutor's Office is not in accordance with Council of Europe standards".[256] The criminal judicial system maintains an average conviction rate of over 99%,[257] equal to the conviction rate of the Soviet Union, with[258] suspects often being incarcerated for long periods before trial.[259]

On 24 March 2010, President Yanukovych formed an expert group to make recommendations on how to "clean up the current mess and adopt a law on court organization".[259] One day later, he stated "We can no longer disgrace our country with such a court system."[259] The criminal judicial system and the prison system of Ukraine remain quite punitive.[260]

Since 1 January 2010 it has been permissible to hold court proceedings in Russian by mutual consent of the parties. Citizens unable to speak Ukrainian or Russian may use their native language or the services of a translator.[261][262] Previously all court proceedings had to be held in Ukrainian.[260]

Law enforcement agencies in Ukraine are organised under the authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They consist primarily of the national police force and various specialised units and agencies such as the State Border Guard and the Coast Guard services. Law enforcement agencies, particularly the police, faced criticism for their heavy handling of the 2004 Orange Revolution. Many thousands of police officers were stationed throughout the capital, primarily to dissuade protesters from challenging the state's authority but also to provide a quick reaction force in case of need; most officers were armed.[263]

Foreign relations

President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili, President of Moldova Maia Sandu, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and European Council President Charles Michel during the 2021 International Conference in Batumi. In 2014, the EU signed association agreements with all three countries.

From 1999 to 2001, Ukraine served as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Historically, Soviet Ukraine joined the United Nations in 1945 as one of the original members following a Western compromise with the Soviet Union.[264] Ukraine has consistently supported peaceful, negotiated settlements to disputes. It has participated in the quadripartite talks on the conflict in Moldova and promoted a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the post-Soviet state of Georgia. Ukraine also has made contributions to UN peacekeeping operations since 1992.[265]

Ukraine considers Euro-Atlantic integration its primary foreign policy objective,[266] but in practice it has always balanced its relationship with the European Union and the United States with strong ties to Russia. The European Union's Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Ukraine went into force in 1998. The European Union (EU) has encouraged Ukraine to implement the PCA fully before discussions begin on an association agreement, issued at the EU Summit in December 1999 in Helsinki, recognizes Ukraine's long-term aspirations but does not discuss association.[266]

In 1992, Ukraine joined the then-Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (now the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)), and also became a member of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. Ukraine–NATO relations are close and the country has declared interest in eventual membership.[266]

Ukraine is the most active member of the Partnership for Peace (PfP). All major political parties in Ukraine support full eventual integration into the European Union.[267] The Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union was signed in 2014.[268]

Ukraine long had close ties with all its neighbours, but Russia–Ukraine relations rapidly deteriorated in 2014 due to the annexation of Crimea, energy dependence and payment disputes.

In January 2016, Ukraine joined the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (green) with the EU (blue), established by the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement, opening its path towards European integration.

The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which entered into force in January 2016 following the ratification of the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement, formally integrates Ukraine into the European Single Market and the European Economic Area.[269][270] Ukraine receives further support and assistance for its EU-accession aspirations from the International Visegrád Fund of the Visegrád Group that consists of Central European EU members the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.[271]

In 2020, in Lublin, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine created the Lublin Triangle initiative, which aims to create further cooperation between the three historical countries of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and further Ukraine's integration and accession to the EU and NATO.[272]

In 2021, the Association Trio was formed by signing a joint memorandum between the Foreign Ministers of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The Association Trio is a tripartite format for enhanced cooperation, coordination, and dialogue between the three countries (that have signed the Association Agreement with the EU) with the European Union on issues of common interest related to European integration, enhancing cooperation within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, and committing to the prospect of joining the European Union.[273] As of 2021, Ukraine was preparing to formally apply for EU membership in 2024, in order to join the European Union in the 2030s,[274] however, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy requested that the country be admitted to the EU immediately.[275]

Armed forces

Henadii Lachkov, commander of the Ukrainian contingent in Multi-National Force – Iraq, kisses his country's flag

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine inherited a 780,000-man military force on its territory, equipped with the third-largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world.[276][277] In 1992, Ukraine signed the Lisbon Protocol in which the country agreed to give up all nuclear weapons to Russia for disposal and to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state. By 1996 the country had become free of nuclear weapons.[276]

Ukraine took consistent steps toward reduction of conventional weapons. It signed the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which called for reduction of tanks, artillery, and armoured vehicles (army forces were reduced to 300,000). The country plans to convert the current conscript-based military into a professional volunteer military.[278][better source needed] Ukraine's current military consist of 196,600 active personnel and around 900,000 reservists.[279]

The Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy (U130)

Ukraine played an increasing role in peacekeeping operations. In 2014, the Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sagaidachniy joined the European Union's counter piracy Operation Atalanta and was part of the EU Naval Force off the coast of Somalia for two months.[280] Ukrainian troops were deployed in Kosovo as part of the Ukrainian-Polish Battalion.[281]

A Ukrainian unit was deployed in Lebanon, as part of UN Interim Force enforcing the mandated ceasefire agreement. There was also a maintenance and training battalion deployed in Sierra Leone. In 2003–05, a Ukrainian unit was deployed as part of the multinational force in Iraq under Polish command.[282]

Military units of other states participated in multinational military exercises with Ukrainian forces in Ukraine regularly, including U.S. military forces.[283]

Following independence, Ukraine declared itself a neutral state.[17] The country had a limited military partnership with Russian Federation and other CIS countries and has had a partnership with NATO since 1994. In the 2000s, the government was leaning towards NATO, and deeper cooperation with the alliance was set by the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan signed in 2002. It was later agreed that the question of joining NATO should be answered by a national referendum at some point in the future.[278] Deposed President Viktor Yanukovych considered the current level of co-operation between Ukraine and NATO sufficient, and was against Ukraine joining NATO. During the 2008 Bucharest summit, NATO declared that Ukraine would eventually become a member of NATO when it meets the criteria for accession.

