Information about the country
Capital - Kyiv
Official language - Ukrainian; the Ukrainian and Russian languages are mostly used.
State currency - hrivna
Ukraine is situated in the central part of Eastern Europe and is the largest European country. Its total land area is 603,700 km?. It stretches about 2,000 km from the east to the west and 1,000 from the north to the south. Ukraine borders with 7 different countries: Russia, Byelorussia, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, Hungary.
The geographical point which is often mentioned as “the geographical centre of Europe” is in Ukraine, not far from the town of Rakhov, Zakarpatye region. The population of Ukraine is 48 million people. More than 50% of the population live in the cities such as Kyiv (over 4 million people), Kharkov (1,5 million people), Donetsk (1,05 million people), Odessa (1 million people), Lvov (788 thousand people). Ukraine is a multiracial country: there are 73% of Ukrainians, 22% of Russian people and 5% of people of other nationalities (Byelorussians, Jews, Moldavians, Poles, Armenians etc.).
In the territory of the modern Ukraine in 700 BC Skiffs founded a powerful and large empire, and Greeks – their numerous colonies. In 300 BC the territory was invaded by Sarmatians. In 3rd century AD Goths founded a prosperous empire in the territory between the Don and the Danube, which was destroyed by Gunns in 375 AD. Later eastern Slavonic and Hazarian tribes came there who were at war with each other for possession of this land. To protect their land from Hazarians Slavonic tribes asked Variags for help, and in 882 one of the Variagian princes, Oleg, founded Kyevskoye princedom, which became the first Russian state and the core of the future Ukraine.
The invasion of Kyevski state by Mongolo-Tatars headed by Batiy in the 13th century led to its decline. Mongolo-Tatars had supremacy over the better part of the land, and Galitsko-Volynski princedom was divided between Poland and Great Litovski princedom. In 1648-1654 there was a revolt of Zaporozhski kosaks headed by hetman Bogdan Khmelnitski against Rzech Pospolita, and in 1647 eastern Ukrainian land became part of Russia.
During the reign of the Russian empress Ekaterina II the privileges of kosaks were cancelled and serfdom oppression was intensified in Ukraine.
In 1783 Ekaterina annexed the Crimea and after the second division of Poland in 1793 she joined the whole Ukrainian land (except Galitsia which was part of Austrian-Hungarian Empire till 1919) to Russian Empire.
After the Brest-Lithuanian agreement signed in 1918, the territory of Ukraine was occupied by German troops that stayed in the country till December, 1918. In 1921 the western Ukrainian land became part of Poland and the Soviet Ukraine became part of the Soviet Union in 1922.
Occupied by Germany during the Second World War, Ukraine was liberated by the Soviet troops in 1944. In 1945 Eastern Galitsia, Rutenia, Northern Bukovina and part of Bessarabia were joined to Ukraine, and in 1954 Crimea region also became part of the country.
After Ukraine became independent in 1991 it chose the way of economic reforms and integration to the European community.
The climate of Ukraine is moderate, predominantly continental, damp in the west, dry steppe in the south, mediterranean on the south slopes of the Crimean Mountains.
The main precipitation is brought by the Atlantic cyclones. The annual amount of precipitation reduces from the northwest to the southeast – from over 600mm to 300mm. In the Carpathians the annual precipitation is 1,500 mm, in the Crimean Mountains – 100 mm.
Winter in Ukraine lasts for 55-75 days in the southwest and 120-135 days in the northeast. It is characterized by temperature variability (the annual temperature in January varies from -8?C to 2?C), frequent thaws, ice. The height of snow layer in the north of Ukraine is 30 cm and in the west it is less than 10 cm.
In the south of the country a warm and hot summer begins in early May. The average temperature in July varies from 17?C to 25?C.
Places of interest
Ukraine has wonderful resorts on the Black Sea and Azov Sea coasts. In the Carpathians there are ski resorts.
Ukraine is rich with historical architectural monuments. Among them there is Sofiyski cathedral ( 11 cent.) in Kyiv, Vydubetski monastery (11 cent.), Gold gates (11 cent.), Spasa church in Berestov (11-12 cent.), Kirillovskaya church (12 cent.), Kyevo-Pecherskaya Laura (11-18 cent.) in which there are remains of Orthodox saints, the Museum of Gold, Andeevskaya church (18 cent.) by the architect Rastrelli. In Lvov there is one of the oldest universities in Europe which was founded in 1661 and the Cathedral (14-15 cent.), the Chapel of Three prelates (16 cent.), Black Kamenitsa (16-17 cent.).
Odessa is famous for its Opera House (built in 1887), the ensemble of classic style buildings and Potemkinskaya staircase (1826-1841), the monument to Duke Dishelie. Near Sevastopol there are ruins of the ancient City of Khersones which had existed since 5th century BC. An archeological reserve was founded in this place.
Ukrainian food is original because of pork, bacon, beet, wheat flour which are mostly used for preparing dishes, and ways of their cooking - combined thermal processing of a big number of dish ingredients. For instance, to cook borshch they use twenty different ingredients, that is the reason why it tastes so delicious and it is nutritious.
The most popular and favourite food is bacon. In Ukraine people often eat gruel, vareniki with cottage cheese, potato, stewed cabbage filling, in summer – with berry filling. Stewed meat with potatoes, Ukrainian cutlets larded with garlic and bacon, boiled pork, krucheniki are also very popular. Ukrainian food is characterised by a wide range of first courses. Among them borshch is in the first place. There are about 30 kinds of it.
A significant part of Ukrainian food is fish dishes: crucian baked in sour cream, fish krucheniki, carp stuffed with mushrooms and buckwheat, stewed carp with onions and sour cream, pike perch baked with mushrooms and crabs. In Ukraine favourite fruit and berries are cherries, plums, pears, currants, water-melons, and less favourite apples and raspberries.