Skip to main content
Select source:





CAPITAL: Kiev (Kyyiv)

FLAG: Equal horizontal bands of azure blue (top) and yellow.

ANTHEM: The National Anthem of Ukraine.

MONETARY UNIT: The official currency, introduced in early 1993, is the hryvnia (hrn), which consists of 100 shahy. $1 = hrn0.19493 (or $1 = hrn5.13) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is used.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 12 January; Christmas, 7 January; Women's Day, 8 March; Spring and Labor Day, 12 May; Victory Day, 9 May; Ukrainian Independence Day, 24 August.

TIME: 2 pm = noon GMT.


Ukraine, the second-largest country in Europe, is located in Eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Poland and Russia. Comparatively, Ukraine is slightly smaller than the state of Texas with a total area of 603,700 sq km (233,090 sq mi). Ukraine shares boundaries with Belarus on the n, Russia on the e, the Black Sea on the s, Romania, Moldova, Hungary, and Slovakia on the w, and Poland on the nw. Ukraine's location is one of strategic importance at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Its land boundary totals 4,663 km (2,897 mi) and its coastline is 2,782 km (1,729 mi). Ukraine's capital city, Kiev, is located in the north central part of the country.


The topography of Ukraine consists mainly of fertile plains (steppes) and plateaus. True mountains (the Carpathians) are found only in the west and in the Crimean Peninsula in the extreme south. The Dnieper Uplands run through a central region of the country. The Donets Hills and Azov Uplands are located along the eastern border.

The coastal region of the Black Sea is a lowland area. The indent of Karkint Bay nearly separates the Crimean Peninsula from the mainland. The Kerch Strait connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, which lies between Ukraine and Russia covering an area of 37,599 sq km (14,517 sq mi). An area of wetlands, the Polesye Marshes, is located near the northwest border.

The most important river in Ukraine is the Dnipro (Dnieper), the third longest river in Europe. It serves as a major source of hydro-electric power. Other major rivers include the Danube, Western Buh, the Tisza, the Pripyat, and the Desna. There are over 20,000 small lakes throughout the country, but the largest lakes are artificial, created by dams along the Dnipro.


The climate is subtropical on the Crimean Peninsula. Precipitation is disproportionately distributed, highest in the west and north, least in the east and southeast. Winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold farther inland. Summers are warm across the greater part of the country, except for the south where it becomes hot.

The rest of the country's climate is temperate. The mean temperature in July is about 10°c (66°f). In January, however, the mean temperature drops to -6°c (21°f). Average rainfall is 50 cm (20 in) a year, with variations in different regions.


The land's soil, chernozem (black soil), is very fertile. When the Ukraine was part of the former Soviet Union it was called the country's "bread basket." A steppe zone covers about a third of the southern region of the country. Mixed shrubs, grasses, and evergreens can be found along the Mediterranean-like zone of the Crimean coast. Forest regions include such tree species as beech, linden, oak, and spruce. European bison, fox, and rabbits can be found living on the vast steppes of the country. As of 2002, there were at least 108 species of mammals, 245 species of birds, and over 5,100 species of plants throughout the country.


Ukraine's environmental problems include the nuclear contamination which resulted from the 1986 Chernobyl accident. One-tenth of Ukraine's land area was affected by the radiation. According to UN reports, approximately one million people were exposed to unsafe levels of radiation through the consumption of food. Approximately 3.5 million hectare (8.6 million acre) of agricultural land and 1.5 million hectare (3.7 million acre) of forest were also contaminated.

Pollution from other sources also poses a threat to the environment. Ukraine releases polluted water, heavy metal, organic compounds, and oil-related pollutants into the Black Sea. The water supply in some areas of the country contains toxic industrial chemicals up to 10 times the concentration considered to be within safety limits.

Air pollution is also a significant environmental problem in the Ukraine. In 1992, Ukraine had the world's seventh-highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 611.3 million metric tons, a per capita level of 11.72. However, in 2000, the total of carbon dioxide emissions was at 342.8 million metric tons. The pollution of the nation's water has resulted in large-scale elimination of the fish population, particularly in the Sea of Azov.

As of 2003, only 3.9% of Ukraine's total land area was protected, including 33 Wetlands of International Importance. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 14 types of mammals, 13 species of birds, 2 types of reptiles, 11 species of fish, 14 species of invertebrates, and 1 species of plant. Threatened species include the European bison, the Russian desman, and the Dalmatian pelican. The wild horse has become extinct.


The population of Ukraine in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 47,110,000, which placed it at number 26 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 16% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 15% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 85 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 0.7%, a rate the government viewed as too low. The projected population for the year 2025 was 41,650,000. The population density was 78 per sq km (202 per sq mi), with the Dnieper Lowlands and the Donets Basin being the most densely populated regions.

The UN estimated that 68% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that population in urban areas was declining at an annual rate of -0.57%. The capital city, Kiev (Kyyiv), had a population of 2,618,000 in that year. Other cities and their estimated populations were Kharkiv, 1,436,000; Dnipropetrovs'k, 1,036,000; Odesa, 1,010,000; Donetsk, 992,000; Lvov, 876,000; and Zaporizhzhya, 798,000.


Since the breakup of the former Soviet Union, tens of thousands of Ukrainians have returned to the Ukraine. Between 198995, 15,000 returned from Azerbaijan, and 39,000 returned from Kyrgyzstan. Between 199195, 15,000 returned from Belarus; 82,000 returned from Kazakhstan; and 30,000 returned from Tajikistan. There were still 150,000 ecological migrants internally displaced from the 1986 Chernobyl accident. As of February 1996, 250,000 Tatars had returned from Central Asia, mostly from Uzbekistan. These Tatars belong to the 500,000 Tatars that were forcibly deported from the Crimean peninsula under the Stalin regime. The signature of an agreement between Ukraine and Uzbekistan in 1998 on the simultaneous release from Uzbek citizenship and acquisition of Ukrainian citizenship enabled more than 38,000 Crimean Tatars to obtain Ukrainian citizenship. Many of the rest of the Crimean Tatars in Central Asia wish to return to the Crimea.

Due to a series of amendments to the Law of Citizenship and a naturalization campaign, all formerly deported stateless persons residing in Ukraine had acquired Ukrainian citizenship as of 1999. The total number of migrants living in the Ukraine in 2000 was 6,947,000. In 2004, there were 2,459 refugees and 1,838 asylum seekers in the Ukraine. In addition, in that same year there were 80,569 others of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), made up of 2,809 Abkhazia, 6,500 Crimean Tartars (formerly deported persons), and 71,260 stateless persons. Also in 2004, 50,693 Ukrainians were refugees in Germany, and 28,484 in the United States, and over 5,000 Ukrainians sought asylum in 10 countries, in Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The net migration rate was estimated as -0.63 migrants per 1,000 population in 2005. The government views the immigration level as too low, and the emigration level as too high. Worker remittances in 2003 were $185 million.


According to the latest census (2001), 77.8% of the total population is Ukrainian. Russians form 17.3%, mainly in eastern Ukraine. Belarussians, Moldovans, Crimean Tatars, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Romanians, Poles, and Jews each account for less than 1% of the population. About 700,000 Rusyns (Ruthenians) live within the country, but they are not an officially recognized ethnic group.


Like Russian, Ukrainian is an eastern Slavic language. It has several distinctive vowel and consonant sounds, however. It is written in the Cyrillic alphabet but has three extra letters. Ukrainian began to emerge as a separate language from Russian in the late 12th century. Ukrainian is the official language and is spoken by about 67% of the population. Russian is spoken by about 24% of the population. Other languages include Romanian, Polish, and Hungarian.


Ukraine was Christianized by St. Volodymyr in 988. Under Soviet rule, churches and religion were subject to suppression and political manipulation, a situation that ended with the declaration of independence in 1991. Based on a 2003 survey, over 90% of the population claim to be Christians, primarily from one of three denominations: the Ukrainian Orthodox ChurchMoscow Patriarchate (10.7%), the Ukrainian Orthodox ChurchKiev Patriarchate (14.8%), and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (1%).

About 6.4% of the religiously active population are members of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, also known as the Uniate, Byzantine, or Eastern Rite church. Roman Catholics claim about 2% of the population and are largely concentrated in the formerly Austro-Hungarian and Polish western territories. Other Christian groups represented include Baptists, Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Calvinists, Pentecostals and Evangelicals. The head of the Spiritual Directorate of the Muslims of Ukraine estimates that there are as many as two million members of the nation's Muslim community. Islam is practiced mainly by the Tatar population of the autonomous republic of the Crimea. There are an estimated 300,000 Jews in the country. Small communities of Buddhists, Baha'is, and Hare Krishnas are also present.

The constitution provides for freedom of religion and this right is generally respected. However, some smaller and nontraditional religious groups have reported problems in meeting government registration requirements. An All-Ukrainian Council, composed of members from various religions, meets regularly with the State Committee of Religious Affairs to discuss potential problems between religions.


As of 2004, there were 22,473 km (13,988 mi) of railway in the Ukraine, all of it 1.5 m (broad) gauge. Highways in 2002 totaled 169,679 km (105,540 mi), of which 164,249 km (102,162 mi) are hard-surfaced, including 1,770 km (1,100 mi) of expressways. In 2003, there were 5,603,800 passengers cars and 985,700 commercial vehicles registered for use.

The main marine ports are Berdyans'k, Illichivs'k, Kerch, Kherson, Mariupol', Mykolayiv, Odesa, and Sevastopol'. The merchant marine fleet had 201 ships of 1,000 GRT or over, for a total capacity of 675,904 GRT in 2005. There are 1,672 km (1,040 mi) of navigable inland waterways as of 2004. The Dnipro River is the primary inland waterway, but the Danube, western Pivd Buh, Pryp'yat', and Desna are also used for import-export traffic.

Ukraine had an estimated 656 airports in 2004. As of 2005 a total of 199 had paved runways, and there were also 10 heliports. The largest airports are in Kiev, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Odesa, and Simferopol'. In 2003, 1.477 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.


Ukrainians, Russians, and Belarussians belong to the eastern branch of the Slavic peoples, all of which trace their origins to medieval Kievan Rus. Kievan Rus was established in the 9th century ad. St. Volodymyr the Great, one of the most celebrated rulers of Kievan Rus, adopted Christianity as the national faith in 988. Internal strife in the 12th century and the Mongol invasion in the 13th led to the ultimate destruction of Kievan Rus as a major power. Halych-Volhynia in Western Ukraine, however, became the new political center until it fell to Polish-Lithuanian rule in the 14th century. During the following centuries Ukraine found itself the object of power struggles among its more powerful neighbors.

In a protracted struggle against Poland, Ukrainian Cossacks were able to establish an independent state in the 16th and 17th centuries. To safeguard Ukrainian independence from the Poles, Ukraine concluded the Treaty of Pereyaslav in 1654 with Moscow. The nature of this agreement has generated much historical controversy: Russian historians claim that, as part of the agreement, Ukraine accepted Moscow's rule, while Ukrainians claim that Ukraine was to retain its autonomy. The ensuing war between Russia and Poland resulted in the partition of Ukraine. Most of the rest of Ukraine's territory was incorporated into the Russian Empire with the partition of Poland in 1795. Small parts of Ukrainian territory to the west were absorbed by the Hapsburg Empire.

A Ukrainian national movement arose in the 19th century. Later, the collapse of the Tsarist regime and the chaos of the Russian revolution in 1917 allowed Ukraine to assert its independence. In April 1917, the National Ukrainian Assembly met in Kiev and in November proclaimed the creation of the Ukrainian People's Republic. When the Bolsheviks formed a rival Ukrainian Communist government, the National Assembly proclaimed the independence for Ukraine on 22 January 1918.

On 1 November 1918, an independent Republic of Western Ukraine was declared after the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On 22 January 1919, the Ukrainian People's Republic and the Republic of Western Ukraine united and established an independent Ukrainian state, recognized by over 40 other nations.

The new government, however, could not maintain its authority in the face of civil strife and the threat of the approaching Bolshevik, pro-Tsarist, and Polish forces. By 1920, eastern Ukraine fell to the Bolsheviks and became the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic while Poland occupied most of western Ukraine. Small areas of the west went to Romania, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.

Early Soviet policy allowed for cultural autonomy and local administration by Ukrainian Communists. But Stalin changed this liberal policy in the 1930s when he initiated strict Russification and persecution of Ukrainian nationalists. This policy culminated in the Soviet-engineered famine of 193233 that resulted in the death of 7 to 10 million Ukrainians.

The 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact assigned Poland's Ukrainian territory to the Soviet sphere of influence. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Ukrainian nationalists in L'vin proclaimed the restoration of the Ukrainian state. The Germans arrested these nationalists and turned Ukraine into a German colony. When it became clear that the Nazis wanted to enslave them and not liberate them, a resistance movement led by nationalists fought both the Soviet and German armies. During World War II, Ukraine lost six million people through death or deportation and a total of 18,000 villages were destroyed.

The Ukrainian resistance movement continued to fight in Soviet Ukraine (the western Ukraine which had been part of Poland had been incorporated into the Ukrainian S.S.R.). It was not until the 1950s that they were completely defeated by the better-equipped Soviet Red Army.

In March 1990, semi-free elections for parliament were held. The Communist-dominated parliament declared Ukraine a sovereign state on 16 July 1990. On 24 August 1991, following the failed coup in Moscow, the parliament proclaimed the independence of Ukraine and declared that only the constitution and laws of Ukraine were valid on its territory. On 1 December 1991 the citizens of Ukraine confirmed this proclamation with a 90.3% vote in favor of independence. At the time of this referendum, Leonid Kravchuk was elected as the first president.

Ukraine joined Russia and Belarus in creating the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in December 1991. This agreement was meant to facilitate coordination of policy in various fields. But despite their efforts, Ukrainian-Russian differences arose in several areas, including the command and control of nuclear weapons, the formation of a unified military command, and the character and pace of economic reform.

In light of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, Ukraine declared its intention to become a nuclear-free state. However, this process progressed much more slowly than expected. The lack of fuel resources and disagreements with Russia over pricing had induced the government to keep the Chernobyl plant running. The START I agreement received the Ukrainian parliament's conditional ratification in November 1993 and unconditional ratification in February 1994, but the transfer of nuclear weapons to Russia did not occur as smoothly as planned. On 6 May 1992 it was announced that all Ukrainian tactical nuclear weapons had been shipped to Russia for dismantling. However, Ukraine cited Russia's failure to dismantle these weapons, inadequate compensation, and security concerns as the reasons for not turning over its entire strategic arsenal.

The CIS countries agreed to a unified nuclear command, but Ukraine declared its intent to create its own national conventional military and opposed any efforts to create a unified CIS conventional force. President Kravchuk declared all conventional forces on Ukrainian territory to be the property of Ukraine. This has given rise to disputes and disagreements about the Black Sea fleet, to which Russia has also laid claim.

Since its independence, Ukraine has experienced unrest in some of the predominantly Russian areas in the east and southeast. Crimea is the most notable example, declaring independence on 6 May 1992. At the same time the Russian parliament approved a resolution that declared the 1954 Soviet grant of the Crimea to Ukraine unconstitutional and void. This resolution, however, was rejected by Russian president Boris Yeltsin. Demands for secession in Crimea have continued to complicate Ukrainian-Russian relations.

Ukraine adopted a new constitution in June 1996 establishing a presidency (elected for a five-year term) and a one-chamber parliament called the Supreme Council (elected for a four-year term). Under transitional provisions, President Leonid Kuchma, elected over incumbent Leonid Kravchuk in 1994, was to serve until elections in 1999. The Supreme Council adopted a new civil code in June 1997. In the same year, Ukraine signed a 10-year friendship treaty with Russia and an agreement with Western nations on shutting down the Chernobyl nuclear plant by 2005. It was shut down in 2000. Public discontent with the slow pace of economic reforms was evident in the strong showing by the Communist Party in the 1998 legislative elections, in which it won 25% of the vote (116 of 450 seats). However, support for the party did not translate into support for union with Russia, proposed by Petro Symonenko, the party's candidate in the 1999 presidential elections. Leonid Kuchma was reelected in a November 1999 runoff election with 56% of the vote and nominated central bank chairman Victor Yushchenko to be prime minister. Soon after taking office, Yushchenko reached a restructuring agreement with foreign bond holders to avoid default on the nation's $2.6 billion foreign debt. As the new century began, Ukraine's much-needed economic reforms remained stalled by the long-standing problems of corruption and political stalemate between reformists and their parliamentary opponents.

In November 2000, the body of Ukrainian journalist Georgiy Gongadze was found decapitated: opposition demonstrators alleged Kuchma was involved in the murder of the journalist who was critical of the administration, and there were calls for Kuchma's impeachment. Kuchma denied the allegations, but in February 2001, the EU called for an inquiry into the journalist's murder. In September 2002, an ad hoc commission set up by parliament to investigate Gongadze's murder recommended that criminal charges be brought against the president and other top officials, based on tape recordings of a meeting at which Kuchma allegedly asked security officials to "take care" of the journalist. Anti-Kuchma protests were held throughout the country to call for the president's resignation. All six national television stations were off the air on the morning of the 16 September demonstrations, purportedly for "maintenance." Many protesters were beaten and arrested. In October, the Kiev Court of Appeals opened a criminal case against Kuchma, based upon the allegations of his involvement in the murder.

In parliamentary elections held on 30 March 2002, Ukrainians voted for many opposition parties, although parties opposed to Kuchma alleged widespread fraud. In April, Yushchenko's government was dismissed following a no-confidence vote in parliament; he was replaced with Viktor Yanukovychthe governor of the eastern province of Donetsk Oblast.

Although Yushchenko is respected in the West for fighting corruption and furthering economic reforms, he is unpopular with many Ukrainian businessmen, who are seen to be corrupt. Presidential elections were scheduled for 2004, and Kuchma was constitutionally barred from running for a third term. In 2002, he announced plans to amend the constitution and weaken his executive powers. This was seen as a move to transfer power to parliament, in the event that a reformer such as Yushchenko would be elected president. Kuchma's plans also included splitting parliament into two chambers. In March 2003, Yushchenko stated he feared the new amendments would postpone presidential elections for two years, and extend Kuchma's rule until 2006. Tens of thousands of protesters nationwide took to the streets in March, calling once again on Kuchma to resign for abuse of office, arms dealing, vote-rigging, corruption, the involvement in Gongadze's murder, and for impoverishing the country.

For the 2004 presidential elections Yushchenko announced that he would be running as an independent. His main contender was the current prime minister Viktor Yanukovych. Since the latter was backed by Kuchma, and by most of the Ukrainian TV channels, Yushchenko relied heavily on direct interaction with the people for bringing his message across.

The initial vote was held on the 31 October 2004 and neither of the two candidates obtained a comfortable leadYushchenko won 39.87% of the votes, while Yanukovych won 39.32%. A second voting round was therefore staged on 21 November, with the final vote tally showing Yanukovych as the winner. However, observers noted several cases where the voting process was rigged to Yanukovych's favor. The suspicion that loomed over the October elections was strengthened by the major discrepancies between the exit poll results conducted by the observers, and the official vote count. As a result, Yushchenko called for the people from Kiev, and from all over the country, to take to the streets and protest. After 13 days, the so-called Orange Revolution (named so after the orange ribbons worn by Yushchenko's supporters) determined the Supreme Court to nullify the election results and order a re-run, to be held on 26 December 2004. This time, Yushchenko emerged victorious, by an 8% margin. Yanukovych contested the results but eventually stepped down from his post.

In January 2005, Yushchenko was sworn in as president, and in February 2005 he nominated Yulia Tymoshenkoone of his former deputies, and an ardent supporter of the Orange Revolutionas prime minister. Although there had been some controversy regarding her "oligarch status" (she is one of the wealthiest people in Ukraine), her nomination was accepted by the parliament with 373 out of 450 possible votes. On 8 September 2005, after only a couple of months as prime minister, and following several resignations and accusations of corruption, Tymoshenko and her government were ousted by Yushchenko. Yuriy Yekhanurov, head of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast state administration, was appointed as the new prime minister.

Drawing on the political capital he garnered in the West after winning the troubled 2004 elections (he was allegedly poisoned with dioxins that lead to severe facial disfigurements), Yushchenko pressed for EU and NATO integration. Both organizations cautioned, however, that the pace of political, economic and military reforms would have to be increased before Ukraine's candidacy could be seriously considered. Constitutional reforms went into effect on 1 January 2006.


Ukraine is governed by a constitution adopted in June 1996, which allows for an elected parliament and president. The constitution was amended on December 2004 as a response to the presidential election crisis.

The Ukrainian parliament consists of a single chamber with 450 seats called the Rada (Supreme Council). Seats are allocated proportionally to the parties that acquire more than 3% of the electoral votes. Members of parliament currently serve four-year terms, while the president serves a five-year term. (Following the 2006 elections members of parliament will serve five-year terms.) The prime minister and cabinet are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Supreme Council. Although many parties participate in the elections, many candidates run as independents as well.

Ukraine's first postindependence presidential elections were held in two rounds on 26 June and 10 July 1994. In this election, the incumbent Leonid Kravchuk was defeated by his former prime minister, Leonid Kuchma, who was reelected in November 1999. In December 2004, following massive popular protests and after the Supreme Court ordered a re-run of the allegedly rigged November 2004 elections, Kuchma's former prime ministerViktor Yushchenkowas elected president.


There are some 120 political parties active in Ukraine. They fall roughly into four different categories: radical nationalist, democratic nationalist, liberal-centrist, and Communist-socialist.

The radical nationalist parties are fearful of Russia and advocate a strong presidency. Their commitment to democracyparticularly if regions of Ukraine seek to secedeis not firm. The democratic nationalist parties are also fearful of Russia, but also appear strongly committed to democracy, individual rights, and the protection of private property. The influential Rukh Party (Ukrainian Popular Movement), which won 43 seats in the 1998 elections, belongs to this group. The liberal-centrist parties are particularly concerned with promoting free market economic reform. They are also committed to democracy and individual rights. The communist-socialist parties oppose privatization and seek continued state control of the economy. They generally favor close relations with Russia. The most important party in this group, the Communist Party of Ukraine, won 116 seats in 1998.

In the March 2002 parliamentary elections, many parties grouped together into voting blocs. Winning the most seats in the Rada was the "Our Ukraine" coalition, led by Viktor Yushchenko, which took 23.6% of the vote and 112 of 450 seats. The coalition was registered in January 2002, and then included the Ukrainian People's Rukh Party (registered in 2003 as the Ukrainian People's Party), the People's Rukh of Ukraine, the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, the Reforms and Order Party, Solidarity, the Liberal Party, the Youth Party of Ukraine, the Christian People's Union, the Go Forward, Ukraine! Party, and the Republican Christian Party. In March 2003, Yushchenko announced a "new political force" would be created that would form the basis for a Europeanstyle political party. Yushchenko was elected president in December 2004.

Also gaining seats in parliament in the 2002 elections were: the "For a United Ukraine" bloc, 101; the Communist Party, 67; the United Social-Democratic Party of Ukraine, 24; the Socialist Party of Ukraine, 23; the Yuliya Tymoshenko bloc, 21; the Democratic Party of Ukraine/Democratic Union liberal bloc, 4; the "Unity" bloc, 3; and independents and others held 95 seats.

On 8 September 2005, the government led by Yuliya Tymoshenko was ousted by Yushchenko after allegations of corruption made their way into the media.

Parliamentary elections were held on 26 March 2006. Yanukovych's Party of Regions won the most seats, taking 186 of 450 (32.1%). Tymoshenko's Bloc won 129 seats (22.3%); Our Ukraine, 81 seats (13.9%); the Socialist Party of Ukraine 33 seats (5.7%); and the Communist Party of Ukraine 21 seats (3.7%). The next parliamentary elections were scheduled for March 2011.


Ukraine is divided into 24 administrative regions (oblasts) plus the autonomous Republic of Crimea. In addition, the cities of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, and Sevastopol, capital of Crimea, enjoy oblast status. The oblast is divided into districts, each of which has a representative in the Rada (Supreme Council).

A strong secessionist movement has risen up in Crimea. In a nonbinding referendum held in 1994, over 78% of the 1.3 million people who voted supported greater autonomy from Ukraine. In 1995 Ukraine's parliament and President Leonid Kuchma moved to contain secessionist elements in the region. Kuchma temporarily took direct control over the area and afterward decreed that he must approve all candidates for premier of the region. The Crimea adopted a new constitution in 1999 providing for additional budgetary autonomy from the rest of Ukraine.

In spite of the election of the reform-oriented Yushchenko in 2004, Ukrainian local government officials complained that budget expenditures were still done in a centralized and inefficient fashion. On 13 September 2005 the Constitutional Court of Ukraine enforced a series of constitutional amendments that shift most of the presidential clout to the parliament. The new laws came in effect on 1 January 2006 and were expected to give more power to local governments.


The court system, until 2001, remained similar to that which existed under the former Soviet regime. In July 2001, a series of laws were passed designed to bring existing legislation regarding the judiciary and the administration of justice more in line with the requirements for an independent judiciary. The three levels of courts are rayon (also known as regional or people's courts), oblast (provincial) courts, and the Supreme Court. All three levels serve as courts of first instance, the choice of level varying with the severity of the crime. A case heard in first instance at the rayon level can be appealed through the next two higher stages. A case heard in first instance in the Supreme Court is not subject to appeal or review. A 1992 law added a Constitutional Court to the existing system. The Constitutional Court consists of 19 members appointed for nine-year terms. It is the final interpreter of legislation and the constitution, and it determines the constitutionality of legislation, presidential edicts, cabinet acts, and acts of the Crimean autonomous republic.

The Rada (Supreme Council) selects judges on recommendation from the Ministry of Justice based partly upon government test results. Oblast and Supreme Court judges must have five years of experience in order to be appointed and may not be members of political parties.

A new constitution, adopted in 1996, and amended in 2004, provides that the judiciary is funded separately from the Ministry of Justice to ensure an independent judiciary. Because the courts are funded by the Ministry of Justice, however, they have been subject to executive influence, and have suffered from corruption and inefficiency.


Ukraine was able to quickly organize an impressive national army, in part because it had always been an important contributor to the Soviet armed forces. In 2005 Ukranian armed forces numbered 187,600 active personnel with 1,000,000 reservists. Ground forces (Army) numbered 125,000 and was organized into three commands and a number of specialized brigades and regiments of artillery, special forces, air defense, rocket and missile, and attack helicopter units. It was equipped with 3,784 main battle tanks, 600 reconnaissance vehicles, 3,043 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 8,492 armored personnel carriers, and 3,705 artillery pieces. The Air Force and Air Defense Force had a combined total of 49,100 active personnel, that operated 444 combat capable aircraft, including 26 bombers, 280 fighters, and 187 fighter ground attack aircraft. The Air Defense force was outfitted with 825 surface-to-air missile batteries. The Navy numbered 13,500 personnel. Major naval units included one tactical submarine, one frigate, three corvettes, and five patrol/coastal vessels. A cruiser and another frigate are listed as nonoperational. The Navy's aviation arm had up to 2,500 active personnel. Equipment included 11 fixed wing and 72 rotary wing antisubmarine warfare aircraft. The Navy also had a single brigade of 3,000 naval infantry personnel.

Of greatest international concern has been the fate of the ICBMs and strategic bombers on Ukrainian soil, which are supposed to return to Russia for dismantling. As of 2000, the number of ICBMs had been reduced from 174 to 44. As of 2005 the number of strategic bombers had been cut to 26.

Paramilitary forces included an estimated 39,900 internal security troops, 45,000 border guards, 14,000 coast guard personnel, and more than 9,500 civil defense troops. The Ukraine participated in missions in eight foreign countries or regions. The defense budget for 2005 was $1.09 billion.


Ukraine became a member of the United Nations on 24 October 1945; the country is part of the ECE and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the IAEA, the FAO, the World Bank, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, and the WHO. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Council of Europe, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Zone, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the OSCE. The nation has observer status in the WTO, the OAS, and the Nonaligned Movement. In 2001, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova formed a social and economic development union known as GUAAM. Uzbekistan withdrew from the partnership in 2005.

Ukraine is an active member of the NATO Partnership for Peace. The government has supported UN missions and operations in Kosovo (est. 1999), Lebanon (est. 1978), Ethiopia and Eritrea (est. 2000), Liberia (est. 2003), Sierra Leone (est. 1999), Georgia (est. 1993), and the DROC (est. 1999). Ukraine is a member of the Zangger Committee and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group).

In environmental cooperation, Ukraine is part of the Basel Convention, the Conventions on Biological Diversity and Air Pollution, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea and Climate Change.


Ukraine was central to the Soviet agricultural and industrial system. The rich agricultural land of this region (commonly called the "breadbasket" of the former Soviet Union) provided 46% of Soviet agricultural output in the 1980s, and also accounted for 25% of the USSR's coal production. Ukraine's economic base is dominated by industry, which accounts for over 45% of GDP (2005 est.). However, agriculture continues to play a major role in the economy, representing about 18% of GDP.

Real GDP declined 3% in 1990, 11% in 1991, and an estimated 15% in 1992. Recovery in 1997 was cut short by the effects of the Russian financial crisis of 1998. Real GDP fell -1.7% in 1998 and -0.2% in 1999. However, the economy has registered strong positive growth since 20005.9% in 2000; 9.1% in 2001, and a projected 5% in 2002despite the global slowdown beginning in 2001. Official unemployment since 1999 has averaged about 4.2%. Inflation, averaging 21.67% 1998 to 2000, was reduced to a single-digit rate (6%) in 2001, and reached 0.8% in 2002. Although still high, this is a marked improvement over the 400% hyperinflation that plagued the country in 1994. In response to the hyperinflation, the government introduced a new currency and instituted mass privatization in 1995. Yet the country remained plagued by a slow economic decline. A new civil code adopted by parliament in 1997 was expected to stabilize the country's business climate. Economic recovery beginning in 2000 is attributable to a number of factors: double-digit growth in industrial output in 2001; a good grain harvest resulting from good weather and reduced governmental controls; improved export competitiveness from the depreciation of the currency in 199899; the clearance of many wage and pension arrears; increased domestic demand as a result of wage and pension increases granted in 2000 and 2001; considerable idle capacity; and the expansion of export markets.

This economic expansion continued in the following years, with GDP growth rates of 5.2% in 2002, 9.6% in 2003, and an astonishing 12.1% in 2004; the economy was expected to grow by 6.0% in 2005. Inflation started growing again after 2002, reaching 12% in 2004, and being expected to reach 14.0% in 2005. The unemployment rate remained fairly stable, hovering around 3.5%.

Ukraine's economic dynamism was driven mainly by exports. The most effective growth engines in 200304 were manufactured goods, construction, oil and gas transport, services, private consumption, and government spending. The end of 2004 saw a hampering of this trend as three rounds of presidential elections and weeks of protesting throughout the country (the Orange Revolution), took their toll on the Ukrainian economy. The newly elected president has openly stated that Ukraine will take a clear course towards an open market economy, and that the mid-term goal is EU integration. His reign, although plagued by corruption and government inefficiency, promises great potential for the future.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Ukraine's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $340.4 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $7,200. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 4.4%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 13.9%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 18.5% of GDP, industry 45.2%, and services 36.1%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $330 million or about $7 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.7% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $323 million or about $7 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.7% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Ukraine totaled $28.07 billion or about $580 per capita based on a GDP of $50.1 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption fell at an average annual rate of -3.6%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 34% of household consumption was spent on food, 16% on fuel, 6% on health care, and 4% on education. It was estimated that in 2003 about 29% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


As of 2005, the Ukraine's labor force totaled an estimated 20.46 million persons. In 2003, the services sector accounted for 51.2% of the workforce, with 29.9% in industry and 18.9% in agriculture. For the year 2005, Ukraine's official unemployment rate was 3.8%. However, the International Labor Organization had calculated that the country's actual unemployment rate was around 910%, due to the large number of workers that were either underemployed or not registered as unemployed.

In November 1992, the official Soviet-era unions were renamed the Federation of Trade Unions (FPU), which began then to operate independently from the government. Since 1992, many independent unions have been formed, providing an alternative to the official unions in most sectors of the economy. As of 2002, estimates of independent union membership was estimated to be three million. Membership in the FPU was thought to be 14 million. The right to strike is protected, except for the military, police, and continuing process plants.

The minimum employment age is 17, although children aged 15 to 17 can be employed by businesses with governmental permission. However, child labor remains a problem. In 2002, the minimum wage was $22 per month, which was significantly below the cost of living. The maximum workweek is set at 40 hours; the law also provides for a minimum of 24 days of vacation per year. Ukraine's laws set forth occupational health and safety standards but these are frequently ignored in practice and are not sufficiently enforced by the government.


About 57% of the total land area is arable, with another 14% utilized as permanent pasture land. Agriculture accounted for 14% of GDP in 2003. As in other former Soviet republics, total agricultural production dramatically declined after 1990. The average annual decline during 19902000 was 5.8%. By 1999, the agricultural sector was only producing 47% as much as it had during 198991. However, during 200204, crop production was 12.8% higher than during 19992001. Production amounts in 2004 included (in 1,000 tons): sugar beets, 16,502; potatoes, 20,755; wheat, 17,517; fruit, 2,131; sunflower seeds, 3,050; cabbage, 1,559; grapes, 500; raspberries, 20; rapeseed, 148; soybeans, 363; and tobacco, 4.

Ukraine's steppe region in the south is possibly the most fertile region in the world. Ukraine's famous humus-rich black soil accounts for one-third of the world's black soil and holds great potential for agricultural production. However, the soil is rapidly losing its fertility due to improper land and crop management. Ukraine typically produced over half of the sugar beets and one-fifth of all grains grown for the former USSR. In addition, two of the largest vegetable-oil research centers in the world are at Odessa and Zaporizhzhya. Agroindustry accounts for one-third of agricultural employment. To some extent, however, agroindustrial development has been hampered by the deteriorating environment as well as a shortage of investment funds due to the aftermath of the nuclear power plant disaster at Chernobyl. According to estimates, nearly 60,000 hectares (148,250 acres) of arable land in the Chernobyl vicinity are now unavailable for cultivation. Out of 33 million hectares (81.5 million acres) of total arable land, more than 17 million hectares (42 million acres) are depleted, 10 million hectares (24.7 million acres) are eroded, and another 10 million have excessive acidity. Furthermore, 17% of arable land is located in areas where there is risk of drought.


Just under 14% of Ukraine's total land area is composed of permanent pasture land. As of 2005, there were 6.9 million head of cattle, 6.5 million pigs, 875,000 sheep, 894,000 goats, 120 million chickens, and 20 million ducks. Horses, turkeys, goats, ducks, and rabbits are also bred and raised. Between 1990 and 2000, livestock production declined by 50%. Lack of finances for buying fuel pushed farmers in the public sector to sell their cattle abroad, mostly to Asian buyers. During 200204, livestock production was up 7.2% from 19992001. In 2005, meat production included: beef, 556,000 tons (down from 1,986,000 tons in 1990); pork, 510,000 tons (1,576,000 tons in 1990); and poultry, 470,000 tons (708,000 tons in 1990). There are several factors involved with Ukraine's declining meat production: decentralization of meat processing, with greater use of processing facilities at the farms; lack of cheap credits to buy animals; and antiquated meat processing equipment. Milk and egg production in 2005 amounted to 14.3 million tons and 726,000 tons, respectively. In 2004, exports of meat and meat products were valued at $191.8 million; milk, dairy, and eggs, $438.5 million. In 2005, Ukraine produced 60,500 tons of honey, fifth highest in the world.


Fishing occurs mainly on the Black Sea. In 2003, the total catch came to 248,198 tons, reflecting diminished landings since the 1990 catch of 1,048,360 tons. Mackerel and sardines together accounted for 22% of the 2003 catch. Exports of fish and fish products amounted to $17.6 million in 2003. Ukrainian fish consumption per capita amounts to 12.8 kg (28.2 lb) per yearless than half that of western Europe (24.2 kg/53.2 lb).