As part of modernization after the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian War in 2014, junior officers were allowed to take more initiative and a territorial defense force of volunteers was established.[284] Various defensive weapons including drones were supplied by many countries, but not fighter jets.[285] During the first few weeks of the 2022 Russian invasion the military found it difficult to defend against shelling, missiles and high level bombing; but light infantry used shoulder-mounted weapons effectively to destroy tanks, armoured vehicles and low-flying aircraft.[286]

Administrative divisions

Ukraine (2021) — major cities and adjacent countries

The system of Ukrainian subdivisions reflects the country's status as a unitary state (as stated in the country's constitution) with unified legal and administrative regimes for each unit.

Including Sevastopol and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea that were annexed by the Russian Federation in 2014, Ukraine consists of 27 regions: twenty-four oblasts (provinces), one autonomous republic (Autonomous Republic of Crimea), and two cities of special status—Kyiv, the capital, and Sevastopol. The 24 oblasts and Crimea are subdivided into 136[287] raions (districts) and city municipalities of regional significance, or second-level administrative units.

Populated places in Ukraine are split into two categories: urban and rural. Urban populated places are split further into cities and urban-type settlements (a Soviet administrative invention), while rural populated places consist of villages and settlements (a generally used term). All cities have a certain degree of self-rule depending on their significance such as national significance (as in the case of Kyiv and Sevastopol), regional significance (within each oblast or autonomous republic) or district significance (all the rest of cities). A city's significance depends on several factors such as its population, socio-economic and historical importance and infrastructure.

Autonomous republic Cities with special status


Kyiv, the financial centre of Ukraine.

In 2021 agriculture was the biggest sector of the economy and Ukraine was the world's largest wheat exporter.[288] However, Ukraine remains among the poorest countries in Europe,[21] and corruption remains a widespread issue; the country was rated 122nd out of 180 in the Corruption Perceptions Index for 2021, the second-lowest result in Europe after Russia.[289][20] In 2021 Ukraine's GDP per capita by purchasing power parity was just over $14,000.[290] Despite supplying emergency financial support, the IMF expected the economy to shrink considerably in 2022 due to Russia's invasion.[291] One 2022 estimate was that post-war reconstruction costs might reach half a trillion dollars.[292]

In 2021, the average salary in Ukraine reached its highest level at almost 14,300 (US$525) per month.[293] About 1% of Ukrainians lived below the national poverty line in 2019.[294] Unemployment in Ukraine was 4.5% in 2019.[295] In 2019 5–15% of the Ukrainian population were categorized as middle class.[296] In 2020 Ukraine's government debt was roughly 50% of its nominal GDP.[297][288]

In 2021 mineral commodities and light industry were important sectors.[288] Ukraine produces nearly all types of transportation vehicles and spacecraft.[298][299][300] Antonov airplanes and KrAZ trucks are exported to many countries. The European Union is the country's main trade partner, and remittances from Ukrainians working abroad are important.[288]

Before the Russo-Ukrainian war the number of tourists visiting Ukraine was eighth in Europe, according to the World Tourism Organization rankings.[301] Ukraine has numerous tourist attractions: mountain ranges suitable for skiing, hiking and fishing: the Black Sea coastline as a popular summer destination; nature reserves of different ecosystems; churches, castle ruins and other architectural and park landmarks; various outdoor activity points. Kyiv, Lviv, Odessa and Kamyanets-Podilskyi were Ukraine's principal tourist centres each offering many historical landmarks as well as formidable hospitality infrastructure. Tourism used to be the mainstay of Crimea's economy, but there was a major fall in visitor numbers following the Russian annexation in 2014.[302]

The Seven Wonders of Ukraine and Seven Natural Wonders of Ukraine are the selection of the most important landmarks of Ukraine, chosen by the general public through an Internet-based vote.


Ukraine is among the world’s top agricultural producers and exporters and is often described as the “bread basket of Europe”. During the 2020/21 international wheat marketing season (July-June), it ranked as the sixth largest wheat exporter, accounting for nine percent of world wheat trade.[303] The country is also a major global exporter of maize, barley and rapeseed. In 2020/21, it accounted for 12 percent of global trade in maize and barley and for 14 percent of world rapeseed exports. Its trade share is even greater in the sunflower oil sector, with the country accounting for about 50 percent of world exports in 2020/2021.[303]

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), further to causing the loss of lives and increasing humanitarian needs, the likely disruptions caused by the Russo-Ukrainian War to Ukraine’s grain and oilseed sectors, combined with potential food and fertilizer export difficulties encountered by the Russian Federation as a result of economic sanctions, could jeopardize the food security of many countries, especially those that are highly dependent on Ukraine and the Russian Federation for their food and fertilizer imports.[304] Several of these countries fall into the Least Developed Country (LDC) group, while many others belong to the group of Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs).[305][306] For example Eritrea sourced 47 percent of its wheat imports in 2021 from Ukraine. The other 53 percent all came from the Russian Federation. Overall, more than 30 nations depend on Ukraine and the Russian Federation for over 30 percent of their wheat import needs, with many of them located in North Africa, and in Western and Central Asia.[303]


HRCS2 unit
HRCS2 multiple unit. Rail transport is heavily utilised in Ukraine.

