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In the English-speaking world during most of the 20th century, Ukraine (whether independent or not) was referred to as "the Ukraine". This is because the word ukraina means "borderland" so the definite article would be natural in the English language; this is similar to "Nederlanden", which means "low lands" and is rendered in English as "theNetherlands". However, since Ukraine's declaration of independence in 1991, this usage has become politicised and is now rarer, and style guides advise against its use. US ambassador William Taylor said that using "the Ukraine" implies disregard for Ukrainian sovereignty. The official Ukrainian position is that "the Ukraine" is incorrect, both grammatically and politically.
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.
The establishment of the Kievan Rus' remains obscure and uncertain; there are at least three versions depending on interpretations of the chronicles. In general, the state included much of present-day Ukraine, Belarus and the western part of European Russia. According to the Primary Chronicle the Rus' elite and rulers initially consisted of Varangians from Scandinavia. In 882, the pagan Prince Oleg (Oleh) conquered Kyiv from Askold and Dir and proclaimed it as the capital of the Rus'. However, it is 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. In any case, the Varangians later assimilated into the Slavic population and became part of the first Rus' dynasty, the Rurik dynasty. Kievan Rus' was composed of several principalities ruled by the interrelated Rurikid kniazes ("princes"), who often fought each other for possession of Kyiv.
During the 10th and 11th centuries, Kievan Rus' became the largest and most powerful state in Europe, a period known as its Golden Age. It 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. 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, though ownership of Kyiv would still carry great prestige for decades. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the nomadic confederacy of the Turkic-speaking Cumans and Kipchaks was the dominant force in the Pontic steppe north of the Black Sea.
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. 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. In 1430, the region of Podolia was incorporated into Poland and Ukraine became increasingly settled by Polish colonisers. In 1441, Genghisid prince Haci I Giray founded the Crimean Khanate on the Crimean Peninsula and the surrounding steppes; the Khanate orchestrated Tatarslave raids and took an estimated two million Ruthenian slaves.
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. Poland exercised little real control over this population, but found the Cossacks to be useful against the Turks and Tatars, and at times the two were allies in military campaigns. However, the continued harsh enserfment of Ruthenian peasantry by Polish overlords and the suppression of the Orthodox Church alienated the Cossacks. The latter did not shy from taking up arms against those they perceived as enemies and occupiers, including the Polish Catholic state with its local representatives.
The conflict over the Ukraine, a part of the broader Russian Civil War, devastated the whole of the former Russian Empire, including eastern and central Ukraine. The fighting left over 1.5 million people dead and hundreds of thousands homeless in the former Russian Empire's territory. The eastern provinces were additionally impacted by a famine in 1921.
Meanwhile, the recently constituted Soviet Ukraine became one of the founding republics of the Soviet Union. During the 1920s, under the Ukrainisation policy pursued by the national Communist leadership of Mykola Skrypnyk, Soviet leadership at first encouraged a national renaissance in Ukrainian culture and language. Ukrainisation was part of the Soviet-wide policy of Korenisation (literally indigenisation), which was intended to promote the advancement of native peoples, their language and culture into the governance of their respective republics.
Around the same time, Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin instituted the New Economic Policy (NEP), which introduced a form of market socialism, allowing some private ownership of small and medium-sized productive enterprises, hoping to reconstruct the post-war Soviet Union that had been devastated by both WWI and later the civil war. The NEP was successful at restoring the formerly war-torn nation to pre-WWI levels of production and agricultural output by the mid-1920s, much of the latter based in Ukraine. These policies attracted many prominent former UNR figures, including former UNR leader Hrushevsky, to return to Soviet Ukraine, where they were accepted, and participated in the advancement of Ukrainian science and culture.
However, as a consequence of Stalin's new policy, 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.
Following on the Russian Civil War, and collectivisation, the Great Purge, while killing Stalin's perceived political enemies, resulted in a profound loss of a new generation of Ukrainian intelligentsia, known today as the Executed Renaissance.
Although the majority of Ukrainians fought in or alongside the Red Army and Soviet resistance, 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). 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, which brought reprisals. 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. After the war, the UPA continued to fight the USSR until the 1950s. At the same time, the Ukrainian Liberation Army, another nationalist movement, fought alongside the Nazis.
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 to 7 million; half of the Pro-Soviet partisan guerrilla resistance units, which counted up to 500,000 troops in 1944, were also Ukrainian. Generally, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army's figures are unreliable, with figures ranging anywhere from 15,000 to as many as 100,000 fighters.
The vast majority of the fighting in World War II took place on the Eastern Front. By some estimates, 93% of all German casualties took place there. The total losses inflicted upon the Ukrainian population during the war are estimated at 6 million, including an estimated one and a half million Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen, sometimes with the help of local collaborators. Of the estimated 8.6 million Soviet troop losses, 1.4 million were ethnic Ukrainians, and general losses of the Ukrainian people in the war amounted to 40–44% of the total losses of the USSR.[better source needed] The Victory Day is celebrated as one of eleven Ukrainian national holidays.