About 16.5% of the total area was forest in 2000. While the radioactive contamination of forestland from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster is well-known, there is also widespread land, water, and air pollution from toxic wastes, which has also adversely affected timberlands. Forestry production in 2004 included: roundwood, 4.8 million cu m (169 million cu ft); wood-based panels, 1,308,000 cu m (46.2 million cu ft); wood pulp, 27,000 tons; and paper and paperboard, 701,000 tons.


Ukraine is one of the world's leading producers of iron ore, as well as a major world producer of ferroalloys, ilmenite, steel, and manganese ore (with 75% of the former Soviet Union's reserves). The mining and metallurgical industry employed 500,000 persons; 270,000 worked in ironmaking, steelmaking, and ferroalloys enterprises. In 2002, over 60% by value of Ukraine's $18 billion in exports came from the "mineral products" category. Ferrous and nonferrous metals were Ukraine's top export commodities in 2002. Fuel and petroleum products were the country's second-leading export commodities.

Production outputs for 2002 included: marketable iron ore (gross weight), 58.9 million metric tons; manganese, mined in the Nikopol' and Bol'shoy Tokmak basins (metal content), 940,000 metric tons; rock salt, 2.3 million metric tons (estimated); and potash (at the Stebnik and Kalush mines), 60,000 metric tons. In addition, Ukraine produced alumina, mercury, titanium (ilmenite and rutile concentrates), zirconium (the FSU's only ore producer), cement, clays (bentonite and kaolin), graphite, nitrogen, and sulfur (from the Rozdol and Yavoriv deposits). Iron ore production, concentrated at seven mining and beneficiation complexes in the Krivyy Rih (Krivoy Rog) Basin, and at the Poltavskiy complex, fell by 50% from 1990 through 1995. Explored iron ore reserves totaled 33 billion tons, including 28 billion tons of industrial reserves; total capacity was 108.5 million tons per year. Manganese reserves totaled 2.2 billion tons, and annual capacity was 6 million tons. No antimony, cadmium lead, nickel, tin, zinc, zircon, dolomite, limestone fluxes, quartz, soda ash, talc, or uranium was mined in the past several years, the Ukraine having sharply reduced or ceased producing a number of these commodities as a result of the large reduction in demand following the breakup of the Soviet Union.

At the end of the 1980s, Ukraine mined 5% of the world's output of mineral products. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, production fell precipitously, and recovery of the mining sector was considered critical for the country's economic recovery. A 1999 law provided tax benefits for mining and metal industry firms for two and a half years. By 2000, the privatization of small-scale enterprises was virtually completed. The mining industry was a major source of waste, having accumulated 30 billion tons of mineral wastes.


Ukraine has only modest reserves of oil and natural gas, but more robust reserves of coal.

As of 1 January 2004, Ukraine had proven oil reserves estimated at 395 million barrels, according to the Oil and Gas Journal. In 2003 and 2004, oil production was estimated at 86,800 barrels per day and 86,000 barrels per day, respectively. However, consumption outstripped output for both years. In 2003, demand for oil averaged an estimated 415,000 barrels per day, and at an estimated 422,000 barrels per day in 2004. Net imports of oil in 2003 were estimated at 328,200 barrels per day, and at an estimated 336,000 barrels per day in 2004. Imports in 2003 accounted for around 80% of demand, most of which came from Russia. Most of Ukraine's oil reserves are located in the eastern Dnieper-Donetsk basin.

Ukraine's six oil refineries have a combined crude oil refining capacity estimated as of 1 January 2004 at 1.05 million barrels per day. However, domestic consumption of refined oil products is just over 30% of capacity, and have even had problems securing enough crude oil to supply the country's needs.

Ukraine, as of 1 January 2004, had proven natural gas reserves estimated at 39.6 trillion cu ft, according to the Oil and Gas Journal. In 2003, natural gas production was estimated at 0.69 trillion cu ft, with consumption that year estimated at 3.03 trillion cu ft. As a result, Ukraine has had to resort to imports to make up the difference. In 2003, net imports of natural gas were estimated at 2.34 trillion cu ft. Turkmenistan has become its primary source for natural gas imports, following an agreement signed in 2001 that calls for 8.8 trillion cu ft per year to be provided from 2002 to 2006.

In 2004, Ukraine had coal reserves estimated at 37.6 billion short tons, of which 17.9 billion short tons consisted of anthracite and bituminous coal, and 19.7 billion short tons consisted of sub-bituminous coal and lignite. In 2003, coal production was estimated at 63.5 million short tons. However, demand for coal that year totaled 67 billion short tons, making Ukraine a net importer of coal. Most of the country's coal comes from the eastern region in the Donetsk/Donbas basin.

Ukraine's electric power generating capacity in 2002 totaled 52.811 million kW, of which conventional thermal plants accounted for 36.241 million kW of capacity, and nuclear power 11.835 million kW. Hydroelectric capacity in that year accounted for 4.731 million kW of capacity and geothermal/other 0.004 million kW. Electric power output in 2002 totaled 163.870 billion kWh, of which conventional thermal fueled plants provided 80.777 billion kWh, followed by nuclear plants with 73.380 billion kWh, hydroelectric with 9.691 billion kWh, and geothermal/other with 0.022 billion kWh. In 2003, electric power output rose to an estimated 177 billion kWh. Demand for electricity in 2002 totaled 149.284 billion kWh. In 2003, consumption rose to an estimated 156 billion kWh. As of January 2005, Ukraine had four nuclear power plants in operation, providing 40% of the country's electric power.


Ukraine, with strong scientific and technological sectors, is a major producer of heavy machinery and industrial equipment for sectors including mining, steelmaking, and chemicals. Significant products also include nonnumerically controlled machine tools, large electrical transformers, and agricultural machinery. Ukraine's industries are important suppliers of productsincluding automobiles, clothing, foodstuffs, timber, and paperto other former Soviet republics. Ukraine also retains much of the industry associated with the space program of the former USSR. Industry accounted for 40% of GDP in 2000, and the industrial production growth rate for 2001 was 14.2%. Industrial sectors slated for growth in the early 2000s were food processing and packing, textiles, woodworking, furniture and building materials, automotive parts, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and aerospace. The construction sector experienced growth during that period; construction spending grew by 9% in the first quarter of 2001. Ukraine produced 31,824 automobiles in 2001, and 1,417 heavy trucks in 2000, a 74% increase over 1999.

In 2004, the representation of industry in the GDP grew to 45.1%, while its representation in the labor force was 32%; agriculture made up 18% of the economy and 24% of the labor force, while services came in second with a 36.9% representation in the GDP and 44% in the labor force. The industrial production growth rate was 16.5% in 2004, with the fastest growing industries being: machine building (which registered a 30.7% growth as opposed to the previous year), construction (23.8%), wood processing, paper and printing (26%), processing industry (15.5%), and light industry (14%).


The Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, founded in 1919, has sections of physical engineering and mathematical sciences, and chemical engineering and biological sciences; it has 66 scientific and technical research institutes attached to it. The Ukrainian Academy of Agrarian Sciences has 13 research institutes, and the Ukrainian Academy of Medical Sciences has six research institutes. All three academies are headquartered in Kiev. A botanical museum is located in Kiev. Ukraine has 92 universities, polytechnics, and institutes that offer courses in basic and applied sciences. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 42% of university enrollment. In 2002, research and development (R&D) expenditures totaled $2,805.687 million, or 1.18% of GDP. Of that amount, government provided the largest portion at 37.4%, followed by the business sector at 33.4%, foreign sources at 26.2%, higher education and private nonprofit organizations at 0.4% each, with 2.3% listed as undistributed. In that same year, there were 1,749 scientists and engineers, and 456 technicians engaged in R&D per million people. High technology exports in 2002 were valued at $572 million, accounting for 5% of the country's manufactured exports.


As of 2002, nearly all of the previously state-owned retail establishments have been privatized. Chain stores, supermarkets, and brand-name specialty stores, many of which are owned by Ukrainians, have become more common in major cities. Department stores, smaller grocery and specialty stores, and bazaars are more common since prices at these establishments are more in line with lower and middle-class spending capabilities. About 4060% of consumer goods are domestically produced. There are some successful foreign franchises, but the practice of franchising has not become widespread. A value-added tax of 20% applies to most goods and services.


Ukraine exports products to 140 countries of the world. Its main export products are ferrous metals and metal products, engines, transport and mechanical equipment, chemicals, and vehicles. Top import items include mineral products, automobiles, transportation equipment, chemicals, and textiles. Ukraine relies heavily on trade, particularly with the other former Soviet republics, although not nearly as much as it had before the breakup. Interrepublic trade accounted for 73% of its total imports in 1988 and 85% of its total exports. In 1991, imports from the other republics equaled 26% of GDP and exports to them amounted to 25% of GDP. However, trade with former USSR states has since rebounded, with Ukraine taking in 59% of its imports from them and selling 33% of its exports to them in 2000.

In 1991/92, inter-republic trade contracted severely, partly due to a breakdown in payment mechanisms, and trade with other countries dropped as well. Much of Ukraine's foreign trade has been carried out in the context of intergovernmental agreements. However, the government has since stabilized its foreign trade. In

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 17,927.4 16,975.9 951.5
Russia 3,148.7 6,299.1 -3,150.4
Turkey 1,235.1 195.3 1,039.8
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 839.3 460.4 378.9
Germany 735.7 1,627.0 -891.3
China 667.1 258.8 408.3
United Kingdom 531.8 259.0 272.8
Hungary 525.1 188.8 336.3
United States 505.0 464.0 41.0
Poland 505.0 536.7 -31.7
Spain 373.0 101.8 271.2
() data not available or not significant.

2000, total imports were valued at $14 billion, and total exports at $14.6 billion. Ukraine trades heavily with the other former Soviet republics, and since 1993 has had extensive trade ties with China.

In 2004, exports totaled $32.9 billion and imports $31.4 billion, making Ukraine one of the few countries in the region with a positive trade balance. Export commodities include ferrous and nonferrous metals, fuel and petroleum products, chemicals, machinery and transport equipment, and food products. The main export partners were Russia (where 18% of all exports went), Germany (5.8%), Turkey (5.7%), Italy (5%), and the United States (4.6%). Imports included energy, chemicals, machinery and equipment, and they mainly came from Russia (41.8%), Germany (9.6%), and Turkmenistan (6.7%). The current account balance in 2004 was $4.6 billion.

Current Account 2,891.0
   Balance on goods -269.0
      Imports -24,008.0
      Exports 23,739.0
   Balance on services 1,557.0
   Balance on income -581.0
   Current transfers 2,184.0
Capital Account -17.0
Financial Account 264.0
   Direct investment abroad -13.0
   Direct investment in Ukraine 1,424.0
   Portfolio investment assets 1.0
   Portfolio investment liabilities -923.0
   Financial derivatives
   Other investment assets -940.0
   Other investment liabilities 715.0
Net Errors and Omissions -965.0
Reserves and Related Items -2,173.0
() data not available or not significant.


The financial crisis of 1998 caused a large outflow of capital, and reserves fell to less than a third of their level in 1997. Due to a major exchange rate adjustment that made Ukrainian products more competitive in both external and internal markets, reserves recovered somewhat in 1999. From June 2000 to July 2001, reserves increased dramatically, back to pre-1998 levels. This growth is surprising in light of the fact that the country has received almost no external funding since 1998, when foreign investors began avoiding Ukraine. Following the 1998 devaluation of the hryvnia, trade surpluses drove the growth in reserves, and the balance of payments situation improved. Reserve growth also improved due to Ukraine's default on its sovereign debt. As of the early 2000s, Ukraine's balance of payments position was expected to be heavily influenced by its trade with Russia.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2001 the purchasing power parity of Ukraine's exports was $17.3 billion while imports totaled $17.1 billion resulting in a trade surplus of $200 million. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001 Ukraine had exports of goods totaling $17.1 billion and imports totaling $16.9 billion. The services credit totaled $4 billion and debit $3.58 billion.

The exports of good and services increased steadily, growing from $28.9 billion in 2003, to 39.7 billion in 2004. At the same time, exports managed to stay above the level of imports, establishing Ukraine as one of the few export driven economies in the region. Imports of goods and services totaled 27.6 billion in 2003, and 34.8 billion in 2004, giving Ukraine a positive resource balance in both years: 1.3 billion and 4.9 billion respectively. Its reserves (including gold) grew from 6.9 billion in 2003 to 9.5 billion in 2004, covering almost four months of imports.


The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) is the country's national bank and was established in June 1991. It has since assumed the function of a central bank. The commercial banking sector is dominated by the big five banks of Prominvest Bank, Ukrania, Ukreximbank, Eximbank and Oshadbank. Of these, Ukreximbank and Oshchadbank remain state controlled. As of 2001, Ukraine had 195 banks, but of these, only 153 remained in operation. Of these banks, approximately a quarter have foreign exchange licenses, and one-third are members of the Ukrainian Interbank Currency Exchange. It is generally acknowledged that Ukraine has too many banks and that there will be numerous mergers and failures in the coming years. In 1995 alone more than 20 banks went out of business, almost 80 changed ownership, and only eight new banks entered the market. Foreign banks, however, have been slow to enter the market.

The NBU implements monetary control through reserve requirements and the interest rates it charges banks on funds transferred from the state savings bank. Before November 1992, the NBU was able to obtain additional rubles by running a surplus on transactions with other republics in the ruble zone. However, with inflation accelerating since early 1991, the supply of rubles proved insufficient to meet the economy's needs, and Ukraine consequently resorted to the use of coupons. The resulting rise in inflation was the main factor behind Ukraine's enforced departure from the ruble zone in November 1992.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $5.5 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $8.4 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 16.57%. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 12.5%.

The Law on Securities and the Stock Exchange came into effect in January 1992. There are seven stock exchanges and seven commodities exchanges, although these are more like the auction houses that sprang up after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 as conduits for goods rather than the securities exchanges found in the West. Capital markets are undeveloped even by the standards of countries such as Russia. The Ukrainian Stock Exchange (USE), established in 1992, acts to coordinate primary and secondary market trading of Ukrainian securities. In 2001, the exchange had 131 companies listed and total market capitalization of $1.4 billion. Trading value was $226 million, with a turnover ratio of 13.9%. As of 2004, there were 155 companies listed with the country's First Securities Trading System (PFTS), which had a market capitalization of $11.778 billion. Trading value in that year totaled $201 million, with a turnover ratio of 2.5%.


Among the insurance companies operating in Ukraine in 1997 were: Asko-Kiev Central Insurance Co.; Factotum Joint-Stock Insurance Co., First International Insurance Group; Ometa-Inster Joint-Stock Insurance Co.; Skide Insurance Co.; and Slavia. Beginning in August 1998, the Ukrainian government required that foreign visitors purchase mandatory "emergency medical insurance" from the Ukrainian State Insurance Company. In addition, personal accident insurance is required for all passengers on public transportation. Foreign shareholders in insurance companies may not exceed 49%. In 2003, the value of all direct insurance premiums written totaled $1.712 billion, of which nonlife premiums accounted for $1.699 billion. In that same year, Lemma was the top nonlife insurer, with gross written nonlife premiums for direct business only of $124.8 million, while Grawe Ukraina was the country's leading life insurer, with gross written life insurance premiums of $4.8 million.


Ukraine has displayed positive growth in recent years, but long term growth will require certain market reforms. The economy is burdened by excessive government regulation, and major sectors such as energy and telecommunications remain to be privatized. Corporate governance is weak, and corruption is rampant. In the early 2000s, the government sought ways to reform the tax code to eliminate corruption and legitimize economic activity. Ukraine receives aid from the IMF, although the relationship between those two entities has not always been successful; Ukraine has had problems adhering to IMF monetary conditions.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Ukraine's central government took in revenues of approximately

Revenue and Grants 69,252 100.0%
   Tax revenue 31,646 45.7%
   Social contributions 24,083 34.8%
   Grants 3,269 4.7%
   Other revenue 10,254 14.8%
Expenditures 69,028 100.0%
   General public services 15,704 22.8%
   Defense 3,536 5.1%
   Public order and safety 4,677 6.8%
   Economic affairs 6,671 9.7%
   Environmental protection
   Housing and community amenities 36 0.1%
   Health 2,158 3.1%
   Recreational, culture, and religion 433 0.6%
   Education 4,981 7.2%
   Social protection 30,832 44.7%
() data not available or not significant.

$22.9 billion and had expenditures of $24.4 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$1.5 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 20.5% of GDP. Total external debt was $33.93 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2002, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were hrn69,252 million and expenditures were hrn69,028 million. The value of revenues was us$13,001 million and expenditures us$12,959 million, based on an exchange rate for 2002 of us$1 = hrn5.3266 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 22.8%; defense, 5.1%; public order and safety, 6.8%; economic affairs, 9.7%; housing and community amenities, 0.1%; health, 3.1%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.6%; education, 7.2%; and social protection, 44.7%.


In 1997/98 Ukraine reformed its tax system. As of 2005, the standard corporate tax rate was 25%, although preferential regimes are available for special economic zones. Capital gains for companies are taxed at the corporate rate. Withholding taxes on income from royalties and interest is 15%. Companies distributing dividends to residents and nonresidents are required to pay a 25% advance tax on the dividends. The tax can then be credited against the company's profits.

Personal income is taxed at a flat 13% rate. Capital gains received by individuals are subject to a 13% withholding tax. Dividends received by resident and nonresident individuals are subject to a 15% withholding tax.

The Ukraine's main indirect tax is its value-added tax (VAT), with a standard rate of 20%. A 0% VAT rate applies to exports and international transportation services. Some medicines, baby food, educational, medical and insurance services, and the sale of land are also exempt.


Import licenses are required for all foreign trade activities in Ukraine. Ukraine has signed trade agreements with the United States, Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, and several other former Soviet republics. As of 2002, tariffs on imports range from 020%, with the tariff on automobiles being the highest. Preferential tariffs are given to developing countries and privileged tariffs are given to countries that have trade agreements with Ukraine. Other duties include a 20% VAT and excise taxes (up to 300%). In 2000, the number of categories of goods eligible for excise tax was reduced from 20 to five: alcohol, automobiles, jewelry, oil products, and tobacco.


Among the transitional economies of Eastern Europe, nowhere has the gap between economic potential and economic performance been wider than in the Ukraine, and nowhere has the gap been more glaring than in the foreign investment statistics. By 2000, total foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Ukraine was still less than $4 billion, compared with $40 billion that had flowed into Poland and $20 billion into Hungary during the same period.

Independence was first greeted by a rush of inward investment. In 1991, the number of joint ventures operating in Ukraine rose from 76 in October 1990 to 189 in October 1991. Following the enactment in March 1992 of a more favorable foreign investment law, joint ventures jumped to 1,400 early in 1993. Most of these ventures were in industry, with a few engaged in foreign trade. The government's 1993 economic plan included tax incentives and other benefits for investors in specific areas including agro-industrial enterprises, energy, and production of consumer goods. However, by 1996 and 1997, rampant official graft and corruption were crippling foreign investment. Several significant multinational corporations withdrew from Ukraine after government decrees were issued that steered business to state-owned firms in which government officials were stakeholders. This action occurred despite the Foreign Investment Law of 1996, which purported to put foreign investors on an equal footing with Ukrainian nationals, and President Kuchma's pledge to battle corruption. The government had declared a need for $40 billion in foreign investment, but only $2.8 billion was invested between 1992 and 1998.

In 1997 the law "On Special (Free) Economic Zones" was adopted, establishing three types of special investment zones: free economic zones (FEZs), territories with a special investment regime (SEZs), and territories of priority development (TPDs). As of 2002, there were nine TPDs and eleven FEZs and SEZs. In 2002, the special zones attracted investment totaling $909 million, both domestic and foreign, but pressure has been brought by the IMF to either eliminate the special zones or curb their tax and regulatory exemptions.

Annual foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow peaked at $747 billion in 1998, up from $623 billion in 1997, before falling to $471 billion in 1999 in the wake of the Russian financial crisis. FDI inflow recovered to $593 billion in 2000, but then fell back to $531 million in the global economic slowdown of 2001. Contrary to the worldwide trend of reduced FDI flow after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, the Ukraine had its best year since independence, with inflow increasing over 15% to an estimated $738.7 million in 2002. As of October 2002, total FDI since 1992 amounted to almost $5 billion.

As of 1 October 2002, according the Ukraine State Statistics Committee, FDI had come from 112 countries. The United States remained the largest source of FDI, with $843 million or 17% of the total. US-based sources were also probably involved in some of the FDI flows from Cyprus (11% of the total) and the British Virgin Islands (6.4%). The United Kingdom accounted for 9.5% of total FDI in the Ukraine since 1992; the Netherlands, 7.8%; the Russian Federation, 6.5%; Germany, 5%; Switzerland, 4.2%; Austria, 3.9%; and Korea, 3.5%. The remaining 24.2% came from 102 other countries. Per capita FDI stock increased from $78 at the end of 2000 to $102 at the beginning of October 2002.

In 2004, Ukraine was a much more attractive market for foreign investments, receiving $1.4 billion of direct FDIan increase of 22% from the previous year. Most of this investment went to production machinery and equipment, with food processing, agricultural processing, machine building, coal, oil and gas, and light industry being other important recipients of foreign funds. This growth however was well under the potential of the Ukrainian market, especially if one considers that in the same year, its neighbor, Romania, received over 5 billion in direct FDI. At the end of 2004, the level of foreign investment since 1992 rose to 7.7 billionten times as low as the same figure in Poland. Major investors in 2004 included: Cyprus (14.1%), the United States (13.6%), the United Kingdom (10.4%), Germany (7.1%), the Netherlands (6.8%), Virgin Islands (6.1%), Russia (5.5%), Switzerland (4.9%), and Austria (4%).


In 1993, Ukraine's parliament tentatively approved a new economic reform plan to stabilize the republic's economy, attract more capital from abroad, and lay the groundwork for a market economy. Measures proposed included stricter monetary and banking regulation, and the elimination of monopolies in industries. A privatization program was underway in sectors including retail trade, services, the food industry, agriculture, and housing.

Since the election of President Kuchma in 1994, the government has implemented a far-reaching economic reform program. Almost all price and trade controls have been abolished in an effort to stabilize the new market economy. Privatization began in earnest in 1995, and a new convertible currency was adopted in 1996. In the 1990s, Ukraine continued to register negative growth. By the end of the 1990s, real gross domestic product (GDP) declined to 40% of its pre-independence level. In late 1998, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loaned Ukraine another $2.2 billion after Ukraine promised to introduce more fiscal discipline.

The economy started to grow in 2000; GDP growth in 2002 was over 4.5%. Small- and medium-sized enterprises were privatized by 2002, but the energy and telecommunications sectors had yet to be privatized. The government passed a foreign investment law, but bureaucratic hurdles, poor corporate governance, corruption, and the weak enforcement of contract law by courts all hamper investment. At the end of October 2002, total foreign direct investment into the country amounted to around $4.9 billion, which was one of the lowest figures in the region. In 2002, land reforms were ongoing, supporting growth in the agricultural sector.

The economy took off in 2003 and 2004, and was deemed one of the most dynamic in Europe (the GDP growth rate in 2004 was 12.1%). The election of Viktor Yushchenko at the end of 2004, and the political turmoil that preceded it, hampered this expansive pulse. The new president stated however that the country is on the right path and that the economy will start booming again. Ukraine boasts a highly qualified work force, cheap labor and competitive costs, a relatively well-developed transportation and communications infrastructure, and a strategic geographic location. In addition, the large market47 million peoplemakes it a prime location for foreign investment.


The social security system provides all employees with old age, disability, and survivor's pensions. The program is funded primarily from employer contributions, with a small contribution from employees and government subsidies as needed. Retirement is normally at age 60 for men and 55 for women, although this is reduced by five years for those engaged in arduous work and mothers with five or more children. There is a dual system of medical benefits. Cash benefits for sickness are provided for employed persons, while a universal medical care system exists for all residents. Maternity benefits of 100% of wages for 70 days before and 56 days after the expected date of childbirth are payable to all employed women. Workers' compensation and unemployment benefits are also provided. Special provisions exist for Chernobyl victims. Family allowances are provided to families with large numbers of children.

The law provides women with the same employment rights as men, although they rarely attain high-level managerial or political positions. Women who are employed mostly work in low-paying jobs or in industries that have trouble paying their employees on time. Help wanted ads often specify gender. Violence against women, domestic abuse, and sexual harassment in the workplace are pervasive.

Human rights violations continue. Harassment of racial minorities and religious intolerance are increasing problems. Anti-Semitic incidents and societal discrimination of ethnic minorities are commonplace. The Roma population is subject to abuse by police and general intolerance by the public. Prisoners are mistreated by authorities and live in substandard conditions. The government interferes with freedom of the press and with the electoral process.


Deterioration of the economy and declining living standards have had a negative impact on birth and mortality rates and women's and children's health standards need much improvement. Although safe water was available to 96.5%, proper sanitation was available to only 70% of the urban population and 8% of the rural population in the mid-1990s. Poor nutrition is another major problem in the Ukraine, and a shortage of basic supplies exacerbates the health care situation.

The country has established 156 independent children's hospitals. Altogether there were a total of 700,000 hospital beds. In addition, there were 6,500 outpatient polyclinical institutions. As of 2004, there were an estimated 297 physicians, 766 nurses, and 39 dentists per 100,000 people.

Infant mortality was reported at 10.11 per 1,000 live births in 2005. Life expectancy was 69.68 years in 2005. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 10 and 16 per 1,000 people. Immunization rates for children up to one year old were: tuberculosis, 95%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 96%; polio, 97%; and measles, 97%.

The leading causes of death were cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancer, traumas, and accidents. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 1.40 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 360,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 20,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

The likelihood of dying after age 65 of heart disease in Ukraine was below the average for medium human development as defined by the World Bank. In the mid-1990s, that rate exceeded 300 per 1,000 for men and 295 per 1,000 for women. On the other hand, cancer rates for men were higher. Death after age 65 from cancer was 133 per 1,000 people in the mid-1990s.


Before 1994, most housing and utility costs were covered by the government through a policy which was causing major federal debt. Through an IMF approved program of economic reforms put in place in October 1994, residents were asked to contribute a much greater amount toward there own rent and utilities. Unfortunately, many households were unable to do so. An average three-person household, living in a three-room flat of about 500 sq m (5,381.96 sq ft) was charged expenses of about $30 per month. The average monthly income of such a family was $50. In 1995, the government put in place a subsidy program to assist low-income families in meeting rising housing costs, but funding for housing continues to be a problem.

At the 2001 census, there were 18,200,567 households counted representing 47,726,518 people. About 44% of all households lived in individual houses; another 44.6% lived in a separate apartment unit. The average amount of living space was 14 sq m (150.69 sq ft) per person.


Most schools are state run. Education is compulsory for nine years, with students starting at age six or seven. These first nine years are completed through four years of elementary school and five years of lower secondary school. Students may continue in general secondary schools offering two- or three-year courses of study, or a specialized education secondary program of about three years. Vocational programs of four or five years are also available at the secondary level. While Ukrainian is the most commonly taught language and medium of instruction, other languages, such as Russian, Hungarian, Polish, Moldovan, or Crimean-Tatar, are offered based on the ethnic composition of the particular school district. The academic year runs from September to June.

In 2001, about 52% of children between the ages of three and six were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 84% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 85% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 97.6% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 19:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 13:1.

There are over 900 colleges, technical schools, vocational schools, universities, and other institutes of higher education. The Kyiv-Mohyla Academy was founded in 1632. Other universities are: Lviv University (1795), Kharkiv University (1804), Taras Shevchenko National University (1834), Odessa University (1868). In 2003, it was estimated that about 62% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in tertiary education programs. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 99.4%.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 5.4% of GDP, or 20.3% of total government expenditures.


The largest library in the country is the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine in Kiev, which holds over 15 million items, including the collection of the Presidents of Ukraine, archive copies of Ukrainian printed documents from 1917, and the archives of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The National Parliamentary Library of Ukraine in Kiev holds 65,000 volumes. Also in Kiev, the National Library of Ukraine for Children has a collection of over 440,000 volumes. Other large collections include the V.G. Korolenko State Scientific Library with 6.7 million volumes and the libraries at Lviv Polytechnic University (3 million), Franko State University in Lviv (2.5 million), Shevchenko Kiev University (2.7 million), and Kiev Polytechnic Institute (2.5 million). There are reported to be about 21,857 public libraries operating in Ukraine with an overall stock of about 336.7 million books.

Kiev has the Kiev State Museum of Russian Art, the Kiev State Museum of Ukrainian Art, the State Historical Museum, the Museum of Cultural Heritage, the National Museum of Medicine, the State Museum of Ukrainian Decorative Folk Art, and the Soros Center for Contemporary Art. There are also several small house museums in Kiev. There is a Museum of Fine Arts in Lugansk. Lviv houses the State Museum of Ethnography and Arts and Crafts and the Literary Museum of Ivan Franko. Odessa is home to the Odessa Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Literature, the Naval Museum, the Odessa Museum of Western and Oriental Art, the Odessa Archaeological Museum, and the Pushkin Museum.


In 2003, there were an estimated 216 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; over 2 million people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 136 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Most broadcast media is state-owned or controlled by political parties or other powerful business interests. In 2004, there were six national television stations. While there are many privately-owned radio and television stations, they are generally heavily influenced by the government and political parties. In 2000, there were 456 television sets for every 1,000 people. In 2003, there were an estimated 889 radios for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 19 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 19 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 53 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

Among the leading newspapers (with 2005 daily circulation) are: Segodnya (published in Russian, 849,000 circulation), Fakty I Commentarii (published in Russian, 761,000 circulation), Silski Visti (Ukrainian, 537,000), Vecherniye Vesti (Russian, 500,000), Ukrayina Moloda (Ukrainian, 163,000), and Den (Russian and Ukrainian, 62,500).

The constitution and a 1991 law provide for free speech and a free press. Criticism of the government is said to be tolerated, though some journalists practice self-censorship because of occasional pressures from the government.


The Ukraine Chamber of Commerce and the Congress of Business Circles of Ukraine promotes the commercial and business activities of the country to the rest of the world. Many of Ukraine's trade unions belong to the umbrella organization called the Federation of Independent Trade Unions. Professional associations are active in several different fields. There is an active Ukrainian Consumers' Association.

National cultural organizations include the Ukrainian Cultural Educational Organization and Flamenko, which promotes cultural exchange programs. National youth organizations include the Council of Ukrainian Students, the Ukrainian Fund of International Youth Cooperation, Junior Chamber, Ukrainian Girl Guides and Girls Scouts Association, the Compass Club, and YMCA/YWCA. There are several sports associations promoting amateur competition for athletes of all ages.

National social action organizations include the Ukrainian Center for Human Rights, the Ukrainian Environmental Association, the Ukrainian Legal Foundation, Freedom House (advocating the development of democratic institutions), The Children's Fund, and Zhinocha Hromada, an organization focused on encouraging women to be active in economic and community development. International organizations with national chapters include Caritas, UNICEF, Amnesty International, and the Red Cross.


Kiev, Ukraine's major cultural center, is known for its beautiful churches and golden-domed cathedrals, although much of its classic architecture was destroyed or obscured by Communist planners in the 1930s. The cathedral of St. Sophia, built in the 11th century, is one of the finest examples of Russo-Byzantine architecture. Another major tourist attraction is the Golden Gate, an 11th-century fortification restored in 1982. Lviv (formerly Lvov) offers architectural sights ranging from late-13th-century Russian to 16th-century Gothic structures.

In 2003, about 12.5 million visitors arrived in Ukraine, over 5 million of whom came from Russia. There were 32,572 hotel rooms with 86,243 beds and an occupancy rate of 30%. Travelers stayed in Ukraine an average of three nights per trip. Tourism expenditure receipts totaled $1.2 billion. A valid passport is required for all travelers to enter Ukraine. Visas are not required for citizens of Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the United States, and the European Union countries, for stays of up to 90 days. To visit the nation, all other travelers need a visa. Medical insurance which covers Ukraine is required for all US citizens.

According to 2005 estimates from the US Department of State, the cost of staying in Kiev was $271 per day, other areas were less at $177 per day.


Leonid M. Kravchuk and Vitold P. Fokin were respectively the first president and prime minister of Ukraine. Leonid Brezhnev (Dneprodzershinsk, Ukraine, 190682) led the Soviet Union from 196682. Outstanding representatives of the culture and literature of Ukraine include poet Taras Shevchenko (181461) and the Jewish writer Sholom Aleichem (Solomon Rabinowitz, 18591916).


Ukraine has no territories or colonies.


Aslund, Anders (ed.). Economic Transformation in Russia. New York: St. Martin's, 1994.

Buckley, Mary. Redefining Russian Society and Polity. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1993.

Dean, Martin. Collaboration in the Holocaust: Crimes of the Local Police in Belorussia and Ukraine, 194144. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.

Goncharenko, Alexander. Ukrainian-Russian Relations: an Unequal Partnership. London: Royal United Services Institute for Defense Studies, 1995.

Kohut, Zenon E., Bohdan Y. Nebesio, and Myroslav Yurkevich. Historical Dictionary of Ukraine. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow, 2005.

Koropeckyj, I. S., (ed.). The Ukrainian Economy: Achievements, Problems, Challenges. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992.

Mandel, David. Labour after Communism: Auto Workers and Their Unions in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. New York: Black Rose Books, 2004.

McElrath, Karen (ed.). HIV and AIDS: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian, Soviet and Eurasian History. Gulf Breeze, Fla.: Academic International Press, 1994.

Otfinoski, Steven. Ukraine. 2nd ed. New York: Facts On File, 2004.

Schulz-Torge, Ulrich-Joachim (ed.). Who's Who in Russia Today: A Biographical Dictionary of More than 2,100 Individuals from the Russian Federation Including the Other Fourteen USSR Republics. New Providence: K.G. Saur, 1994.

Shen, Raphael. Ukraine's Economic Reform: Obstacles, Errors, Lessons. Westport, Con.: Praeger, 1996.

Solovev, Vladimir. Boris Yeltsin: A Political Biography. New York: Putnam, 1992.

Terterov, Marat (ed.). Doing Business with Ukraine. Sterling, Va.: Kogan Page, 2005.

Yeltsin, Boris Nikolayevich. The Struggle for Russia. New York: Times Books, 1994.

Zeilig, Leo and David Seddon. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Africa. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2005.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukraine." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukraine." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukraine." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from



Basic Data
Official Country Name: Ukraine
Region: Europe
Population: 49,153,027
Language(s): Ukrainian, Russian, Romanian, Polish, Hungarian
Literacy Rate: 98%
Number of Primary Schools: 21,720
Compulsory Schooling: 9 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 7.3%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 18,302
Libraries: 25,000
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 2,658,800
  Secondary: 4,731,200
  Higher: 1,541,000
Teachers: Primary: 133,600
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 20:1

History & Background

Ukraine is a state in eastern Europe situated between Russia and Poland and bordering the Black Sea. It occupies a territory of 231,990 square miles (600,852 square kilometers) with a population of over 51 million people. The most representative groups of the population are Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, Belarusans, Moldavians, and Poles. Ukraine was a constituent republic of the USSR until it became independent in 1991. Its capital is Kiev with a population of 2.6 million people.

Ukrainian culture is a blend of eastern Slavic patterns and unique features developed during its long history. They speak a language in many ways similar to Russian and Belarusian and use the Cyrillic alphabet. From the ninth to the twelfth centuries most of the Ukrainian territory was part of Kiev Russia. The first schools of "book knowledge," which were intended for children of noble families, appeared under the Grand Prince Vladimir (980-1015). During the rule of Yaroslav the Wise (1019-1054), literacy spread among different social groups. Poucheniya (precepts), which appeared in the eleventh to twelfth centuries, were the first samples of truly pedagogical works. The most famous precepts were created by Vladimir Monomakh (1053-1125), the Grand Prince of Kiev, who addressed them to his own children. In 1086 the first school for female students opened in Kiev. The Kiev-Pechersk monastery was the center of Old Russian chronicle writing.

