Ukraine (GPS: 49 00 N, 32 00 E) located in Eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Poland, Romania, and Moldova in the west and Russia in the east. The country’s area measurements are total: 603,550 sq km; land: 579,330 sq km, water: 24,220 sq km. This sovereign state is almost four times the size of Georgia, slightly smaller than Texas. The total irrigated land is 21,670 sq km (2012).
One of the critical features of Ukraine: Strategic position at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. The second-largest country in Europe after Russia.
It’s significant, and at the same time, the principal city, Kyiv’s GPS coordinates are 50 26 N 30 31 E. Kyiv’s local time is 7 hours ahead of Washington DC during Standard Time. The capital’s time difference: UTC+2, note; Daylight saving time: +1hr begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October.
Ukraine was the center of the first eastern Slavic state, Kyivan Rus, which during the 10th and 11th centuries was the largest and most powerful state in Europe. Weakened by internecine quarrels and Mongol invasions, Kyivan Rus was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and eventually into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The cultural and religious legacy of Kyivan Rus laid the foundation for Ukrainian nationalism through subsequent centuries. A new Ukrainian state, the Cossack Hetmanate, was established during the mid-17th century after an uprising against the Poles. Despite continuous Muscovite pressure, the Hetmanate managed to remain autonomous for well over 100 years. During the latter part of the 18th century, most Ukrainian ethnographic territory was absorbed by the Russian Empire.
Following the collapse of czarist Russia in 1917, Ukraine achieved a short-lived period of independence (1917-1920) but was reconquered and endured a brutal Soviet rule that engineered two forced famines (1921-1922 and 1932-1933) in which over 8 million died. In World War II, German and Soviet armies were responsible for 7 to 8 million more deaths. Although Ukraine achieved independence in 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR, democracy and prosperity remained elusive as the legacy of state control and endemic corruption stalled efforts at economic reform, privatization, and civil liberties. A peaceful mass protest referred to as the “Orange Revolution” in the closing months of 2004 forced the authorities to overturn a rigged presidential election and to allow a new internationally monitored vote that swept into power a reformist slate under Viktor YUSHCHENKO. Subsequent internal squabbles in the YUSHCHENKO camp allowed his rival Viktor YANUKOVYCH to stage a comeback in parliamentary (Rada) elections, become prime minister in August 2006, and be elected president in February 2010. In October 2012, Ukraine held Rada elections, widely criticized by Western observers as flawed due to government resources’ use to favor ruling party candidates, interference with media access, and harassment of opposition candidates.
President YANUKOVYCH’s backtracking on a trade and cooperation agreement with the EU in November 2013 – in favor of closer economic ties with Russia – and subsequent use of force against students, civil society activists, and other civilians in acceptance of the agreement led to a three-month protest occupation of Kyiv’s central square. The government’s use of violence to break up the protest camp in February 2014 led to all-out pitched battles, scores of deaths, international condemnation, a failed political deal, and the president’s abrupt departure for Russia. In the spring, new elections allowed pro-West president Petro POROSHENKO to assume office in June 2014; Volodymyr ZELENSKY succeeded him in May 2019. Shortly after YANUKOVYCH’s departure in late February 2014, Russian President PUTIN ordered Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula invasion, falsely claiming the action was to protect ethnic Russians living there.
Two weeks later, a “referendum” was held regarding the integration of Crimea into the Russian Federation. The “referendum” was condemned as illegitimate by the Ukrainian Government, the EU, the US, and the UN General Assembly (UNGA). In response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, 100 members of the UN passed UNGA resolution 68/262, rejecting the “referendum” as baseless and invalid and confirming the sovereignty, political independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Ukraine. In mid-2014, Russia began supplying proxies in two of Ukraine’s eastern provinces with the workforce, funding, and material driving an armed conflict with the Ukrainian Government that continues to this day. Representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and the unrecognized Russian proxy republics signed the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum in September 2014 to end the conflict. However, this agreement failed to stop the fighting or find a political solution. In a renewed attempt to alleviate ongoing clashes, Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany negotiated a follow-on Package of Measures in February 2015 to implement the Minsk agreements.