Many roads and bridges were destroyed, and international maritime travel was blocked by the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[291] Before that it was mainly through the Port of Odessa, from where ferries sailed regularly to Istanbul, Varna and Haifa. The largest ferry company operating these routes was Ukrferry.[307] There are over 1,600 km (1,000 mi) of navigable waterways on 7 rivers, mostly on the Danube, Dnieper and Pripyat. All Ukraine's rivers freeze over in winter, limiting navigation.[308]

Rail transport in Ukraine connects all major urban areas, port facilities and industrial centres with neighbouring countries. The heaviest concentration of railway track is the Donbas region.[309] Although rail freight transport fell in the 1990s, Ukraine is still one of the world's highest rail users.[310]

Ukraine International Airlines, is the flag carrier and the largest airline,[311] with its head office in Kyiv[312] and its main hub at Kyiv's Boryspil International Airport. It operated domestic and international passenger flights and cargo services to Europe, the Middle East, the United States,[275] Canada,[313] and Asia.


Electricity production by source, Ukraine

Energy in Ukraine is mainly from gas and coal, followed by nuclear then oil.[223] The coal industry has been disrupted by conflict.[314] Most gas and oil is imported, but since 2015 energy policy has prioritised diversifying energy supply.[315]

About half of electricity generation is nuclear and a quarter coal.[223] The largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, is located in Ukraine. Fossil fuel subsidies were US$2.2 billion in 2019.[316] Until the 2010s all of Ukraine's nuclear fuel came from Russia, but now most does not.[317]

Although gas transit is declining, over 40 billion cubic metres (bcm) of Russian gas flowed through Ukraine in 2021,[318] which was about a third of Russian exports to other European countries.[319] Some energy infrastructure was destroyed in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[320][321]

On 16 March 2022, European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity said Ukraine's electricity grid and Moldova's electricity grid were successfully synchronized with the Synchronous grid of Continental Europe, on a trial basis, allowing the countries to decouple their power systems from Russia, previously part of the Integrated Power System that also includes Belarus.[322][323]

Information technology

The internet in the country is robust because it is diverse.[324] Key officials may use Starlink as backup.[324] The IT industry contributed almost 5 per cent to Ukraine's GDP in 2021[325] and in 2022 continued both inside and outside the country.[326]


Composition of Ukraine by ethnicity
Romanians and Moldovans
Crimean Tatars
Source: Ethnic composition of the population of Ukraine, 2001 Census

Before the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine the country had over 41 million people, and was the eighth-most populous country in Europe. It is a heavily urbanized country, and its industrial regions in the east and southeast are the most densely populated—about 67% of its total population lives in urban areas.[327] At that time Ukraine had a population density of 69.5 inhabitants per square kilometre (180 per square mile), and the overall life expectancy in the country at birth was 73 years (68 years for males and 77.8 years for females).[328]

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine's population hit a peak of roughly 52 million in 1993. However, due to its death rate exceeding its birth rate, mass emigration, poor living conditions, and low-quality health care,[329][330] the total population decreased by 6.6 million, or 12.8% from the same year to 2014.

According to the 2001 census, ethnic Ukrainians made up roughly 78% of the population, while Russians were the largest minority, at some 17.3% of the population. Small minority populations included: Belarusians (0.6%), Moldovans (0.5%), Crimean Tatars (0.5%), Bulgarians (0.4%), Hungarians (0.3%), Romanians (0.3%), Poles (0.3%), Jews (0.3%), Armenians (0.2%), Greeks (0.2%) and Tatars (0.2%).[2] It was also estimated that there were about 10–40,000 Koreans in Ukraine, who lived mostly in the south of the country, belonging to the historical Koryo-saram group.[331][332]

Outside the former Soviet Union, the largest source of incoming immigrants in Ukraine's post-independence period was from four Asian countries, namely China, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.[333]

In the late 2010s 1.4 million Ukrainians were internally displaced due to the war in Donbas,[334] and in early 2022 over 4.1 million fled the country in the aftermath of the Russian invasion.[335]


According to the constitution, the state language of Ukraine is Ukrainian.[336] Russian is widely spoken, especially in eastern and southern Ukraine.[336] Most native Ukrainian speakers know Russian as a second language.[336] Russian was the de facto dominant language of the Soviet Union but Ukrainian also held official status[337] and in the schools of the Ukrainian SSR learning Ukrainian was mandatory.[336]

Linguistic map of Ukraine showing most common native language by city, town or village council according to 2001 census