The Mongol invasion (thirteenth to fifteenth centuries) had a destructive influence on the eastern Slavic cultural centers such as Kiev and Chernigov. In the fourteenth century the southwestern lands were occupied by Lithuanian feudals. National and religious oppression became especially strong in the sixteenth century after the formation of the Polish-Lithuanian state, Rzecz Pospolita. Jesuit collegiums and schools opened their doors for Catholics and Uniates, whereas the educational opportunities for the adherents of the Eastern Orthodox church were meager. The traditions of Ukrainian culture were continued by schools attached to monasteries in Kiev, Chernigov, Putivl, and other places. In 1572 the first Russian printer, Ivan Fyodorov, arrived in Lvov; two years later a printing house, established with his assistance, published the first Bukvar (ABC-Book). By 1678 Ukraine had over 20 printing houses, which published educational literature and other books.

Brotherhood schools, which emerged in Lvov (1585), Kiev (1615), Lutsk (1617), and other cities played an important part in the preservation of the Slavic cultural identity. They were not merely educational institutions, but cultural centers, which united progressive writers, poets, printers, and teachers. From the late sixteenth to the early seventeenth centuries, Ukraine had about 30 brotherhood schools. They published textbooks and organized teaching in the native language. The School Rules (Poryadok Shkol'ny ) issued by the Lvov school are still considered to be an outstanding monument of educational thought. The 1648-1654 war, led by Bogdan Khmelnitsky, resulted in the reunification of Ukraine with Russia. Numerous parish schools were opened to promote literacy.

The late 1700s saw the emergence of shipbuilding, metallurgical, and other professional schools. Because of the division of Poland, which started in 1772, western Ukrainian lands were annexed by Austria. The educational reform brought about the formation of state primary ("trivial") and incomplete secondary ("main") schools with instruction predominantly in German. In parish schools the teaching was done in Polish and German; the Ukrainian language was largely neglected and regarded merely as a dialect of Polish. The progressive young people in Lvov formed a society, Russkaya troitsa, (Russian Trinity), which published an almanac promoting democratic ideas.

The Russian 1803-1804 educational reform brought about the formation of gymnasiums, as well as privileged educational institutions, lyceums, and Institutes for Noble Young Ladies. The latter emerged in Kharkov (1805), Poltava (1817), Odessa, and Kiev. Initial professional education was provided by specialized institutions: the Kiev Railway School, the Kherson School of Commercial Navigation, and the Yekaterinislav School of Gardening, as well as art and trade schools. Universities opened in Kharkov in 1805 and in Kiev in 1834. Two year teacher training courses affiliated with the universities followed suit.

The new educational institutions reflected European patterns, but at the same time incorporated distinctive features based on the long-standing traditions of Slavic culture. After the Decembrist uprising in St. Petersburg (1825), which shattered the foundations of Russian czarism, great educational work was done in Kiev by General M. F. Orlov. He headed a group called "Union of Welfare," used his own money to organize schools of mutual education, and developed new curricula and methodological materials.

The secret Cyril-Methodius Society, founded in the 1840s at Kiev University and headed by N. I. Kostomarov, aimed at spreading education among different social groups. The members of the society opened schools for peasant children and worked hard to create and publish textbooks for them. The society included a revolutionary democratic group led by the national poet Taras Shevchenko. The ideas of the French revolution of 1848 encouraged progressive educators to foster the teaching and use of the Ukrainian language in schools. In the 1850s primary schools in the Ukrainian territories had 67,000 students. The secondary education institutions were represented by 15 male gymnasiums, 2 lyceums, 3 cadet corps, and 5 female secondary schools. Instruction in most of the schools was carried out in Russian. The movement promoting education for common people and schools with Ukrainian as the language of instruction became especially strong in the 1850s. It initiated the opening of Sunday schools in Kiev and Kharkov, but in 1863 they were closed for political reasons. The same year the czarist government prohibited the publishing of books in the Ukrainian language and in 1876 the language's use in educational institutions. The educational reform of the 1860s stimulated the establishment of new institutions, the introduction of comparatively progressive methods of teaching, and the admission of children from different ranks of society to primary schools. From 1877 to 1898 the number of schools grew from 1,112 to 3,179. Higher courses for women wanting an education were opened in Kiev and Kharkov. According to the census of 1897, the literacy rate for ages 9 to 49 was 27.9 percent, (41.7 percent among men and 14 percent among women).

The 1905-1907 Russian Revolution encouraged the development of new progressive ideas. The organization Prosvita (Enlightenment), the All-Ukrainian Teachers Union, and the Kiev Society for Public Kindergartens began their activities; free libraries opened in different cities; and a higher teachers training institute for female students was founded in Kiev. Uchilishche, a new type of public secondary school with four years of instruction, quickly gained popularity; by 1916 300 existed in various parts of the country.

In western Ukraine, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian state, the educational opportunities for Ukrainians were scarce; the majority of the people were illiterate, and primary schools had only one grade. Most of the teaching was done in German, Polish, Hungarian, and Romanian; in 1911-1912, out of 134 general education schools only 11 had Ukrainian as the language of instruction. By 1914-1915 Ukraine (within its modern borders) had approximately 26,000 general education institutions, including 25,000 primary, 386 incomplete secondary, 577 complete secondary, and 88 specialized secondary schools for a total of 2,600,000 students.

After the Revolution of 1917, education developed rapidly. In July 1920 Narkompros (People's Commissariat of Education) of Ukraine published The Declaration on Social Education of Children, which initiated the introduction of a new educational system. Its basic unit was a seven year school that combined Communist education with productive labor. The new system rejected all of the pre-Revolutionary educational experience: textbooks were seen as a redundancy ("life is better than textbooks"); the family was regarded as a bourgeois survival, which had to be eliminated; and regular schools were almost totally phased out in favor of children's homes and communes. The idea of Communist discipline was epitomized by Anton Makarenko, the famous educator who managed to achieve great success in colonies for minors and juvenile delinquents.

In the 1920s the entire educational system had a pronounced vocational character. It envisages an extensive development of PTUs (professional technical schools). School clubs provided professional training and organized excursions, lectures, literary gatherings, and musical parties. Rabfaks (workers faculties) were attached to higher educational institutions specifically to train students from working class families. Beginning with the early 1920s, the society "Away with Illiteracy!" provided basic training for adults. By 1939 the literacy rate was claimed to be 88.2 percent. In 1924 there were 136 nursery schools and kindergartens attended by 6,000 children. The Research Institute of Pedagogy of the Ukrainian SSR, which was formed in 1926, started to advance educational theory and methodology. The reshaping of the educational system in the 1930s gave technicums (technical schools) the status of secondary specialized institutions; it also brought about the creation of new industrial, agricultural, economic, pedagogical, and medical higher educational establishments. Schooling for children aged 8 to 15 became compulsory. By 1932-1933 the number of people embraced by education had doubled as compared to 1928-1929 and reached 4.5 million.

At the same time about 80 percent of the population in Western Ukraine was illiterate; over 30 percent of children did not attend schools; and only 5 percent of students were getting education in the Ukrainian language. The reunification of Ukraine in 1939 resulted in the establishment of new schools, promotion of literacy for adults, and instruction in the native tongue. By 1940-1941 Ukraine had 6,900 preschools with 319,000 children; 30,800,000 general education schools with 6.6 million students and 250,000 teachers; 690 secondary specialized schools with 196,000 students; and 129 higher educational institutions with 124,400 students.

The advancement of education miraculously coexisted with the Stalinist political terror. Thousands of intellectuals became victims of mass repression. The indoctrination of Communist ideology at educational institutions reached its peak. Anyone who dared express an opinion different from the official point of view was subject to being imprisoned, executed, or sent to a concentration camp. During the Second World War, the Nazi troops completely destroyed over 8,000 schools; 10,000 more schools were partially ruined.

In spite of all the misfortunes, deaths, and cataclysms brought about by the war, the network was quickly restored. By 1945-1946 there were over 28,000 general education schools with 5 million people. The deStalinization of the Soviet Union under Nikita Khrushchev had a profound influence on the political and cultural life in Ukraine. The content of education changed significantly. The transference to universal, compulsory, eight year schooling was completed by 1960-1961. The activities of the prominent teacher and scholar Vassily Suhkomlinsky, who made special emphasis on civil and ethical aspects of education, aroused great public interest, as well as sharp criticism from the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences. Sukhomlinsky, a school director, considered the child's personality to have the highest value in the process of teaching and upbringing. He saw the main goal of education in the realization of the students' inborn qualities, spontaneous reactions, and impulses. He also paid special attention to society as the context of education and included ethical categories in pedagogy.

The social apathy of the 1980s, the lack of diversity, and the predominance of indoctrination programs resulted in the crisis of the educational system. The attempted educational reform of 1984 proved to be ineffective, but the significant changes attained after the initiation of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) under the Soviet leader Mihkail Gorbachev continued after the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The Law on Education adopted in 1991 secured the main principles of Ukrainian education: democracy; priority of humanistic values; organic connection with history, culture, and traditions; continuity; and diversity of educational opportunities. The program, "Osvita " or "Ukraine in the 21st Century" was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in November 1993.

Article 53 of the Constitution adopted in 1996 declares the right of every citizen to an education. Basic secondary education is compulsory. The state provides free primary, secondary, and vocational technical training in the state and communal institutions. Free higher education can be attained on a competitive basis. School is separated from the church, and education has a secular character. This provision is of special importance, because there are 60 different religious confessions existing in Ukraine.

In 1996 the Supreme Rada (Ukrainian parliament) adopted amendments to the Law on Education of 1991. The amended law defines the main principles underlying the educational system and establishes the areas of responsibility of the central and local administrative organs in the sphere of education. It also points out that educational institutions in Ukraine can be state, communal, or private property. The state standards set by the central organs specify the requirements to the content and level of instruction and professional training. They are approved by the Cabinet of Ministers, serve as the basis for the evaluation of the graduates' qualifications, and have to be reviewed every 10 years. The establishment of standards allows for an equivalency of qualifications on all the territory of Ukraine. In the future, it will provide the ground for the transferability of degrees between the countries, belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Any kind of political, religious, or military activity in educational institutions is prohibited. The state is expected to assist the development of science and culture, enhance educational opportunities for citizens from underprivileged social groups, and initiate contacts with the world educational community. The laws On Preschool Education, On Protection of Childhood, On General Secondary Education, On Professional Education, and On Higher Education, as well as numerous statutes and regulations, further specify the provisions of the Constitution and the main Law.

In the 1990s the government, concerned that the spheres of use of the Ukrainian language were limited, launched the policy of ukranization and de-russification. According to the new decrees, all the government officers have to be tested as to their knowledge of the Ukrainian language. The statute of the Council of Ministers, On the Program of the Development of the Ukrainian Language and Other National Languages (1991) and a complex plan of the Ministry of Education changed the approach towards the choice of languages at school. They set the aim of reshaping the educational network on the basis of the national structure and the needs of the population. The statute of the Ministry of Education of 1992 continued the same line and decreed the creation of a network of primary school grades, which would correspond to the national structure of each region. The Ministry also authorized moral and material encouragement of the teachers who used Ukrainian as the language of instruction. The number of hours allotted to the Russian language and literature was significantly reduced. Though Article 27 of the Law on Languages pronounced the study of Russian as an obligatory subject, the letter of 1993, signed by the Deputy Minister of Education, gave it the status of a foreign language and allowed schools to introduce other foreign languages instead of Russian. The new regulations also prescribe the de-russification of TV, radio, sports, tourism, and theaters, as well as the use of taxation mechanisms to regulate the flow of periodicals from abroad. The Concept of Education for National Minorities, developed by the Ministry of Education, envisages gradual transition to Ukrainian as the language of instruction, beginning with the fourth grade.

All these steps are expected to extend the spheres of usage of the Ukrainian language, intensify its free development, and enhance its prestige. The opponents of the policy of de-russification argue that a vast majority of the population prefers to use Russian in their everyday life, and therefore it cannot be regarded as a language of a national minority. They believe that the revival of Ukrainian culture cannot be achieved through the forcible introduction of the Ukrainian language, as well as the discrimination of other languages, including Russian. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation issued a note of protest against the violation of the rights of the Russian-speaking population. In response, the proponents of the Ukrainian linguistic policy insist on the right of the population to use their native language and revive the Ukrainian national identity.

This state policy brought about the increase of instruction in the Ukrainian language from 49 percent in 1990-1991 to 66 percent in 1999-2000. Educational institutions had to deal with the development of terminology for various subjects, which had not been taught in Ukrainian before. Other languages taught, represented at different types of educational institutions, include Hungarian, Moldavian, Romanian, Crimean Tartar, and German.

Educational SystemOverview

The Ukrainian educational system combines the features inherited from the Soviet Union with the quest for national revival. Article 29 of the Law on Education outlines the following types of education: preschool, general secondary, extra school, vocational technical, higher, post-graduate, aspirantura, doctorantura, and self-education.

Preschool education is optional. It is provided by nursery schools, which cater to the needs of infants from six weeks to three years old, and kindergartens for children from three to six years old. General education is represented by primary, basic (incomplete) secondary, and complete secondary schools, which usually coexist under the same roof. Basic secondary education is compulsory and requires three or four years of primary school plus five years of secondary school. Students who intend to continue their studies can follow one of three main tracks: they can pursue their studies on the upper secondary level (grades 10 and 11), enter a vocational secondary school, or apply to a higher educational institution of the first or second accreditation level (technicum or college). The third and fourth accreditation levels of higher education are represented by institutes, academies, conservatories, and universities. They require complete secondary education as a prerequisite for entry. Aspirantura and doctorantura provide postgraduate education, which leads to the defense of a dissertation and advanced scholarly degrees of Kandydat nauk and Doktor nauk.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Preprimary education in Ukraine is included in the state educational system. It is subordinate to the Ministry of Education. The major types of preschool facilities are nursery schools (dytyachi yasla ), which take care of infants from six weeks to three years old, and kindergartens (dytyachi sadki ), which are intended for children from three to six years of age. Orphans and children without proper parental care are placed in children's homes, boarding kindergartens, and or family-type and sanatorium-type facilities. There are also specialized preschool institutions for children with physical and mental disabilities, as well as other diseases. The length of stay at most of the facilities is nine hours, but there are also institutions, which work on a 24 hour basis. Preschools provide childcare and initial intellectual, physical, and aesthetic education. Special emphasis is made on the preparation of children for primary school. Classes are devoted to the development of speech and elementary numerical skills, singing, dancing, foreign languages, and art. The government encourages the study of the Ukrainian language and culture. Teachers for preschool institutions (vykhovateli ) are trained at specialized departments of teacher training schools, institutes, and universities, as well as advanced training and retraining institutes.

The 1980s witnessed the maximum enrollment of children in public preschools. The economic changes of the late 1980s and 1990s deprived preprimary institutions of regular financing, which had been guaranteed by the centralized Soviet state. Fifty-eight percent of all the facilities had previously belonged to particular enterprises, as well as collective and state farms. The bankruptcy or disastrous financial state of industrial enterprises and collective farms have endangered the existence of the entire network. Other negative factors, which have a profound impact on the state of preprimary education, are the declining birth rate, high infant mortality (15.2 per 1,000 newly born babies; 18.8 in rural areas), and unemployment among parents. Consequently, the number of preschools decreased approximately from 25,000 (with 2,428,000 children) in 1990 to 18,000 (with 1,100,000 children) in 1998. The majority of preschools have been subordinated to the municipal administrative organs, but the local budgets cannot cope with their financing. Many of the surviving facilities are barely able to meet sanitation requirements. The funds are insufficient for the renovation and further development of the institutions. There is a steady tendency towards shifting the burden of financing preprimary facilities from the state to the family. The fees, which used to be symbolic before the 1990s, are growing; many families cannot afford them. Since the state provides a small allowance for 1 non-working parent until the baby reaches the age of 12 months, young mothers usually prefer to stay home with their infants, rather than take them to a nursery.

The transition to a market economy calls for new approaches and forms of work in preprimary education. In order to balance state financing and family needs, preschools offer a variety of options, including short term stay, seasonal services, and variable cost programs. According to the state statutes and regulations, the fees directly depend on the family income. Children from low income or incomplete families attend preschools free of charge. The emerging non-state institutions offer diverse new services (e.g., aesthetic education, foreign language instruction, and swimming). They are usually expensive and are aimed at well to do families. Complex facilities, school plus kindergarten, are gaining popularity in rural areas. In 1998 Ukraine had 981 such combined institutions.

The laws on Preschool Education, On Protection of Childhood, and On Approval of the State Standard for Preschool Education aim for the further development of the preprimary network. Amongst others, they set the goal of ensuring the conjunction between the preprimary and primary school curricula. The publications in the journal Doshkilne Vykhovannia (Preschool Education) are specifically devoted to issues that deal with the development of new educational technologies for preprimary institutions.

Complete general (non-professional) education in Ukraine lasts 11 years and includes 3 stages:

  • primary school (first to fourth grade)
  • basic secondary school (fifth to ninth grade)
  • upper secondary school (tenth to eleventh grade).

Legally, each of the stages can function separately, but, in practice, they all usually coexist under the same roof. In 1998-1999 Ukraine had an approximate total of 22,000 general education schools with 6,876,000 students and 569,000 teachers; in 12,000 schools with 5,938,000 students all the 3 stages were combined. In the future, the complete period of study at a secondary school is to be extended to 12 years.

Basic nine year education is compulsory. The school year lasts from 1 September to 1 June and is divided into quarters. There are four vacations: a week in early November, two weeks for the New Year holidays, a week at the end of March, and two to three months in the summer. School is held five or six days a week, depending on the decision of the school council. Classes last from 35 to 45 minutes. The intervals between them are from 5 to 25 minutes, and there is no additional lunch break.

The state standards for general education are developed by the Ministry of Education, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of Ukraine. Basic curricula approved by the Cabinet of Ministers include an invariable part, established on the state level and the same for all educational institutions of this kind, and the variable part, which takes into account regional peculiarities and is constructed by the institution itself.

The majority of schools are coeducational. From the very beginning students (uchni or vykhovantsi ) are divided into classes of 25 to 30 children, which will continue to study as a permanent group until the end of school. This allows them to develop close friendships with their classmates. On the whole, Ukrainian culture is collectivist, and team activities play an important part in the educational process. Evaluation is based on numerical grades: five is excellent; four, good; three, satisfactory; and two, unsatisfactory (failure). Grade "one" is unofficial, but can be sometimes used by teachers to emphasize the student's poor performance. Grading is done publicly. At the end of the academic year, the best students are awarded certificates of excellence.

Each school is managed by a director who is responsible for the organization of the educational process, methodological work, extracurricular activities, and school finance. The highest organ of school self-government is the Educational Council, which adopts the school charter and makes final decisions about the organizational structure, adoption of curricula, introduction of innovations, and other issues of major importance. It also cooperates with the parents' committee, local administrative organs, nongovernmental organizations, and other educational institutions.

The traditional age of entry into primary school is seven. The educational reform of 1984 attempted to lower the school age to six. However, the educational system was not ready to cope with the new responsibilities. There were not enough classrooms, adequately trained teachers, proper equipment, and good textbooks. As a result, prospective first graders are offered two options: either to enter school at the age of seven, study for three years, skip the fourth grade, and go on to the secondary school level (fifth grade); or start school at six and cover the same program in four years with an easier work load. The Law on General Education adopted in 1999 envisages gradual transition to a four year primary school paradigm, which will embrace all the eligible children.

The academic year is 175 days long, with an annual study load of 700 hours in the first and second grades and 790 hours in the third and fourth grades. The elementary curriculum consists of reading and writing in Ukrainian or other native languages, basics of mathematics, nature study, labor, music, health education, and physical training. The main part of the curriculum is the same on all the territory of the country and approved by the Ministry of Education. However, due to the tendency towards the diversification of programs, schools are allowed to introduce subjects of their own choice (e.g., valeology, foreign languages, environmental study, and dancing). The development of a whole new generation of textbooks has had a profound influence on the content of education. Children receive textbooks free of charge at the beginning of an academic year and return them to the library before summer vacation. The class is supervised by one teacher who is responsible for most of the subjects, as well as the organization of extracurricular activities. Students get cumulative grades for all the subjects at the end of each quarter and the school year.

Secondary Education

Basic secondary education covers a period of 5 years past primary school with 190 school days a year, plus 3 weeks of examinations and tests at the end of the ninth grade (last year of study). The program of study is specified every academic year by the Ministry of Education. This defines the core part of the curriculum for all the schools in the territory of Ukraine. The curricula are published in periodicals and newsletters intended for schoolteachers and administrators. The annual study load is from 860 to 1030 hours, depending on the grade. They are divided between obligatory subjects, established by the Ministry of Education, and optional disciplines, introduced on the school level (four to five hours a week). In the fifth grade all the students have classes of the Ukrainian or other native languages and literature; foreign language and literature; mathematics and basics of computer science; Ukrainian history; nature study; music; art; physical training; household arts; and health education. Other subjects are gradually added on at different levels of instruction: world history, geography and biology in the sixth grade; physics in the seventh grade; chemistry in the eighth grade; and so on. Each subject is taught by a different teacher. The weekly number of hours devoted to every discipline is from one to five. The schedule is different every day. All the lessons are attended by the whole class, which can include 5 to 30 people. Students are divided into subgroups for the study of foreign languages. An evaluation is made at the end of each quarter and based on the students' current performance, as well as final tests. In order to be promoted to the next grade, students have to complete the requirements in all the subjects. Otherwise, they have to repeat the previous grade. At the end of the ninth grade all the students take final examinations, which culminate the program of basic secondary education. Ninety-six percent of young people in Ukraine get basic secondary education, most of them by the age of 15.

The curriculum at the upper secondary level includes more sophisticated subjects and allows for greater individual choice of disciplines. Students are evaluated on a semester basis. At the end of the eleventh grade, all the students are required to take their final examinations. If they pass them successfully, they are awarded a Certificate of Secondary Education, which is a prerequisite for entry to higher educational establishments of the third and fourth accreditation levels (institutes, academies, and universities). Students with all "fives" for all the semesters of the upper secondary level are awarded gold medals, and those who have one or two "fours" among all other excellent marks receive a silver medal. The majority of general education schools enroll full time students. However, those who wish to combine education with work can study part time at night or in correspondence schools.

The innovative types of schools include gymnasiums, which offer comprehensive classical education, and lyceums, giving specialization in a certain area of knowledge. These institutions are becoming highly prestigious. In 1998-1999 Ukraine had 243 gymnasiums and 268 lyceums. A specifically Ukrainian type of institution is a collegium or "an upper school" with philologically, philosophically, and aesthetically oriented education. Approximately 3,000 schools with over 500,000 students provide in-depth instruction in certain subjects.

The emergence of non-traditional schools reflects the adjustment of the Ukrainian school system to an unprecedented expansion and diversification. Boarding schools, intended for the chosen few in the nineteenth century and deemed to be "the school of the future" during the Soviet times, now cater to the needs of orphans, children without proper parental care, or students from remote areas who have no school within a reasonable distance from home. Other boarding, "forest," and sanatorium-type schools enroll students with physical and mental disabilities, speech defects, and other health problems. They provide both general education that has been adjusted to the students' special needs and medical treatment.

The political and economic reforms of the 1990s brought to Ukraine independence, freedom of choice, and the transition to a market economy. They initiated major changes in the educational system based on deideologization, connection with national culture, and the introduction of new subjects into the school curricula. On the other hand, many areas of life, especially those financed from the state budget, are experiencing serious difficulties. Insufficient financing and social problems are distracting public attention from the educational system. As a result, school buildings are falling apart; equipment and library funds are outdated. In the mid-1990s only 40 percent of students were provided with the necessary textbooks. The state satisfies only 7 to 10 percent of the schools' need for technical equipment. Teacher morale is low because of the absurdly small salaries and lengthy delays in their payment. Due to the lack of space, in the 1990-1995 period, the number of students studying on a shift schedule increased by 45,000. The rural urban divide continues to grow, as innovations hardly reach village schools. Non-traditional educational institutions are predominantly situated in the cities. The difference in the quality of education is drastic; rural young people cannot compete with their city peers at the entry examinations to universities. Because of alcoholism and other medical and social problems, the number of mentally retarded children and juvenile delinquents is growing.

The Law on General Secondary Education (1999) emphasized the necessity to coordinate the interests of Ukrainian society and the state, improve the quality of education, provide for a greater independence of educational institutions, develop a more diverse spectrum of schools, and create opportunities for entering the European and world educational community. Among other steps, the governmental program envisages the transition to 12 year general education schooling. The upper secondary school will include three grades. At this stage, students will have a chance to specialize in the areas of knowledge connected with their future studies at the university level. The reform will also deal with the development of state standards and the introduction of the best world educational experiences in Ukrainian secondary schools. The presidential decree On Governmental Support to the Training of Specialists for Rural Areas, as well as other statutes and regulations, aim at bridging the gap between rural and urban schools.

The Law on Professional Education, adopted in 1998, outlines the legal basis of the system of vocational training. The schools, which make up part of the network, can either provide a professional education or its combination with general secondary education. The prerequisite for entry into vocational training institutions is successful completion of basic secondary school (nine grades). The length of study is one year if it involves only vocational training and from three to four years if it is accompanied by general secondary education. Initial job qualifications are acquired from professional technical schools (PTU), agricultural schools, factory schools, and other institutions attached to enterprises or collective farms where students can get on the job training. The secondary professional level is represented by uchilishcha, which give education both in production and nonproduction areas (art, pedagogy, music, medicine, and other related subjects). Other types include special institutions for students with physical and mental disabilities, which provide them with vocational skills appropriate for their medical condition; social rehabilitation schools intended for juvenile delinquents; and centers of personnel training and retraining. In the 1990s technicums and colleges, which also used to belong to the system of secondary vocational training, were given the status of higher educational institutions.

The academic year consists of 40 weeks and is divided into semesters. The weekly study load is 36 hours. The curricula include several blocks of subjects: science, humanities, professional theoretical, and professional practical disciplines. The educational process is organized in the form of lectures, seminars, laboratory work, individual study projects, reports, and excursions. Theoretical and practical instruction is combined with productive work in shops, factories, training grounds, and subsidiary farms. In the mid-1990s the network had approximately 11,000 specially equipped classrooms, 3,000 laboratories, and approximately 7,000 training grounds. Agricultural PTUs owned 70,000 hectares (175,000 acres) of land, as well as 16,000 tractors, automobiles, and combines. Graduation is preceded by the defense of a diploma project and qualification exams. Specialists from the enterprises, which work in conjunction with the schools, are represented on the State Examination Board and control the professional level of the graduating students.

The new socioeconomic conditions account for significant changes in the system of vocational training. They stimulate the introduction of new specialties attractive for students and required by the job market, the development of the state educational standards, and partial transition from state to non-state funding. The most popular specialties among male PTU graduates are: auto mechanic, electrician, TV repair, electric welder, radio mechanic, and carpenter. Those among female graduates are salesclerk, hairdresser, house painter, tailor, and secretary.

Teachers working in the system of vocational training are graduates of secondary or higher engineering and pedagogical institutions, as well as the Republic Institute of Advanced Training for Teachers of Professional Technical Schools. In 1995-1996 there were 60,000 people employed in the network, including 18,000 teachers and 30,000 masters of production training. Forty-five percent of the masters had an advanced professional qualification, while 39 percent had been trained in 2 or more specialties. The head of a vocational school is a director, appointed by a corresponding ministry or agency. It is a competitive contract position. The director's responsibilities encompass the supervision of the academic process, creation of appropriate conditions for training specialists, introduction of progressive educational forms, and control of the school's finance. The director reports to the school meeting or conference, which is the highest organ of the institution's self-government.

Since 1990 the financial state of vocational training institutions has significantly deteriorated; the equipment is inadequate and there are no funds for the renovation of the buildings and other facilities. In 1994-1995 low salaries and unsatisfactory working conditions forced over 3,000 teachers to leave their jobs; the total number of vacancies reached 7,000. From 1991 to 1996 the network lost 108 schools. In spite of all the negative tendencies, the system of vocational training still renders social protection to young people. In 1997-1998, some 55,000 orphans and 200,000 students from low-income families were provided dormitories, free food, and medical service. The network owns dispensaries, recreation centers, and sports camps. Students who attend agricultural schools receive small state allowances and free transportation passes. Good and excellent students get privileges in admission to higher educational institutions. On the average, 84 percent of students are provided with job placement. In the situation of an economic crisis, the retraining of unemployed adults acquires special significance. In 1996 the network trained approximately 264,000 and retrained 271,000 people.

Higher Education

The Law on Education establishes the following system of higher qualification levels:

  • Junior Specialist (three years of instruction)
  • Bachelor (four years of instruction)
  • Specialist (one year of instruction beyond the first or second level for a total of four or five years)
  • Master (two years of instruction past the first or second level for a total of five or six years).

The number of students seeking the third and fourth level degrees is steadily growing. Young people and their parents recognize the value of higher education and the opportunities it provides in the modern world. The umbrella term "VUZ" (vyshchy uchbovy zaklad ) is used to denote all kinds of higher educational institutions. In 1998-1999 the network included 327 higher technical schools (technicumy ), 216 higher vocational schools (uchilishcha ), 117 colleges, 149 institutes, 2 conservatories, 48 academies, and 81 universities. Approximately 85 percent of the VUZs were owned by the state; the remaining 15 percents had different forms of ownership.

In order to be officially acknowledged, all the institutions have to be duly licensed and accredited by the state. The procedure of licensing gives the institution the right to offer educational services, whereas the accreditation establishes its status and recognizes its ability to train specialists at the level of state standards. The preliminary examination of the institution's capacity and training potential is carried out by Expert Boards, and the final decision is made by the State Accreditation Board. The prerequisites for enrollment into higher educational programs include complete secondary education and success in the entrance examinations. The rules for the latter are set by the VUZs on the basis of general state regulations. Applicants who finished secondary schools with silver and gold medals take only one profile examination and are admitted if they receive an excellent grade. Others have to go through a competition based on the cumulative results of the exams. The competition to popular institutions can be quite keen. Preference is given to particular social groups, such as children from working class families, orphans, and war veterans. To provide better chances for admission for rural applicants, VUZ set special quotas to train specialists, who are expected to work in rural areas after graduation. In 2000 more than approximately 3,000 students were enrolled on the basis of such quotas.

The majority of institutions are coeducational. On the average, male and female students are equally represented at the VUZs, though women are usually predominant in humanitarian departments and men in technical schools. The programs can be full time (day) and part time (night or by correspondence). Since 1990-1991 the enrollment in full time programs has been steadily growing. This is mainly because of the emergence of non-state institutions and departments, where the competition is not so fierce. During the period from 1990 to 1996 the number of part time students decreased from approximately 13,000 to 3,000 in the night departments and from 55,000 to 45,000 in the correspondence departments.

Once admitted, freshmen are divided into groups of 20 to 25 students, who attend most of the classes together and study as a team until they graduate. The academic year begins on 1 September; it lasts 42 weeks and is divided into 2 semesters. The pressure of the state in defining the content of education is still great. Institutions have to adopt the curricula approved by the Ministry of Education even when it conflicts with the opinion of faculty members about the expediency of teaching certain subjects and the number of hours allotted to them. The obligatory part of the curricula includes several areas: social science, humanities, law, environmental studies, ethics, philosophy, and world and national culture. Different subjects are distributed between these areas. It is believed that state regulations allow for the same level of training throughout the entire country. Due to some positive changes, part of the curricula is intended for subjects that can be introduced by the VUZs and thus allow for the diversification of the programs. The approach towards the selection of textbooks and other teaching materials has also become much more liberal. In addition to the current evaluation, students take tests and examinations (the latter mostly oral) at the end of each semester. Typical grades are verbal: pass/fail or excellent, good, satisfactory, and unsatisfactory. Students, who successfully complete all the requirements, receive small stipends from the state.

In order to graduate, students have to defend a thesis and take final state examinations before a panel of professors. The head of the Examination Board is invited from a different institution. Students who graduate with honors (75 percent excellent and 25 percent good grades) receive the so-called "Red Certificate."

Post-graduate education exists in the form of aspirantura and doktorantura, which are attached to educational or research institutions. Aspirantura is a three year advanced training program, leading to the degree of Kandydat Nauk (Candidate of Sciences), which is approximately equivalent to a Ph.D. It is awarded to scholars who pass corresponding qualification exams, publish a number of articles, and defend a dissertation. Holders of the Kandydat's degree can continue their studies in doktorantura. It is a highly prestigious program, and scholars are usually promoted to it after many years of teaching and research. It is essentially a three year sabbatical, which gives the scholar an opportunity to publish a monograph, defend another (more advanced) dissertation, and receive the highest degree conferred in UkraineDoktor Nauk (Doctor of Sciences).

Faculty positions include assistant, senior lecturer, dotsent (which usually requires the Kandydat's degree), and professor (requiring the Doktor's degree). They are attained on a competitive basis for a period of five years, after which faculty members have to compete again for the same or a higher position. In 1997-1998 the Ukrainian higher educational system had 130,000 faculty members, 56.6 percent of which had Kandyat's degrees and 7.3 percent were holders of Doktor's degrees. After a year of work in the position of a dotsent or a professor, faculty members can be promoted to a corresponding scholarly rank (zvannya ), which is awarded for a lifetime by VAK (Supreme Attestation Commission) and accompanied by a certificate. The highest honorable ranks are corresponding academy member (chlen-korrespondent ) and full academy member (diysnychlen ).

The Academic Council of a VUZ elects the rector who is responsible for the overall organization of the institution. Prorectors are employed on a contract basis to assist the rector with particular areas of work (e.g., academic process, research, or international contacts). The institution consists of schools, or faculties, headed by deans. Faculty members are organized in departments (kafedry ) according to their area of knowledge.

Ukrainian higher educational institutions experience the same difficulties as the rest of the educational system. Financing is far below the norm; the number of computers and other advanced equipment does not meet modern requirements. The funds allocated for research are insufficient. Every year the number of students who receive education free of charge is shrinking, whereas more and more spaces are allocated for applicants who pay tuition fees. Since the latter do not have to go through a severe competition, their level of knowledge often leaves much to be desired. Consequently, the overall quality of student preparation deteriorates. Low salaries and lack of social protection make professors look for jobs elsewhere. In 1994-1995, for example, over 7,000 faculty members, predominantly doktors and kandydats, left their teaching positions. The average age of faculty is growing. Bribery and corruption in the educational sphere have become quite common.

The favorable tendencies include the humanization and diversification of curricula, introduction of innovative methods, and more freedom given to professors in the choice of teaching materials. The elimination of courses indoctrinating Communist ideology allows for a more objective approach to the processes taking place in the modern world. On the other hand, when professors have to switch from old to new subjects, in which they had not received any proper training themselves (e.g., from atheism to theology or from mathematics to business), it has an overall negative effect on the educational process. Nevertheless, VUZs are gradually adjusting to the new conditions. The most important tasks in the sphere of higher education include: the development of multiple forms and mechanisms of financing; the establishment of contacts with enterprises, organizations, central and local organs of power that would provide employment opportunities for prospective graduates; the creation of favorable conditions for the work of highly qualified specialists in the sphere of education; and the development of international contacts. VUZs are also encouraged to set departments beyond their original campuses in order to enhance better educational opportunities in different regions of the country.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The state organs of power include the Ministry of Education, other ministries and agencies, supervising particular educational institutions, VAK (the Supreme Attestation Commission), the Ministry of Education of the autonomous Republic of the Crimea, local executive bodies, and organs of self-government. The Ministry of Education plays the leading role in defining and executing the state policy in education, science, and professional training, as well as the development of curricula and state standards. It defines the norms and rules of admission to higher educational institutions and organizes the attestation of teachers. The ministries and agencies are responsible for the control, inspection, licensing, and accreditation of educational institutions. VAK supervises the attestation of specialists, confers, and approves advanced scholarly degrees. Organs of self-government are represented by general meetings and conferences of educational institutions; district, city, or oblast teacher conferences; and finally by the All-Ukrainian Teachers Convention.

Together with local executive organs, they make decisions about the establishment of the budget financing, the development and social security of teachers and students, and other issues referring to their sphere of competence.