Representatives from Ukraine, Russia, the unrecognized Russian proxy republics, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe also meet regularly to facilitate the peace deal implementation. More than 13,000 civilians have been killed or wounded due to the Russian intervention in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine’s names conventional long form: none, traditional short form: Ukraine, local long way: none, local short form: Ukrayina, former: Ukrainian National Republic, Ukrainian State, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, etymology: name derives from the Old East Slavic word “Ukraine” meaning “borderland or march (militarized border region)” and began to be used extensively in the 19th century; originally Ukrainians referred to themselves as Rusyny (Rusyns, Ruthenians, or Ruthenes), an endonym derived from the medieval Rus state (Kyivan Rus). The name derives from the Old East Slavic word “Ukraine” meaning “borderland or march (militarized border region)” and began to be used extensively in the 19th century; Originally, Ukrainians referred to themselves as Rusyny (Rusyns, Ruthenians, or Ruthenes), an endonym derived from the medieval Rus state (Kyivan Rus).
Ukraine’s terrain is typically mostly fertile plains (steppes) and plateaus, with mountains found only in the west (the Carpathians) or in the extreme south of the Crimean Peninsula. The country’s mean elevation: 175 m, elevation extremes; lowest point: the Black Sea 0 m, highest point: Hora Hoverla 2,061 m.
The general climate in the country; temperate continental: the Mediterranean only on the southern Crimean coast: precipitation disproportionately distributed, highest in west and north, lesser in east and southeast: winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold farther inland: warm summers across the more significant part of the country, hot in the south.
The total number of border countries is 7, Belarus 1,111 km, Hungary 128 km, Moldova 1,202 km, Poland 535 km, Romania 601 km, Russia 1,944 km, Slovakia 97 km are the neighboring nations with the indicated border lengths. Ukraine’s coastline is 2,782 km, while its marital claims are: territorial sea: 12 nautical miles, exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles, continental shelf: 200 m or to the depth of exploitation. Waterways: 1,672 km (most on Dnieper River) (2012). Land use: agricultural land: 71.2%; arable land 56.1%; permanent crops 1.5%; permanent pasture 13.6%; forest: 16.8%; other: 12% (2011 estimate).
The population in Ukraine 43,952,299 (July 2018 estimate), urban population: 69.7% of total population (2015), central metropolitan area’s population: KYIV (capital) 2.942 million; Kharkiv 1.441 million; Odesa 1.01 million; Dnipropetrovsk 957,000; Donetsk 934,000; Zaporizhzhya 753,000 (2015), while Ukraine has the densest settlement in the eastern (Donbas) and western regions; notable concentrations in and around major urban areas of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Donets’k, Dnipropetrovs’k, and Odesa. Their spoken languages are Ukrainian (official language) 67.5%, Russian (regional language) 29.6%, other (includes small Crimean Tatar-, Moldavian-, and Hungarian-speaking minorities) 2.9% (2001 estimate). Note: 2012 legislation enables a language spoken by at least 10% of an oblast’s population to be given the status of “regional language,” allowing for its use in courts, schools, and other government institutions; Ukrainian remains the country’s only official language nationwide language.
The main religions in Ukraine are Orthodox (includes Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox (UAOC), Ukrainian Orthodox – Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP), Ukrainian Orthodox – Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), Ukrainian Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish. Note: Ukraine’s population is overwhelmingly Christian; the vast majority – up to two-thirds – identify themselves as Orthodox, but many do not specify a particular branch; the UOC-KP and the UOC-MP each represent less than a quarter of the country’s population, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church accounts for 8-10%, and the UAOC accounts for 1-2%; Muslim and Jewish adherents each compose less than 1% of the total population (2013 estimate). The nation uses civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts. It is a(n) semi-presidential republic, National holiday(s) Independence Day, 24 August (1991).