Effective in August 2012, a new law on regional languages entitled any local language spoken by at least a 10 percent minority be declared official within that area.[338] Within weeks, Russian was declared a regional language of several southern and eastern oblasts (provinces) and cities.[339] Russian could then be used in the administrative office work and documents of those places.[340][341]

On 23 February 2014, following the Revolution of Dignity, the Ukrainian Parliament voted to repeal the law on regional languages, making Ukrainian the sole state language at all levels; however, the repeal was not signed by acting President Turchynov or by President Poroshenko.[342][343][344] In February 2019, the law allowing for official use of regional languages was found unconstitutional.[345] According to the Council of Europe, this act fails to achieve fair protection of the linguistic rights of minorities.[346]

Ukrainian is the primary language used in the vast majority of Ukraine (see "Linguistic map of Ukraine" above.) 67% of Ukrainians speak Ukrainian as their primary language, while 30% speak Russian as their primary language.[347] In eastern and southern Ukraine, Russian is the primary language in some cities, while Ukrainian is used in rural areas. Hungarian is spoken in the Zakarpattia Oblast.[348]

For a large part of the Soviet era, the number of Ukrainian speakers declined from generation to generation, and by the mid-1980s, the usage of the Ukrainian language in public life had decreased significantly.[349] Following independence, the government of Ukraine began restoring the use of the Ukrainian language in schools and government through a policy of Ukrainisation.[350][351] Today, most foreign films and TV programs, including Russian ones, are subtitled or dubbed in Ukrainian.[352] Ukraine's 2017 education law bars primary education in public schools in grade five and up in any language but Ukrainian.[353][354] The Unian reported that "A ban on the use of cultural products, namely movies, books, songs, etc., in the Russian language in the public has been introduced" in the Lviv Oblast in September 2018.[355]


The Ukrainian diaspora comprises Ukrainians and their descendants who live outside Ukraine around the world, especially those who maintain some kind of connection, even if ephemeral, to the land of their ancestors and maintain their feeling of Ukrainian national identity within their own local community. The Ukrainian diaspora is found throughout numerous regions worldwide including other post-Soviet states as well as in other countries such as Poland,[356] the United States,[357] Canada, and Brazil.[358]


The Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, a UNESCO World Heritage Site,[359] is one of the main Christian cathedrals in Ukraine

Ukraine has the world's second-largest Eastern Orthodox population, after Russia.[360][361] A 2021 survey conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) found that 82% of Ukrainians declared themselves to be religious, while 7% were atheists, and a further 11% found it difficult to answer the question.[362] The level of religiosity in Ukraine was reported to be the highest in Western Ukraine (91%), and the lowest in the Donbas (57%) and Eastern Ukraine (56%).[363]

In 2019, 82% of Ukrainians were Christians; out of which 72.7% declared themselves to be Orthodox, 8.8% Greek Rite Catholics, 2.3% Protestants and 0.9% Latin Rite Catholics. Other Christians comprised 2.3%. Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism were the religions of 0.2% of the population each. According to the KIIS study, roughly 58.3% of the Ukrainian Orthodox population were members of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and 25.4% were members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).[364]

According to a 2018 survey by the Razumkov Centre, 9.4% of Ukrainians were Byzantine Rite Catholics and 0.8% were Latin Rite Catholics.[365] Protestants are a growing community in Ukraine, who made up 1.9% of the population in 2016,[365] but rose to 2.2% of the population in 2018.


Ukraine's healthcare system is state subsidised and freely available to all Ukrainian citizens and registered residents. However, it is not compulsory to be treated in a state-run hospital as a number of private medical complexes do exist nationwide.[366] The public sector employs most healthcare professionals, with those working for private medical centres typically also retaining their state employment as they are mandated to provide care at public health facilities on a regular basis.[367]

The municipal children's hospital in Kremenchuk, Poltava Oblast

All of Ukraine's medical service providers and hospitals are subordinate to the Ministry of Healthcare, which provides oversight and scrutiny of general medical practice as well as being responsible for the day-to-day administration of the healthcare system. Despite this, standards of hygiene and patient-care have fallen.[368]

Ukraine faces a number of major public health issues and is considered to be in a demographic crisis because of its high death rate and low birth rate (the Ukrainian birth rate is 11 births/1,000 population, and the death rate is 16.3 deaths/1,000 population). A factor contributing to the high death rate is a high mortality rate among working-age males from preventable causes such as alcohol poisoning and smoking.[369] In addition, obesity, systemic high blood pressure and the HIV endemic are all major challenges facing the Ukrainian healthcare system.

Active reformation of Ukraine's healthcare system was initiated right after the appointment of Ulana Suprun as a head of the Ministry of Healthcare.[370] Assisted by deputy Pavlo Kovtoniuk, Suprun first changed the distribution of finances in healthcare.[371] Funds must follow the patient. General practitioners will provide basic care for patients. The patient will have the right to choose one. Emergency medical service is considered to be fully funded by the state. Emergency Medicine Reform is also an important part of the healthcare reform. In addition, patients who suffer from chronic diseases, which cause a high toll of disability and mortality, are provided with free or low-price medicine.[372]


The University of Kyiv is one of Ukraine's most important educational institutions.

