and largest city
|Ethnic groups (2001)||77.8% Ukrainians,
4.9% others and unspecified
|Government||Unitary semi-presidential republic|
|November 7, 1917|
|November 1, 1918|
|December 30, 1922|
|June 30, 1941|
|August 24, 19911|
|603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi) (46th)|
• Water (%)
• 2010 estimate
• 2001 census
|77/km2 (199.4/sq mi) (115th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2010 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2010 estimate|
• Per capita
|HDI (2011)|| 0.710
high · 76th
|Time zone||+3 in Crimea)|
• Summer (DST)
|Drives on the||right|
|ISO 3166 code||UA|
|Internet TLD||.ua, .укр|
Ukraine (Ukrainian: Україна, [ukrajina]) is a country in Eastern Europe. Russia is to the north-east of Ukraine, Belarus is to the Northwest, Poland and Slovakia are to the West, Hungary, Romania, Moldova and self-proclaimed Transnistria are to the South West and the Black Sea is to the Southwest.
Official language[change | change source]
The official language of Ukraine is Ukrainian (Ukrainian: українська мова, [ukrajin’s’ka mova]). In the 2001 census, about 29% of people in Ukraine said that they consider Russian to be their main language. These two East Slavic languages are similar in some ways but different in other ways.
Division of Ukraine[change | change source]
Ukraine is divided into 24 oblasts (regions), one Autonomous Republic of Crimea and two cities with special status — Kyiv and Sevastopol.
The largest cities of Ukraine[change | change source]
The largest cities in Ukraine are:
- Kyiv (from the late 9th century was the capital of Kievan Rus;the capital of Ukraine since the restoration of independent Ukrainian state in 1919)
- Kharkiv (was the capital of Ukraine in 1919—1934)
Name origin[change | change source]
The name "Ukraine" (u-kraina) is variously interpreted as "edge" or "country" or "borderland". 
History[change | change source]
Ancient times[change | change source]
Many different tribes lived on the territory of modern Ukraine since pre-historical times. Most historians believe that the Great Steppe at the North of the Black Sea was a homeland of all Indo-European and Indo-Iranian languages. Some believe it was also a birthplace of the whole Caucasian race. Wends, Goths, Huns, Sclaveni, Avars and other tribes and tribal groups fought among themselves, joined unions, terminated and assimilated each other.
By the middle of 4th century AD Antes joined other tribes and established a state under their rule. Their state fell under the pressure of Avars in 602 AD and their name was longer mentioned. Since the 7th century over 10 tribal groups joined under the name "Slavs" and made their own state named Rus. The chronicles mention three centers which formed this state: Kuyavia (Kyiv land with Kyiv itself), Slavia (Novgorod land) and Artania (exact location unknown).
Historians still argue about whether Kyiv was founded by Slavs themselves, or they just captured the Khazar fortress which was located on the bank of the Dnieper river, but since the 10th century, it became the capital of the largest and most powerful state in Europe.
Kievan Rus[change | change source]
Kievan Rus, is the medieval state of Eastern Slavs. Established by the Slavic with the help of the Varangian squads whose force was used to integrate separate tribes and their lands into one powerful state. Varangian princes, who ruled Rus from its first years were gradually assimilated by natives, but the dynasty started by semy-legendary Ririk survived and continued to govern their separate principalities even after the collapse of Rus.
At an early stage of its existence Rus destroyed such powerful states as the Khazar Khaganate and Old Great Bulgaria. Rus princes successfully fought against the Byzantine Empire, whose emperors had to pay tribute to them. Rus' finally disintegrated into separate principalities.
In the reign of Volodymyr the Great (980-1015) the Kyivan State almost finished its expansion. It occupied the territory from Peipus, Ladoga and Onega lakes in the north to the river Don, Ros, Sula, Southern Bug in the south, from the Dniester, the Carpathians, the Neman, Western Dvina River in the west to the Volga and the Oka River in the east, its area became about 800,000 km2. Although some of his predecessors already accepted Christianity for themselves, Volodymir decided to convert the entire population of the state to the new religion. Partially with the help of Byzantine missionaries preachers, partly by the brutal violence, he finally made all Kyiv population to be baptized. For this action, the Ukrainian, and later the Russian Orthodox Churches canonized him under the name of Volodimyr the Baptist.
During the reign of Yaroslav the Wise, (1019–1054), Rus reached the zenith of its cultural development and military power. Rus raised the prestige of Eastern Slavs in Europe, improved the international significance of Kyiv. Rus influenced the political relations in all of Europe, Western Asia, and in the Middle East. Kyivan princes supported the political, economic, dynastic relations with France, Sweden, England, Poland, Hungary, Norway, Byzantium.
The Rus state also ruled non-Slavic people (Finno-Ugric population of the North, Turkic of the East and South, Balts of the West etc.). Those people gradually assimilated with the Slavs, and with each other, establishing a framework for the future emergence of three new Eastern-Slavic peoples.