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. The situation was worsened by a famine in 1946–1947, which was caused by a drought and the wartime destruction of infrastructure, killing at least tens of thousands of people. In 1945, the Ukrainian SSR became one of the founding members of the United Nations (UN), part of a special agreement at the Yalta Conference, and, alongside Belarus, had voting rights in the UN even though they were not independent. Moreover, Ukraine once more expanded its borders as it annexed Zakarpattia, and the population became much more homogenized due to post-war population transfers, most of which, as in the case of Germans and Crimean Tatars, were forced. As of 1 January 1953, Ukrainians were second only to Russians among adult "special deportees", comprising 20% of the total.
By 1950, the republic had fully surpassed pre-war levels of industry and production. Soviet Ukraine soon became a European leader in industrial production and an important centre of the Soviet arms industry and high-tech research, though heavy industry still had an outsided influence. The Soviet government invested in hydroelectric and nuclear power projects to cater to the energy demand that the development carried. On 26 April 1986, however, a reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded, resulting in the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history.
Ukraine was initially viewed as having favourable economic conditions in comparison to the other regions of the Soviet Union, though it was one of the poorer Soviet republics by the end of the Soviet Union. However, during its transition to the market economy, the country experienced deeper economic slowdown than almost all of the other former Soviet Republics. During the recession, between 1991 and 1999, Ukraine lost 60% of its GDP and suffered from hyperinflation that peaked at 10,000% in 1993. The situation only stabilized well after the new currency, the hryvnia, fell sharply in late 1998 partially as a fallout from the Russian debt default earlier that year. The legacy of the economic policies of the nineties was the mass privatization of state property that created a class of extremely powerful and rich individuals known as the oligarchs. The country would then fall into sharp recessions as a result of the 2008 global financial crisis, then the start of the Russo-Ukrainian War in 2014, and finally, the full-scale invasion of Russia in starting from 24 February 2022. Ukraine's economy in general underperformed since the time independence came due to pervasive corruption and mismanagement, which, particularly in the 1990s, led to protests and organized strikes. The war with Russia impeded meaningful economic recovery in the 2010s, while efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which arrived in 2020, were made much harder by low vaccination rates and, later in the pandemic, by the ongoing invasion.
From the political perspective, one of the defining features of the politics of Ukraine is that for most of the time, it has been divided along two issues: the relation between Ukraine, the West and Russia, and the classical left-right divide. The first two presidents, Kravchuk and Leonid Kuchma, tended to balance the competing visions of Ukraine, though Yushchenko and Yanukovych were generally pro-Western and pro-Russian, respectively. There were two major protests against Yanukovych: the Orange Revolution in 2004, when tens of thousands of people went in protest of election rigging in his favour (Yushchenko was eventually elected president), and another one in the winter of 2013/2014, when more gathered on the Euromaidan to oppose the Yanukovych's refusal to sign the European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement. By the end of the 2014 protests, he fled from Ukraine and was removed by the parliament in what is termed the Revolution of Dignity, but Russia refused to recognize the interim pro-Western government, calling it a junta and denouncing the events as a coup d'état sponsored by the United States.
Even though Russia had signed the so-called Budapest memorandum in 1994 that said that Ukraine was to hand over nuclear weapons in exchange of security guarantees and those of territorial integrity, it reacted violently to these developments and started a war against its western neighbour. In late February and early March 2014, it annexed Crimea using its Navy in Sevastopol as well as the so-called little green men; after this succeeded, it then launched a proxy war in the Donbas via the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic. The first months of the conflict with the Russian-backed separatists were fluid, but Russian forces then started an open invasion in Donbas on 24 August 2014. Together they pushed back Ukrainian troops to the frontline established in February 2015, i.e. after Ukrainian troops withdrew from Debaltseve. The conflict remained in a sort of a frozen state until the early hours of 24 February 2022, when Russia proceeded with an ongoing invasion of Ukraine (euphemized in Russia as a "special military operation"). Russian troops now control about 20% of Ukraine's internationally recognized territory, though Russia was not able to realize its stated objective of taking full control of the country.
Current control of Ukraine by Russian troops
The military conflict with Russia shifted the government's policy towards the West. Shortly after Yanukovych fled Ukraine, the country signed the EU association agreement in June 2014, and its citizens were granted visa-free travel to the European Union three years later. In January 2019, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was recognized as independent of Moscow, which reversed the 1686 decision of the patriarch of Constantinople and dealt a further blow to Moscow's influence in Ukraine. Finally, amid a full-scale war with Russia, Ukraine was granted candidate status to the European Union on 23 June 2022.