According to the Ukrainian constitution, access to free education is granted to all citizens. Complete general secondary education is compulsory in the state schools which constitute the overwhelming majority. Free higher education in state and communal educational establishments is provided on a competitive basis.[373]

Because of the Soviet Union's emphasis on total access of education for all citizens, which continues today, the literacy rate is an estimated 99.4%.[47] Since 2005, an eleven-year school programme has been replaced with a twelve-year one: primary education takes four years to complete (starting at age six), middle education (secondary) takes five years to complete; upper secondary then takes three years.[374] Students in the 12th grade take Government tests, which are also referred to as school-leaving exams. These tests are later used for university admissions.

Among the oldest is also the Lviv University, founded in 1661. More higher education institutions were set up in the 19th century, beginning with universities in Kharkiv (1805), Kyiv (1834), Odessa (1865) and Chernivtsi (1875) and a number of professional higher education institutions, e.g.: Nizhyn Historical and Philological Institute (originally established as the Gymnasium of Higher Sciences in 1805), a Veterinary Institute (1873) and a Technological Institute (1885) in Kharkiv, a Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv (1898) and a Higher Mining School (1899) in Katerynoslav. Rapid growth followed in the Soviet period. By 1988 the number of higher education institutions increased to 146 with over 850,000 students.[375]

The Ukrainian higher education system comprises higher educational establishments, scientific and methodological facilities under national, municipal and self-governing bodies in charge of education.[376] The organisation of higher education in Ukraine is built up in accordance with the structure of education of the world's higher developed countries, as is defined by UNESCO and the UN.[377]

Ukraine produces the fourth largest number of post-secondary graduates in Europe, while being ranked seventh in population.[378] Higher education is either state funded or private. Most universities provide subsidised housing for out-of-city students. It is common for libraries to supply required books for all registered students. Ukrainian universities confer two degrees: the bachelor's degree (4 years) and the master's degree (5–6th year), in accordance with the Bologna process. Historically, Specialist degree (usually 5 years) is still also granted; it was the only degree awarded by universities in Soviet times.[379] Ukraine was ranked 49th in the Global Innovation Index in 2021[380]

Regional differences

The results of the 2014 parliamentary election with People's Front in yellow, Opposition Bloc in blue and Petro Poroshenko Bloc in red

Ukrainian is the dominant language in Western Ukraine and in Central Ukraine, while Russian is the dominant language in the cities of Eastern Ukraine and Southern Ukraine. In the Ukrainian SSR schools, learning Russian was mandatory; in modern Ukraine, schools with Ukrainian as the language of instruction offer classes in Russian and in the other minority languages.[336][381][382][383]

On the Russian language, on Soviet Union and Ukrainian nationalism, opinion in Eastern Ukraine and Southern Ukraine tends to be the exact opposite of those in Western Ukraine; while opinions in Central Ukraine on these topics tend be less extreme.[382][384][385][386]

Similar historical cleavages also remain evident at the level of individual social identification. Attitudes toward the most important political issue, relations with Russia, differed strongly between Lviv, identifying more with Ukrainian nationalism and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and Donetsk, predominantly Russian orientated and favourable to the Soviet era, while in central and southern Ukraine, as well as Kyiv, such divisions were less important and there was less antipathy toward people from other regions (a poll by the Research & Branding Group held March 2010 showed that the attitude of the citizens of Donetsk to the citizens of Lviv was 79% positive and that the attitude of the citizens of Lviv to the citizens of Donetsk was 88% positive).[387]

However, all were united by an overarching Ukrainian identity based on shared economic difficulties, showing that other attitudes are determined more by culture and politics than by demographic differences.[387][388] Surveys of regional identities in Ukraine have shown that the feeling of belonging to a "Soviet identity" is strongest in the Donbas (about 40%) and the Crimea (about 30%).[389]

During elections voters of Western and Central Ukrainian oblasts (provinces) vote mostly for parties (Our Ukraine, Batkivshchyna)[390][391] and presidential candidates (Viktor Yuschenko, Yulia Tymoshenko) with a pro-Western and state reform platform, while voters in Southern and Eastern oblasts vote for parties (CPU, Party of Regions) and presidential candidates (Viktor Yanukovych) with a pro-Russian and status quo platform.[392][393][394][395] However, this geographical division is decreasing.[396][397][398]


A collection of traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs—pysanky. The design motifs on pysanky date back to early Slavic cultures.

Ukrainian customs are heavily influenced by Orthodox Christianity, the dominant religion in the country.[399] Gender roles also tend to be more traditional, and grandparents play a greater role in bringing up children, than in the West.[400] The culture of Ukraine has also been influenced by its eastern and western neighbours, reflected in its architecture, music and art.[401]

The Communist era had quite a strong effect on the art and writing of Ukraine.[402] In 1932, Stalin made socialist realism state policy in the Soviet Union when he promulgated the decree "On the Reconstruction of Literary and Art Organisations". This greatly stifled creativity. During the 1980s glasnost (openness) was introduced and Soviet artists and writers again became free to express themselves as they wanted.[403]

As of 2022, UNESCO inscribed seven properties in Ukraine on the World Heritage List.[404] Ukraine is also known for its decorative and folk traditions such as Petrykivka painting, Kosiv ceramics, and Cossack songs.[405][406][407]

The tradition of the Easter egg, known as pysanky, has long roots in Ukraine. These eggs were drawn on with wax to create a pattern; then, the dye was applied to give the eggs their pleasant colours, the dye did not affect the previously wax-coated parts of the egg. After the entire egg was dyed, the wax was removed leaving only the colourful pattern. This tradition is thousands of years old, and precedes the arrival of Christianity to Ukraine.[408] In the city of Kolomyia near the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, the museum of Pysanka was built in 2000 and won a nomination as the monument of modern Ukraine in 2007, part of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine action.