Economic overview for the country: After Russia, the Ukrainian Republic was the most important financial component of the former Soviet Union, producing about four times the output of the next-ranking republic. Its fertile black soil accounted for more than one-fourth of Soviet agricultural output, and its farms provided substantial quantities of meat, milk, grain, and vegetables to other republics. Likewise, its diversified heavy industry supplied unique equipment such as large diameter pipes and vertical drilling apparatus and raw materials to industrial and mining sites in other regions of the former USSR. Shortly after independence in August 1991, the Ukrainian Government liberalized most prices. It erected a legal framework for privatization, but widespread resistance to reform within the government and the legislature soon stalled reform efforts and led to some backtracking. Output by 1999 had fallen to less than 40% of the 1991 level. Outside institutions – particularly the IMF encouraged Ukraine to quicken the pace and scope of reforms to foster economic growth.
Ukrainian Government officials eliminated most tax and customs privileges in a March 2005 budget law, bringing more economic activity out of Ukraine’s large shadow economy. From 2000 until mid-2008, Ukraine’s economy was buoyant despite political turmoil between the prime minister and president. The economy contracted nearly 15% in 2009, among the worst economic performances in the world. In April 2010, Ukraine negotiated a price discount on Russian gas imports to extend Russia’s lease on its naval base in Crimea. Ukraine’s oligarch-dominated economy grew slowly from 2010 to 2013. Still, it remained behind peers in the region and among Europe’s low estimate. After former President YANUKOVYCH fled the country during the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine’s economy fell into crisis because Russia annexed Crimea, military conflict in the eastern part of the country, and a trade war with Russia, resulting in a 17% decline in GDP, inflation at nearly 60%, and dwindling foreign currency reserves.
The international community began efforts to stabilize the Ukrainian economy, including a March 2014 IMF assistance package of $17.5 billion. Ukraine has received four disbursements, most recently in April 2017, bringing the total disbursed as of that date to approximately $8.4 billion. Ukraine has made significant progress on reforms designed to make the country prosperous, democratic, and transparent, including creating a national anti-corruption agency, an overhaul of the banking sector, establishing a transparent VAT refund system, and increased transparency in government procurement. But more improvements are needed, including fighting corruption, developing capital markets, improving the business environment to attract foreign investment, privatizing state-owned enterprises, and land reform.
The fifth tranche of the IMF program, valued at $1.9 billion, was delayed in mid-2017 due to a lack of progress on outstanding reforms, including adjusting gas tariffs to import parity levels and the adoption of legislation to establish an independent anti-corruption court. Russia’s occupation of Crimea in March 2014 and ongoing aggression in eastern Ukraine have hurt economic growth. With the loss of a significant portion of Ukraine’s heavy industry in Donbas and ongoing violence, the economy contracted by 6.6% in 2014 and by 9.8% in 2015, but it returned to low growth in 2016 and 2017, reaching 2.3% and 2.0%, respectively, as critical reforms took hold. Ukraine also redirected trade activity towards the EU following a bilateral Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, displacing Russia as its largest trading partner. A prohibition on commercial trade with separatist-controlled territories in early 2017 has not impacted Ukraine’s key industrial sectors as much as expected, mainly because of favorable external conditions. Ukraine returned to international debt markets in September 2017, issuing a $3 billion sovereign bond.
Main export partners for Ukraine, Europe are Russia 12.7%, Turkey 7.3%, China 6.3%, Egypt 5.5%, Italy 5.2%, Poland 5.2% (2015) for ferrous and nonferrous metals, fuel and petroleum products, chemicals, machinery, and transport equipment, foodstuffs, while the main import partners for the country are: Russia 20%, Germany 10.4%, China 10.1%, Belarus 6.5%, Poland 6.2%, Hungary 4.2% (2015) for energy, machinery, and equipment, chemicals.
When you visit this country in Europe, consider the natural hazards in Ukraine: N/A, while infectious diseases are N/A. Also, note that Ukraine faces the following environmental issues: Air and water pollution, Land degradation, Solid waste management, Biodiversity loss, Deforestation, Radiation contamination in the northeast from the 1986 accident at Chornobyl’ Nuclear Power Plant.