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, natural gas,kaolin, timber and an abundance of arable land. Ukraine has many environmental issues. Some regions lack adequate supplies of potable water. 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.
Ukraine has a mostly temperate climate, except for the southern coast of Crimea which has a subtropical climate. The climate is influenced by moderately warm, humid air from the Atlantic Ocean. 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.Precipitation is highest in the west and north and lowest in the east and southeast. 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).
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.
The Constitution of Ukraine was adopted and ratified at the 5th session of the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament of Ukraine, on 28 June 1996. The constitution was passed with 315 ayes out of 450 votes possible (300 ayes minimum). 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 holidayConstitution Day is celebrated on 28 June. 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.
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.
Martial law was declared when Russia invaded in February 2022, and continues.
The courts enjoy legal, financial and constitutional freedom guaranteed by Ukrainian law since 2002. Judges are largely well protected from dismissal (except for 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.
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". One day later, he stated "We can no longer disgrace our country with such a court system." The criminal judicial system and the prison system of Ukraine remain quite punitive.
Since 2010 court proceedings can be held 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. Previously all court proceedings had to be held in Ukrainian.
Law enforcement agencies are controlled by 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.
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. 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.
Ukraine considers Euro-Atlantic integration its primary foreign policy objective, 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.
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. The Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union was signed in 2014.
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. As of 2021, Ukraine was preparing to formally apply for EU membership in 2024, in order to join the European Union in the 2030s, however, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy requested that the country be admitted to the EU immediately. Candidate status was granted on 23 June 2022.
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. 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.
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.[better source needed] Ukraine's current military consist of 196,600 active personnel and around 900,000 reservists.
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. Ukrainian troops were deployed in Kosovo as part of the Ukrainian-Polish Battalion.
Military units of other states participated in multinational military exercises with Ukrainian forces in Ukraine regularly, including U.S. military forces.
Following independence, Ukraine declared itself a neutral state. 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. Deposed PresidentViktor 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. Various defensive weapons including drones were supplied by many countries, but not fighter jets. 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.
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 136raions (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.
In 2021, the average salary in Ukraine reached its highest level at almost ₴14,300 (US$525) per month. About 1% of Ukrainians lived below the national poverty line in 2019. Unemployment in Ukraine was 4.5% in 2019. In 2019 5–15% of the Ukrainian population were categorized as middle class. In 2020 Ukraine's government debt was roughly 50% of its nominal GDP.
In 2021 mineral commodities and light industry were important sectors. Ukraine produces nearly all types of transportation vehicles and spacecraft.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.
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. 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.
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, could jeopardize the food security of many countries, especially those that are highly dependent on Ukraine and Russia for their food and fertilizer imports. 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). For example Eritrea sourced 47 percent of its wheat imports in 2021 from Ukraine. Overall, more than 30 nations depend on Ukraine and the Russian Federation for over 30 percent of their wheat import needs, many of them in North Africa and Western and Central Asia.
Many roads and bridges were destroyed, and international maritime travel was blocked by the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Before that it was mainly through the Port of Odesa, from where ferries sailed regularly to Istanbul, Varna and Haifa. The largest ferry company operating these routes was Ukrferry. 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.
Energy in Ukraine is mainly from gas and coal, followed by nuclear then oil. The coal industry has been disrupted by conflict. Most gas and oil is imported, but since 2015 energy policy has prioritised diversifying energy supply.
Although gas transit is declining, over 40 billion cubic metres (bcm) of Russian gas flowed through Ukraine in 2021, which was about a third of Russian exports to other European countries. Some energy infrastructure was destroyed in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The internet in the country is robust because it is diverse. Key officials may use Starlink as backup. The IT industry contributed almost 5 per cent to Ukraine's GDP in 2021 and in 2022 continued both inside and outside the country.
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, the total population decreased by 6.6 million, or 12.8% from the same year to 2014.
According to the constitution, the state language of Ukraine is Ukrainian. Russian is widely spoken, especially in eastern and southern Ukraine. Most native Ukrainian speakers know Russian as a second language. Russian was the de facto dominant language of the Soviet Union but Ukrainian also held official status and in the schools of the Ukrainian SSR learning Ukrainian was mandatory.
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. Within weeks, Russian was declared a regional language of several southern and eastern oblasts (provinces) and cities. Russian could then be used in the administrative office work and documents of those places.
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. In February 2019, the law allowing for official use of regional languages was found unconstitutional. According to the Council of Europe, this act fails to achieve fair protection of the linguistic rights of minorities.
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. 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.
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. Following independence, the government of Ukraine began restoring the use of the Ukrainian language in schools and government through a policy of Ukrainisation. Today, most foreign films and TV programs, including Russian ones, are subtitled or dubbed in Ukrainian. Ukraine's 2017 education law bars primary education in public schools in grade five and up in any language but Ukrainian.