During the Soviet times, the state budget was the only source of financing for the educational sphere. The transition to a market economy and the establishment of non-state educational institutions account for the emergenceof new sources of financing, including local budgets, private enterprises, and individuals. According to the Law on Education, the state financing of the educational sphere cannot be less than 10 percent of the GNP. All primary and secondary school students are provided with free health care. Orphans and children from low income families also receive allowances for food and clothes.

The economic crisis of the late 1990s created serious problems for the educational system: deterioration of school and university buildings; lack of funds for renovation, modern equipment, and textbooks; delays in the payment of salaries to teachers; and shortages of electricity and heating. The main aims of the Ukrainian government and the Ministry of Education include the preservation of the existing network and the development of effective mechanisms of financing the educational sphere under the new socioeconomic conditions.

After the declaration of independence in 1991, the use of languages became an important political issue. Since Ukraine is a multinational state, the languages used on its territory include Ukrainian, Russian, Romanian, Polish, Hungarian, and others. Traditionally the western part of Ukraine (Lvov, Vinnitsa, Ivano-Frankovsk, etc.) predominantly used the Ukrainian language, whereas the eastern part (Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, and the Crimea) gave preference to Russian. The Law on Languages in the Ukrainian SSR, adopted in 1989, for the first time gave Ukrainian the status of a state language (derzhavna mova ). Article 10 of the Constitution (1996) secured this provision and obliged the state to enhance the development and extensive use of the Ukrainian language in all spheres of life. At the same time it gave Russian the role of a tool of international communication and guaranteed the protection of all the languages of national minorities. According to Article 53 of the Constitution, citizens belonging to ethnic groups other than Ukrainian have the right to get education in their native tongue in state institutions or through cultural societies.

Nonformal Education

Before 1991, when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, its system of extraschool education included an extensive network of Palaces of Young Pioneers, Houses of Culture, Institutes of Marxism-Leninism, and cultural and sports facilities. All the educational activities provided by the system had a strong ideological flavor. In the 1990s the institutions of nonformal education discontinued the practice of indoctrinating Communist ideology through their programs and could concentrate on their educational and cultural mission. However, due to the economic crisis, the network started shrinking. Educators engaged in the system had to direct their main efforts to the survival, rather than extension, of their facilities. In the mid 1990s the network of nonformal institutions Comprised of 900 multifunctional centers of children's creative work, 500 sports schools, 250 centers of young technicians, 200 young naturalists stations, and 20 young tourists stations. Other facilities are art schools and studios, music schools, health centers, and summer camps. Independent education can be obtained through people's universities, libraries, clubs, TV, and radio programs. New offerings include aerobic and shaping courses, Internet cafes, computer games, and health centers for those who can afford it.

Special attention is given to adult education, which was largely ignored in the 1980s and 1990s. The search for better-paying jobs, ambition, or the need to acquire an additional profession urge thousands of people to take part in advanced training, refresher, or retraining courses. In 1999 over 500 state, communal, and private educational institutions in the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and 23 other ministries and agencies offered postgraduate training and refresher courses for adults. The developing market economy produces the need for specialists in the field of economic and financial management, banking, insurance, law, and other areas. The most active enrollees in the programs of additional education are representatives of small businesses, demobilized military officers, and the unemployed.

Organizations engaged in educational research are teacher training institutions, research institutes of pedagogy and psychology, the Pedagogical Society founded in 1960, the Pedagogical Museum organized in 1948 as an exhibition, and numerous educational associations. Other public and research organizations, which participate in international programs, organize educational fairs and exhibitions, and publish periodicals, are: the Znannia ("Knowledge") Society of Ukraine, the Association of Non-State-Owned Educational Institutions of Ukraine, the International Education Fund, the Ukrainian Teachers' Creative League, and others.

Teaching Profession

In 1997-1998 there were over 500,000 teachers employed in the Ukrainian educational system of which over 90 percent of them with a higher education. Ten universities, 29 pedagogical institutes, and 50 secondary pedagogical schools trained teachers. A number of industrial pedagogical technicums prepared teachers for vocational technical schools. The Kiev, Odessa, Rovno, and Slavic teacher training institutes, as well as 40 secondary pedagogical schools (uchilishcha ), have specialized departments for training preschool and primary school teachers. The curricula include pedagogy, psychology, anatomy, hygiene, and methods of teaching specially designed for working with young children. Students can specialize in art, music, household arts, and physical training. Some of the pedagogical schools are affiliated with higher educational institutions offering teacher training programs. In this case, institute and university professors teach part of the courses at the schools. An agreement between the institutions can allow the graduates of uchilishcha to get advanced placement at the institutes or universities.

The curricula of higher educational establishments training secondary school teachers are constantly modified to include the innovative methodologies and experiences. The common practice for the students is to get training in two areas of specialization (e.g., biology and geography or the Ukrainian language and literature). Students regularly take part in the teaching practice at primary or secondary schools. Now that educational institutions have more freedom, they sometimes allow their students to practice teaching on the university level, which partially makes up for the lack of special teacher training programs for higher educational establishments.

In the Soviet Union all the graduates were assigned to teaching positions by the state and had to work there for at least three years. This practice has been given up; finding a job has become the students' responsibility. According to the Law on Education, the weekly workload of secondary school teachers is 18 hours. They get extra pay for teaching additional hours or doing other kinds of work (e.g., supervising a group of students or correcting written assignments). Teachers have to go through the attestation process once every five years. It consists of two parts, which testify to their knowledge of the subject, as well as the efficiency of their curricular and extracurricular work.

Specially organized commissions assign the teacher one of the four categories based on the results of the attestation: specialist, specialist of the second category, specialist of the first category, or specialist of the highest category. The attained category acknowledges the teacher's qualification level and influences his or her salary. One of the aspects taken into account during attestation is participation in advanced training programs and refresher courses. The system of advanced training and retraining includes over 20 institutes, as well as specialized departments of universities and other VUZs.

Teachers also participate in methodological seminars and conferences, organized by local educational departments, and attend professional development seminars and their colleagues' demonstration classes. Due to the nonpayment of salaries from the budget, which plagued the country in the 1990s, as well as other financial and social problems, thousands of teachers quit their jobs. Others had to go on strike in order to make the government fulfil its obligations to the teachers and schools. The quality of instruction at rural schools remains a serious problem. The government tries to solve it by allotting spots at teacher training institutes and universities for applicants from rural areas and giving them privileges at admission. However, the mechanisms have not been worked out adequately: after graduation many students in such programs fail to go back home to teach at a rural school and remain in the city. Therefore, the level of teaching in most of the rural schools is inadequate, and, because of numerous vacancies, some subjects are not taught at all. Many teachers from rural schools do not have a higher education. They are encouraged to complete their education through correspondence programs and use other educational opportunities to upgrade their qualification. Serous work aimed at the improvement of education in Ukraine is carried out by the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences, which was created in 1992. Its activities in the 1990s resulted in the development of new curricula; publication of textbooks on humanitarian subjects, which were devoid of Communist ideological biases; creation of educational materials specifically intended for the Crimean Tartars and other groups of population; and research in different areas of pedagogy.


The socioeconomic changes encountered by Ukraine in the late 1980s to 1990s and the transition to a market economy account for the humanization and democratization of the educational process, introduction of different forms of property in the educational sphere, and the development of innovative curricula. At the same time, numerous economic problems have a negative influence on different aspects of the life of teachers and students and bring about undesirable consequences.

The independence gained in 1991 and the quest for national identity allow for the promotion of nationally specific programs, use of the Ukrainian language in schools, and the opportunity to incorporate unique cultural peculiarities into school and university life. On the other hand, they are accompanied by unprepared nationalistic decisions, occasional discrimination of ethnic minorities, and rejection of valuable experiences and practices.

The most important goals of the educational sphere, outlined in the major national programs "Osvita, Ukraine in the Twenty-first Century," "The Main Directions of Reforming Educational System of Ukraine," and others, include: the development of new legislative and economic mechanisms, which will ensure the effective work of the educational system; the reorganization of the existing and creation of new educational institutions, which will provide for the multistage system of training highly qualified specialists; further diversification of curricula with regard to the national and regional peculiarities and needs of the population; the adaptation of the educational system to the requirements of the labor market; the training of specialists on the basis of the state standards, which will allow for an increase in the professional and social mobility of graduates; the establishment of partnerships of educational institutions with businesses and organizations to ensure the employment of graduates; the democratization of education, and development of the relationship between teachers and students based on mutual respect and effective cooperation; the creation and publication of new textbooks devoid of ideological biases; special attention given to the publication of textbooks in the Ukrainian language; the development of innovative methodological and information technologies; the enhancement of the accessibility of education for different social groups on throughout the country through the development of distance learning and the creation of a system of continuing education; the acquisition of sophisticated equipment, which would provide access to the Internet and other sources of up-to-date information; and the participation in large scale international projects.

Hopefully, the development of the educational system and the efforts of educators will make use of the long-standing educational tradition and rich Ukrainian history, allow for the preservation and development of the educational network, and ultimately make Ukraine part of the international educational community.


Antologiya pedagogicheskoi mysli Ukrainskoi SSR. (Anthology of Pedagogical Thought of The Ukrainian SSR). Moscow: Pedagogika, 1988.

Baron, Samuel H. and Nancy Shields Kollmann, eds. Religion and Culture in Early Modern Russia and Ukraine. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1997.

Bassis, Volodymyr. Ukraine. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2000.

Davydov, V. V., ed. Rossiyskaya pedagogicheskaya entsiklopediya. (Russian Pedagogic Encyclopedia). Vol. 1. Moscow: Bol'shaya rossiyskaya enstiklopediya, 1993.

Hare, Paul G., ed. Structure and Financing of Higher Education in Russia, Ukraine and the EU. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1997.

Hrushevs'kyi, Mykhailo. History of Ukraine-Rus'. Translated by Marta Skorupsky. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, 1997.

Janmaat, Jan Germen. Nation-Building in Post-Soviet Ukraine: Educational Policy and the Response of the Russian-Speaking Population. Amsterdam: Universiteit van Amsterdam, 2000.

Lutsyk, D. V. Litopys pedahohichno'dumky v Ukraini. (History of Pedagogical Thought in Ukraine). Drohobych: "Vidrodzhennia," 1999.

Ministry of Education of Ukraine. Ukraine's System of Basic Education. Kyiv, 1999.

Navrots'kyi, O.I. Vyshcha shkola Ukrainy v umovakh transformatsi'suspil'stva. Kharkiv: Osnova, 2000.

"Osvita (Education)." In Vsyo pro Ukrainu (All about Ukraine). Vol. 2, 254-274.

Otfinoski, Steven. Ukraine. New York: Facts on File, 1999.

Safiulin V.I. Himnaziia na porozi XXI stolittia.(Gymnasium at the Threshold of the 21st Century). Kyiv: Znannia, 1999.

Senchenko, N. I., N.E. Ter-Grigorian-Demianiuk. Kievo-Mogilianskaya akademiya: istoriya Kievo-bratskoi Shkoly. (Kiev-Mohylan Academy: History of the Kiev Brotherhood School). Kiev: Firma "Serzh," 1998.

Statystychny shchorichnyk Ukrainy za 1997 rik. Derzhavny komitet statystyky Ukrainy. (Statistic Reference Book of Ukraine, 1997. State Statistic Committee of Ukraine). Kyiv: Vydavnytstvo Ukrainska entsiklopediya imeni M. P. Bazhana, 1999.

Stepanenko, Viktor. The Construction of Identity and School Policy in Ukraine. Commack, NY: Nova Science Publishers, 1999.

Ukraine's System of Basic Education. Available from

Olga Leontovich

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukraine." World Education Encyclopedia. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukraine." World Education Encyclopedia. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukraine." World Education Encyclopedia. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from



Major Cities:
Kiev, Kharkov, Odessa, Lviv

Other Cities:
Dnepropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kerch, Kherson, Kirovograd, Lutsk, Mukachovo, Nikolayev, Poltava, Sevastopol, Simferopol, Uzhgorod, Vinnitsa, Zaporozhye, Zhitomir


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 2001 for Ukraine. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


A country whose slogan is "Ukraine has not yet died" might not seem the most uplifting destination, but do not let that deter you. The country rewards visitors with hospitable people, magnificent architecture and kilometers of gently rolling steppe. Ukraine is a major player in the region's economy, though for every smoggy industrial city there are dozens of villages with picket fences, duck ponds and overloaded horse carts, where time seems to stand still.

Ukraine has its share of the thoroughly modern, but even the capital, Kiev, is replete with Gothic, Byzantine, and Baroque architecture and art reminders of the many foreign overlords who have left their mark on the country. Nearly every city and town has its centuries-old cathedral, and many have open-air museums of folk architecture, caves stuffed with mummified monks, and exquisite mosaics wherever you look.

For decades, the Western World perceived Ukraine as simply a part of Russia. But borscht, painted eggs, and many of the famous Cossack dance traditions originated in Ukraine. Ukrainian history began with the rumble of hooves-Scythians dominated the steppes north of the Black Sea from the 7th to the 4th centuries B.C.E., initiating centuries of outside political and cultural domination. Following the Scythians, a series of invaders, including Ostrogoths, Huns, and the Turko-Iranian Khazars, ruled areas of present-day Ukraine.

The first people to unify and control the area for a long period were Scandinavians, known as the Rus. By the late 10th century, the city was the center of a unified state that stretched from the Volga west to the Danube and south to the Baltic.

By the 15th century, the region became popular with runaway serfs and Orthodox refugees. These people came to be known as Kazaks (Cossacks), a Turkic word meaning outlaw or adventurer. Ukrainian Cossacks eventually formed a state that was to a significant degree self-ruling, but 20 years later the state was divided between Poland and Russia.

Following WWI, and after prolonged fighting involving Russia, Poland, and various Ukrainian political and ethnic factions, Poland retained portions of western Ukraine and the Soviets took the rest. Ukraine officially became part of the U.S.S.R. in 1922.

When Stalin took power in 1927, he made a test case out of Ukraine for his ideas about "harmful" nationalism. In 1932-33 he engineered a famine that killed as many as 7 million Ukrainians. Execution and deportation of intellectuals further depopulated the country. WWII brought further devastation and death, with 6 million perishing in the fighting between the Red Army and the German forces.

Ukrainians are extremely proud of their country's long history. Since the late 19th century, Ukrainians have dreamed of a sovereign Ukrainian State, a dream that became a reality in the immediate aftermath of the failed Soviet coup of August 1991.

In a referendum held December 1, 1991, the people of Ukraine endorsed independence. The U.S. recognized Ukraine's independence on December 25, 1991; and the first American Ambassador arrived in Kiev on June 8, 1992.

Ukraine is a country in transition as it leaves behind its Communist past to build a new political and economic system and develops its links with Europe and the West.



Kiev, a scenic city of some 2.5 million people situated on the Dnipro River, is the bustling capital of Ukraine. Ancient Kievan Rus' was a center of trade routes between the Baltic and the Mediterranean. The city of Kiev and the power of Kievan Rus' were destroyed in 1240 by Mongol invaders, and lands of the Kievan Rus' were divided among principalities located to the west and north: Galicia, Volynia, Muscovy, and later, Poland, Lithuania, and Russia. Once a powerful player on the European scene, Ukraine's fate has in modern times been decided in far-off capitals. As a result, modern Ukrainian history, for the most part, was defined by foreign occupation.

Kiev suffered severely during World War 11 and the Stalinist era; many irreplaceable architectural and art treasures were destroyed and the city center systematically demolished. Extensive restoration has revived much of historical Kiev.

The city hit the headlines in April 1986, when the nuclear reactor at nearby Chernobyl exploded. The prevailing winds spared the city any significant rise in background radiation levels. Produce in the local markets is inspected before being sold. Daily radiation testing done by the U.S. and the Ukrainian Government does not reveal any elevated levels of background radiation in the city.

Despite repression, centuries of foreign domination, political turmoil, and ecological disaster, Ukraine's spirit and national identity have never died. On August 24, 1991, after the aborted coup in Moscow, Ukraine proclaimed its independence. As of early 2000, Ukraine has diplomatic relations with 163 countries, and Kiev hosts 92 Missions. News correspondents, business representatives, and students from all over the world reside in the capital. The flow of foreign tourists and official delegations is year round. The resident American community consists of Embassy personnel, business representatives, clergy, professors, Peace Corps volunteers, and students.

Enthusiasts of art and architecture will have a field day in Kiev. The Cathedral of St. Sophia, where the princes of Kiev were crowned in the years of Kiev's grandeur, has intricate mosaics and frescoes dating back to the 11th century. The Cathedral of St. Michael's Monastery (built 1108-1113) has recently been rebuilt, after being destroyed by the Soviets. The Pecherska Laura, the Monastery of the Caves, a short bus or trolley ride from the center of town, has two 11th-century cathedrals on its grounds, in addition to its world-famous catacombs. Closer to the center of town stands the Golden Gate, a structure, which dates back to 1037. This recently refurbished fortification defined the western limits of the city in centuries past. Several blocks away stands the magnificent Cathedral of St. Volodymyr.

Theater buffs will find much to choose from. Most performances are in Ukrainian or Russian. The renovated Kiev Opera House presents very good opera as well as a broad repertoire of ballets. The Kiev Young Theater is very popular and stages innovative plays in Ukrainian or Russian. The Russian Dramatic Theater features a repertoire of classics. There are also many musical concerts, ranging from classical to jazz and pop.

The modern center and remains of the old city are both on the hilly west, or right bank of the Dnipro River. The main street, the Khreshchatyk, runs along the bottom of a ravine toward the Dnipro. Running parallel about half-a-kilometer west, is Vulytsya Volodymyrska, the main street of the Old Kiev area. Woods and parks cover most of the western bank slopes along the Dnipro River. The capital's newer sections lie on the eastern bank. Large apartment developments and industrialized regions characterize this area.

Shopping in Kiev is always rewarding as a cross-cultural experience. Western products are increasingly available. Several state-run stores carry Ukrainian pottery, embroidery, and handicrafts. More expensive Ukrainian crafts are available throughout the city, in particular at stalls on Andrievskyj Uzviz, and at several of the churches and monastery souvenir shops. Quality and quantity vary from shop to shop.

A growing number of supermarkets stock Western food, alcohol, clothing, beauty and health items and electrical appliances. Prices compare to those in the West, but stock availability is unpredictable.

Careful advance preparation is necessary to ensure proper coordination of train, plane, and hotel reservations. Domestic rail and air services are relatively good. Tourist facilities and accommodations are limited outside major cities.


The two-pronged outlets are slightly smaller than general European outlets. Since electrical supplies are difficult to find, bring adapters and heavy-duty extension cords.


The selection of food is more limited than in the U.S. However, most fruits, vegetables, and meats are available year round.

Many Western-style minimarkets have opened in the last few years, where European brands predominate. Most minimarkets and neighborhood markets are small and carry a limited range of products making it necessary to visit multiple sites to complete your shopping. Euro Mart and Cash and Carry, are Ukraine's answer to warehouse shopping. Prices are reasonable, but supply can be erratic and is geared toward local tastes. Bulk purchasing of wine, beer, and sodas for entertainment makes Euro Mart and Cash and Carry an attractive alternative for Americans. Billa, an Austrian-owned supermarket, looks very much like any U.S. supermarket and is equipped with a butcher, baker, and fresh produce section.

Local farmers' markets are a shopper's delight in spring, summer, and fall offering a range of fresh and dried fruits, fresh and marinated vegetables, meat, poultry, cheese, butter, sour cream, eggs, honey, nuts, home remedies, caviar, and flowers. Although Ukrainian produce is seasonal, imports make up a large part of produce for sale at markets that Westerners frequent. The meat is not aged and cuts differ from those in the West, but it is inspected and quite good. Local bread is good, inexpensive, and available twice daily at local bakeries. It is of heavier texture than in the U.S. and not sliced. Dairy products available in the markets are made from whole cream and rich in flavor. However, imported tetra packed milk, from skim to whole, is readily available.


Clothing needs for Kiev are similar to that needed in the northeastern U.S. Winters, however, are more severe and longer, and summers are shorter, slightly cooler, and less humid. Temperatures average 16°F (-8°C) in midwinter and 87°17 (30°C) in midsummer. Although selection is limited and prices high, European/American-style clothes are available in local stores and through new foreign outlets such as Bennetton and Hugo Boss. Shoe repair is readily available and satisfactory. Local tailors also sew clothes for less money than you would pay in the U.S., although material selection and tailoring results vary.

Everyone needs a warm coat with a hood or a separate warm hat, several pairs of woolen and waterproof gloves, and appropriate shoes. Bring a good supply of shoes and boots for all types of weather (tennis, dress shoes, rubber rainboots, and lined, thick-soled winter boots for children and adults). It is also helpful if most of your wardrobe is washable, as clothing soils easily in Kiev. Drycleaning is available locally. Most, but not all, fabrics can be processed. Suede and leather cleaning may not be available.

Men: Both heavy and light topcoats are desirable for spring and fall. Warm waterproof gloves, overshoes, and sweaters are also necessary. Woolen suits worn in the U.S. are satisfactory for winter here, but most men may prefer heavier suits and sweater vests during the coolest months. Lighter weight suits are desirable for summer wear.

Several pairs of good walking shoes, a good warm jacket, hat, sweaters, and durable washable apparel are recommended for casual wear.

Women: Slacks, skirts, blouses, and sweaters are ordinary daily wear. Most Ukrainian women dress up rather than down. During fall and winter women wear woolen clothing of several weights. Synthetics and blends, preferably washable, are worn in summer. A raincoat with removable lining and a heavy wool or down coat are necessary; fur and sheepskin are both worn frequently. Thermal underwear, good walking shoes, boots, and warm comfortable casual clothes should all be part of your basic wardrobe for Kiev.

Children: Children need washable, sturdy, wool, corduroy, and other heavy clothing. A zippered nylon snowsuit is recommended. Water-proof boots with insulated foam lining, several pairs of waterproof mittens, long thermal underwear, both heavy-and lightweight pajamas, and snow pants all come in handy. Since children's clothing available locally is not of Western quality and limited in quantity, bring a good supply of clothing and shoes for children or plan on catalog shopping.

Supplies and Services

Most basic services are available locally; however, the quality of service varies from poor to excellent depending on the kind of service requested and the business used.

There are several good beauty shops, photo developers, and picture framing shops. Tailors and dressmakers are generally satisfactory. Shoe repair services are good. There are one or two English-speaking vets who will make house calls for reasonable fees. Auto service centers can handle most repairs and routine maintenance satisfactorily.

Domestic Help

Employing a Ukrainian to help with the household, babysitting, and sometimes cooking is common. Payment and fees are negotiable and reasonably priced.

Finding good housekeepers and babysitters may take time and perseverance. English-speaking help is hard to find. Cooks who know American cuisine are hard to find.

Religious Services

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Catholic Church hold regular services in Kiev. Catholics of the Byzantine Rite hold Divine Liturgy at two outdoor locations in the city. Roman Catholic Mass is celebrated in Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, and English in two churches downtown. The Baptist community and 3 Synagogues (Orthodox congregations) in the Podil neighborhood and an Orthodox and a Reform congregation downtown also hold religious services.

A variety of other churches also offer services: Assembly of God, the nondenominational Campus Crusade for Christ, Episcopalian, Inter-denominational, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Salvation Army. Many of these churches offer English-language services.


The Kiev International School (an American institution) is a nonprofit, independent, coeducational day school that offers an educational program from prekindergarten (3-year-old class) through high school for students of all nationalities. It has a complete 4-year secondary program. Advanced Placement (AP) courses accepted for university credit are offered at the high school level. A college counselor on staff will assist students as they prepare to enter a university. The school administers the ITBS, PSAT, AP, SAT I, and SAT II tests and is a certified ETS test site. The school year is divided into three terms: early September to mid December; early January to early April, and early April to mid-June.

The school is governed by the Board of Directors of Quality Schools International, the membership of which is formed as set forth in the bylaws of Quality Schools International. An Advisory Board, composed of 6-10 who reside in Kiev, assists the school in its operation. The school operates with the approval of the Ukrainian Government.

The school offers a performance-based, mastery learning educational program with a curriculum similar to that of U.S. public and private schools. Instruction, leading to individual mastery, takes advantage of small class sizes and the diverse educational backgrounds of the students. Instruction is in English. Ukrainian/Russian studies, Hindi studies, and French are a part of the curriculum.

The 30 full-time and 9 part-time faculty members in the 1999-2000 school year included 21 U.S. citizens, 13 host-country nationals, and 5 of other nationalities.

Enrollment at the opening of the 1999-2000 school year was 210 (pre-kindergarten through grade 12). Of the total, 20% were U.S. citizens, 24% were host-country nationals, and 56% were of other nationalities.

The school rents two buildings, one for grades one through secondary that is an annex to a Ukrainian public school building. A second site for prekindergarten through 5-year-old kindergarten is 2 blocks away.

Located on the east bank of the Dnipro River, Pechersk School offers the full range of International Baccalaureate Programs. The school received authorization from the International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization in November 1998 to officially participate in and offer the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programs in grades 6 to 10. In May 1999, the International Baccalaureate Organization authorized the school to offer the prestigious IB Diploma Program, which has now been implemented in grades 11 and 12. IB Diploma graduates earn priority status at major universities throughout the world. The school is currently seeking official authorization for the IB Primary Years Program, which is being offered in prekindergarten through grade 5. The language of instruction is English. French, Russian, and Ukrainian are offered as foreign languages from kindergarten up. For American and Canadian students, the school offers the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), and also prepares students of any nationality for Tests of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

The school opened in 1995. The school is nonprofit and is governed by a Board of Governors with 6-10 current parents.

The school has grown substantially since 1995 and now has 99 students. The school hosts 21 nationalities of which Americans comprise the largest single group with 27 students.

The school has a well equipped science laboratory, a state-of-the-art library media center, assembly hall, modern computer laboratory, regular classrooms, and a special needs and ESL room. There are ample outdoor play and recreational areas and the school uses a full-size gymnasium in an adjacent Ukrainian school. All of the school's computers are networked and have access to a dedicated Internet line.

The staff includes 15 fall time teachers and 10 part-time teachers, including 7 U.S. citizens, 6 Canadians, to host-country nationals, 2 South Africans, and 1 from Wales.

Special Educational Opportunities

Few educational opportunities exist in Kiev through Ukrainian educational institutions, libraries, and traditional education channels. Private language and musical instruction is available.


Popular spectator sports include international soccer at the Dynamo Stadium or at the Central Republic Stadium. At the Sports Palace you can see wrestling, boxing, ice hockey, and ice skating. There are various sports clubs offering a wide variety of personal workout regimes, but clubs with Western equivalent facilities are very expensive. The Marine Security Guard Detachment hosts softball in the summer and fall months. Other small groups play volleyball and basketball at the International School gymnasium. During the summer months sailing at the nearby Hydro Parkare is popular, as are river cruises along the Dnipro. The Kiev area also has excellent opportunities for jogging, cycling, hiKing and cross-country skiing.

DoWnhill skiing is possible during the winter months in the Carpaian Mountains in western Ukraine. Several ski trips are organizEd throughout th% season.

Bring all your own sports equipment and clothing, because at times these items may be difficult to find locally.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Kiev, with its churches, museums, art galleries, libraries, historic places and parks, is a sightseer's dream. The city can be explored by foot, on public transportation, or by boat on the Dnipro River. Cruises down the Dnipro River to towns such as Kaniv, where National Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko is buried, or longer cruises to the Black Sea and to the Mediterranean are available.

Outside Kiev, favorite Ukrainian vacation spots include the Crimean Peninsula, which has picturesque mountains and a stunning coastline. Crimea's Yalta, in particular, attracts tourists to its beaches and historic sites. The beautiful Carpathian Mountains in western Ukraine are also a frequent travel destination. Accommodations vary, but are generally adequate.


Culturally, Kiev is a rich city. The Kiev Taras Shevchenko Opera House boasts a very good opera as well as a broad repertoire of ballets. Innovative plays may be seen at the Ivan Franko Theater and the Kiev Youth Theater. The classics are performed at the Russian Dramatic Theater. The musical scene varies as well, from symphony concerts to jazz clubs and folk music.

Walking tours to the many architectural and historical landmarks are a good way to get a feel for the city. One essential stop is Babi Yar, the memorial to Kiev's Jews and other Ukrainians who were slaughtered by the Nazis during World War II. Visit Andriyivsky Uzviz, a cobble stone street lined with vendors of Ukrainian crafts, arts and souvenirs, which descends to Podil from St. Andrew's Church. Buildings on Andriyivsky Uzviz now house artist's studios, galleries, cafes, and theaters. This picturesque street is also the site of the annual spring Kiev Day festival in May. Flea markets also dot the city with treasures waiting to be found.

The principal hotel restaurants and others offer ethnic Ukrainian cuisine. Many restaurants throughout the city also offer the full range of ethnic cuisine from Chinese to Mexican. Major hotels also have cafes, bars, and souvenir gifts hops.

If you are wandering about the city you will find any number of cafes and bars to stop in for refreshments.

There are few English-language books, including travel guides, available, so you are encouraged to bring your own. A Sunday reader's book club meets on a monthly basis to discuss books of mutual interest. Many also use and other Internet services to purchase books.

There are two movie theaters that show English films. With the aid of a satellite dish, viewing of CNN, BBC, Sky News, and other channels with English programming is possible.

Social Activities

Ample opportunities exist in Kiev for making contact with the American community. Economic and commercial personnel can pursue their business contacts through the American Chamber of Commerce.

The International Women's Club of Kiev (IWCK) offers numerous activities and opportunities for women from many nations to get acquainted. Social relationships with Ukrainian citizens are not difficult to establish, particularly if one speaks some Ukrainian or Russian. There is no prohibition on establishing social relationships with Ukrainian citizens. On the contrary, reaching out to make Ukrainian friends is encouraged.


Kharkov is located east of Kiev near the Ukrainian border with Russia. Founded in 1656, Kharkov is one of Ukraine's principal transportation centers. It is linked by railway with Ukraine's other major cities and with the cities of other former Soviet republics. A modern highway system links Kharkov with Kiev and the rest of the country. Another highway connects the city with the Russian capital, Moscow. The city itself is served by a modern subway station.

Kharkov has a well-developed industrial base. Industries in Kharkov produce a wide variety of products, including machine tools, tractors, bicycles, steam turbines, locomotives, generators, and agricultural machinery. Some light industry exists in the city and is centered around the production of consumer goods and food processing.

Many important educational institutions are located in Kharkov. The largest university in Kharkov is Gorky University. The city is also home to several research institutes and numerous agricultural, polytechnic, and engineering schools.

During World War II, Kharkov was a major battleground between German and Soviet troops. As a result, most of the city was completely levelled. Kharkov was rebuilt after the war and resembles many major cities of the former Soviet Union. The city has block after block of concrete apartment buildings, large government buildings, and broad tree-lined streets. In 1991, Kharkov had a population of approximately 1,622,000, second only to Kiev.

Recreation and Entertainment

Recreation in Kharkov is centered around tours of the city's historical sites. Visitors are allowed to tour Kharkov's many historical monuments. Two cathedrals, the Pokrovsky Cathedral and the Uspensky Cathedral, are open to visitors. The Uspensky Cathedral is easily recognizable by its beautiful bell tower and position atop a hill.

Kharkov has two museums that are of interest to visitors. The Fine Arts Museum offers many fine examples of Ukrainian and Russian art. Also, Kharkov's Historical Museum contains many fine exhibits that illustrate the city's past. Both museums are easily accessible by tram or bus.


The city of Odessa, with a population of 1,104,000 (1991 est.), is located 275 miles (443 kilometers) south of Kiev. The city's location on the Black Sea makes it one of Ukraine's major ports. Odessa is a major transportation center with excellent railway connections to other Ukrainian cities, as well as Moldova and Romania. The city, with its well-developed industrial base, produces consumer goods, machinery, fertilizers, paints, dyes, and machine tools. A large oil refinery is also located near Odessa.

Recreation and Entertainment

Odessa was a cultural center during the 18th and 19th century. During World War II, the city was heavily damaged and many of its architectural treasures destroyed. Some of these structures have been rebuilt. Although Odessa's beauty has faded over the years, the city still has much to offer. The city, with its beautiful sandy beaches, is a favorite resort area for tourists. Odessa has several museums, the most notable of which is an archaeological museum. Tourists also visit Odessa's beautiful Opera House, which was constructed in 1809. The famed Russian composer and conductor, Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky, conducted an orchestra here. Outside of Odessa, a Greek Orthodox monastery with several catacombs built underneath is frequented by tourists.


The city of Lviv is one of the major cities in western Ukraine, The city's name was changed from Lvov in 1992. Founded in the mid-13th century, Lviv has been attacked and occupied at various times in history by Poles, Cossacks, Swedes, Austrians, Russians, Germans, and Soviets. Today, Lviv is an administrative, cultural, and transportation center. The city is a major railroad connector for Kiev and other Ukrainian cities. Lviv has a large industrial base. Major industries in the city produce buses, bicycles, machinery, processed foods, and consumer goods. In 1991, Lviv had an estimated population of 803,000.

Recreation and Entertainment

Lviv offers many opportunities for sight-seeing. One area of particular interest is Rinok Square, which contains Gothic-and Renaissance-style houses dating back to the 16th century. Many of these homes are elegant and in beautiful condition. Lviv has a rich religious heritage and many of the city's churches are open to visitors. Lviv's Roman Catholic Cathedral, constructed in 1270, contains many beautiful carvings, statues, and frescoes. The Church of the Assumption, with its exquisite icons and sculptures and a frieze of biblical scenes on one of its exterior walls, is one of Lviv's most beautiful churches. Other churches worth a visit include the Armenian Cathedral, the Church of the Virgin of the Snows, and St. George's Church, which is filled with many fine examples of Ukrainian Baroque art.

In addition to churches, visitors also enjoy touring Lviv's many interesting museums. Ukrainian folklore can be viewed at the Ethnographical and Handicraft Museum. Another museum, the Museum of Ukrainian Art, displays beautiful icons dating from the 14th to 18th centuries.


DNEPROPETROVSK is located in eastern Ukraine along the banks of the Dnieper River. The city was founded in 1793 and has developed into a major center for iron and steel manufacturing industries. Dnepropetrovsk's industries also produce chemicals, plastics, footwear, clothing, food, agricultural machinery, and mining equipment. In 1989, the city had an estimated population of 1,179,000.

The city of DONETSK is situated southeast of Dnepropetrovsk. Donetsk developed in the early 1900s as a coal mining and steel producing center. These industries are of primary importance today. Several light industries have also developed in Donetsk. These industries produce processed foods and refrigerators. The city has several educational institutions and theaters. Donetsk's population in 1983 was estimated at 1,055,000. Current population figures are unavailable.

KERCH is located on the eastern side of the Crimean Peninsula. The city is very old, founded in the sixth century B.C. by the Greeks. Kerch developed into a major trading center. Today, the city's location on the Sea of Azov has facilitated the growth of a profitable fishing industry. The city's population was 162,000 in 1982. Current population figures are not available.

Situated on the banks of the Dnieper River, KHERSON is one of Ukraine's major shipbuilding centers. The city has other industries in addition to shipbuilding. These industries include an oil refinery and a textile processing plant. Kherson is also the home of several agricultural institutes. In 1989, Kherson had an estimated population of 355,000.

KIROVOGRAD , with a population of 269,000 (1989 est.), is located in a fertile region of Ukraine. The city was founded in 1765 and has developed over the years into an agricultural center. Kirovograd also has a well-developed food processing industry.

The city of LUTSK is located in northwestern Ukraine. Lutsk was founded in 1000 A.D. and has been controlled at various periods in history by Poland and Russia. The city has several industries which produce trucks, food, and scientific instruments. Vestiges of the city's ancient past are evident, including three monasteries dating back to the 16th to 18th centuries. Lutsk had a population of 161,000 in 1983. Current population figures are unavailable.

MUKACHOVO is a city whose origins can be traced back to 903 A.D. The city has a large industrial base. Industries in Mukachovo are centered on food processing and timber production. Mukachovo is a favorite tourist destination. Attractions in Mukachovo include a Russian Orthodox church constructed of wood and a 14th century castle. The city had an estimated population of 84,000 in 1985. Current population figures are not available.