Technically the history of Ukrainian literature dates all of the way back to the 11th century, following the Christianisation of Kievan Rus', however these earliest writings were liturgical and were written in the Old Church Slavonic language, not in true Ukrainian. Historical accounts of the time were referred to as chronicles, the most significant of which was the Primary Chronicle.[409][410][g] Literary activity faced a sudden decline during the Mongol invasion of Rus'.[409]

Taras Shevchenko, self-portrait
Lesya Ukrainka, one of the foremost Ukrainian women writers

Ukrainian literature again began to develop in the 14th century, and was advanced significantly in the 16th century with the invention of the printing press and with the beginning of the Cossack era, under both Russian and Polish dominance.[409] The Cossacks established an independent society and popularized a new kind of epic poem, which marked a high point of Ukrainian oral literature.[410] These advances were then set back in the 17th and early 18th centuries, when publishing in the Ukrainian language was outlawed. Nonetheless, by the late 18th century modern literary Ukrainian finally emerged.[409] In 1798 the modern era of the Ukrainian literary tradition began with Ivan Kotlyarevsky's publication of Eneida in the Ukrainian vernacular.[411]

By the 1830s, a Ukrainian romantic literature began to develop, and the nation's most renowned cultural figure, romanticist poet-painter Taras Shevchenko emerged. Whereas Ivan Kotliarevsky is considered to be the father of literature in the Ukrainian vernacular; Shevchenko is the father of a national revival.[412]

Then, in 1863, the use of the Ukrainian language in print was effectively prohibited by the Russian Empire.[70] This severely curtailed literary activity in the area, and Ukrainian writers were forced to either publish their works in Russian or release them in Austrian controlled Galicia. The ban was never officially lifted, but it became obsolete after the revolution and the Bolsheviks' coming to power.[410]

Ukrainian literature continued to flourish in the early Soviet years when nearly all literary trends were approved. These policies faced a steep decline in the 1930s, when prominent representatives as well as many others were killed by the NKVD during the Great Purge. In general around 223 writers were repressed by what was known as the Executed Renaissance.[413] These repressions were part of Stalin's implemented policy of socialist realism. The doctrine did not necessarily repress the use of the Ukrainian language, but it required that writers follow a certain style in their works.

Literary freedom grew in the late 1980s and early 1990s alongside the decline and collapse of the USSR and the reestablishment of Ukrainian independence in 1991.[409]


St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral in Kyiv, foremost example of Cossack Baroque and one of Ukraine's most recognizable landmarks

Ukrainian architecture includes the motifs and styles that are found in structures built in modern Ukraine, and by Ukrainians worldwide. These include initial roots which were established in the Eastern Slavic state of Kievan Rus'. Since the Christianization of Kievan Rus' for several ages Ukrainian architecture was influenced by the Byzantine architecture. After the 12th century, the distinct architectural history continued in the Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia.[414]

After the union with the Tsardom of Russia, architecture in Ukraine began to develop in different directions, with many structures in the larger eastern, Russian-ruled area built in the styles of Russian architecture of that period, whilst the western region of Galicia developed under Polish and Austro-Hungarian architectural influences. Ukrainian national motifs would eventually be used during the period of the Soviet Union and in modern independent Ukraine.[414] A major project, which may take up most of the 21st century, is the construction of the Kyiv City-Centre on the Rybalskyi Peninsula, which, when finished, will include a dense skyscraper park amid the picturesque landscape of the Dnieper.[415] However, much of the contemporary architectural skyline of Ukraine is dominated by Soviet-style Khrushchyovkas, or low-cost apartment buildings.[416]

Weaving and embroidery

Artisan textile arts play an important role in Ukrainian culture,[417] especially in Ukrainian wedding traditions. Ukrainian embroidery, weaving and lace-making are used in traditional folk dress and in traditional celebrations. Ukrainian embroidery varies depending on the region of origin[418] and the designs have a long history of motifs, compositions, choice of colours and types of stitches.[419] Use of colour is very important and has roots in Ukrainian folklore. Embroidery motifs found in different parts of Ukraine are preserved in the Rushnyk Museum in Pereiaslav.

National dress is woven and highly decorated. Weaving with handmade looms is still practised in the village of Krupove, situated in Rivne Oblast. The village is the birthplace of two famous personalities in the scene of national crafts fabrication. Nina Myhailivna[420] and Uliana Petrivna[421] with international recognition.


Music is a major part of Ukrainian culture, with a long history and many influences. From traditional folk music, to classical and modern rock, Ukraine has produced several internationally recognised musicians including Kirill Karabits, Okean Elzy and Ruslana. Elements from traditional Ukrainian folk music made their way into Western music and even into modern jazz. Ukrainian music sometimes presents a perplexing mix of exotic melismatic singing with chordal harmony. The most striking general characteristic of authentic ethnic Ukrainian folk music is the wide use of minor modes or keys which incorporate augmented second intervals.[422]

During the Baroque period, music had a place of considerable importance in the curriculum of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Much of the nobility was well versed in music with many Ukrainian Cossack leaders such as (Mazepa, Paliy, Holovatyj, Sirko) being accomplished players of the kobza, bandura or torban.