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,the United States,Canada, the UK and Brazil.
This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(March 2022)
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. 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.
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.
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. 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. Assisted by deputy Pavlo Kovtoniuk, Suprun first changed the distribution of finances in healthcare. 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.
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.
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%. 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. 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.
The Ukrainian higher education system comprises higher educational establishments, scientific and methodological facilities under national, municipal and self-governing bodies in charge of education. 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.
Ukraine produces the fourth largest number of post-secondary graduates in Europe, while being ranked seventh in population.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. Ukraine was ranked 49th in the Global Innovation Index in 2021
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.
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).
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. 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%).
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. Gender roles also tend to be more traditional, and grandparents play a greater role in bringing up children, than in the West. The culture of Ukraine has also been influenced by its eastern and western neighbours, reflected in its architecture, music and art.
The Communist era had quite a strong effect on the art and writing of Ukraine. 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.
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. 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. Literary activity faced a sudden decline during the Mongol invasion of Rus'.
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. The Cossacks established an independent society and popularized a new kind of epic poem, which marked a high point of Ukrainian oral literature. 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. In 1798 the modern era of the Ukrainian literary tradition began with Ivan Kotlyarevsky's publication of Eneida in the Ukrainian vernacular.
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.
Then, in 1863, the use of the Ukrainian language in print was effectively prohibited by the Russian Empire. 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.
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. 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.
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. However, much of the contemporary architectural skyline of Ukraine is dominated by Soviet-style Khrushchyovkas, or low-cost apartment buildings.
Artisan textile arts play an important role in Ukrainian culture, 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 and the designs have a long history of motifs, compositions, choice of colours and types of stitches. 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 and Uliana Petrivna 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.
Mykola Lysenko is widely considered to be the father of Ukrainian classical music
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. 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.
The Ukrainian legal framework on media freedom is deemed "among the most progressive in eastern Europe", although implementation has been uneven. The constitution and laws provide for freedom of speech 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.
Kyiv dominates the media sector in Ukraine: National newspapersDen, Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, tabloids, such as The Ukrainian Week or Focus, and television and radio are largely based there, 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. As of 2022 75% of the population use the internet, and social media is widely used by government and people.
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. The most popular sport is football. The top professional league is the Vyscha Liha ("premier league").
Ukrainian boxers are amongst the best in the world. 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. 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 unifiedlightweight 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.
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.
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). Among traditional baked goods are decorated korovais and paska Easter bread. Ukrainian specialties also include Chicken Kiev and Kyiv cake.
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.123 According to the official 2001 census data (by nationality; by language) 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.
^Partly controlled by the unrecognised breakaway state Transnistria
^Due to the ongoing war with Russia, Ukraine has lost access to the territories that gave it access to the Sea of Azov in March 2022. The Defense of Ministry said the loss was "temporary". It has also lost control to the majority of its coastline around the Black Sea.
^Service, Robert (1997). A History of Twentieth-Century Russia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 124–125. ISBN0674403487.
^Christopher Gilley, ‘The “Change of Signposts” in the Ukrainian emigration: Mykhailo Hrushevskyi and the Foreign Delegation of the Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries’, Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, Vol. 54, 2006, No. 3, pp. 345-74
^ abКривошеев Г. Ф., Россия и СССР в войнах XX века: потери вооруженных сил. Статистическое исследование (Krivosheev G. F., Russia and the USSR in the wars of the 20th century: losses of the Armed Forces. A Statistical Study) (in Russian)
^"United Nations". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 22 September 2014. Voting procedures and the veto power of permanent members of the Security Council were finalized at the Yalta Conference in 1945 when Roosevelt and Stalin agreed that the veto would not prevent discussions by the Security Council. Roosevelt agreed to General Assembly membership for Ukraine and Byelorussia while reserving the right, which was never exercised, to seek two more votes for the United States.
^"United Nations". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 22 September 2014. Voting procedures and the veto power of permanent members of the Security Council were finalized at the Yalta Conference in 1945 when Roosevelt and Stalin agreed that the veto would not prevent discussions by the Security Council. In April 1945, new U.S. President Truman agreed to General Assembly membership for Ukraine and Byelorussia while reserving the right, which was never exercised, to seek two more votes for the United States.
^"Gorbachev, Mikhail". Encyclopædia Britannica (fee required). Archived from the original on 18 December 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2008. Under his new policy of glasnost ("openness"), a major cultural thaw took place: freedoms of expression and of information were significantly expanded; the press and broadcasting were allowed unprecedented candour in their reportage and criticism; and the country's legacy of Stalinist totalitarian rule was eventually completely repudiated by the government
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, ISBN1-85359-204-8