NIKOLAYEV is a city whose location only 40 miles (65 kilometers) from the Black Sea has facilitated the creation of a large shipbuilding industry. Other industries have developed in Nikolayev. These industries produce consumer goods, construction machinery, and chemicals. Nikolayev was once an important Soviet naval base and today is one of Ukraine's primary ports. The latest population estimate for Nikolayev was 480,000 in 1984.

The origins of POLTAVA can be traced back to the eighth or ninth century. Poltava was the scene of an important battle in 1709 when Russian troops, under the command of Peter the Great, repelled an attack by a large Swedish army. The city was almost completely destroyed during World War II, but has been rebuilt. Today, the city is a processing center for the agricultural products grown near Poltava. Industries in Poltava produce leather goods, canned foods, textiles, machinery, and clothing. The city is the home of several agricultural and medical research institutes. Poltava is a modern city with several beautiful theaters and parks. The population of Poltava was estimated at 290,000 in 1983. Current population figures are unavailable.

The city of SEVASTOPOL is located in the southwestern Crimean Peninsula. Sevastopol is one of Ukraine's principal seaports and served as an important Soviet naval base for many years. The city was destroyed during the Crimean War of 1853-1856 and later during World War II. The city has been rebuilt and is the home of thriving food processing and shipbuilding industries. Sevastopol's many historical monuments, archaeological sites, and health resorts are of interest to visitors. The city's Historical and Archaeological Museum of Khersones contains displays of Greek artifacts. Current population figures are unavailable.

Northeast of Sevastopol is the city of SIMFEROPOL. Simferopol is one of the principal industrial centers on the Crimean Peninsula. Industries in the city produce cigarettes, wine, clothing, footwear, consumer goods, processed foods, and machine tools. The city is home to several educational and research institutions. Simferopol offers beautiful terraced parks, theaters, and museums. Visitors to Simferopol often tour the ruins of the ancient Greek settlement of Neapolis. These ruins, located approximately one mile from Simferopol, have been undergoing excavation since 1827. Tours allow visitors to view marble and bronze statues, weapons, burial sites, mausoleums, and gold ornaments that have been uncovered by archaeologists. The city had a population of 331,000 in 1985. Current population figures are not available.

UZHGOROD is located in extreme western Ukraine near the border with Romania. Founded in approximately 903 A.D., Uzhgorod is an industrial center. Furniture, wine, wood products, and machine tools are produced in the city. Tourist attractions in Uzhgorod include a 16th-century castle, an Art Gallery that sells gifts and souvenirs, and the city's large marketplace. Current population figures for Uzhgorod, which had a population of 102,000 in 1983, are unavailable.

The city of VINNITSA is located roughly 150 miles (240 kilometers) south of Kiev. The city was founded in 1393 and lies in the midst of a ferile agricultural region. Industries related to agriculture, including food processing and the production of fertilizers, are vital to Vinnitsa's economy. Other industries in the city produce machinery, footwear, and clothing. Vinnitsa has a museum containing local artifacts, and a music theater. The city was nearly destroyed during World War II, but has been rebuilt. In 1986, Vinnitsa had a population of approximately 375,000.

ZAPOROZHYE is located in eastern Ukraine on the banks of the Dnieper River. The city is primarily an industrial center for iron and steel. A number of small industries in Zaporozhye produce electrical components, chemicals, and soap. A large hydroelectric plant on the Dnieper River provides electricity for Zaporozhye and the surrounding area. Several educational institutions are located in the city. Zaporozhye had a population of 835,000 in 1983. Current population figures are unavailable.

The city of ZHITOMIR , with a population of 292,000 (1989 est.), is noted for its production of musical instruments. The city has a small textile industry, breweries, and a wood processing plant. Zhitomir is a transportation hub and is connected by rail with Kiev and other major Ukrainian cities.


Geography and Climate

Ukraine's area of 233,088 square miles (603,700 sq. km) is slightly larger than France. Ukraine is mainly a vast plain with no natural boundaries except the Carpathian Mountains in the southwest, the Black Sea in the south, and the Azov Sea in the southeast. The Dnipro River with its many tributaries unifies central Ukraine economically. The mouth of the Danube River provides an outlet for Ukrainian trade with the Balkans, Austria, and Germany.

Ukraine has a complex geology with a rich variety of scenery and impressive contrasts in topography. Central and southern Ukraine is primarily steppe (prairie) with very fertile black soil exceptionally well suited for grain farming.

In the east, the industrial heartland of the Greater Donbas or Donets Basin contains large reserves of mineral deposits. Western Ukraine has many picturesque mountain resorts.

Enhancing the topography of Ukraine are two mountain ranges. On the western border are the Carpathians, very popular for winter sports. The Crimean Mountains divide the Crimean Peninsula, creating a semitropical area on its southernmost tip. The Crimea is a popular tourist destination.

The Ukraine climate is similar to the wheat-producing regions of Canada and is characterized by abundant precipitation and cloudy skies, especially in fall and winter. Snow can start as early as October and not end until April. The mean temperature in summer is 87°F (30°C) and in winter 16°F (-8°C). Although summers are short, the temperature can soar to the 90s making it uncomfortable, since most buildings lack air-conditioning. Winters seem especially long because of so many sunless days.


The population of Ukraine is 50.5 million of which approximately 73% is ethnically Ukrainian and 22% ethnically Russian. The remaining population consists of many minorities, the largest of which is Jewish (1.35%) followed by Belarusian, Moldovan, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Armenian, Greek, Bulgarian,

and others. Ukraine's population is 68% urban. Eastern Ukraine, with its heavily industrialized cities, is more urbanized than western Ukraine.

Ukrainian is an Eastern Slavic language, closely related to Russian and Belarusian. Ukrainian became the official language in 1989. Much of the population in eastern Ukraine speaks Russian as a first language, but Ukrainian is the first language in western Ukraine. Official Government documents are always in Ukrainian, and official meetings are usually conducted in Ukrainian. The political world and local media operate bilingually. Conversations in which one party speaks Ukrainian while the other speaks Russian are common.

Ukraine was the cradle of the Kievan Rus State. According to legend, it was in Kiev that Prince Volodymyr (Vladimir in Russian) introduced Christianity to Kievan Rus in 988. Some 85% of the Ukrainian population are Orthodox Christians, 10% are Greek (Uniate) Catholics, 3% are Protestant (mainly Baptists), and 1.3% are of the Jewish faith.

Public Institutions

Ukraine continues a difficult and slow transition from an authoritarian Communist system to a more democratic society. Ukraine is governed by a directly elected president and a unicameral parliament, the "Verkhovna Rada" (Supreme Council), half of which is elected by proportional representation and half in single-mandate districts. The President appoints the Prime Minister (subject to parliamentary approval) and controls government operations.

Leonid Kuchma was elected President in July 1994 and again in November 1999. The parliament, which was elected in March 1998, is divided between party-based political factions and a group of independent deputies. In January 2000, 11 factions joined to form a pro-government majority, though its sustainability was unclear. The largest single faction is the Communist Party of Ukraine. The next parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2002.

The Constitution, adopted in 1996 and modeled on those of Western European democracies, provides a good legal framework for protecting civil and human rights. Actual practice, however, does not always conform to constitutional requirements, and many areas of life are still regulated by Soviet law and practices.

Arts, Science, and Education

Ukrainians have made a spirited effort to preserve their cultural traditions and customs. You can visit village museums that display traditional crafts and homes of the last century. Folk dancing and music festivals are often held.

The theater and music scene is lively. Theater performances are in Ukrainian or Russian. The Kiev Opera House is home to very good opera and ballet companies. The National Symphony and other musical groups are quite active. Opera, theater, and symphony tickets are generally inexpensive.

Ukraine has a rich folk art tradition that features hand-painted eggs ("Pysanky") and beautifully embroidered linen or cotton runners called "Rushniki" Contemporary art includes painting and sculpture representing both modern and traditional schools. Icons are on display in museums; contemporary copies are skillfully done according to strict artistic and religious standards and can be purchased in galleries.

Educational policy formerly favored the study of science and technology, but there are efforts under way currently to upgrade the humanities, social sciences, MBA, and economics programs. Education is compulsory for ages 7-17. University-level education is generally open to anyone who can pass admission exams.

American professors conduct courses in American literature, history, economics, and other subjects at institutes of higher education under the Fulbright Program. In addition, some Americans at the predoctorate level conduct research in Ukraine under the International Research and Exchange Board (IREX) program. Still other American scholars in Ukraine pursue scientific and other academic work under the auspices of private programs.

Commerce and Industry

Ukraine has great agricultural potential and was once known as the " Breadbasket of Russia." Ukraine is also rich in natural resources. Despite a wealth of natural resources, the Ukrainian economy has stagnated since independence. All sectors of industry have experienced severe production declines since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Most small businesses have been privatized.

However, there has been little large-scale privatization. Economic reform has been halting because of over-regulation, high taxation, corruption, and an ineffective commercial law system. Economic reform was pursued in halting fashion in 1996-99. Following the 1999 reelection. President Kuchma appointed a largely pro-reform government.

Market-oriented reform was introduced in 1992 and 1993 at a measured pace. In recent years, the Government succeeded in taming the hyperinflation of the early 1990s. A new currency, the hryvnia, was successfully introduced in 1996.



Traffic regulations and procedures in Ukraine differ significantly from those in the U.S. Drivers often neglect to use signal lights, speed, and drive recklessly in urban areas. Pedestrians do not have the right of way; exercise extreme care when crossing streets in large Ukrainian cities. Cars are frequently pulled over for violations, both real and imagined.

Winters in Ukraine are snowy and dark, with severe ice accumulations common along the city streets; therefore, front-wheel-drive-vehicles provide the best handling. Only the main streets of Kiev are plowed regularly; but, side streets and housing complexes may remain covered with snow and ice throughout the winter.

Make sure that your car is equipped with a rear-window defroster and snow tires. An automobile shipped to Kiev should be equipped with all the cold weather heavy-duty options available.

Unleaded fuel is widely available. A functioning catalytic converter is now required to register a vehicle.

Ukrainian law requires every vehicle registered in Ukraine to be covered by third-party-liability insurance issued by a Ukrainian insurance company. The annual fee varies from 8.1 UHR to 16 UHR with a total coverage of 2,000 UHR. Several Ukrainian insurance companies offer this option.


Public transportation in Kiev is efficient and inexpensive, but crowded. The city's network of buses, trolley buses, streetcars, and the subway (Metro) covers the entire city. Riders should be ready to contend with a good deal of pushing and shoving during the morning and evening rush hours.

Privately operated minibus lines operate on many of the better traveled bus, trolley, and streetcar routes. Minibus fares are slightly more expensive than public system fares, but they never take more passengers than they have seats. The driver collects fares as you enter.

The transit system operates from 5:45 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monthly passes for the entire system or one-use tickets are sold at kiosks throughout the city. Although prices are the same throughout the city, different color tickets are used for different types of vehicles. Bus, trolley, and streetcar single tickets must be punched on a gadget located along the sidewall of the car. Punching your ticket is on the honor system. Surprise inspections are designed to check if everyone has paid, with a small fine collected on the spot if you are found without a properly punched ticket or a monthly pass.

Entrance to the Metro system is through turnstiles operated by blue plastic tokens, purchased in the station, or by monthly passes shown to the Metro attendant before entering the subway. All instructions and Metro stop information are in Ukrainian in the Kiev Metro system.

Although some taxis cruise the city, private cars often provide taxi services. New taxi companies have opened with nice, new cars and English-speaking dispatchers. These taxis operate with a meter, and a small tip is greatly appreciated. Cruising taxis may refuse fares; the main reason being the destination desired by the traveler being different than the route the taxi driver is taking. After a taxi or car stops, state the required destination; if the driver agrees, negotiate a price before you enter the vehicle. Language skills are a necessity when dealing with cruising taxis as many streets are being renamed, and buildings are not clearly marked, so you may have to direct the taxi. Extra precautions should be taken in the evenings, when it is advisable to use only a clearly marked taxi instead of a cruising private vehicle.


Ukraine's railroad and air transportation networks are extensive, and service is adequate. The rail system features three types of tickets; first class, which is a two-person compartment; second class, with four passengers; and third class, which is general seating.

First-and second-class overnight train rides are quite comfortable except for the lack of ventilation and generally dreadful toilets. Dining cars may or may not be available, and the food is of poor quality. However, hot water for beverages is available.

No U.S. airlines offer direct service to Kiev. Numerous airlines provide service to Western Europe and other destinations: Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, Swiss Air, KLM, Austrian Air, MALEV (Hungarian), LOT (Polish), CSA (Czech), Egypt Air, Turkish Air, Aerosweet, Air Ukraine, and Ukraine International.

The road system in Ukraine provides access to all cities, towns, and most villages, though many roads are of poor quality. The traveler must plan the trip carefully since information and Western standard lodging are not available along the highways.


Telephone and Telegraph

Telephone service from Ukraine to the U.S., Europe, and to most of the world is available. Local calls within Kiev, which are placed at home or from telephone booths, can experience static and crossed lines.

Ukraine has a limited number of long-distance lines, so expect busy signals during holidays and peak periods. Calls from outside Ukraine can expect the same busy periods. AT&T is currently available in Ukraine. Sprint or MCI are not currently available. Callback services are available, but Ukraine Telecom has threatened to make this service illegal. Calls can be booked through the international operator. Booked calls can take 30 minutes or longer to be completed.


International mail can be slow and unreliable. International mail services like Federal Express, UPS, DHL, and others are available. All of these companies have offices in Kiev.


Various companies in Kiev offer Internet access accounts. Usually only dial-up accounts are available to apartments. Direct links are limited due to lack of spare telephone lines in either the neighborhood or apartment building. AOL is available in Kiev, but modem speed is a slow 1,200 max due to the poor quality of the telephone lines. The AOL local number charges an hourly fee above and beyond the monthly fee.

Radio and TV

You can purchase a multisystem TV through mail-order houses, such as Ostermann or Peter Justesen. Most newer multisystem TVs and VCRs also have power supplies that will accept 90240 VAC electrical power. Japanese and other foreign sets are on sale at several hard-currency stores. The prices are high by Western standards. Except at the Panasonic and Sony stores, foreign merchandise sold in Kiev carries no warranties.

Local programming is available in Russian and Ukrainian. With satellite receivers you can view various European channels that include French, Polish, Spanish, Arabic, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Greek, Turkish, English, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian broadcasts. Many channels broadcast English language TV programs, sports, and movies.

Radio programs on Kiev's stations begin early in the morning. Much of the programming is musical, mainly Europop, Ukrainian choral, folk, and rock.

Bring a good shortwave radio to receive Voice of America, BBC World Service, and Radio Liberty. Since early 1992, VOA and Radio >Liberty are also carried on the AM dial.

Ukraine has three national stations (UT 1, UT 2, UT 3) in Ukraine. UT 1 and UT-2 broadcast in Ukrainian, and UT-3 broadcasts in both Ukrainian and Russian. According to public opinion polls, UT-1 (Ukrainian Television-1) has the lowest rating of all national Ukrainian TV stations. It broadcasts movies, largely pro-government political programs and news. UT-1 is criticized for being the government's mouthpiece.

UT-2 is on a shared frequency. It carries government programming from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The rest of the time is taken by "Studio 1+1," an independent TV production studio that carries some of the most interesting Ukrainian programs, including high-quality newscasts, talk shows, entertainment, and movies.

UT-3 is shared by Inter TV, the third most powerful television station in Ukraine (nongovernment). The station broadcasts Russian Public Television (ORT) and airs some of its own programming. The overall rating of Inter is rather high. Municipal TRK Kiev and some other local stations air their programs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except weekends.

STB, a private channel founded in 1997, is quite eclectic. Musical programs and soap operas are combined with a very strong information block. "Vikna" news is considered by many as one of the few reliable sources of news.

ICTV, a private channel cofounded by the San Francisco-based Story-first Communications and a Ukrainian Radio and Television concern, is an entertainment rather than a political channel. Its political coverage appears only on the "Vista" news program.

Novyi Kanal, a private channel founded July 1998, carries mostly movies, with brief news summaries. Among the other commercial TV companies there are TV Tabachuk, Gravis, TET, and others, all of which place their programs on the above networks.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

A small but growing number of foreign newspapers and magazines such as the Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Financial Times, Newsweek, Time, and The Economist are available in hotel lobbies for hard currency, usually the day after publication. Prices are high even by Western standards, and availability is unpredictable.

The Kiev Post, a free English-language paper published weekly, carries local, national, and some international news. It is readily available in restaurants and anywhere English speakers congregate. A weekly entertainment and life style magazine, What's On, is also readily available.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

You should send a supply of your favorite over-the-counter minor pain remedies, cold medications, antacids, vitamins, and children's vitamins with fluoride and cough syrup. A home first-aid kit is also recommended.

At certain times of the year, particularly during winter months, air pollution is a problem in Kiev. This raises the risk of respiratory tract irritation, especially for children and persons with allergies or asthma. High pollen counts in the spring and summer compound the air pollution problem. Persons with known environmental allergies should bring an ample supply of appropriate medications.

Health care is available to manage a normal pregnancy. However, it is not recommended to deliver in Kiev, as maternal and neonatal care is not adequate.

Local medical care is improving slowly but is difficult to access. Dental and orthodontic care with Western standards is available for acute as well as prophylactic care at a reasonable price.

American Medical Center, a for-profit medical clinic with branches throughout eastern Europe, has opened in Kiev and is staffed by an American physician. Care can be obtained at a subscription rate or on a fee-for-service basis. They also have an American dentist with Western dental equipment.

Community Health

The standards of cleanliness in most public buildings, taxis, and trains fall far short of Western standards but pose no threat to your personal health.

Background radiation levels are a natural concern because of the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station located 80 miles northwest of Kiev. At the time of the accident, Kiev was not exposed to heavy radiation because the prevailing winds were blowing in the opposite direction. The U.S. Embassy and U.S. Government specialists monitor radiation levels in the air, water, soil, and produce of Kiev carefully and regularly. To date background radiation levels are regularly lower than radiation levels within the U.S. and world standards of safety.

Tap water samples are taken regularly, and local water is not considered safe to drink due to the presence of coliform bacteria and the intestinal parasite giardia lambia. Water should be filtered and boiled, distilled, or bottled for both cooking and drinking.

Automobile accidents and the lack of a trauma center pose the greatest threat to your health. When traveling in any vehicle, children should always be in some type of restraining car seat. Bring them as they are not available locally.


Passage, Customs and Duties

To enter Ukraine, the traveler must have a Ukrainian visa valid for his/her point and date of entry. Immunization and inoculation certifications are not required at the border.

All antiques and items of value that you bring with you should be declared immediately upon arrival to avoid problems when you leave.

A passport valid for sixth months beyond date of travel and a valid single or multiple entry visa is required. Visas may be obtained in advance from the Embassy of Ukraine, located at 3350 M. St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007, tel. (202) 333-0606 or 333-7507. Visas can also be obtained from the Ukrainian Consulate in Chicago, located at 10 E. Huron St., 60611, tel. (312) 642-4388 or the Ukrainian Consulate in New York, located at 240 E. 49th St., New York, NY 10017, tel. (212) 371-5690. A copy of the visa application for Ukraine can be obtained on the Ukraine Embassy's Internet site

Note: Travelers who intend to visit Russia from Ukraine must also have a Russian visa. The Russian Embassy in Ukraine is located at Prospekt Kutuzova 8, Kiev, tel: (38) (044) 294-7797 or (38) (044) 294-6816.

Americans living in or visiting Ukraine are encouraged to register at the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Kiev and obtain updated information on travel and security within Ukraine. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located at #6, Pimonenko St., tel. (380) (44) 490-4422, fax 236-4892. The U.S. Embassy is located at 10 Vulitsa Yuria Kotsubinskoho, 254053 Kiev 53, tel. (380) (44) 490-4000; after-hours 240-0856; fax 244-7350. Mail using U.S. domestic postage should be addressed to U.S. Embassy Kiev, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20521-5850.


All dogs and cats entering Ukraine must be accompanied by a certificate of good health bearing the seal of the relevant local board of health and signed by a veterinarian. This certificate must be issued not more than 30 days prior to the animal's arrival. A rabies certificate must accompany the animal through the airports in Europe. Travelers should check any applicable restrictions with the airline and additional landing points they are using before traveling.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

The currency of Ukraine is the hryvna.

Ukraine is a cash economy. When bringing U.S. dollars into Ukraine, ensure that bills are in good condition because those that are worn, torn or written on may not be accepted. Credit cards and traveler's checks are gaining wider acceptance in larger cities. American Express traveler's checks may be cashed at some Ukrainian banks. Credit card and ATM fraud is becoming more prevalent and money scams are rampant. It is highly recommended that visitors and permanent residents refrain from using personal checks, credit cards or ATM cards if at all possible. If a credit card is needed, usage is permitted in better hotels, Western-style restaurants, international airlines and selected stores. Customs regulations prohibit sending cash, traveler's checks, personal checks, credit cards, or passports through the international mail system. Customs authorities regularly confiscate these items as contraband. Changing U.S. dollars for Ukrainian hryvnia or another currency is legal only at banks, currency exchange desks at hotels and licensed exchange booths.

Most goods and services in Ukraine are subject to a 20% VAT tax. Airport taxes are included in the ticket price. To export any antique items and/or works of art, the permission of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine must be obtained. It is rarely granted. In addition to samovars, paintings, and rugs, this restriction applies to collections or separate works of fine, applied, and folk art; archaeological and numismatic items; musical instruments; gold, silver, and precious stones; hand-woven carpets; manuscripts; books published before 1966; and furniture made before 1964.

The metric system of weights and measures is used.

Special Information

As in any large Western city, pick-pockets, simple muggers, and purse-snatchers operate in Kiev. American visitors and residents should take the same precautions against street crime that they would in any large American or foreign city. Property crimes include car vandalism and theft and residential and office burglaries.

Violent property crimes, including carjackings and armed residential invasions, attacks in hallways, elevators of residences have occurred but are rare.

Despite the country's difficult economic straits, Ukraine has been largely free of significant civil unrest or disorder. Political demonstrations and rallies to mark significant anniversaries and holidays, as well as to address specific political and economic issues, are a normal part of life in Ukraine. Although these have been largely peaceful, as in any foreign country it is advisable for American visitors and residents to avoid such demonstrations. To date, there have been no recorded acts of international terrorism committed on Ukrainian territory.

In general, Ukrainian law enforcement authorities provide adequate assistance to American citizens and firms victimized by crime. However, Ukrainian police continue to suffer from low pay and a shortage of such basic assets as vehicles, fuel, computers, and communications equipment. Police forces are also understaffed, and English-language capability is rare, even among officials who work on crimes involving foreigners. As a result, reporting a crime to the police can be a difficult and lengthy process. Subsequent follow-up to determine the status of a case requires time consuming visits to police stations. The U.S. does recommend that Americans visiting or residing in Ukraine report any crimes to the nearest local police station. Reporting a crime is also advisable even if some time has elapsed since the crime occurred, because criminals often repeat the same crime within the same general locale.

During the past year the U.S. has received a number of reports involving incidents of harassment and intimidation directed against American businesspersons and interests. Physical threats have been recorded against American investors or facilities.

Finally, when utilizing local service sectors, such as banking, medical, legal, and security services, business persons and firms should limit personal data and information provided to only that which is absolutely necessary. There are reports that persons working in these sectors provide information to criminal gangs, which they then use to plan burglary or extortion attempts. In general, business addresses and phone numbers should be provided instead of home addresses and phone numbers whenever possible.

The Embassy's current crime and safety report is available on-line via the internet/worldwide web at the official website for the American Embassy in Kiev: HTTP://WWWUSEMB.KIEVUA


Jan.1 New Year's day

Jan. 7 & 8 Christmas (Orthodox)

Mar. 8International Women's Day


May 1& 2Labor Day

May 9Victory Day

May/JuneHoly Trinity*

June 28 Constitution Day

Aug. 24Independence Day



These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country

Bahry, Romana M. (ed). Echoes of Glasnost in Soviet Ukraine. North York, Ontario, 1989.

Bohachevsky-Chomiak, M. Feminists Despite Themselves: Women in Ukrainian Community Life, 1884-1939. Edmonton, 1988.

Boshyk, Yury (ed). Ukraine During World War II: History and Its Aftermath. Edmonton, 1986

Conquest, R. The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine. New York, 1986.

Dzyuba, I. Internationalism or Russification: A Study of the Soviet Nationalities Problem. London, 1968.

Goldelman, S. Patterns of Life of an Ethnic Minority. Annals 7 (1959): 1567-85

Grabowitz, George G. The Poet as Mythmaker-A Study of Symbolic Meaning in Tara Schevcherko. Harvard, 1982.

Gudziak, Borys A. Crisis and Reform: The Kievan Metropolitanate, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the Genesis of the Union of Brest. Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, 1998

Hamm, Michael F. Kiev-A Portrait 1800-1917. Princeton 1993.

Hunczak, Taras (ed). The Ukraine 1917-1921: A Study in Revolution. Cambridge, Mass., 1977.

Kamenetsky, I. Hitler's Occupation of Ukraine, 1941-1944: A Study of Totalitarian Imperialism. Milwaukee, 1956.

Karatnycky, Adrian. "The Ukrainian Factor." Foreign Affairs. (Summer, 1992).

Khvylovy, M. The Cultural Renaissance in Ukraine: Polemical Pamphlets 1925-1926. Edmonton, 1986.

Kohut, Zenon. Russian Centralism and Ukrainian Autonomy: Imperial Absorption of the Hetmanate, 1760-1830s. Cambridge, 1988.

Kubijovch, Volodymyr (ed). Ukraine: A Concise Encyclopedia. University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1988.

Kuromiya, Hiroaki. Freedom and Terror in the Donbas: A Ukrainian-Russian Borderland, 1870s-1990s. Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Kuropas, M. The Ukrainians in America. Minneapolis, 1972.

Kuzio, Taras. State and Nation Building in Ukraine. Routlege, 1998.

Kuzio, Taras. Ukraine Under Kuchma: Political Reform, Economic Transformation and Security in Independent Ukraine. Saint Martin's Press, 1997.

Luckyj, G. Literary Politics in the Soviet Ukraine 1917-1934. New York, 1983.

Magoisi, Paul Robert. A History of Ukraine. University of Toronto, 1996.

Marples, David. Ukraine Under Perestroika. Ecology, Economics and the Workers' Revolt. New York, 1991.

Plyushch, L. History's Carnival: A Dissident's Autobiography. New York and London, 1977.

Reschetar, John S. The Ukrainian Revolution, 1917-1920: A Study in Nationalism. Princeton University Press: Princeton, 1952.

Sodol, P UPA: A Brief Combat History of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, 1942-1947. New York, 1987.

Subtelny, Orest. Ukraine. A History. University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1988.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukraine." Cities of the World. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukraine." Cities of the World. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukraine." Cities of the World. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from



B asic D ata
Official Country Name: Ukraine
Region (Map name): Europe
Population: 48,760,474
Language(s): Ukrainian, Russian, Romanian, Polish,Hungarian
Literacy rate: 98.0%
Area: 603,700 sq km
GDP: 31,791 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 38
Total Circulation: 4,322,000
Circulation per 1,000: 74
Number of Nondaily Newspapers: 1,106
Total Circulation: 20,620,000
Circulation per 1,000: 352
Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 23 (US$ millions)
As % of All Ad Expenditures: 13.90
Number of Television Sets: 18,500,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 379.4
Number of Cable Subscribers: 2,588,850
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 52.3
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 130,000
Satellite Subscribers per 1,000: 2.7
Number of Radio Receivers: 45,500,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 933.1
Number of Individuals with Computers: 890,000
Computers per 1,000: 18.3
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 300,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 6.2

Background & General Characteristics

Publishing in Ukraine started in 1574 when the first Russian printer I. Federov printed Azbuka (The Primer ) in the city of Lviv. The introduction of printing laid the foundation for the development of printed press. Early periodicals in the western part of the country, which was occupied by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, appeared in foreign languages. In 1776, the first newspaper, Gazette de Leopol, was published in French and in 1811, Gazeta Lwowska appeared in German and later in Polish. The periodicals in eastern Ukraine, which was part of the Russian Empire, came out in the Russian language with Kharkovsky Ezhenedelńik (Kharkiv Weekly ) in 1812, Kharkovskie Izvestiya (Kharkiv News ) in 1817, and the magazine Ukrainsky Vestnik (Ukrainian Herald ) in 1816, just to name a few. The first newspaper, Zorya Halitska (Galician Dawn ) in the Ukrainian language came out in 1848. In the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, the further development of printed media included the emergence of new newspapers and magazines and the growth of their circulation. This process was constantly accompanied by the closure and reopening of periodicals in the Ukrainian language depending upon the political situation in Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires.

After 1917, the press became an ideological instrument of the ruling Communist Party. In pursuit of influence on the population and education of the masses in the Communist ideology, it facilitated further growth of the printed press in Ukraine. In 1925, there were 116 newspapers with a total single-issue circulation of 1.33 million copies and 369 magazines and other periodicals with an annual circulation of 14.7 million copies. In 1967, there were 2,564 newspapers, 2,100 of which were published in the Ukrainian language. The most influential newspapers were: Radyanska Ukraiina (Soviet Ukraine ), Pravda Ukrainy (Truth of Ukraine ), Robitnicha HazetaWorkers' Newspaper ), Silśi Visti (Rural News ), Molod' Ukraiiny (Ukrainian Youth ), Kultura I ZhittyaCulture and Life ), Literaturna Ukraiina (Literary Ukraine ). The newspapers had a single-issue circulation of 16.9 million a year, and the 323 magazines and other periodicals had an annual circulation of 123.7 million that year.

During World War II, from 1941 to 1944, an underground press was organized by the resistance forces in the territories occupied by the Nazi Germany. Radio broadcasting was banned by fascists. As the fascists advanced further into the country, many printing and radio broadcasting facilities had to be evacuated to inside the Soviet Union where publishing houses and radio stations continued their work.

Before Ukraine proclaimed its sovereignty in 1991, the Soviet journalists and editors were guided by the principles and instructions of the Communist Party to emphasize the optimistic and the positive and to place prominently reports about economic achievements (which were not necessarily true) and stories about the heroes of Socialist labor and promising initiatives. Anything negative, tragic, or controversial happening in the country or anything positive taking place in the capitalist countries was seldom allowed to be covered by reporters and journalists.

The monopoly on information in Ukraine, like in all other former Soviet republics, was executed through banning underground opposition publications, jamming foreign radio stations, and applying legal actions against those who listened to foreign radio. It also included the restrictions on the distribution of foreign press, especially from Western countries, to a limited number of libraries and officials, and even banning Soviet tourists from bring foreign publications into the country.

In the last decade of the twentieth century and in the first years of the twenty-first century, the Ukrainian mass media have undergone a drastic transition from the Soviet-style to the democratic and free-market mode of work. Controlled for most of the twentieth century by the conservative Communist system, media have learned to operate in a new democratic, economic, political, ideological, and cultural environment. Learning to work in a new sovereign state with diametrically opposite politico-ideological and socioeconomic environment required tremendous efforts on the part of many professionals involved in media business in reevaluating the legacy of the Communist past, rethinking the old principles of journalism, and adjusting to the novel concepts of the freedom of press and pluralism of opinion.

The legacy of the Soviet past, the realities of the new nation-state, and linguistic pluralism make the cultural identity of many Ukrainian media a rather complex and multidimensional phenomenon.

The new challenges of the post-Soviet Ukraine have had a great impact upon the quality of journalism. Most of the news, commentaries, articles, television, and radio programs involve their readers and listeners in serious deliberations on democratic, social, economic, political, ideological, educational, and cultural reforms and changes in the country. Media plunged into hot debates and controversies about constructing a new nation-state and in searches for its national Ukrainian identity. Some old-guard journalists stuck to past beliefs and values and continued to glorify the Soviet legacy, whereas others struggled with their Communist stereotypes, clichés, and work ethics. Most of the new generation of journalists have accepted the democratic principles of journalism and are learning how to be unbiased in their evaluations, to present pluralism of opinions, to avoid asymmetrical selectivity of facts, and to withstand prejudice and onesidedness in covering sociopolitical events in a rapidly changing society. The process has not been an easy one. Controversy exists about the excessively judgmental nature of the work of many journalists and reporters. Many mass media are accused of overloading their pages with sensational and negative information to attract readers.

In 2002, according to V. Chizh, Chair of the State Committee of Ukraine on Information Policy, TV, and Radio Broadcasting, over 15,000 printed and electronic publications were officially registered in the country, with 5,696 newspapers and magazines among them. However, it is difficult to estimate how many of these publications are still brought out because some of them have never been even produced, or were issued for a short period of time and do not exist any longer.

As democratic Ukraine opens itself to the world, the people receive greater access to international printed publications, some of which are issued in a translated version for larger audiences who do not speak foreign languages. The national printed press is published in Russian, English, German, and many other languages including the languages of indigenous domestic minorities. Due to a considerable number of mixed marriages, many Ukrainians are bilingual, generally speaking Ukrainian and Russian. Because most (62 percent) Russians and Russian-speaking people live in the eastern and southern areas, mass media in these parts of the country predominantly use Russian language, and the Ukrainian language is more often used in central and western Ukrainian media. In 2002, during the parliamentary elections to the country's highest legislative body, Verkhovna Rada, 84 percent of the population in Kharkiv, the second largest city of Ukraine, responded positively to the question included in their ballots whether they would agree that Russian language should be given the same status as the Ukrainian language. Nevertheless, some nationalists, especially in Lviv region, strongly objected to the use of the Russian language in media.

In the 1990s, the democratic developments of the country were accompanied by the fast increase in the number of publications and by the decrease in their circulation. In 1997 newspaper subscriptions dropped to 2.6 million copies and magazines subscriptions to 910,000. These negative occurrences happened because of the rising cost of publishing, printing, and delivery as well as a significant reduction of state subsidies and purchasing possibilities of population. The socioeconomic stratification of the capitalist Ukrainian society based on the wealth led to the emergence of two types of media: one for the small elite and a thin layer of middle class, and a second for low and impoverished masses.

In a country that inherited a very well-educated population from the Soviet era (98 percent literacy rate), the interest in printed and broadcast word among peoples of all ages remains very high. Although in the Soviet Ukraine many blindly believed what the media said, in the times of pluralism people struggle with the idea that they must give meaning to what they read, watch, and hear, rather than dismissing it as propaganda.

The larger part of the printed media (72.4 percent) consists of daily newspapers. The majority of the printed and electronic mass media takes place in the capital city of Kyiv. However, 64 percent of printed media circulation occurs at the local level in twenty-six regions.

The newspapers with the most subscriptions in 2002 were: Silśi in Ukrainian (560,340), Golos Ukraiiny (Voice of Ukraine ) in Ukrainian and Russian (114,904), Uryadovyi Kuríer (Government Carrier ) in Ukrainian (101,904), Komunist (Communist ) in Ukrainian and Russian (92,739), Ukraiina Moloda (Young Ukraine ) in Ukrainian (84,485), Robitnicha Gazeta (Workers' Newspaper ) in Ukrainian (71,283), Prattsya I Zarplata (Work and Salary ) in Ukrainian (49,899), Tovarisch (Comrade ) in Ukrainian and Russian (29,821), Rukh (Movement ) in Ukrainian (25,855), Osvita Ukraiiny (Ukraine's Education ) in Ukrainian (20,455), Ukraiiksi Futbol (Ukraine's Soccer ) in Ukrainian (17,203), and Molod' Ukraiiny (Youth of Ukraine ) in Ukrainian (11,405). Since many people buy newspapers retail, the real number of circulation may be much higher for some publications. For example, during a seven-year period, Uryadovyi Kuríer claimed to have had an annual circulation between 130,000 and 230,000 and Golos Ukraiiny had 170,000 versus 101,904 and 114,904.