Mykola Lysenko is widely considered to be the father of Ukrainian classical music[423]

The first dedicated musical academy was set up in Hlukhiv in 1738 and students were taught to sing and play violin and bandura from manuscripts. As a result, many of the earliest composers and performers within the Russian empire were ethnically Ukrainian, having been born or educated in Hlukhiv or having been closely associated with this music school.[424] Ukrainian classical music differs considerably depending on whether the composer was of Ukrainian ethnicity living in Ukraine, a composer of non-Ukrainian ethnicity who was a citizen of Ukraine, or part of the Ukrainian diaspora.[425]

Since the mid-1960s, Western-influenced pop music has been growing in popularity in Ukraine. Folk singer and harmonium player Mariana Sadovska is prominent. Ukrainian pop and folk music arose with the international popularity of groups and performers like Vopli Vidoplyasova, Dakh Daughters, Dakha Brakha, Ivan Dorn and Okean Elzy.


The Ukrainian legal framework on media freedom is deemed "among the most progressive in eastern Europe", although implementation has been uneven.[426] The constitution and laws provide for freedom of speech[427] and press. The main regulatory authority for the broadcast media is the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine (NTRBCU), tasked with licensing media outlets and ensure their compliance with the law.[428]

Kyiv dominates the media sector in Ukraine: National newspapers Den, Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, tabloids, such as The Ukrainian Week or Focus, and television and radio are largely based there,[citation needed] although Lviv is also a significant national media centre. The National News Agency of Ukraine, Ukrinform was founded here in 1918. BBC Ukrainian started its broadcasts in 1992.[429] As of 2022 75% of the population use the internet, and social media is widely used by government and people.[430]


Ukrainian footballer Andriy Shevchenko celebrates a goal against Sweden at Euro 2012

Ukraine greatly benefited from the Soviet emphasis on physical education. These policies left Ukraine with hundreds of stadia, swimming pools, gymnasia and many other athletic facilities.[431] The most popular sport is football. The top professional league is the Vyscha Liha ("premier league").

Many Ukrainians also played for the Soviet national football team, most notably Ballon d'Or winners Ihor Belanov and Oleh Blokhin. This award was only presented to one Ukrainian after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Andriy Shevchenko. The national team made its debut in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and reached the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champions, Italy.

Vitali Klitschko and his brother, Wladimir

Ukrainian boxers are amongst the best in the world.[432] Since becoming the undisputed cruiserweight champion in 2018, Oleksandr Usyk has also gone on to win the unified WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles. This feat made him one of only three boxers to have unified the cruiserweight world titles and become a world heavyweight champion.[433] The brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko are former heavyweight world champions who held multiple world titles throughout their careers. Also hailing from Ukraine is Vasyl Lomachenko, a 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist. He is the unified lightweight world champion who ties the record for winning a world title in the fewest professional fights; three. As of September 2018, he is ranked as the world's best active boxer, pound for pound, by ESPN.[434]

Sergey Bubka held the record in the Pole vault from 1993 to 2014; with great strength, speed and gymnastic abilities, he was voted the world's best athlete on several occasions.[435][436]

Basketball has gained popularity in Ukraine. In 2011, Ukraine was granted a right to organize EuroBasket 2015. Two years later the Ukraine national basketball team finished sixth in EuroBasket 2013 and qualified to FIBA World Cup for the first time in its history. Euroleague participant Budivelnyk Kyiv is the strongest professional basketball club in Ukraine.

Chess is a popular sport in Ukraine. Ruslan Ponomariov is the former world champion. There are about 85 Grandmasters and 198 International Masters in Ukraine.Rugby league is played throughout Ukraine.[437]


Varenyky topped with fried onion

The traditional Ukrainian diet includes chicken, pork, beef, fish and mushrooms. Ukrainians also tend to eat a lot of potatoes, grains, fresh, boiled or pickled vegetables. Popular traditional dishes varenyky (boiled dumplings with mushrooms, potatoes, sauerkraut, cottage cheese, cherries or berries), nalysnyky (pancakes with cottage cheese, poppy seeds, mushrooms, caviar or meat), kapusnyak (cabbage soup made with meat, potatoes, carrots, onions, millet, tomato paste, spices and fresh herbs), borscht (soup made of beets, cabbage and mushrooms or meat) and holubtsy (stuffed cabbage rolls filled with rice, carrots, onion and minced meat).[438] Among traditional baked goods are decorated korovais and paska Easter bread.[439] Ukrainian specialties also include Chicken Kiev and Kyiv cake.