The Kyivan State was an eastern outpost of European Christendom, it kept the movement of nomad hordes to the West, and reduced their onslaught against Byzantium and Central European countries.
After the death of Mstyslav Volodymyrovych (1132), Rus lost its political unity and finally was divided into 15 principalities and lands. Among them Kyiv, Chernygiv, Volodymyr-Suzdal, Novgorod, Smolensk, Polotsk, and Halycian lands and principalities were most large and powerful.
Major political conditions of fragmentation were:
- The succession among the princes of Kyivan State was different: in some regions lands passed from father to son, in others from the older to the younger brother etc.
- The political relationship between individual fiefdoms and private lands was weakened, and the better development of certain lands led to the formation of local separatism;
- In some regions the local aristocracy required a strong prince to rule, in order to protect their rights. On the other hand, while the feudal princes and boyars real power increased, and the power of the Grand Prince decreased, more and more of nobles felt priority of their local interests above national ones;
- There was not created their own dynasty in the Kyiv principality, because all the princely families struggled with each other for possession of Kyiv ;
- Nomads dramatically intensified their expansion to Kyivan lands.
While Kyiv was the center of all social, economic, political, cultural and ideological life in the country for a long time before, other centers have competed with it from the mid-12th century. There were old powers (Novgorod, Smolensk, Polotsk), as well as new ones (Volodymir-on-Klyazma and Halych).
Numerous princely feuds, large and small wars between different lords, were tearing Rus. However, the ancient Ukrainian state did not fall apart. It only changed the form of its government: The personal monarchy was replaced by the federal one, Rus came to be co-ruled by the group of the most influential and powerful princes. Historians call this way of governing "the collective suzerainty." The Principality of Kyiv remained a national center, and the residence of bishops.
In 1206 the new powerful military-feudal Mongolian state headed by Genghis Khan started the war of conquest against his neighbors. In 1223 in the battle near the Kalka river 25,000 Tatar-Mongols won a crushing victory over the squads of Southern Rus Princes, who were unable to come together even in the face of grave danger. Under the leadership of Batu, Genghis Khan's grandson, from 1237-1238, they conquered Riazan, Volodymir, Suzdal, and Yaroslavl lands.
In 1240, they attacked Kyiv. The city was plundered and destroyed. According to the legend, the enemy saved governor Dimitri's life for his personal courage in the battle. Then Kamenetz, Iziaslav, Volodymyr, and Halych lost against invaders. Batu was able to attach most of Rus to his empire, the Golden Horde, which covered the whole territory from the Urals to the Black Sea,
After the fall of Kyivan State, the political, economic and cultural center of Ukrainian lands was transferred to the Halycian-Volyn Land. In 1245 Prince Danylo of Halych had to admit his dependence on the Golden Horde. Hoping to get help from Catholic Europe in his the struggle for independence, he also made a secret alliance with Poland, Hungary, Masovia and the Teutonic Knights. In 1253 he received the crown from Pope Innocent IV and became a King of Rus. In 1259, due to the lack of military aid from the West, the king was forced to re-recognize the supremacy of the Horde. His successor, Lev I had to take part in theTartar campaigns against Poland and Lithuania.
In 1308 the government moved to Danylo's grandchildren - Andrew and Lev II, who started the new struggle against the Golden Horde allied with the Teutonic knights and princes of Mazowia. However, after their death the last monarch Yuri II again had to claim himself as the Golden Horde vassal. He was murdered in 1340 and his death gave the rise to Poland and Lithuania (the neighbors who had a dynastic right for the throne of Rus) to start a war for the Halycian-Volyn heritage. In 1392 Galicia, with Belz and Chelm Lands were finally icorporated to the Kingdom of Poland and Volhynia to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
At the end of the 14th century, Ukrainian territories were divided between different states. Lithuania seized Kyiv, Chernihiv and Volyn Lands. Poland ruled in Halycian and Podolian. The Southern Ukraine was under the rule of the Crimean Khanate (formed in 1447) and the Eastern under the power of Muscovy. In 1569 Lithuania and Poland merged to the united state called Commonwealth (Polish: Rzecypospolyta) to deal with neighbors, as a result, the central Ukrainian lands of Lithuania came under Polish control.
Etymology[change | change source]
Rus, or The Kyivan State, Latin: Ruthenia, Greek: Ρωσία; often misspeled as "Kievan State" or even "Kievan Rus", using Russian spelling of its capital Kyiv (Russian: Киев [ˈkiɛf]).