The most influential national newspapers are: Uryadovyi Kuríer (Government Carrier ), Kyiv Post, 6 Kontinentov (6 Continents ), AVISO, Argumenty I Fakty v Ukraine (Arguments and Facts in Ukraine ), BiznesBusiness ), Vseukrainskie Vedomosti (All-Ukrainian Official Reports ), Golos Ukraiiny (Voice of UkraineDen' (Day ), DK-Zvyazok (DK-CommunicationPravda Ukraiiny (Ukraine's Truth ), Osvita UkraiinyUkraine's Education ), Robitnicha Gazeta (Workers' Gazette ), Silśsi Visti (Rural News ), Slovo Bativschiny (Word of Fatherland ), Stolichnye Novosti (Capital NewsUkraiina Moloda (Young Ukraine ), Ukraiinse Slovo (Ukrainian Word ), Ukraiinsi Futbol (Ukrainian Soccer ), and Dzerkalo Nedili (Weekly Mirror ).

Among the most influential regional and local press are Podilśka Zorya (Podilśk Dawn ) in Vinnitsi; Kochegarka (Furnace-Feeder ) in Gorlivki; V Novyi VekInto New Century ) in Dniprodzerzhins; Prospekt Pravdy (Pravda Avenue ) and Litsa (Faces ) in Dnipropetrovs; Gorod-NN (City NN ) and Donbass in Donetsk; Zaporiza Pravda, Panorama in Zaporizhzhya; Vilńyi Golos (Free Voice ) in Kolomyya; Programa ta Novyny (Program and News ) in Kremenchug; Vysokyi Zamok (High Castle ) in Lviv; Azovskie Novosti (Azov News ) in Mariupol'; Nikolaevskie Novosti (Mykolaev News ) in Mykolaev; Glasnost' and Odesskie Delovye Novosti (Odesa Business News ) in Odesa; Absolyutno Vse (Absolutely Everything ) in Sevastopol'; Kharkovsky Kuríer (Kharkiv Carrier ) in Kharkiv; and Bukovyna in Chernivtsi.

The following case gives an approximate picture of the situation of local mass media in the economically developed Luhansk region, one of the largest among 26 regions in the country with a population of approximately 3 million people. In 2002, there were 283 newspapers and 13 magazines in the region, 26 of them in the Ukrainian language, 55 in the Russian language, and 216 in both languages. Forty-three publications had general political and social information orientation, 15 were affiliated with parties, 36 were established by the industrial enterprises and organizations and reflect their life, and 31 were sponsored by the state bodies. Twenty-three publications addressed entertainment, tourist, and leisure issues. Eleven publications focused on religion, 38 on advertisement, 15 were issued for children and youth, and 29 had general information. Thirty-seven TV and radio companies with various types of ownership functioned in the region.

For over 70 years in the twentieth century, the atheistic country excluded religious perspectives from the state mass media and severely restricted the rights of religious organizations to freedom of press. The renaissance of religious printed press as well as the access of clergy to some state television and radio channels became a prominent feature of the post-Soviet Ukraine at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Both state and independent television and radio regularly broadcast services from churches, mainly from the dominant Ukrainian Orthodox Church, during the major religious holidays. In 2000, over 150 printed religious publications, excluding an unidentified number of small publications (generally parish newspapers), were issued in the country. The Moscow and Kyivan Patriarchates of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have the largest number of publications: Pravoslavnaya Gazeta (Orthodox Gazette ), Pravoslavna Volyn' (Orthodox Volyn ), Pravoslavna Tavriya (Orthodox Tavriya ), Kharkovskie Eparkhialńye Novosti (Kharkiv Eparchial News ), and Informatsiinyi Buleten' (Information Bulletin ). Dlya Tebya (For You ) of Baptist denomination, Arka (Arch ) of the Greek-Unitarian Church, Shabat Shalom, Sholem, and Khadashot Novosti (Khada-shot News ) of Jewish faith, Nova Zirka (New Star ), andZhiva Voda (Living Water ) of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Islamic Al-Bayan, Arraid, and other newspapers are freely published in the country. Despite the religious pluralism in the post-Soviet Ukraine, the equal representation of all denominations in media, especially on television, remains an issue of debate.

Ukraine produces a significant number of magazines addressing social, political, scientific, entertainment, and informational technology issues. A number of them are published in various domestic and foreign languages. Most of them are issued in Kyiv: Motor News, Office, Sobstvennik (Owner ), Internet UA, Aviatsiya I Vremya (Aviation and Time ), Bankivsa Sprava (Bank Information ), Viisáo Ukraiiny (Ukrainian Army ), Vokrug Sveta (Around the World ), Delovaya Zhizn' (Business Life ), Zovnishnya Torgovlya (Foreign Trade ), Lyudyna I Politika (People and Politics ), Naturalist, Polityka I Kuĺ tura (Politics and Culture ), Svit Nauki (Light of Science ), and Ukraiina (Ukraine ). There is a substantial growth of magazines devoted to computer technologies and entertainment. Although the country boasts a great variety of magazines, circulation is generally low, except for those on entertainment and sports. The scientific journals published by academic and research institutions reduced their circulation drastically due to the economic constraints.

Many universities have their own printed newspapers with an electronic version. Some have large circulations, including Kolega (Colleague ) in Kyivo-Mogilyansa Academy, Inzhinernyi Rabochii (Engineering Worker ) in Zaporizhzhya State Technical University, Politekhnik (Polytechnician ) in Kharkiv State Polytechnic University, Donetskii Politekhnik (Donetsk Politechnician ) in Donetsk State Technical University, and Zapoizyi Universitet (Zaporizyi University ) in Zaporizyi State University.

Whereas the Soviet Ukraine issued most of its newspapers on an almost daily basis in 4 pages, in the sovereign country the majority of the newspapers increased the number of pages up to 8 or even 24, but they reduced their appearance to three to five times a week. Once absent, the commercial and classified ads and letters from the readers expressing different opinions have found their way onto the pages of many media.

Economic Framework

The media business in Ukraine operates in an economy that is not recognized by the major world industrial countries as a market leader. Its transitional status from state-planned to supply-and-demand market has a great impact on the orientation, nature, and quality of the work of correspondents, journalists, reporters, and the content of the media. The major watershed for media business in this period lies between the powerful groups, which unofficially in Ukraine are called clans of oligarchs or magnates, and the political parties, some of which are often very closely associated with the big capital. An oligarchy consists of very rich individuals who have a monopoly in certain areas of the market and send their representatives to Verkhovna Rada and to the executive bodies of power. Oligarchs may depend upon those in the state structures that appointed them to their positions and who can dismiss, charge, or eliminate them. The oligarchic blend of party, business, and state is sometimes called the party of power.

Oligarchs do not control the printed press for profit reasons but rather for promoting their political ambitions and businesses as well as their parties' and clans' agendas and for creating a positive image. Often uninterested in learning how to do profitable media business, oligarchs' main revenues come from other businesses, frequently illegal, rather than from selling newspapers, magazines, television and radio programs, or informational services. Journalists find themselves under strict pressure from the oligarchs, which is often covert and is manifested in the form of friendly advice to avoid problems. The covert and overt pressure has a negative impact on the professionalism of journalists and the quality of their work. The picture is somewhat better with private television companies, which strive to gain profit from producing innovative shows, serial films, and entertaining programs. Television companies place more commercial advertising than the printed press. Nonetheless, it is recognized by experts on journalism that Ukraine's television and radio stations are not exempt from the influence of the oligarchs.

One of the powerful clans, Donchane controls mass media in the coal mining Donetsk region as well as the publishing house Segodnya (Today) in Kyiv. Dnipropertovsa semýa (Dnipropetrovs family) consists of several small clans in an industrial region, Dnipropetrovsk, which was known during the Soviet times as the homeland of the Communist Party leaders L. Brezhnev and V. Scherbitski and now as the bulwark of the acting President L. Kuchma. V. Pinchuk group owns the biggest cellular phone network, KyivStar GSM, a popular newspaper Fakty (Facts ), a local TV channel, and the national channel ICTV. The Dnipropetrovs media has had a pro-presidential orientation and in 2002, during the parliamentary elections it supported the Za Edynu Ukraiinu! (For Unified Ukraine!) block, a party in power. The son-in-law of President Kuchma, Pinchuk is a member of Verkhovna Rada and the owner of local metallurgic plants is the region.

A. Derkach's group owns the holding Ukrainian Press-Group that publishes Ukrainian versions of the popular Russian newspapers Komsomolaya Pravda (Komsomol Truth ), Moskovskii Komsomolets (Moscow Komsomol Member ), Argumenty I Fakty (Arguments and Facts ), and Telenedilya (TV Weekly ). Since the group purchased the copyrights for their publishing in Ukraine, the influence of Russian media owners on the content of their publications significantly diminished. The group also co-owns Stolichnye Novosti (Capital's News ) and the Web site MIGnews along with A. Rabinovich, the head of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress and an influential businessman. Derkach's press secretary S. Mustafin owns another newspaper Kyivskii Telegraf (Kyiv Telegraph ). The company also has a popular Web site called Versii (Versions). As a member of the Board of Ukrainian State TV and Radio Company, Derkach has a significant influence on the policies of broadcasting in the country.

The Lviv family controls the media in the western part of the country, and is known for its active participation in the nationalistic movement at the beginning of the 1990s. In 1997, a new governor, M. Gladii, founded a newspaper, Ukraiinski Shlyakh (Ukrainian Road ) to which every state employee had to subscribe. The newspaper became a mouthpiece of the Agrarian Party of Ukraine. It also has close connections with the Social Democratic Party headed by V. Medvedchuk, an influential businessmen in the Lviv region who, along with V. Surkis, controls the television channel Inter and the newspapers Kyivski Vedomosti (Kyiv Official Reports ) andBiznes (Business ). In 2002, Medvedchuk became the Head of the Presidential Staff Office.

Kharkiv Magnates Group operates in the city of Kharkiv. Although less influential than Donchane and Dnipropetrovsa semýa, the group owns several media in the eastern part of the country. S. Davtyanś owns the television channel, Simon, which according to the ratings yields among the Kharkiv region inhabitants only to popular national Inter and 1+1 TV channels. He also publishes a weekly Obýektivno (Objectively ). His rivalry in hotel and groceries business, NPK Company, possesses the TK TONIS-Tsentr (TONIS Center) and Vechernii Kharkov (Evening Kharkiv ) newspaper.

One niche in the media market is filled with the national and regional media owned by the state governing bodies. They are very often co-owned with the employees of the companies. For example, Uryadovyi Kuríer (Government Carrier ) belongs to the national bodies of the executive branch of the power structure. It publishes complete texts of laws, decrees, and directives of the President, the Cabinet of Ministers, commentaries and clarifications of experts on legal, scientific, and other issues. Another newspaper, Robitnicha Gazeta, published in Russian, is a cross-ownership of the Cabinet of Ministers and the staff of the newspaper. Kyivsa Pravda is sponsored by Kyiv Region Rada and the newspaper staff.

Daily Vecherni Visti (Evening News ), financed by the Company OOO "BB," is controlled by the former Prime Minister Timoshenko and the leader of the Verkhovna Rada fraction Bativschina (Fatherland), Turchinov.

Many newspapers have strong party affiliation (the fusion of parties with oligarchs should be also kept in mind). It is estimated that in 2002, approximately 75 percent of all national printed media belonged to political parties and political organizations, which provided them with major financial support. The Communist Party of Ukraine, founded in 1993 as a remnant of the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union, inherited a well-developed network of media production and distribution infrastructure throughout the country. Along with its national Komunist (Communist ), published in Kyiv, the Party issues Kommunist Donbassa (Donbas Communist ), Serp I Molot (Hammer and Sickle ), Kommunist Kyiivschiny (Kyiv Communist ), Radyansa (Soviet Luhansk ), Vynitsa Pravda, Cherkasa Pravda, Kommunist Podillya, Radyansa Volyn' (Soviet Volyn ), Pravda Melitopolya (Melitopol Truth ), and many others, which are strongly opposed to the presidential party in power.

Other influential newspapers with party affiliation and financial support include the daily Tovarisch (Comrade ), published by the Socialist Party of Ukraine, and Nasha Gazeta (Our Newspaper ), which belongs to the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine, a close affiliate of the Communist Party of Ukraine.

A series of newspapers and magazines are produced by the radical nationalistic organizations and parties, such as the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, Narodnyi Rukh Ukraiiny, and Molodijnyi Natsionalistichnyi Kongres. Kievskie Vedomosti (Kyiv Official Reports ), 100,000 copies, is owned by the Publishing House ZAO Kievskie Vedomosti and is controlled by the party Yabluko.

Silśi Visti (Rural News ) is one of the major newspapers (665,000) for people living in rural areas. Until 2002, it was oriented toward the left political spectrum, and especially toward Selyanska Partiya (Peasant Party), which expresses mainly the political views and interests of the rural population. During 2000 and 2001, the newspaper received national and international recognition for its bold activities in defense of the freedom of press. Consequently, its circulation and popularity grew considerably.

Trade unions traditionally had numerous publications. However, in the 1990s their number significantly declined as the union movement in the country and union membership subsided. A large number of printed media addressing the young audience is heavily subsidized by the government and/or public organizations. These media include Molod' Ukrainy (Ukrainian Youth ), Ukraiina Moloda (Young Ukraine ), and GronoBunch of Grapes ). Much younger populations are served by Aist (Crane ), Molodyi Bukovinets' (Young Bukovinian ), Eirika, Peremena (Lesson Break ), BarvinokEvergreenMalyatko (Kid ), Ranok (MorningSonyashnykSunflower ), and Vesela Pererva (Funny Lesson Break ). The last one is published in English, Russian, and Ukrainian languages and enjoys great popularity.

Publications for women were always popular among the Ukrainian female population. In the 1990s, they became more Westernized with advertisements and information on feminist movement, Auto-lady, EvaVozḿ i Menya (Take Me ), and Zhenskoe ZdorovýeWomen's Health ). International publications for women are also available.

The independent newspaper Dzirkalo Nedili (Weekly Mirror ), published in the Ukrainian language and owned by the editorial staff, belongs to the moderate wing of the press because it tries to balance the publication of articles of various political groups. It also has an electronic version in the Russian and English languages. This newspaper is one of the few that tries to play by the market rules.

Some media is financed by international organizations. For example, European Union sponsors a Tacis program for developing free press in Ukraine. It subsidizes KP Publications, which owns the leading English-language weekly Kyiv Post and the web site The U.S. Department of State provides assistance in developing independent electronic media in Ukraine through its ProMedia web site and sponsoring workshops and seminars for press workers.

Because oligarchs do not allocate large investments into printed media business, printing and editing technologies might be characterized as a combination of new Western technologies and obsolete Soviet equipment. Most Ukrainian media grew out of the state-planned Soviet infrastructure of subscription and distribution. The infrastructure and its services are still controlled by the state. Subscription and delivery of printed press is carried out by the state agency UkrPoshta (Ukrainian Post). In 2002, the subscription cost of newspapers per year varied from 19.8 hrivnas (Kyivsa Pravda ), to 72 hrivnas (Uryadovyi Kuríer ), and to 124 hrivnas (Den' ). Elite publications, like 2000 and ii cost even more. Due to the frequent downfall of the national currency value and rising cost for the infrastructural services, some companies restrict subscription and sell newspapers and magazines at a "floating price" in private newsstands and kiosks or through part-time sellers.

Advertisement, once completely alien to the media, found its place onto the pages of newspapers and magazines; however, it did not play a significant role in oligarch-controlled media business. The price for private or commercial ads varies from one publication to another. Silśi Visti, the newspaper with the biggest circulation offers its services at 264 hrivnas per 20 square centimeters and 27,456 hrivnas for 2,080 square centimeters, which covers the whole page. The services of Golos, an independent newspaper in Donetsk range between 30 and 15,000 hrivnas.

It is worth noting that the purchasing power of the population considerably diminished after Ukraine became independent due to the general worsening of the economic situation. In 2002, according to the official data, 56.6 percent of population lived below the poverty line. The average salary in Ukraine was $67 a month, half of that in neighboring Russia or Belarus. Under these circumstances, many people cannot afford to subscribe even to a single publication.

Press Laws

The Ukrainian Constitution was adopted by Verkhovna Rada in 1996. Article 34 of the Constitution states:

  • Everyone is guaranteed the right to freedom of thought and speech, and to the free expression of his or her views and beliefs;
  • Everyone has the right to freely collect, store, use, and disseminate information by oral, written or other methods at his discretion;
  • The exercise of these rights may be restricted by law in the interests of national security, territorial indivisibility or public order, with the purpose of preventing disturbances or crimes, protecting the health of the population, the reputation or rights of other persons, preventing the publication of information received confidentially, or supporting the authority and impartiality of justice.

For the first time in the twentieth century, the Constitution recognized the supremacy of human rights for the Ukrainian citizens, freedom of expression, and the right to have an access to public information. The journalists whose freedoms were restrained in the Soviet Ukraine for most of the twentieth century by the ideological control of the central and local party committees received guarantees for expressing their views and opinions on political, social, economic, and other issues of professional interest.

Verkhovna Rada also passed several laws, which determined the governing structure of the mass media and created legal foundations for their work. The laws covered: TV and Radio Broadcasting, National Council of TV and Radio Broadcasting, Information, Advertisement, Printed Information (Press), Radio Frequencies Sources in Ukraine, State Support of Media and Social Security of Journalists, Procedure of Coverage of Activities of the State Power Bodies, and of the Bodies of Local Self-governance, and System of Public TV.

Though the laws guarantee the right of journalists and reporters to obtain information open to the public, outline the procedure of the appeal against the officials who deny an access to it, and establish the due process for the defense of citizens' rights to information, many provisions of the laws are not widely accepted, approved, or observed in the society. Some articles of the laws are considered by journalists controversial and even undemocratic. The registration of printed press and electronic media is performed by the Ministry of Information of Ukraine.


The Ukrainian constitution ruled out the censorship for which the former Soviet Union was notorious during the years of Communist rule. The Article 15 of Chapter 1 states: "Censorship is prohibited." However, journalists in the late 1990s and early 2000s talked about internal censorship that rests in the minds of many journalists who are aware that they may lose their job or be fined, their salary may be reduced, or they may even be killed if they write or speak against those who control media and the media market or against the political party for which they work. Since 1992, some 18 journalists have been killed in Ukraine, and although their cases were never disclosed, it is widely believed among journalists, the political elite, and the citizens alike that their murders were politically motivated. The case of the journalist H. Gongadze, who wrote on corruption in the government structures and was found murdered in 2000, received international attention, but the case was never solved. As a reaction to the Gongadze case and to other similar cases, in 2001 President Kuchma issued the decree "On Additional Measures to Secure Unlimited Activity of Mass Media and on Further Affirmation of Freedom of Press in Ukraine," which in particular planned to provide social security to the families of journalists and reporters killed while performing their professional duty. However, a number of independent publishers and journalists expressed a concern that this decree was a mere political act to appease the European Parliament Assembly, which was to debate the issue of freedom of press in the country in 2001.

Internal censorship implies that the journalists and editors have to be very careful what they write to create only a positive image of the oligarch or the political leader who controls the newspaper. It undermines the professional ethics of the journalists, which are vital for the development of democracy and a free press.

The journalists in Kyiv and other big cities are in a better situation and can afford to criticize state officials due to the presence of international journalists, diplomats, and representatives of human rights organizations, but journalists in remote areas have to think twice what and how to write about local officials or local mini-oligarchs.

The independent press accused the party in power of threatening the opposition newspapers and of waging a repressive campaign against the companies that placed commercial advertisement in them. In 2001, on behalf of 14 independent newspapers of Ukraine, the editor-in-chief of the Grani (Sides ) newspaper sent a letter to the European Parliament Assembly in which he expressed concern about the state's repressive actions toward the press that disclosed the criminal actions of state officials.

The closure of the independent television channel in the city of Nikopol', the invasion of the office of the Internet newspaper under the pretext of warrant for search of the bank located in the same building, sanitary inspections for detecting the increase of radioactivity coming from the electronic devices, and threats by telephone are some of the examples of pressure that have been used against journalists by the state and the oligarchs.

In 2001, Article 182 was added to the Criminal Law of Ukraine. It made illegal the "gathering, storing, using, and disseminating [of] confidential information about any person without his consent." The article is viewed by some journalists as a threat to the rights of journalists for independent investigation, whereas their opponents argue that it defends citizens' right to privacy.

Article 32 of the Ukrainian constitution, which states "the collection, storage, use and dissemination of confidential information about a person without his or her consent shall not be permitted, except in cases determined by law, and only in the interests of national security, economic welfare and human rights," has been used by courts to persecute journalists who tried to investigate corruption cases involving state officials.

State-Media Relations

The State Committee on Information Policy, TV and Radio Broadcasting plays an important role in the area of information in the country. Its vast responsibilities include legal, technical, technological, and economic assistance and control over state, public, and private media activities in the country. It develops policies pertaining to their operation, reviews legal procedures, drafts proposals for the President and Verkhovna Rada, gathers statistical data, represents the country in international organizations, and conducts negotiations with parties involved in international cooperation. It also grants consent for the appointment to office and the dismissal from office of the Chairman of the National Council of Ukraine on TV and Radio Broadcasting by the President.

The National Council of Ukraine on TV and Radio Broadcasting and its branches in the regions oversee on a daily basis the work of television and radio companies; grant, renew, and withhold licenses for broadcasting; and conduct a competition for channel ownership and radio frequencies. The Council oversees companies to be sure that they abide by the laws and other regulating documents. Four of its members are appointed by Verkhovna Rada and the other four by the President.

In post-Soviet Ukraine, the state lost its direct ownership over media. Only 9 percent of printed press and 12 percent of the television and radio companies belong directly to the government. The majority, 52.9 percent, of printed press belongs to private citizens. A large portion of media have party, corporate, or cross-ownership.

The relations between the state, business, and mass media are far more complex than they might seem. Despite the loss of direct control, state officials have preserved some powerful levers of pressure over the most influential and widely distributed mass media. The oligarchs also play a significant role in state-media relations, often being appointed to the state bodies which oversee media or being elected to the editorial boards or boards of directors of the companies.

The relations between the state and the press remain unstable and at times controversial and unclear. On the one hand, the government insists on doing its best to promote the freedom of press, proclaims its commitment to "European choice," democratic values, and market economy. On the other hand, it does little to ensure that media operate on the basis of the rule of law with courts being the major judge in criminal cases.

The work of the National Council encountered extraordinarily negative coverage by media professionals and by members of Verkhovna Rada, who accused its members and staff of manipulating the procedures for granting and revoking licenses of television and radio stations to further their political and economic interests. This was claimed by journalists in 30 lawsuits filed in 2002. The bureaucrats are also often accused by media for creating privileges, extorting bribes, and corrupting the system of free media market. In many cases, it is very difficult to prove their illegal methods because their management of media is based on the notorious Soviet-type "telephone law," not on the principles of free market. Their arsenal of legal methods included sending commissions from sanitary, electric, fire, or other departments to find a reason for shutting down a rebellious media.

In 2002, I. Oleksandrov, the Director of the TV Company in Donetsk, was assassinated. It is not clear whether it resulted from the clandestine war of economic clans in the region or the persecution of state officials for criticism, or both. In 2001, the state revoked the frequency 100.9 from the radio company Kontinent (Continent) and granted it to another radio company Oniks (Onyx). The general director of Kontinent believed the denial followed his criticism of the party in power. He issued a statement in which he claimed that he had received several telephone calls threatening him and his family and advising them to leave the country.

The media also expressed their dissatisfaction with limited opportunities to obtain official information and, in particular, with the violation of the law On Procedures of Coverage of the Activities of the State Power Bodies and of the Bodies of Local Self-governance. Their interpretation of the law included the right to have access to the sessions of Verkhovna Rada, meetings of the Cabinet of Ministers and other state bodies, and to broadcast them to public, which they were denied for a long time. Finally in June 2002 the issue was resolved to their satisfaction.

Another sensitive issue raised by the media is a law On Mandatory TV Debates During Election Campaign of the President of Ukraine and People's Deputies of Ukraine, passed by Verkhovna Rada in 2001. The journalists view the law as an opportunity to facilitate the involvement of the people in democratic process of election and to provide them with more complete knowledge about the candidates' election platforms. However, the law was not signed by the president.

Legally, the journalists have freedom to criticize any state official, however, due to the unspoken and unwritten law, they can complain of corruption but not mention specific individuals, criticize the Mafia but not implicate particular persons, criticize national or regional governing bodies but not their specific members, use harsh words to blame oligarchy but not investigate activities of any of them, and criticize the party of power but not mention its key players.

As Ukraine embarked on the road of free market, many publishing enterprises were not able to start their business without initial support from the state budget. The law On State Support of Mass Media and Social Security of Journalists allows the government to subsidize up to 50 percent of children's and youth media as well as scientific journals published by universities (above level III), research institutions, and media that promote the development of languages and culture of ethnic minorities. These publications are not to include commercial organizations or private party as sponsors. The State Committee on Information Policy, TV and Radio Broadcasting decides the eligibility of each publication for subsidies. In 2002, the Cabinet of Ministers uplifted restrictions outlined in the law. This step received harsh criticism by many independent journalists who evaluated it as a move toward strengthening the state control over media and creating additional opportunities for corruption and bribery among the state bureaucrats.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

The democratic Ukraine pursues the policy of opening the country to foreign mass media and providing conditions for the work of international correspondents, journalists, and reporters. According to the 1992 Agreement on Visa-Free Migration of the Commonwealth of Independent States Citizens, the correspondents from the former Soviet republics do not need to obtain a visa. The same procedure exists for the members of the European Union, Canada, Slovak Republic, United States, Turkey, Switzerland, and Japan in accordance with the Decrees by Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers No. 750 of May 5, 2000, No. 1376 of September 1, 2000, and No. 192 of February 28, 2001.

International organizations like Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Amnesty International implement their watch functions for the observance of journalists' rights in the country. In 2000 annual report, the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists placed Ukraine sixth on the list of top 10 persecutors of the media.

Jammed during the Soviet period, foreign television and radio stations freely broadcast in the country, or their programs are aired by the Ukrainian media. No restrictions on foreign publications exist, except those that promote hatred, racism, pornography, or threaten the security of the country.

News Agencies

Until 1991, Ukraine had one republican news agency that monopolized all information. The complex state, social, political, economical, and cultural developments of a new country engaged the emergence of diverse information agencies addressing novel demands and challenges. Among the 15 major agencies operating in Ukraine, the largest and most influential of them include: Derzhavne Informatsiine Agentstvo Ukraiiny, DINAU (State Information Agency of Ukraine), the oldest Ukraiinse Natsionalńe Informatsiine Agentstvo (Ukrainian National Information Agency) founded in 1918 as a part of the TASS media agency of the Soviet Union; the recently created ones Expres-Inform, Iterfax-Ukraine, Rukh Pres, Ukraiinske Nezalezhne Informatsiine Agenstvo Novyn (Ukrainian Independent Information News Agency), Ukraiinsa Nezalezhna Informatsiina Agentsiya "Respublika" (Ukrainian Independent Information Agency "Republic"), and Ukrainsi Novyny (Ukrainian News). These agencies disseminate official and general public information and information services. Avesta-Ukraiina, Groshi ta Svit (Money and World), Infinservis, Ukraiinsyi Finansovyi Server (Ukrainian Financial Server) agencies provide analytical information and services about the conditions of financial markets, Inforbank agency distributes services related to banking and stock exchange matters. Many agencies became members of international alliances of news press agencies and have correspondent bureaus in all 26 regions in Ukraine and in 17 other countries.

Along with the domestic information agencies, there are a number of international news bureaus in Ukraine: Associated Press and United Press International (United States), Agence France Presse (France), Reuters (United Kingdom), Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Canada), ITAR-TASS (Russia), Information Agency Novosti (Russia), Belopan (Belarus), and Polska Agencja Pracowa (Poland).

Broadcast Media

According to the Unified State Register of Enterprises and Organizations of Ukraine, there were 752 TV and radio stations registered in Ukraine in 2001. The independent media estimated that a large number of radio stations broadcast illegally, without licenses.

The largest TV and radio network belongs to Derzhavne Tele Radio Ukraiiny (State TV and Radio of Ukraine), which controls the national television channels UT-1 and UT-2, National Radio Company of Ukraine, the Promin radio program, 26 regional state television companies, Sevastopol' and Kyiv regional state television-radio companies, and the television-radio company Krym (Crimea).

The study of Socis-Gallap shows that the largest portion (98 percent) of Ukraine is covered by the television signal of the state UT-1 Channel. It is the most influential in the rural areas with a significant Communist electorate, which has nostalgic sentiments for the Soviet past. The European Institute of Media monitored the parliamentary elections in Ukraine in 2002 and came to the conclusion that the state-controlled television network, especially the state channel UT-1 allocated over 50 percent of news time to the pro-presidential block Za Edynu Ukraiinu! (For Unified Ukraine!). The opposition political block, Nasha Ukraiina (Our Ukraine), and the Timoshenko block were covered mainly in negative terms on this channel.

Eighty-five percent of the country's territory is covered by the state UT-2 Channel. The television broadcast of the UT-3 Channel Inter reaches about 60 percent of the country. Despite its extensive coverage of the territory, UT-1 Channel and UT-2 Channel are less popular and their ratings are lower than those of UT-3 Channel Inter.

The Channel Inter, a leader on the media market, was sponsored in 1997 by several companies, organizations, and individuals. The Russian television company ORT was the biggest financial contributor. However, its influence on the policy of Inter became rather limited at the beginning of the 2000s. It is a very modern, well-equipped company with a number of correspondents in Kabul, Moscow, and New York. Many of the employees belong to the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine, and they are criticized for biased coverage of other political parties.

Non-governmental television companies include ICTV, tele-radio company Zolotye Vorota (Golden gate), TK TONIS (TV TONIS), and Norma (Norm). Among the most popular TV channels are 1+1, Novyi Kanal (New Channel), and CTB. The largest private channel, 1+1, was initially sponsored in 1996 by the Central European Media Enterprises Ltd., which provided significant financial support to the media of Slovakia, Slovenia, and Romania. In 2002, it owned 30 percent of the channel stock of the 1+1 channel.

Novyi Kanal developed fast in the late 1990s and by 2002, it had gained great popularity, especially in the southern region of the country. ICTV enjoys popularity (12 percent of the audience) in the center of Ukraine. Most investments come to the channel from Russian businesses. In the 2002 parliamentary elections, the Novyi Kanal and CTB channels were recognized by the European Institute of Media as the most neutral channels in covering the campaign. ICTV, mostly financed by the U.S. Story First Communication, enjoys recognition among the professionals as the most rapidly developing political TV. TK TONIS, the first national independent television company, founded in 1989, is also a successful company. Its network covers 60 percent of the country.

The following independent radio stations enjoy greater popularity among the younger audience due to a strong focus on entertainment, sports, and tourist information: Gala Radio, Music Radio in Kyiv, Slavutich and Bulava radio stations in Kherson, and Donetskie Novosti, Evropa Plyus, and Radio DA! in Donetsk.

The non-governmental television and radio companies exceed by several times the amount of broadcasting time by the state companies. For example, in Kyiv, the proportion is one to five in favor of private and collectively owned companies. The greatest number of TV and radio broadcasting companies are concentrated in Kyiv (296), Kharkiv region (181), and in Volyn' region (11).

Most of the people of Ukraine can also receive ORT, RTR, and NTV channels from Russia. Their accessibility to the Ukrainian population diminished because of some restrictive policies and this caused concern among the Russian minority. According to the poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation in 2002, only 61 percent (98 percent during the Soviet period) of its respondents had access to Russian television channels.

In 2002, Ukraine launched the project Gromandse Movlennya (Municipal Broadcasting) for TransCarpathia, the western part of the country, to facilitate broadcasting in Roma, Rumanian, Hungarian, and other languages to the ethnic minorities of the area.

In 2000, Verkhovna Rada passed a law On the Establishment of the System of Public TV and Radio Broadcasting in Ukraine. According to the law, the National TV and Radio Company was to provide assistance in creating independent public television and radio company by the year 2002. However, the law did not go into effect due to the struggle for the influence on television and radio between the oligarchs and state structures.

Nearly half of the TV audience (49 percent) prefers to watch news programs produced by the Ukrainian companies, especially the local ones. In 2002, in accordance with polls, TCN, UTN, Panorama, Fakty (Facts ), Reportyor (Reporter ), and ViknaWindows ) were the most popular news programs.

Ukraine has a highly developed system of wire radio broadcasting. However, FM radio stations have received greater development in the recent years.

To stop the violation of rights on intellectual property, which became a problem in post-Soviet Ukraine, the Copy Right Agency was established. In 2002, the agency developed a system of monitoring television and radio programs and signed agreements with five television, four radio companies, and 5,000 individuals on protecting their copyrights. It also plans to open its branches in the regional capital cities.

Electronic News Media

In 2001, according to some expert evaluations, there were over 300,000 Internet users in Ukraine. The development of Ukraine computer networks is dynamic, although its pace is not as fast as in Russia. Fifty percent of the electronic net market is in the capital Kyiv, followed by Donetsk, Dnipropetrovs, Kharkiv, and Odesa. More electronic media can be found in the eastern region and less in the western region of the country. Many electronic news media are owned or controlled by the same oligarchs who own or control other mass media. However, electronic media enjoy greater freedom and independence. The Internet media are more professional, mobile, and diverse, and the forum provides more opportunities for creative journalism. Thus some journalists who find it impossible to work in the state-controlled media eagerly accept offers to work in electronic media.

The electronic media face many problems similar to those of other media. Due to the cost, less than 2 percent of the population has access to electronic media. Electronic media are also confronted by the government's attempts to take control over them via licensing. However, authorities realize that if they introduce such control, then the electronic media will abandon the domestic servers for the foreign ones, and the state will lose control. Electronic media have yet to become a major actor on the political arena, especially at the local rural level.

The country's significant Web sites include the Sputnik Media Group (, which is a part of the KP Publications company. Sputnik Media owns two electronic newspapers, and , both of which have gained acknowledgment as serious publications. The Internet newspaper, Ukrainsa Pravda, (Ukrainian Truth ; is considered an opposition publication. It became popular after the murder of its first editor H. Gongadze. The newspaper is sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, Vidrozhdennya Foundation, and Soros Foundation. ForUm (, UA Today (, Mignews (, Avanport (, Komp-Partiya, Proekt (, ProUA (, and Versii ( also maintain influential Web sites.

The online press has received a significant impetus for its development in the 1990s and 2000s with the international assistance. For example, Sapienti, a Ukrainian-U.S. online journal, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and IREX in 1998, publishes information on a variety of social, cultural, and educational issues in and out of Ukraine.

Education & Training

Ukrainian institutions of higher learning have developed an effective system of preparing journalists and other professionals for the mass media. Their curricula include the comprehensive study of legal, theoretical, and practical components as well as the study of the current world press. However, despite the impressive changes in the curriculum, some basic features of Soviet journalism and especially economic functioning of media remain unchanged. Like other former Soviet republics, Ukraine struggles with the legacy of the Communist journalism and its ethics. The most popular institutions that train mass media professionals are located in the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Dnipropetrovsk.

In the Soviet Ukraine, most of the journalists received their education at the College of Journalism of the Kiev University. The College was the major venue for getting a job as journalist. After Ukraine became sovereign, the University was renamed the T. G. Shevchenko National University, and the College was transformed into the Institute of Journalism. The Institute graduates 140 to 150 new journalists every year. However, 70 percent of them find a job in fields unrelated to media. The graduates of other majors from Ukrainian universities also join the media core.

There are over 30 organizations that claim to defend the rights of the journalists and other media professionals. The largest is the Natsionalńa Spivka Zhurnalistiv (National Union of Journalists), which became a member of the International Federation of Journalists in 2002. In 2001, during the parliamentary election campaign, a group of journalists created the Commission on Journalist Ethics. The journalists were disappointed with the way the National Union of Journalists represented and defended their interests in the government and public organizations and were also worried by the lack of professionalism among journalists. The Commission adopted the Code of Journalists for Clean Elections signed by 100 journalists and editors of national and regional press to secure objectivity in covering and informing people about Verkhovna Rada election campaign. However, some members of the commission became candidates for the parliament or joined some political parties' campaigns, thus making the commission's work less effective. When voters rejected most of the candidates heavily advertised by media during the 2002 parliamentary elections, the crisis of trust for media on the part of the general public became evident. The members of the commission learned their lesson and resumed their efforts in promoting principles of unbiased coverage of events in the press. They also planned to combat what they called dirty technologies used by some journalists and reporters who intruded into private lives of individuals they wrote about.