Ukrainians drink stewed fruit compote, juices, milk, buttermilk, mineral water, tea and coffee, beer, wine and horilka.[440]

See also


a.^ Among the Ukrainians that rose to the highest offices in the Russian Empire were Aleksey Razumovsky, Alexander Bezborodko and Ivan Paskevich. Among the Ukrainians who greatly influenced the Russian Orthodox Church in this period were Stephen Yavorsky, Feofan Prokopovich and Dimitry of Rostov.

b.^ Estimates on the number of deaths vary. Official Soviet data is not available because the Soviet government denied the existence of the famine. See the Holodomor article for details. Sources differ on interpreting various statements from different branches of different governments as to whether they amount to the official recognition of the Famine as Genocide by the country. For example, after the statement issued by the Latvian Sejm on 13 March 2008, the total number of countries is given as 19 (according to Ukrainian BBC: "Латвія визнала Голодомор ґеноцидом"), 16 (according to Korrespondent, Russian edition: "После продолжительных дебатов Сейм Латвии признал Голодомор геноцидом украинцев"), "more than 10" (according to Korrespondent, Ukrainian edition: "Латвія визнала Голодомор 1932–33 рр. геноцидом українців") Retrieved 27 January 2008.

c.1 2 These figures are likely to be much higher, as they do not include Ukrainians of other nationalities or Ukrainian Jews, but only ethnic Ukrainians, from the Ukrainian SSR.

d.^ This figure excludes POW deaths.

e.^ Several countries with territory in Europe have a larger total area, but all of those also include territory outside of Europe. Only Russia's European territory is larger than Ukraine.

f.1 2 3 According to the official 2001 census data (by nationality;[441] by language[442]) about 75 percent of Kyiv's population responded 'Ukrainian' to the native language (ridna mova) census question, and roughly 25 percent responded 'Russian'. On the other hand, when the question 'What language do you use in everyday life?' was asked in the 2003 sociological survey, the Kyivans' answers were distributed as follows: 'mostly Russian': 52 percent, 'both Russian and Ukrainian in equal measure': 32 percent, 'mostly Ukrainian': 14 percent, 'exclusively Ukrainian': 4.3 percent.
"What language is spoken in Ukraine?". Welcome to Ukraine. February 2003. Archived from the original on 11 October 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2008.

g.^ Such writings were also the base for Russian and Belarusian literature.

  1. ^ Including the disputed territory of Crimea (27,000 km2).
  2. ^ Including the disputed territory of Crimea (2,416,856)
  3. ^ Ukraine also has de facto borders to its south with Crimea, which Russia annexed from it in 2014. Ukraine still continues to claim the peninsula as its integral part and is supported internationally on the issue. See political status of Crimea for details.
  4. ^ Partly controlled by the unrecognised breakaway state Transnistria


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Print sources

Reference books

Recent (since 1991)

  • Aslund, Anders, and Michael McFaul. Revolution in Orange: The Origins of Ukraine's Democratic Breakthrough (2006)
  • Birch, Sarah. Elections and Democratization in Ukraine Macmillan, 2000 online edition
  • Edwards Mike: "Ukraine – Running on empty" National Geographic Magazine March 1993
  • Ivan Katchanovski: Cleft Countries: Regional Political Divisions and Cultures in Post-Soviet Ukraine and Moldova, Ibidem-Verlag, 2006, ISBN 978-3-89821-558-9
  • Kuzio, Taras: Contemporary Ukraine: Dynamics of Post-Soviet Transformation, M.E. Sharpe, 1998, ISBN 0-7656-0224-5
  • Kuzio, Taras. Ukraine: State and Nation Building, Routledge, 1998 online edition
  • Shamshur O. V., Ishevskaya T. I., Multilingual education as a factor of inter-ethnic relations: the case of the Ukraine, in Language Education for Intercultural Communication, by D. E. Ager, George Muskens, Sue Wright, Multilingual Matters, 1993, ISBN 1-85359-204-8
  • Shen, Raphael (1996). Ukraine's Economic Reform: Obstacles, Errors, Lessons. Praeger/Greenwood. ISBN 978-0-275-95240-2.
  • Whitmore, Sarah. State Building in Ukraine: The Ukrainian Parliament, 1990–2003 Routledge, 2004 online edition
  • Wilson, Andrew, Ukraine's Orange Revolution (2005)
  • Wilson, Andrew, The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation, 2nd ed. 2002;
  • Wilson, Andrew, Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s: A Minority Faith, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-57457-9
  • Zon, Hans van. The Political Economy of Independent Ukraine. 2000 online edition


World War II

  • Boshyk, Yuri (1986). Ukraine During World War II: History and Its Aftermath. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. ISBN 978-0-920862-37-7.
  • Berkhoff, Karel C. Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine Under Nazi Rule. Harvard U. Press, 2004. 448 pp.
  • Cliff, Tony (1984). Class Struggle and Women's Liberation. Bookmarks. ISBN 978-0-906224-12-0.
  • Gross, Jan T. Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland's Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia (1988).
  • Lower, Wendy. Nazi Empire-Building and the Holocaust in Ukraine. U. of North Carolina Press, 2005. 307 pp.
  • Piotrowski Tadeusz, Poland's Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918–1947, McFarland & Company, 1998, ISBN 0-7864-0371-3
  • Redlich, Shimon. Together and Apart in Brzezany: Poles, Jews, and Ukrainians, 1919–1945. Indiana U. Press, 2002. 202 pp.
  • Zabarko, Boris, ed. Holocaust In The Ukraine, Mitchell Vallentine & Co, 2005. 394 pp.

External links