As for the origin and definition of the name "Rus" there is no consensus among researchers. Several versions exist:
- Normans (Vikings), tribes who called themselves Ruses, and founded a state among Slavs, which naturally was called 'Rus Land'. This theory originated in the 17th century and was called the 'Norman theory'. Its authors are German historians G. Bayer and G. Miller, their followers and associates are called 'Normanists';
- Ruses were a Slavic tribe which lived in the middle reaches of the Dnieper;
- Rusa - the Proto-Slavic language word which means 'river';
Ukrainian historians generally adhere to anti-Norman opinion, while not denying the contribution Varangians in the process of formation of Rus state system. Russ, or The Rus Land in their opinion means:
- The name of the territory where Kyiv, Chernigov and Pereiaslav located (Polans, Severians, Drevlians tribes);
- The name of the tribes who lived on the banks of the rivers Ros, Rosava, Rostavytsia, Roska etc.
- The name of the Kyivan state itself since 9th century.
Cossackian State[change | change source]
At the end of the 15th century, the groups of warriors who called themselves Cossacks appeared on the territory between the borders of Lithuania, Muscovy and the Crimea, in the "wild steppes" of Zaporizhia. From the 16th century the Sich became their military centre. Zaporizhian Cossacks participated in the wars on the side of the Commonwealth: the Livonian War (1558-1583), the Polish-Muscovite War (1605-1618), Khotyn war (1620-1621), and Smolensk war (1632-1634). Cossacks also organized their own campaigns in Moldavia, Muscovy, and Crimea, on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria and in Asia Minor for looting. They willingly became mercenaries, particularly during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648).
Due to the legal and social oppression of the nobility Cossacks repeatedly revolted. The largest rebellions were raised under the guidance of: Kosynskiy (1591-1593), Nalyvaiko (1594-1596), Zhmaylo (1625), Fedorovych (1630), Sulima (1635), Pavlyuk (1637) and Ostryanin (1638). Cossacks again and again defended the rights of the Ukrainian population in the Commonwealth who experienced religious and national oppression regularly.
For the conflict in the 1850s see Crimean War.
20th century[change | change source]
Soviet Russia in the 1920s encouraged the Ukrainian language and Ukrainian culture. In the 1930s this policy changed to making the Ukrainians into Russians. There were mass repressions of Ukrainian poets, historians and linguists. As in other parts of the Soviet Union millions of people starved to death in 1932 and 1933 in the Holodomor.
During the first years of World War II Ukrainian nationalists collaborated with Nazis against Soviet Union hoping to reestablish Ukrainian independence or to get autonomy under the authority of Germany. Nationalists took part in mass murders of Jews, Roma people and other victims of Nazi regime. However hopes of independence was ruined and Ukrainian nationalists created Ukrainian Insurgent Army which fought against Nazi Germany but against the Soviet Union (mainly Soviet partisans) for the most part. They failed to get independence. Most Ukrainians fought on the side of the Soviet Union and participated in the liberation of Ukraine from Nazi Germany.
Under the second Soviet occupation repressions against Ukrainian nationalists continued and lasted till dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Modern independence[change | change source]
President elections: 1 December 1991, July 1994, October-November 1999, October-December 2004, January 2010
Parliament elections: March 1994, March 1998, March 2002, March 2006, September 2007 (prematurely), October 2012
Constitution of Ukraine was adopted by Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) 28 July 1996 with changes 8 December 2004.
The political demonstrations in autumn-winter 2004 after the Presidential elections gathered millions of people all over the country. On November 26, 2004, Victor Yuschenko lost the Ukrainian presidential election (Viktor Yanukovych was declared winner). However, Yuschenko and his followers argued that the election had been corrupted. They argued that the election results had been falsified by the Ukrainian government, in support of the opposing candidate Victor Yanukovych. They organized political demonstrations in autumn-winter 2004 that gathered millions of people all over the country. They called the demonstrations The Orange Revolution (Ukrainian: Помаранчева революція). Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was an important ally of Victor Yuschenko during the demonstrations. The Constitutional Court of Ukraine ordered a second round of elections, which Yuschenko won.
In March 2014, Crimea was occupied and annexed by Russia. Most countries did not recognize the annexation. The EU, OSCE, USA and Ukraine demanded that Crimea be returned. Several countries sought to use economic sanctions to punish Russia's leaders for this. 
In April, 2014 pro-Russian separatists occupied Donbass in eastern Ukraine, which has many Russian-speaking people. This began a war to control Donbass.
Presidents of Ukraine[change | change source]
- Mykhaylo Hrushevsky (1917 — 1922)
- Leonid Makarovych Kravchuk (1991—1994)
- Leonid Danylovych Kuchma (1994—2005)
- Victor Yushchenko (2005—2010)
- Victor Yanukovych (2010—2014)
- Oleksandr Turchynov (2014)
- Petro Poroshenko (acting, 2014–)
Related pages[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
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- "Population by ethnic nationality, 1 January, year". ukrcensus.gov.ua. Ukrainian Office of Statistics. Archived from the original on March 23, 2008. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
- "Ukrainian population keeps decreasing". National Radio Company of Ukraine. 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
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- Ukraine Citizendium
- Maps: How Ukraine became Ukraine March 9, 2015 WashingtonPost.com
- BBC News