The Association of Employees of Mass Media unites professionals from other sectors of media business. Ukraine inherited the Soviet traditions of remunerating mass media professionals. The highest of them is The Honored Journalist of Ukraine award granted by the President of the country on the national Journalist Day or the Day of Radio, TV, and Communication Employees holidays. The Ukrainian journalists also celebrate the World Press Freedom Day. Ukraine is a member of the Association of National Information Agencies of the Commonwealth of Independent States.


From 1991 to 2002, Ukraine achieved numerous accomplishments in democratizing mass media by adjusting to the free market rule, introducing electronic press, and educating critically thoughtful journalists. The country adopted the constitution and several laws that guarantee freedom of speech, information, and press, and protection from censorship. The greater variety in state and private media is better equipped to meet the needs and interests of the country's diverse population. Opposition media came out of hiding or was created to criticize authorities including the President. Journalists became more active in obtaining and delivering information. Themes and topics once forbidden by Communists for public discussion, as well as classified and commercial advertising found its way onto the pages of newspapers, television screens, and radio waves. People also began to receive access to international print, television, and radio sources.

Overall, however, the situation with media is sometimes described as "revolution unfinished." Mass media in Ukraine reflect the perils of the period of transition from Communism to democracy and from state-owned to free market economy, which are typical of many East European countries and former Soviet Union republics. The consequences of the dismantling of Soviet structures and economic recession exposed Ukraine to numerous challenges and problems. The intellectuals express concerns about the decrease of the analytical materials and the disproportionate increase in entertaining and sensational information. The future of mass media and the quality of journalism depend upon the competition among various influential, political, financial, and industrial clans which unfortunately is accompanied by corruption and crime as numerous parties struggle for control over print, television, radio, and electronic media.

To be truly free, mass media must gain independence from financial oligarchs, industrial magnates, parties, and state control in order to create structures that will lobby media interests in government and in Verkhovna Rada.


Khrushevsky, Michael. A History of Ukraine. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1970.

Kuzio, Taras. Ukraine: State and Nation Building. New York: Routledge, 1998.

Nahailo, Bohdan. Ukraine Resurgence. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.

Reid, Anna. Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997.

"Soviet Ulkraine." Ukrainian Soviet Encyclopedia. Kiev: Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian S.S.R., 1969.

Szporluk, Roman. National Identity and Ethnicity in Russia and the New States of Eurasia. Vol. 2. New York: M. E. Sharp, 1994.

Tismaneane, Vladimir. Political Culture and Civil Society in the Former Soviet Union. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharp, 1995.

Wanner, Catherine. Burden of Dreams: History and Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998.

Grigory Dmitriyev

Arina Dmitriyeva

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukraine." World Press Encyclopedia. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukraine." World Press Encyclopedia. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukraine." World Press Encyclopedia. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from





Ukraine is situated in Eastern Europe. It shares borders with Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland to the west; Belarus to the north; Russia to the north and east; and Romania and Moldova to the south. It also has a coastline of 2,782 kilometers (1,729 miles) on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The total border length of Ukraine is 4,558 kilometers (2,832 miles) in length. The country's total area is 603,700 square kilometers (233,000 square miles), making Ukraine about the size of Texas. The capital of Ukraine is Kiev, which is located in the north-central region of the country and is also the largest city in Ukraine with a population of 2.6 million.


The total population of Ukraine was estimated at 48,760,474 in July 2001. The most notable recent demographic trend has been the decline in population. According to the Human Development Report (HDR) of 1996, the total population of Ukraine in 1994 was estimated at 51.7 million people. Hence, since 1994, the population has dropped by more than 3 million people, or more than 5 percent. According to estimates of July 2001, the population growth rate is-0.78 percent, the birth rate is 9.31 birth per 1,000 people, and there is a high mortality rate of 16.43 deaths per 1,000 people.

In 2001, 17.3 percent of the population was younger than 15 years, 68.57 percent was between the age of 15 years and 65 years, and 14.13 percent were over 65. The life expectancy at birth of the total population is 66 yearsfor males it is 60.62 years, and for females it is 71.96 years. The total fertility rate is 1.29 (which is below replacement level), and the infant mortality rate is 21.4 (per 1,000 children born). The leading factors of the country's low fertility are environmental pollution, poor diet, widespread smoking and alcoholism, and deteriorating medical care.

The ethnic distribution among the Ukrainian population is 73 percent Ukrainian; 22 percent Russian; 1 percent Jewish; and 4 percent are of other ethnic groups. The major religious groups are the Ukrainian Orthodox under the Moscow Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Orthodox under the Kiev Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox, the Ukrainian Catholic (Uniate), Protestant, and Jewish. The official state language of the Ukraine is Ukrainian, but in 1991, the Law on National Minorities gave individual citizens the right to use their ethnic language, and ethnic groups may establish their own schools. Other languages spoken in the Ukraine are Russian, Romanian, Polish, and Hungarian. However, potential students have to pass a Ukrainian language test, which is seen as a form of discrimination by the Russians.


As a former member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Ukraine was once deeply integrated into the former Soviet economy, particularly in the agricultural and military industries. Ukraine's fertile black soil accounted for an estimated one-quarter of Soviet agricultural output. Its farms provided substantial quantities of meat, milk, grain, and vegetables to other republics. Similarly, Ukraine's diversified heavy industry supplied equipment and raw materials to industrial and mining sites in other republics of the former USSR. Ukraine was the second most important economic component in the former Soviet Union.

Since gaining independence in 1991, Ukraine's economy has contracted substantially. The gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen steadily over the past decade, and only recently has it begun to rebound. Overall, Ukraine's GDP fell more than 60 percent since it declared independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991. However, these official figures overstate the fall in output, since the informal economy has been expanding beyond the reach of government regulations and taxes. Estimates for the informal sector or black market (whose economic activities are unregulated and untaxed) economy range as high as 60 percent of the total GDP.

As in the Soviet days, the government remains the dominant player in the economy. It still pays subsidies to the agricultural, transport, telecommunications, and housing sectors. These subsidies are paid to keep full employment , and the slow speed of privatization allocates substantial resources to state-owned enterprises, which are still quite prevalent in the economy. In 1999, government expenditures were $8.8 billion.

The year 1998 saw moderate economic growth of 0.2 percent in the first half of the year. However, financial crises in both Asia and Russia had a strong influence on Ukraine's economy, and the GDP decreased by 1.9 percent by the end of 1998 and then by 0.4 percent in 1999. Buoyed by a significant real devaluation of the hryvnya in the wake of the Russian crisis, Ukraine's economy started to show signs of a new recovery in late 1999. In 2000, GDP grew 6.0 percent from 1999, with the highest growth rates achieved in import-substituting (textiles and food) and export-oriented industries (metallurgy and chemicals).

The nation's major industries are coal and electric power, ferrous and nonferrous metals, machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, and food-processing. Ukraine also has considerable agricultural exports. These include grains, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, vegetables, beef, and milk.

Over the past several years, inflation has been low, prices liberalized , and the currency, the hryvnya, relatively stable. The country's continual decline in industrial production has slowed down in recent years. The greatest economic achievement of the government has been to bring inflation down progressively from the hyperinflation of 1993when inflation rose to 10,000 percent (making the currency essentially worthless)to 10 percent in 1997. Inflation was even lower during the first half of 1998, but prices rose sharply in late 1998 after the steep drop in the Russian ruble led to a significant (though more modest) depreciation of the Ukrainian hryvnya. Total inflation for 1999 was 20 percent, and for 2000, 25.8 percent. In February 2000, the exchange rate was about 5.59 hryvnya per U.S. dollar.

The first 3 years of privatization, from January 1995 to January 1998, resulted in the selling off of 45,000 small businesses and 8,000 larger enterprises. By 2000, more than 67,000 enterprises had been privatized, including more than 7,000 medium- and large-scale industrial enterprises. For small-scale enterprises, privatization is virtually complete. The sale of larger enterprises has been slowed by a lack of supporting legislation for privatization, resistance from some local authorities and the management of large enterprises, and extensive parliamentary opposition. The main opposition to further privatization is the belief that such programs will result in higher unemployment.

Corruption is one of the biggest problems plaguing Ukraine's economy. According to the U.S. State Department, corruption is present in much of Ukraine's government, judiciary, and law enforcement, with no meaningful work being done to eradicate it. Such problems have been a major impediment to increased foreign investment.


On August 24, 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine declared its independence, and the political system underwent rapid changes. Ukraine became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a loose confederation of countries that were formerly states of the Soviet Union. In 1991, the first democratically elected President of Ukraine was the former chairman of the Communist Party, Leonid M. Kravchuk. He stayed in office until July 1994, when he lost the election to former Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma.

Ukraine has a parliamentary democratic government with separate executive, judicial, and legislative branches. The head of state is the president, who nominates the prime minister. The president is elected for a 5-year term. The prime minister must be confirmed by the parliament. The 450-member parliament initiates legislation, ratifies international agreements, and approves the budget. Its members are elected to 4-year terms. On June 28, 1996, Ukraine adopted a new constitution. The Constitution adopted a multi-party system, and legislative guarantees of civil and political rights for national minorities.

There are 8 major organized political forces in Ukraine. First, there is the Communist Party of Ukraine or Komunistychna Partiya Ukraine (KPU). The KPU is the strongest organized political force. It opposed the Ukrainian Constitution of 1996 and most economic reforms. They are supporters of closer ties with Russia. The second major group is the Popular Rukh of Ukraine or Narodny Rukh Ukraine (Rukh), established in 1989, which draws its support from the intelligentsia (the intellectual and professional class) and some political elites. Third, there is the Socialist Party (SP), which was established in 1991. The SP advocates for more state control of the key economic sectors and closer ties with Russia and the CIS. The SP formed a faction with the leftist Peasant Party, which was established in 1992.

The fourth main party is the Green Party (GP). Formed in the early 1990s, the Green Party supports environmentally-friendly policies, an overhauling of Ukraine's tax system to better accommodate business and consumer interests, and Ukrainian neutrality in most foreign policy matters. The People's Democratic Party (PDP) is the fifth major political group. The PDP advocates economic reform, including a reformed tax system, an improved climate for investment, integration into the world economy, and privatization and land reforms. They favor strong relationships with both Russia and the West. Hromada, established in 1993 by a group of former Communists is the sixth main group. They strongly oppose economic reforms.

The seventh significant political group is the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), who split with the SP in 1997. They are anti-reform and are among the hard left of the political spectrum. The PSP want to rebuild a Soviet Socialist Ukraine, abolish the presidency, and establish closer ties with Russia and Belarus. They also oppose cooperation with NATO and international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The eighth and final faction is the Social Democratic Party (United) or SDP(U). The SDP(U) supports a "socially-oriented market economy," using market economics to generate resources for better social protection, the state-supervised sale of land, and closer ties with both Russia and the West.

The level of taxation is moderate when compared with that of the nations of Western Europe and slightly higher than tax rates in the United States. The maximum personal income tax rate is 30 percent. Corporate taxes range from 20 to 30 percent depending upon the size of the company's profits. Employers also must pay social security taxes for their employees. These include the Social Insurance Fund, Pension Fund, and Employment Fund. These social security taxes are equal to an estimated 47.5 percent of wages and dramatically increase labor costs. For instance, for each worker earning $10 per hour, an employer would have to pay $10 in wages and $4.75 in taxes or $14.75 per hour. In addition to taxes on wages, Ukrainians must pay high taxes on the purchase of goods and services. This tax is known as the value-added tax (VAT) and the standard VAT rate is 20 percent. The VAT is charged on the majority of goods and services except insurance, reinsurance, and education. Ukraine also has high taxes on imported goods. These import duties range from 5 to 200 percent and there are excise taxes that range from 10 to 300 percent.

Ukraine's foreign debt stood at $12.6 billion in 2000. The largest amount is owed to Russia and Turkmenistan, primarily for past trade credits of gas deliveries, which have been rescheduled into long-term state credits. Ukraine owed approximately $5.07 billion to international financial institutions and bilateral export credit agencies.

Ukraine is a net recipient of foreign aid. In 1998, the IMF provided $2.2 billion to Ukraine. Since the mid-1990s, Ukraine has received an average of $500 million annually in aid. The European Union (EU) and the United States are the main providers of aid. The nation's large external debt ($12.6 billion in 2000) and continuing deficit are a drain on the Ukrainian economy. In proportion to GDP, Ukraine's debt is about twice that of comparable countries in Europe. In 2000, the deficit was 5 percent of GDP and required 3.5 percent of total GDP to make payments on the debt.

In 1999, the nation spent $500 million in defense outlays. Overall, military spending accounts for 1.4 percent of GDP. The Ukrainian military numbers approximately 500,000. In its effort to establish closer ties with the West, Ukraine joined NATO's Partnership-for-Peace Program. Ukrainian troops have joined in joint exercises with NATO and contributed troops to NATO's peace-keeping mission in Bosnia.


Ukraine enjoys an extensive though aging infrastructure that has received much government attention in the 1990s. The transport network of Ukraine is dominated by railways, which total 23,350 kilometers (14,510 miles). It also has 273,700 kilometers (170,077 miles) of highways, 86 percent of which are paved. In 1990, the total length of navigable waterways was 4,499 kilometers. (2,796 miles).

There is a comparably well-developed air transport communication system in Ukraine. In 2000, there were 718 airports, 114 of which had paved runways. The main international airport is at Kiev and the nation's main airline is Air Ukraine. In 1997, about 1.8 million people either landed at or departed from airports in Ukraine.

Ukraine has a powerful merchant and passenger fleet, operating in the basins of the Black Sea and Sea of Asov, and on the navigable rivers. In 1999, the merchant marine included 156 ships that were larger than 1,000 tons. This included 105 general cargo ships, 14 rail carrier vessels, and 11 passenger ships. The nation's main ports are Kerch, Kiev, Odessa, Sevastopol, and Reni.

An expanding array of tele-and radio communications are increasingly available and constantly improving, and new joint-venture companies provide modern technology development in this sphere. According to an estimate by the World Bank (2000-01), Ukraine has 54 daily newspapers (1996), 884 radios (1997), 490 televisions (1998), 191 telephone mainlines (1998), 2 mobile telephones (1998), and 13.8 personal computers (1998) per 1000 people. There are also 5.39 Internet hosts per 10,000 people (January 2000), or a total of 35 Internet service providers

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Ukraine 54 884 490 15.7 2 0.0 13.8 4.56 200
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Russia 105 418 420 78.5 5 0.4 40.6 13.06 2,700
Poland 113 523 413 83.3 50 N/A 43.9 40.86 2,100
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

In the Soviet period, Ukraine was a net exporter of electricity both to former Soviet states, and to Eastern Europe. After independence it became a net energy importer. Overall, Ukraine generated about 158 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in 1999, a 25 percent decline from 212 billion kWh in 1994. According to the World Bank, the electrical power consumption per capita in Ukraine has also drastically declined, from 4,308 kWh in 1990 to 2,449 kWh in 1997. With about 60 percent of Ukraine's electricity generated by fossil fuels (the remaining 40 percent being produced by nuclear and hydroelectric plants), this production decline has been exacerbated by problems in obtaining natural gas, oil, and coal supplies, mostly imported from Russia, who also provides Ukraine with nuclear fuel, for which Ukraine currently owes Russia $800 million. In 1998, Ukraine imported an estimated 344,000 barrels of oil per day and almost 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Ukraine's 5 nuclear power plants, with a capacity of 12.8 giga-watts (nearly one-quarter of the country's total capacity), generate around 70 billion kWh of energy (more than 40 percent of the country's power output). The construction of 2 new reactors (capacity 2 gigawatts) is in its final phase. In June 2000, Ukraine's nuclear power plants generated more than half of the nation's total electricity output, the first time that has happened since 1996, despite the fact that 5 of the nation's 14 nuclear reactors, with 24 percent of national capacity, were inactive in June. The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident cast serious doubts about the safety of nuclear reactors in Ukraine and their ability to meet the long-term power needs of the nation.

Another factor which has harmed the nation's electrical sector, next to import and capacity problems, has been the growing number of defaulting electricity consumers. A report in mid-1996 stated that 40,000 businesses owed the electric companies some $1 billion in energy bills, representing 30 percent of the electricity consumed in the country. Also, about 35 percent of Ukrainian families receive their electricity free by law. Largely as a result of this situation, the Ukrainian Ministry of Power Engineering and Electrification has described itself as bankrupt.


Ukraine's economic sectors are diverse, but in need of new capital and investments to compete with sectors in the West. Due to the country's rich soil, agriculture accounts for a large percentage of GDP. Ukraine was once the breadbasket of the Soviet Union. Agriculture, including forestry and fishing, accounted for 14 percent of the total GDP in 1999. Industry, including mining, manufacturing and construction, accounted for 34 percent in the same period. Meanwhile, trade and other services accounted for 51 percent. The country's labor force in 1999 totaled 25 million people. The share of the labor force in industry, agriculture, and services in 1996 was 32 percent, 24 percent, and 44 percent, respectively.


Ukraine is blessed with rich farming and forestry resources. According to the Statistical Year Book of Ukraine (1996), about 71 percent of the country's surface (41 million hectares) was used for agricultural activities. About 80 percent of the agricultural area is arable land, two-thirds of it the agriculturally rich "black soil" (chernozem). The primary food harvest products are barley, maize, potatoes, rice, soybeans, sugar beets, and wheat. The primary meat products are beef and veal, lamb, pork, chicken, horse, and rabbit. In terms of value, the largest agricultural exports in 1998 were refined sugar, raw sugar, beef and veal, sunflower seed, and fish. The total value of agricultural exports in 1998 estimated $1.898 billion. The total value of agricultural imports in 1998 was $999 million. The largest single crop produced in 1999 was potatoes at 15.4 million metric tons. The number-two crop was sugar beets at 13.89 million metric tons, followed by wheat at 13.47 million metric tons. The main livestock product was beef and veal with 786,000 metric tons, followed by swine with 668,000 tons, and chicken with 194,500 tons.

In recent years, agricultural production has declined drastically because of a decrease in the number of tractors and combine harvesters in working order and to the lack of fertilizers and pesticides. According to official data, between 1991 and 1997, the number of tractors in use decreased from 497,300 to 361,000. (In order to operate efficiently, it is estimated that the country would need 515,000 tractors in use.) Similar shortfalls exist for harvesting combines. Between 1990 and 1997, the consumption of pesticides and fertilizers per hectare declined about 78 percent. From 1995 to 1999, crop production declined by an average of almost 10 percent per year, while livestock production declined by an average of 9 percent per year. These shortfalls in agricultural inputs reflect declining investment in agriculture, and feed directly into declining production.

Under communism, agricultural lands were held by the government and worked by the people, who owned no land. Privatization planned to shift most such land into the hands of individuals and farming collectives (jointly held farming cooperatives). By August 1995, the transfer of lands into private hands had begun. Over 8 million hectares of land had been privatized, with plots averaging 5 hectares. By 1996, most of the agricultural land in Ukraine was in collective and private hands, although 40 percent was still owned by the government. Household plots and private farms accounted for about 15 percent of the Ukrainian territory and they filled an important role in the delivery of products to the marketplace.

In general, the agricultural sector is experiencing serious internal difficulties, due to the transitional nature of the economy. A new policy and direction for Ukraine's agricultural sector is necessary. Agriculture poses the greatest challenge to the survival of Ukraine's political leaders, because almost half of the Ukraine's population live in rural areas.


Under the Soviet economic system, the Ukrainian industrial infrastructure was based around its rich mineral endowments. Heavy industry and the defense industry were predominant in Ukraine (Ukraine produced almost 25 percent of all Soviet military goods). Sizeable production of steel and pig iron was based on generous supplies of coal and iron ore. Other important heavy industrial products included ferro-alloys, non-ferrous metals, cement, mineral fertilizers, and building materials. Ukraine remains a significant producer of non-ferrous metals, automobiles, and machine tools. With the disappearance of the central command system, the former links between the economic sectors has diminished. The old distribution system has gone and industry cannot rely on regular state subsidies anymore. The Soviet military industrial complex has come to a practical standstill (but is recovering), and links with other former Soviet Republics have diminished. All these factors contributed to a lack of cash in the industrial sector, resulting in a depreciation of the national currency and price inflation.


Ukraine is rich in mineral deposits, including iron ore (of which it once produced 50 percent of the entire Soviet output), manganese ore (of which it produced 40 percent of world output during the Soviet era), mercury, titanium, and nickel.

Ukraine is one of the world's most important mineral producing countries, in terms of both the range and size of its reserves. There are nearly 8,000 separate deposits, harboring some 90 different minerals, of which about 20 are economically significant. About half of all the known deposits are under exploitation. Coal reserves in Ukraine amount to 47.1 billion tons. The annual domestic demand for coal as fuel is about 100 million tons, of which 85 percent can be satisfied by domestic production. Ukraine has oil and gas fields that meet 10 percent of her oil and 20 percent of her gas consumption, respectively. Ukraine contains natural gas reserves of 39.6 trillion cubic feet, but only about 20 percent of the country's demand is met by domestic production. Deposits of iron ore (estimated at 28 billion tons), manganese ore (3 billion tons), chalk and limestone (1.5 billion tons) are also large in Ukraine. The domestic industrial sector suffers from constant energy shortages and energy supply payment debts totaling about $792 million at the end of 1995.


Following independence, Ukraine's manufacturing sector has steadily declined, from 36 percent of the GDP in 1990 to 29 percent of the GDP in 1999. In 1994, the output of light manufacturing decreased by about 34 percent and engineering by 28 percent. Primary production and semi-manufactured goods registered lower output falls in 1995. One of the main results of this has been a move towards primary production in the Ukraine's industrial sector in recent years. Primary production consists of electricity, oil, gas, coal, and steel. This kind of production accounted for 53 percent of total industrial production in 1995, compared to 38 percent in 1990. Ukraine's manufactured goods have suffered greatly through the loss of former Soviet markets. Locally, their generally low quality has made them vulnerable to imports from the EU; at the same time, this low quality diminishes their viability as exports.

Since 1994, Ukraine has significantly increased its arms exports, from $20 million in 1994, to more than $100 million in 1995, to over $1 billion by the end of 1996. Ukraine merged 3 major arms export firms into a single company, Ukrspetsexport, in order to increase competitiveness in what is now its fastest-growing source of foreign exchange. The growth in the arms trade has been the result of the far lower costs of Ukrainian weapons than Western European or American arms.

The underperforming manufacturing sector is thought to be ripe for foreign investment. Growing domestic need for consumer goods , durable goods (appliances, etc.), and machinery, especially agricultural machinery, has encouraged investment across these sectors.


Contrary to the decline of the industrial and agricultural production, the contribution of services to GDP increased from 30 percent in 1990 to 51 percent in 1999. The most prominent segments of the service sector are tourism and financial services. The following services can be classified as relatively developed branches of service sectors in Ukraine: telecommunications services, banking services, advertising and public relations services, legal services, audit and accounting services, and tourism services. But the following service sectors are still quite underdeveloped: engineering, insurance, private health care, and security.

Transportation is another important sector of the services economy. Russia is highly dependent on Ukraine for its transport of gas to Europe. Ukraine has made several proposals in an effort to be included into the energy transport network for Caspian Sea energy resources. The dominant method of transporting goods in Ukraine is by trucks, though deteriorating roads and high fuel costs make trucking expensive.


Since independence in 1991, Ukraine has emerged as the most stable and peaceful country among the former states of the Soviet Union despite all her economic and political crises. Policy makers actively welcomed foreign investors, business people, and tourists. Ukraine is developing as one of the most active and diverse tourist countries in the former Soviet region. The nation offers a broad range and rich tapestry of high level cultural, historical, national-folklore, and environmental tourism. Strategically, Ukraine is situated in immediate proximity to the great tourist centers of Europe and the Mediterranean and is opportunely connected to them by air, railroad and sea transportation routes. The most popular tourist destinations in Ukraine are Kiev, the capital city; the Crimea, which is popular for its warm climate and many spas; and the Carpathian mountains, with their alpine sports, and historic and ethnic cultural sites.

According to the U.S. State Department, nearly 11 million people visited Ukraine in 1999 (down from 12 million in 1998 and 14.6 million in 1997). Ukraine received over 6.2 million foreign tourists, placing Ukraine in the top 25 most visited countries of the world. The share of the tourism sector to GDP was estimated at 8.6 percent ($3.8 billion) in 1998. In Crimea alone, proceeds from tourism make up to 40 percent of the Crimean government budget.

Ukraine's tourist industry has great potential to develop into a major source of foreign exchange generation by the 2000s. In view of Ukraine's critical need to develop viable hard currency in the economic sectors, the government and tourist industry are seeking to upgrade hotel and resort facilities to high international standards, in order to maximize the long-term potential of the industry and sufficiently harness the nation's diversified tourist market and to try to attract foreign investors.

The high number of tourists has not led to a high level of tourist services, however. As of 2001, Ukraine still lacks a major international hotel. Most tourist services lay in the hands of owners connected to local political bosses, who have sought to keep control of this sector by excluding outside investment. Of all visitors, 75 percent arrive from Russia. Russians' low service expectations have kept Ukraine insulated from the relatively higher expectations of Western tourists.


The financial sector is relatively undeveloped in Ukraine. According to the report of the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, there are a variety of problems in this sector: setting up service projects requires legal endorsement; there is rampant corruption in the licensing and administrative approval process; the payments system is antiquated, with most Ukrainians having neither bank accounts or credit cards; and legal recourse in collecting on unpaid services is almost non-existent.

The Ukrainian banking system includes the central bankthe National Bank of Ukraine (NBU)and an assortment of commercial banks. NBU responsibilities consist of monetary circulation, registration and oversight of commercial banks, and intervening in the currency market. As of January, 203 banks were registered in Ukraine, of which 165 banks are in actual operation, including 30 backed by foreign capital, and 9 with 100 percent foreign capital. With the exception of 2 state-owned banks,

Trade (expressed in millions of US$): Ukraine
exports Imports
1994 10304 10748
1995 13316 16052
1996 14440 18639
1997 14232 17113
1998 12636 14675
1999 11581 11846
SOURCE: United Nations. Monthly Bulletin of Statistics (September 2000).

Oshchadbank and Ukreximbank, the banks are joint-stock companies or limited liability companies.


Ukraine's trade is still heavily oriented towards the CIS and especially to Russia. Its major trading partners are CIS countries, the EU nations, Central Europe, China, and the United States. Most imports of oil and gas are from Russia and Turkmenistan, while imports of technologies are mainly from Western countries. Exports, which are minimal for a developed country, consist mainly of raw materials and agricultural goods.

In 2000, exports totaled $14.6 billion and imports totaled $15 billion. Ukraine's main export markets are in Russia (24 percent), the European Union (30 percent), and the United States (5 percent). Its main importers are Russia (42 percent), the European Union (29 percent), and the United States (3 percent).

Ukraine remains interested in bilateral trade and economic cooperation with Russia and the CIS, but is careful to pass up any larger political or security relationship. As an Associate Member of the CIS, Ukraine has rejected all attempts to transform the CIS into a supra-national organization. As a result, Ukraine has refrained from joining the Russia-Belarus Union, the CIS Customs Union, and the Payments Union. However, mindful of the preference for bilateral relations with the CIS countries, in March 1998, Ukraine and Russia concluded an Interstate Economic Treaty.

Under the trade provisions of the PCA (EU-Ukraine Partnership and Co-operation Agreement), trade between Ukraine and the EU is in theory free of most restrictions. In practice, trade in steel and textiles are subject to special taxation schemes, and Ukraine is subject to actual or prospective EU anti-dumping measures for a variety of products, including silicon, carbide, and magnesium. (Anti-dumping measures keep a country from flooding the market with a product that it can produce much more cheaply than its competitors.)

Progress on an EU-Ukraine free trade zone most likely will not get underway until Ukraine is admitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Ukraine is continuing negotiations with the WTO on the basis of its initial offer and revised service offer. The EU supports Ukraine's eventual entry into the WTO, but does not believe that Ukraine yet meets the conditions for membership. WTO membership is an issue on which the United States and the EU consult and co-operate, as affirmed in the Joint Statement on Ukraine released at the December 1997 U.S.-EU summit.


In 1996, Ukraine introduced the hryvnya (UAH) as a new national currency. The greatest success in regards to the economy has been the stabilization of the national currency. The hyperinflation (10,000 percent) of the early 1990s has been reduced to less than 20 percent. However, the hryvnya continues to depreciate in value. This is caused by the Asian and Russian financial crises of the late 1990s on the one hand, and Ukraine's current financial uncertainties and instability on the other. The value of the currency stood at UAH1.8295:$1 in 1996, but by February 2000, the value had slipped to UAH5.59:$1. The hryvnya lost 75 percent of its value to the dollar in 1999 alone. The hryvnya was badly affected by a fuel crisis in July 1999, when gasoline prices doubled over 1 week after imports from Russia declined. Price inflation reached about 25 percent by the end of 1999. The country's currency reserves diminished, as a result of trying to prop up the hryvnya. In early 1999, reserves stood at $2.34 billion, and by mid-1999 were reduced to $860 million. In order to shore up the hryvnya, in September of the same year the government decreed that Ukrainian banks had to keep at least 75 percent of their currency holdings in the national currency. After protests, the government relented and decreased the amount to 50 percent.

In 1991, legislation was enacted that created the nation's first stock market. By 1999, the market, known as the PFTS (the Ukrainian Broker/Dealer Association and Over-the-Counter Trading System), had 125 companies

Exchange rates: Ukraine
hryvnia per US$1
Jan 2001 5.4331
2000 5.4402
1999 4.1304
1998 2.4495
1997 1.8617
1996 1.8295
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].
GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Ukraine N/A N/A N/A 1,979 837
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Russia 2,555 3,654 3,463 3,668 2,138
Poland N/A 2,932 2,819 2,900 3,877
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

listed with a market value of $1.121 billion. The PFTS has an electronic trading system that is responsible for about 95 percent of all trades and investments. The PFTS is constrained by widespread public suspicion and mistrust and by inadequate trading and regulatory laws.


For the majority of people, the standard of living has deteriorated since independence. According to the World Bank (2000-01), as much as 31.7 percent of the population was below the poverty level in 1995. However, by 1999, the CIA estimated that 50 percent of the population lived below the poverty level, which is based on an income of $50 per month. The average wage is 60 to 80 dollars per month, and for most, payment is delayed for several months. Wage arrears are an all too common feature of daily life. Because companies have seen their output in 1999 decrease to less than 40 percent of the 1991 level, they often have a difficult time paying their employees on time. Ukraine's GDP per capita has declined from $1,979 in 1990 to $837 in 1998. It is similar to the former Soviet States of central Asia and Caucasus and to many African and Middle Eastern countries.

For the majority of the population, the transition from the Soviet period has meant a catastrophic decline in living standards. According to the official government statistics, the cumulative decline measured in national income

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Ukraine
Lowest 10% 3.9
Lowest 20% 8.6
Second 20% 12.0
Third 20% 16.2
Fourth 20% 22.0
Highest 20% 41.2
Highest 10% 26.4
Survey year: 1996
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

was about 60 percent between 1991 and 1999. Hence, someone earning the equivalent of $1,800 in 1990 only earned a salary comparable to $600 in 1999. In the same period, the average standards of living declined by about 80 percent. Pensioners and retirees were the most affected by these declines.

At the same time, several indicators show that the health status of the Ukrainian population has deteriorated in the years after the independence. Life expectancy at birth has decreased from 70 years to 67.7 years, with a greater fall in males (who reached 62 years) than in females (73 years). Life expectancy is 10 years shorter than the population of the EU. In addition, infant mortality has increased since 1989 and in 1998 was 17 per 1,000 live births. The lack of clean water is a big problem in Ukraine, resulting in disease and early deaths. Contagious diseases in Ukraine are cholera, dysentery, typhoid, hepatitis, and AIDS. Radiation from the now-closed Chernobyl nuclear power plant is also posing serious difficulties to the Ukrainian population.


The country's labor force in 1999 totaled 25 million people. The official unemployment rate in 1999 was 4.3

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All Food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Ukraine 34 5 16 6 4 14 22
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Russia 28 11 16 7 15 8 16
Poland 28 4 19 6 1 8 34
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

percent, though this number is thought to significantly underestimate a large number of unregistered or unemployed workers. The minimum wage is $21.70 and the minimum pension for retirees and those on public assistance is only $4.70. The average wage is $41.60 per month. The very low wages paid in the country mean that many Ukrainians must work second or third jobs. Because many such jobs are in the informal sector, the wages and production earned there are not accounted for in government statistics. Some estimates conclude that the informal economy may be as large as 70 percent of the formal economy.

The Labor Code (the body of laws which govern labor standards, working conditions and wages) provides for a maximum 40-hour work-week, one 24-hour day of rest per week, and at least 24 days of paid vacation per year. The minimum employment age is 17 years. In certain non-hazardous industries, however, enterprises may negotiate with the government to hire employees between 14 and 17 years of age, with the consent of one parent.

Ukrainian law contains occupational safety and health standards, but these are frequently ignored in practice since there is little enforcement of the laws. Because of limited funding, there are few officials to inspect workplaces and the labor laws only provide minor punishments for violations (therefore many employers find it more affordable to pay the fines rather than upgrade working areas to meet government standards). In 1999, 913 people were killed and over 47,000 injured in accidents at work. Under the law, workers have a legal right to remove themselves from dangerous work situations without jeopardizing continued employment. However, many workers fear that if they leave their job they will not be able to find another.

Ukrainian workers have the right of association, and the right to organize and bargain collectively. Although officially they have these rights, the government is actively trying to stop the workers of some economic sectors from using these rights, such as in the nuclear industry. Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by the Ukrainian constitution, however, there are some forms of compulsory labor. For example, the common use of army conscripts and youths in the alternative service for refurbishing and building private houses for army and government officials; also, students, whose studies have been paid for by the government, have to work in the public sector at government-designated jobs for 3 years or more to repay fully the cost of their education.


700s A.D. The Kievan Rus state is created by Norse traders seeking commercial routes to the Middle East.

988. Prince Volodymyr accepts Christianity and begins the process of converting the Kievan state to his religion.

1237-1241. Conquest of Kiev by the Tatars.

1300s. Foundation of the Galician-Volynian principality. which included much of the territory of the former Kievan Rus. Lithuania, Poland, and Turkey begin to occupy regions of Kievan Rus.

1569. Treaty of Lublin between Lithuania and Poland allows further Polish expansion into what is now Ukraine.

1667. Ukraine is partitioned between Poland and Russia.

1793. Ukraine is reunited as part of the Russian Empire.

1917-18. During the Russian Revolution, Communists seize power in Ukraine. Three separate Ukrainian republics declare their independence.

1921. Poland absorbs the western Ukrainian republic, while the Soviet Union absorbs the remainder of Ukraine, making it a Soviet Republic.

1929. In an effort to suppress Ukrainian nationalism, the Soviets undertake a broad campaign which results in the arrests and murder of thousands of intellectuals, and political and church leaders.

1932-1933. In an effort to abolish private farms and force industrialization, the Soviets collectivize farms and force millions to leave their farms and settle on government-owned farms. A famine results and causes the death of an estimated 8 million rural Ukrainians.

1941-1944. Ukraine is occupied by German forces during World War II (1939-45), but returns to Soviet control after the war.

1950s. Forced industrialization reaches its peak as the Soviets try to transform the economy from an agrarian one to one based on manufacturing.

1954. The Crimea region is transferred to Ukraine by Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.

1972. New rounds of Soviet suppression result in the arrests of hundreds of Ukrainian nationalists.

1986. Chernobyl nuclear accident kills 30 and results in an estimated 1,800 cases of cancer caused by radiation exposure.

1990. The Ukrainian government declares national sovereignty.

1991. On August 24, Ukraine declares independence and becomes a founding member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

1994. Ukraine joins NATO's Partnership-for-Peace Program.

1996. The United States and Ukraine agree to a joint investment treaty designed to protect U.S. investors in Ukraine.

1997. Russia and Ukraine agree to a treaty which divides the Black Sea fleet and its bases between the 2 nations. Romania and Ukraine sign a treaty on oil exploration in the Black Sea.


During the 1990s, Ukraine achieved little economic growth, thanks largely to economic mismanagement and inherited structural problems. Some years after the government's "Program of Radical Reforms" in 1994, very little real structural transformation has taken place. The serious economic problems confronting Ukraine are of a deep structural nature and include modest industrial restructuring , inefficient privatization, a heavy state machinery, a narrow tax base, the rise of powerful criminals, controlling parts of the economy, and economic dependence on Russia. These factors have caused a large part of the economy to operate in the informal sector.

While foreign assistance is crucial in the transitional economic process, official flows of assistance in the longer term should be dwarfed by private capital flows if Ukraine creates a more favorable environment for the development of the private sector . Ukraine requires technology, management expertise, and access to international markets that only private businesses can provide. Although Ukraine is taking steps in adapting its trade regime to conform to the World Trade Organization's (WTO) membership requirements, progress is slow and difficult.

Ukraine's history and geography tie it to Russia, but its economic future lies with Western Europe. In order to ensure its integration into Western organizations such as the WTO and the EU, Ukraine has to implement a number of economic reforms. The most pressing of these reforms is continuing privatization and improvements in regulatory laws. Meanwhile, Ukrainian industry must transform itself from the production of primary materials such as steel and energy resources, materials in which Ukraine cannot compete with lower priced manufacturers, to refined or processed materials.


Ukraine has no territories or colonies.


Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Ukraine. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

The Embassy of Ukraine, Washington, D.C. <>. Accessed September 2001.

Kuzio, Taras, editor. Dynamics of Post-Soviet Transformation: Contemporary Ukraine. Armonk, NY, and London: M.E. Sharpe, 1998.

Murphy, Richard W., William Green Miller, et al. Collected Papers: Ukraine in Europe. Centre for Strategic & International Studies: Occasional Report in European Studies, September 1999.

Statistical Yearbook. Kiev: Ministry of Statistics, 1996.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <>. Accessed August 2001.

U.S. Department of Energy. "Ukraine." Energy Information Administration. <> Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Ukraine. <>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2000 Country Commercial Guide: Ukraine. <>. Accessed September 2001.

World Bank. Land Reform in Ukraine: The First Five Years. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1997.

World Bank. World Development Report 2000/2001. New York and London: Oxford University Press. 2000.

Mehdi Parvizi Amineh




Hryvnya. One hryvnya (UAH) equals 100 kopiyok. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 kopiyok, and notes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 hryvnya.


Ferrous and non-ferrous metals, fuel and petroleum products, machinery and transport equipment, and food products.


Oil and gas, machinery and parts, transportation equipment, and chemicals.


US$189.4 billion (2000 est.).


Exports: US$14.6 billion (2000 est.). Imports: US$15 billion (2000 est.).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukraine." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukraine." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukraine." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from





Identification. Ukrainians are the second-largest Slavic group in the world and they form the sixth-largest nation in Europe. They comprise the majority of the population of the Republic of Ukraine, which declared its independence on 24 August 1991. According to the census of 1989, Ukrainians constitute 37.4 million or 72.7 percent of the total population of Ukraine, estimated at 51.7 million people. In addition, there were 6.8 million Ukrainians living in the former republics of the Soviet Union and at least 2 million living in the countries of Europe, the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Ukraine is a polyethnic republic. Over a quarter of its population is not Ukrainian (22 percent are Russians, 0.9 percent Jews, 0.8 percent Belarussians). These groups have played an important role in the economic, political, and cultural development of the Ukrainian nation. Ethnic influences are especially pronounced in multicultural regions (Transcarpathia, Odessa region, Donbass, and the Crimea). Development has occurred in conjunction with the ethnic consolidation of the Ukrainian people, the growth of their national self-awareness, an increase in the social mobility of the population, and the formation of common features of its culture and life-style. The Ukrainian language is used more and more in everyday speech.

A number of state laws have stimulated these changes, in particular the Law on Language, which not only establishes Ukrainian as the national language but creates conditions for the preservation of the languages of all the ethnic minorities (opening of national schools, chairs in universities, radio, optional language instruction), freedom of religion, opening of national communal centers, and so on.

Location. Ukraine is in the southwest of the eastern European plain. It is famous for its beauty and picturesque scenery; its lands, mostly plains, are bounded by the Carpathian and the Crimean mountains on the west and south. The Black and Azov seas wash its southern borders. Its soil is extremely fertile, especially the chernozems. Ukraine is rich in natural resources: there are large reserves of coal (in the Donetsk region) and abundant deposits of iron ore and manganese. Within the Ukrainian "Cristalline Shield" are titanium, nickel, chromium, mercury, aluminum, uranium, chemical resources, and building materials ranging from granite and marble to limestone and fire clay. There are relatively large deposits of oil and natural gas in the Precarpathian and other regions. The Dnieper, Dniester, and the Danube rivers flow through Ukraine into the Black Sea. Neighboring seas that do not freeze have permitted the construction of trading routes; these routes were known to the Vikings, Greeks, Romans, and other peoples of Europe and Asia. During the last decades, however, human activities have harmed Ukrainian lands, causing the impoverishment of the environment, disruption of the ecological balance and, above all, the meltdown of the nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power station.

Demography. Presently Ukrainians are dispersed evenly over the territory of the republic, which, with the exception of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and some industrial regions of the southeast, is noted for the high density of its population (85.6 people per square kilometer). In most regions Ukrainians constitute more than 70 percent of the urban population. The percentage of Ukrainians is even higher in rural areas: in almost all regions, it is over 90 percent.

The growth of cities was accompanied by a decrease in the rural population, especially since the second half of the 1920s. While the urban population of the Ukraine multiplied nearly sevenfold between 1920 and 1991, the rural population dropped from 21.3 million to 16.9 million people (i.e., from 80.7 to 32.7 percent of the population).

These changes were caused by migration and the reorganization of rural villages into urban ones or the merger of rural villages with cities. During the 1970s alone, the urban population of the Ukraine rose by 4.8 million people (2 million as result of natural growth in cities and 2.8 million as a result of reorganizing rural villages into urban ones and migration to cities).

The decrease in natural growth and the demographic losses of the 1930s had a negative impact on the size of the rural population of the Ukraine. At the end of the nineteenth century the birthrate in the Ukraine was one of the highest in Europe7.5 children per woman; in 1989 it was only 1.9 child, which was the lowest of all the republics of the Soviet Union. The drop in the birthrate, which began in the 1920s, is still taking place. Since 1979, moreover, depopulation has also occurred in the rural areas, and thus now affects the entire republic.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Ukrainian language belongs to the East Slavic Branch of the Slavic Stock of the Indo-European Language Family. In the early period of the formation of the Ukrainian nation, the traditions of the literary language of Kievan Rus' were dominant. Alongside the language that grew from local dialects, there was a literary language common to the East Slavs and close to the modern language of South Slavs. Later, when a large portion of Ukrainian and Belarussian lands were part of the Lithuanian principality, a common Ukrainian-Belarussian language began to emerge based on Old Russian. It was used on many written monuments in both nations and played an important part in different spheres of their public life.

In 1989, 40 million people (78 percent of the population) in the Ukraine spoke Ukrainian fluently, 1.5 million more than in 1979. Thirty-two million Ukrainians consider their national language their mother tongue. Tens of thousands of Russians and Poles and a large number of Czechs, Slovaks, Moldavians, and Romanians who live in Ukraine also speak Ukrainian as their primary language. More than 4 million people consider Ukrainian their second language and speak it fluently. In mixed ethnic regions, multilingualism is common. Its extent is determined by the location of the ethnic groups and the duration of ethnocultural contacts. Such factors have also been taken into consideration during the formulation of the Law on Language and its implementation.

In the sixteenth through seventeenth centuries there were two literary languages in the Ukraine: Slavic Russian, resulting from the interaction of Old Church Slavonic and the Old Russian literary language (used mostly in church literature) and the so-called common one based on the Old Russian literary language, which has absorbed much from the Ukrainian language.

The Ukrainian language acquired specific Ukrainian features and retained an internal dialectical division (middle Dnieper, Polessk, Podolsk, Transcarpathian, etc.). These dialects are conventionally classified into three groups: northern, southwestern, and southeastern. The Middle-Pridnieper (Poltava-Kiev) dialects of the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries formed the basis of the modern Ukrainian literary language, which gradually absorbed elements of other regional Ukrainian dialects.

History and Cultural Relations

The ancient history of Ukraine is rich, as the many archaeological remains testify. Kurgans, ancient villages, ramparts, and ruins of castles and monastery walls abound. Here, in the territory of Ukrainian Transcarpathia in the village of Beregovo in the Korolev region, the oldest human settlements in Europeover 6,000 years oldwere found. In the Stone Age, one of the oldest agricultural centers was organized on the lands of Pridnieper.

During the disintegration of primitive society feudal relations began to occur, tribal unions appeared (Polyans, Severyans, Drevlyans, White Croatians, Dulebs, Ulichs, Tivertses, etc.), and later, principalities (knyazhestvas ) formed. Those of Kiev and Novgorod united as one stateKievan Rus'which became one of the most powerful in medieval Europe. In the fifteenth to sixteenth centuries Ukrainian territory expanded owing to the settling of the southwestern outskirts by peasant refugees and the founding of the Zaporozh Cossacksthe settlement of Slobozhanshinain northeastern parts of the Ukraine and neighboring territories. The formation of Ukrainian Cossacks (Zaporozh Sech) stimulated the development of the lower Dnieper and the protection of the southeastern borders. The Sech was a military-administrative organization with broad democratic principles, self-government, and distinctive cultural features. It is likely that the Cossacks played a major role in the shaping of Ukrainian national identity.

The Ukrainian ethnic group consists of three components. The first is the main settlement of Ukrainians that generally coincides with the territory in which the Ukrainian ethnic group formed, the present administrative borders of the republic, and the regions of dense Ukrainian settlement beyond these borders. The second component encompasses Ukrainians who live outside the main ethnic settlement and who are territorially separated from itboth elsewhere in the former Soviet Union and abroadas a result of increasing migration since the end of the nineteenth century. Recently, the word "diaspora" has been used in reference to these people. The subcultural groupsethnic groups within the Ukrainian nation that have distinct cultural features (Gutsuls, Lemks, Boyks, Polyshuks, etc.)comprise the third component.

The ratio of the size of the main settlement of the Ukrainians to the diaspora communities changes continually. From 1917 to 1989 the percentage of Ukrainians within the modern borders of the republic fell from 85.6 to 81 percent. Of the total number of Ukrainians, the percentage living in other countries of Europe rose from 6.6 to 11.1 percent. At the same time, the percentage of Ukrainians living in North America rose from 0.6 to 3.1 percent. The overall decrease in the number of Ukrainians in the world during this periodfrom 57,398,000 to 46,136,000 peoplewas caused by a number of factors, including the absence of a separate state and Ukrainian political disunity within different countries, great losses from wars that took place in the Ukraine, famine, and other demographic factors. Beyond the borders of the republic the total number of Ukrainians has decreased significantly as a result of the policy of national and territorial demarcation of Soviet republics in the beginning of the 1920s. At that point, large concentrations of Ukrainians, numbering in the millions, were left outside the borders of the Ukraine in the neighboring regions of Kuban, the northern Caucasus, Priazov, the central Chernozem region, and elsewhere.

The above-mentioned ethnic groups of Ukrainians differ in the level of their social and economic development and in other aspects. Under these circumstances, ethnic self-consciousness becomes very importantas long as it persists, the group continues to exist. A change in Ukrainian self-consciousness occurred in two spheres: the ethnogenetic one (i.e., starting from the onset of the Ukrainian nation they transformed their name from "Rusks" to "Ruthens" to "Ukrainians") and the spatial or territorial one, which developed as a consequence of their ethnic history.

The main formative centers of the Ukrainian nation were Middle Prednieper, the right bank of Kievshina, Periaslavshina, and Chernigov-Sivrshina. It was here that the name "the Ukraine" (meaning the "land" or "country") was established in the twelfth century, a term that afterward spread to incorporate the whole area of Ukrainian settlement and that became the cultural ethnonym. Almost until the seventeenth century (and in the western Ukrainian regions until the last decades), the older East Slavic names for the land and the people"Rus'," "Ruska land," "Rusks," "Ruthens," and otherswere still used.

The many interpretations of the origins of the Ukrainians can be coalesced into two general theories. The first, emerging from Russian historiography and promulgated in the former Soviet Union, postulates that Ukrainiansas well as the other Eastern Slavs-Russians and Belarussianscome from a single proto-Russian nation ("common cradle") that was part of the feudal state of Kievan Rus (ninth through twelfth centuries). Feudal relations, according to this theory, led to the breakup of this state and resulted in new economic, political, and cultural centers as early as the second half of the twelfth through the thirteenth centuries; specific conditions led to the formation of the three East Slavic groupsRussians, Ukrainians, and Belarussians. During the development of the Old Russian nation, the most important cultural characteristics evolved, common to all East Slavs; their common name ("Rusks") was preserved as well as a consciousness of their common origins and close ethnic ties. The Old Russian nation was a complex of local languages and cultural traditions, which later played a differentiating role in the formation of East Slavs. Unfavorable events abroad and destructive invasions temporarily slowed the economic and political development of ancient Russian lands and even exacerbated their feudal disunity. Within these ancient Russian lands, it was in the southwest that the early history of Ukraine began, in the territories of the Kiev, Peryaslav, Chernigov-Siversk, and Galician principalities. Adherents of the common cradle theory date the onset of the Ukrainian nation to the end of the fourteenth or the beginning of the fifteenth century. At this time the ancient Russian state had already broken into separate feudal principalities; northwestern Russia (Rostov-Vladimir, Suzdal, and {later} Moscow) played a decisive role in the formation of another East Slavic nationthat of the Russians, which became more powerful.

An ethnogenic theory of Ukrainian ethnicity based on autochthonous origins has been put forward in the twentieth century and has been gaining support. The theory was proposed by M. Grushevsky, a historian of the twentieth century. He considers Ukrainians direct descendants of the most ancient population of the territory that is now Ukraine, from which Russians and Belarussians subsequently separated and formed distinct nations. The existence of a single Old Russian nation is denied, as is the disintegration of one common Slavic unity into three ethnically separate East Slavic countries. On the basis of this, Grushevsky dates the history of the Ukrainian nation back to the fourth, not the twelfth, century and links Ukrainians with the East Slavic tribes, Ants. The anthropological, psychophysical, linguistic, and other features of Ukrainian culture are explained by this differentiation.

According to the ethnogenic theory, the earliest name for Ukrainians was "Ruthens," which in the tenth through twelfth centuries was used only for Ukrainians, and later by other East Slavs. The northeastern group, however, adopted the general name "Russians" in the original meaning of "governed by Rus'."

Subgroups of Ukrainians have formed over the centuries, and they retain certain distinctive cultural features. The best known among them are the Ukrainian highlanders (Gutsuls, Lemks, and Boyks); in western Ukraine, the Polishuks, Pinchuks, and Litvins; and in the Ukrainian marshland, the Polesye. Lemks live in the northwestern regions of Transcarpathia and some regions of neighboring Poland. They got their name from using the particle lem (only) in their speech. A theory of the origin of the names "Lemks" and the neighboring "Boyks" has recently been proposed that suggests that the names were taken from "Lemko" (hypothetically, the founder of a kindred or a tribal leader). Some researchers make a connection between the origins of the Lemks and the tribes of White Croatians, the majority of whom, in the sixth through seventh centuries, moved from the Carpathian region to the Balkans. There are questions about the origin of the name "Gutsuls"; the people of this subgroup are noted for the distinctive features of their life-style and are famous for their craftsmetalwork, pottery, and rug making. Some link it with the Romance term guts (bandit), which originated in connection with a mass upheaval of "national avengers" (oprishky ) in the seventeenth through eighteenth centuries. Others trace the word back to kochul (shepherd), or tie it to the Old Russian tribe of Ulichs.

The "Litvins"in the past an ethnonym of a group of Ukrainians widespread in the marshlands of the Ukraineare associated with political and state relations of the twelfth through sixteenth centuries, when this part of the Ukraine belonged to the Lithuanian principality; the name "Polishuks," first noted in seventeenth-century documents and maps, denotes the Ukrainian and Belarussian population within the marshland Polesye.

Certain names of groups of people, unities, and collectives reflect complex ethnogenetic processes. These are tuteyshie (local) names of separate groups in Polesye and Volin that do not have a defined ethnic identity. "Cherkasy," a name popular in official Russian documents of the sixteenth through seventeenth centuries, was used for a large segment of the Ukrainian population of the middle Pridnieper, the Zaporozh Cossacks in particular. Some researchers associate it with the city of Cherkasy, around which there were many Cossack settlements, others with the northern Caucasian Adygs, Black Klobuks, and other Turkish-speaking peoples. At least as late as the second half of the seventeenth century the Sevruksdescendants of the ancient tribes of the Silver land, who inhabited the valleys of the Desna, Seim, and Sula riversmaintained their own name and distinctive culture. It is believed that they played a role in the formation of the Eastern Slavs and that they are genetically related to the "severa" of the manuscripts.

As noted above, the old name for Ukrainians, "Ruthens," is still popular in western Ukraine. According to the latest Ukrainian laws in those regions, such as Transcarpathia, this name may be used in defining ethnic origins. Some names of Ukrainians are etymologically related to religious factors: "Latinniks" (Ukrainians who adhere to the Roman Catholic religion, classified with the Ukrainian-speaking Poles), "Kalakuts" (groups of Kholmshina and Podlashie who adopted Roman Catholicism and Polish self-awareness but retained Ukrainian as their language), "Volokhs" (the Orthodox population of Bukovina, both the Roman- and Ukrainian speaking).

In the past, there were smaller ethnographic groups among Ukrainians. In the last decades the number of such groups has decreased and their members have tended to assimilate into neighboring groups. The majority of them, such as the Opolyans, Nistrovyans, Sotaks, Pidgoryans, and others in the regions of the western Ukraine, were actually local groups with some unique cultural features rather than distinct ethnic groups. Nowadays regional peculiarities of culture more or less exist alongside a gradual spreading of common customs and beliefs brought about by the ethnic consolidation of the Ukrainians.

In the past, interethnic relations in the Ukraine were influenced by a variety of factors, especially the political disunity of the territory; Ukrainians lived in several countries (Poland, Austria-Hungary, Russia) and were thus dependent on the rulers of these nations (Russians, Poles, Austrians, Romanians, etc.). Often relations between nations were determined by the social statuses of groups in the population; thus, interactions between the enslaved Ukrainians and the ruling ethnic groups (Germans, Bulgarians, Greeks, Serbs, etc.) were difficult. At the same time, comembership in a social-status category led to much interethnic contact (between Ukrainians and Moldavians, for example). Mixed marriages were common among such groups, which were linked by common economic and political interests.

There are some tensions between the Orthodox and Greek Catholic churches in the western regions, and between the Moscow Patriarchy and the Orthodox church in Ukraine, although, officially, by the decision of the council of the Russian Orthodox Church of 25-27 October 1990, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was granted independence.

Currently, a policy encouraging autonomy for all ethnic groups, regardless of their nationality, religion, or language, has been officially declared and is being implemented. All the parties and social groups support these ideas. The Law on National Minorities adopted in 1992 grants all citizens of Ukraine equal civil, political, social, and economic rights and freedoms, including national and cultural autonomy, education in the native language, the creation of national cultural societies, and so on. Any direct or indirect restrictions of the rights and freedoms of citizens based on ethnicity are prohibited and punishable. In the referendum held on 1 December 1991, more than 90 percent of the population, including the majority of representatives of all the ethnic groups living in Ukraine, supported the idea of national independence.


The founding of most of the settlements in the Ukraine and their subsequent growth were influenced by agricultural and industrial requirementsincluding the relative potential of the land to be cultivated, the availability of transportation routes and water resources, the landscape, and the nature of the soil. Villages are located along rivers, lakes, or ravines or dried-up riverbeds.

The following types of village plans may be distinguished, depending on the type of construction and the arrangement of streets, squares, and houses: clusters, unplanned-dispersed, and by row and by street. The oldest settlements in the Ukraine were near rivers. A village that grew out of a single household might develop without any plan at all. Villages like this were the most common in the Ukraine. Later, buildings were constructed in a row along rivers or roads, eventually to be expanded with planned streets. Beginning with the end of the eighteenth century, state controls often stipulated that villages in the steppes be built with streets and blocks and that the streets be straight and the blocks rectangular.

The names of settlements in the Ukraine come from a variety of sources. The oldest names are of Iranian, Fracian, Illirian, Baltic, and Old Germanic origin. Most of the Old Russian and medieval names are connected with properties of the environment or the activities of an individual. The names that were introduced during the Soviet period were not indigenous. Usually they were part of Soviet propaganda and symbolism. As a result, such names as Zhovtneve, Pershotravneve, Proletarskoe, Pionerskoe, Lenino, and Lenino Pervoe appeared on the map; now they are being replaced.

Traditional Ukrainian life-styles and family structures were closely connected with the village territorial community, the gromada, which developed in ancient times. In the Middle Ages it was called kop and was the local unit of government. The spread of a commodity-money economy and serfdom contributed to the disintegration of this form of community organization, although at different rates in different regions of the Ukraine. With the gradual shift from collective to private forms of ownership and the replacement of feudalism with capitalism, the gromada's economic basis was completely undermined. By the beginning of the twentieth century most households in the Ukraine were privately owned. There were, however, residues of traditional communal patterns, which figured prominently in the organization and democratization of the peasantry and in its struggle for its rights. These included a system of legal traditions and norms, a tradition of communal use of land and mutual assistance in labor-intensive work (toloka, supryaga ), recreation for youth connected to their labor (vechornitsy, dosvitky ), and a system of ethics.

The most common types of dwelling consist of three parts and have four pitched roofs, either of straw or reed; these are typical in regions with well-developed agriculture. The interiors of Ukrainian household conform to a remarkably uniform plan: the stove (pech ) faces the long wall, the table is diagonally opposite it in the corner where the icons are placed, and the flooring where the family sleeps is behind the stove. This uniformity is also found in the tradition of double-sided whitewashing of walls and bright decorative painting.


Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Ukraine is one of the largest agricultural nations in the world. A favorable natural environment allowed the evolution of complex farming systems, which have existed there since the fourth through sixth centuries b.c. There were various methods of utilizing the soil, of growing crops, and of collecting and processing agricultural produce. Today the major crops are cereal grains, sugar beets, and potatoes. Ukraine also has a large industrial sector centered on steel, chemicals, machinery, vehicles, and cement.

Ukrainian agricultural tools and practices were original, in particular the heavy Ukrainian plow, different ways of growing and preserving crops, and the means of transportation (mazha of the Chumaks, chovni {the boats of Zaporozhie}, Carpathian rafts).

Apart from agriculture and cattle breeding, great attention was traditionally given to subsidiary forms of production (fishing, hunting, and apiculture), as well as to household craftsmanship. Also prominent were the woodworking industry (making barrels, sleighs, and carts); building construction; fiber (flax, hemp); wool processing; pottery; glassmaking; stone-and metal forging; stone-, metal-, and leatherwork; and the salt industry. Traditional industries are today being restored.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, because of the industrial development of the Ukraine (especially in large cities and industrial centers of the south), powerful combinations and syndicates were coalescing, social stratification of the society sharpened, and mobility increased. Different types of property that appeared in the past years have radically changed the industrial and social relations and life-styles of Ukrainians.

Clothing. The traditional national Ukrainian costume has prominent features that vary from region to region. Embroidery displays wide local stylistic variation but everywhere exemplifies picturesque design and clear composition. The national outfit, consisting of a shirt, waist garments, and seasonally varying ornamentation for the shoulders, reflects highly sophisticated techniques of producing handwoven fabrics and extensive experience in creating and decorating clothes.

Food. The cuisine of Ukraine is well known beyond its own borders. The fare includes huge wheat breads, curd or fruit dumplings (varenikis ), plain dumplings, (galushki ), vegetable dishes (especially the famous Ukrainian borscht made with more than twenty ingredients), potato and bean dishes, dairy products (including various cheeses, especially Carpathian ones), and all kinds of fruit and berry liqueurs. Traditional features encompassing the structure of meals, mealtime, ceremonial and everyday food, traditional dishes, and customs connected with cooking and eating have been firmly retained in modern Ukrainian crusine.

Trade. Ukrainians have always been traders. Domestic trading gradually came to be concentrated in cities. The most important trading routes known since ancient times are the Salt, Chumak, and Iron, which stimulated foreign trade. The river way "from the Vikings to the Greeks" played an extremely important role in this activity; it was formed in the ninth century and connected the Baltic and Black seas. In the early feudal period, shops and organizations of craftsmen and traders appeared in Ukrainian cities. At the end of the seventeenth century, guilds of craftsmen and traders were begun; these had a clearly hierarchic social structure (masters, apprentices, etc.), regulations, and unique symbols. In the regions of the western Ukraine that had belonged to Poland since the nineteenth century, there has been a process of strong social differentiation among the population, including both the Polish and Ukrainian populations.

Kinship, Marriage, and Family

Domestic Unit. The large extended family is the oldest family form in the Ukraine. It was composed of several generations and was characterized by a collective household and common property. Relations in the family were regulated by norms of common law, and the head of the family saw to it that they were observed. The relatively early formation of commodity-money relations (sixteenth to seventeenth centuries) and, subsequently, serfdom, caused Ukrainian families to disintegrate at a faster rate than in Belarus and Russia, although in some regions (Carpathia, Left Bank) traces of extended families were present in the nineteenth century. Most dispersed into separate households (dims). From the eighteenth century to the present, the small, nuclear family of parents and children has been the primary type.

Certain features of extended families were retained in the nuclear family: the bridegroom paid the wedding expenses, marriages were sanctioned by the traditional legal settlement, men controlled the family, the head of the family maintained his special role, and so on. The modern Ukrainian family has fewer children than did the traditional family. The number of ethnically mixed marriages has increased, especially in the cities.

Marriage. Many traditional customs are in evidence in family life and in the celebration of family holidays. These include the lavish wedding ceremony, its traditional foods, and the custom of uniting the bride with the bridegroom. There are no wedding ceremonies without the trial music (violin, tambourine, and dulcimer). The Ukrainian wedding ceremony retained features peculiar to it alone, both in the ceremony itself and in the overall character of the wedding, which reflected unique aspects of the Ukrainian family. Patriarchal traces were less pronounced in Ukrainian than, for example, in Russian weddings. The Ukrainian wedding did not have wedding lamentations of the bride; she neither covered her head with a scarf nor tearfully beseeched her father not to give her away into a strange family. In some regions, as noted by the sixteenth-century French author Beauplan, the woman took the initiative during the engagement. Before the nineteenth century there was a custom that, as a sign of rejection, the young woman gave the proposing party a pumpkin. This is the origin of the expression "to get a pumpkin" (i.e., to get rejected). In modern Ukrainian weddings, there are many regional differences regarding beliefs, magical gestures, traditional food, the degree to which archaic traits are retained, and the role of the parents in the wedding ceremony. In modern marriages the prewedding cycle and the wedding ceremony itself are shorter, although some traditional elements (e.g., the repertoire of songs) are retained. Especially in the cities, some forgotten traditions (folk symbols, elements of humor, the wedding bread) are reappearing. Customs connected with the birth of a child were more common in the Ukraine than in Russia or Belarussia, especially the rite of purification and customs symbolizing the acceptance of a child into the family.

Inheritance. In certain regions of the Ukraine (Left Bank, the south, Slobozhanshina), the father's property was traditionally distributed evenly among all the members of the family, including the daughters. In the Right Bank regions, where the traditions of the Lithuanian state were maintained, women's inheritance was restricted but even there a woman had the right to personal property and materizna that part of the land that was inherited through the female line of the family. The latter is considered unique to family relations in the Ukraine.

Traditions, public morals, and norms of common law determined inheritance practices. For example, unmarried people inherited less. In the marriage contract the amount of the bride's dowry, which consisted of a trunk and cattle, was specified, as were the bridegroom's ransom and the parents' and relatives' donations. In most parts of the Ukraine a son-in-law who was accepted into a family with no sons was equal with other members of the family in his rights to property. With the advent of capitalism the role of parents in the management of family relations decreased.

Kinship Terminology. The extensive kinship terminology reflects the ramification of the kinship system: in addition to the usual East Slavic lineal terms for great-grandparent (e.g., pradid {grandfather}), there are terms for in-laws (e.g., machukha {mother-in-law}) and other affines, depending on the linking spouse (e.g., svekor {husband's father}, tesha {wife's father}), including the husband's brother's wife (yatrov ).

Religion and Expressive Culture

Rational knowledge acquired throughout centuries played an important part in the life of Ukrainians. Some of this knowledge, especially in the fields of medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacology, agriculture, meteorology, and astronomy, has been recognized by modern science. In folk medicine, this includes the use of plants and medications of animal and mineral extraction as a preventive treatment, physiotherapy (compress, massage, bath), folk methods for back problems, and so on. The same is true about the system of common lawancient legal traditions that determined relations between people and their behavior. Among the Carpathian highlanders, for example, methods of electing the head of the highland gromada (deputy), conditions of collective cattle breeding and distributing the produce, as well as paying the sheperds, were mainly indigenous.

Religious Beliefs. In the past, Ukrainians held cosmogonic concepts about the origins of the earth and the universe and personified natural phenomena. Nature was perceived as a living world inhabited by magic powers, and humans were a fundamental part of it. There were also ancient totemistic and animistic concepts about the life of plants, animals, and the environment. Fire and its purifying power were very important in the beliefs and superstitions of the Carpathian highlanders in particular. Pagan cults were dominant before Christianity was adopted in Kiev Rus'. Along with the deification of natural phenomena and stars, ancient Slavs created a multitude of gods, the most powerful among which were the gods of the sky (Svarog), the sun (Dazhbog), the wind (Stribog), and fertility and cattle breeding (Veles).

Beliefs related to evil forces, demonic creatures of forests and water, and the power of people endowed with magical capabilities date to antiquity. Christianity has coexisted with different pre-Christian ideas (beliefs in magic, evil eye, etc.). Although these beliefs have mostly lost their original meaning, they retain a certain aesthetic appeal or serve as entertainment.

The most important folk morals have always been respect for and love of free labor, ideals of kindness, beauty, and knowledge of one's genealogy and civil duties; negative features such as drunkenness, laziness, insincerity, robbery, and stinginess were condemned. According to folk conceptions of the world, a human was an inalienable part of nature. Even age was associated with the seasons of the year (childhood with spring, youth with summer, etc.). From early childhood, a Ukrainian was taught to value singing, folk poetry, and his or her land.

At least by the second century b.c., Christianity was widespread in Ukrainian lands, although it was officially adopted only in 988 under Prince Vladimir to replace paganism as the official religion. The Kiev metropolis was under the canonical jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople, and since the 1680s, under the patriarch of Moscow. After the Brest Unia (1596) and the unification of the Orthodox church with the Vatican under the condition of preserving the Eastern ritual, the Ukrainian population of the western regions comprised the Uniats or the Greek Catholics. The Russian czars and later the Soviet regime banned the Greek Catholic religion and repressed others many times. In 1946 the Lwiw church council decided to abolish the Brest Unia and return to Orthodoxy. After independence and the declarations of freedom of conscience and religion, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic church and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church (which was legalized within the period 1920 to 1930) were restored.

Alongside these religions the so-called Rodnaya Ukrainskaya Natsionarnaya Vera has become widespread in Ukraine; it was born within the Ukrainian communities of the United States and Canada about thirty years ago and it worships nature and a single god of nature, Dazhbog.

Ceremonies. Ukrainians have created an original folk calendarcycles of social agricultural festivities and traditions, symbolizing the beginning and end of industrial labor. The most popular holidays are Christmas, Shrovetide, and Easter. New Year and Christmas carolsshedrivkas and kolyadkas were original. In the eastern Ukraine carols were sung with a star, in the western Ukraine with a vertep a box in the form of a multistoried house with the help of which different puppet shows of a religious or secular character were shown. Ukrainians celebrated spring holidays more frequently than other East Slavs. There are picturesque festivals at the end of the harvest and, in the Carpathian Mountains, at the return from the alpine pastures.

The so-called Soviet holidays and traditions created after the October Revolution have not become very popular because of their artificiality. These were usually celebrated formally and almost never recognized, although some of them, based on traditional customs (the holiday of the first haystack), are still celebrated.

Arts. Ukrainian folk art is distinct and extensive. In choreography there are round dances and dances that mimicked everyday activities, the famous gopak among them. The best known musical instruments are the stringed kobza and bandura, and they accompany the singing of the dumas (folk epics glorifying heroic deeds of the people). Professional music in the Ukraine was formed mostly on the basis of folk music. High professionalism is seen in church music both in one-and two-part singing. The development of professional theater was influenced greatly by the concepts of the folk puppet theater (vertep ). Various forms of folk art continue to evolve on the basis of centuries-old folk experience. In Dniepropetrovsk Province, for example, painting under glaze on ceramic tiles is as common as before, pre-Carpathian folk artists are successfully adapting the traditions of decorative carving and etching in wood, and those from Lwiw are making difficult kinds of glass. Ukrainian decorative art (fabric prints, bright rugs, wooden objects, ceramics, paintings, and murals) is popular in many countries, and the best works of Ukrainian artists have received international awards.

In the last few decades, many forms of western European culture have become popular among Ukrainians, and many folk traditions that fell into disuse during the Soviet era are being revitalized.

Death and Afterlife. The complexity of funeral customs relates to the cult of ancestors and the necessity of ensuring a successful transition of the dead "soul" into the world of ancestors. Death brought about a change in the behavior of people and the use of cultural markers (a white sheet was hung out, young women let their hair down, men did not wear any headgear). In the funerals of unmarried young men and women, wedding customs are observed. Since death is not considered the end of existence but a transition into a new state, it is not perceived as a tragedy, which explains why funerals are accompanied by various games. After the funeral, as well as on the ninth and fortieth day after death, commemorative feasts are held.

See also Ukranian Peasants


Alien, W. E. D. (1941). The Ukraine: A History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Beauplan, Guillaume Le Vasseur (1990). La description d'Ukranie de Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan. Edited and annotated by Dennis F. Essar and Andrew B. Pernal. Ottawa: Presses de l'Université d'Ottawa.

Friedberg, Maurice (1991). How Things Were Done in

Odessa: Cultural and Intellectual Pursuits in a Soviet City. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.

Krawchenko, Bohdan, ed. (1983). Ukraine after Shelest. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta; Downsview, Ontario: University of Toronto Press.

Lewytzkyj, Borys (1984). Politics and Society in Soviet Ukraine, 1953-1980. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta; Downsview, Ontario: University of Toronto Press.

Marples, David R. (1991). Ukraine under Perestroika: Ecology, Economics, and the Workers' Revolt. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan.

Mirchuk, I., ed. (1949). Ukraine and Its People: A Handbook with Maps, Statistical Tables and Diagrams. Munich: Ukrainian Free University Press.

Putro, Aleksei I. (1988). Levoberezhnaia Ukraina v sostave Rossiiskogo gosudarstva vo vtoroi Polovine XVIII Veka: Nekotoryi voprosy sotsiaslno-ekonomicheskogo i obshchestvenno-politicheskogo Razvitiia (Left-bourgeois Ukraine in the composition of the Russian state in the second half of the 18th century: Some questions on socioeconomic and labor-political development). Kiev: Vyshcha Shkola.

Santsevych, A. V. (1984). Ukrainska radianska istoriohrafiia, 1945-1982 (Ukrainian historiography, 1945-1982). Kiev: Vyshcha Shkola.

VSEVOLOD IVANOVICH NAULKO (Translated by Olga Beloded)

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukrainians." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukrainians." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukrainians." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from


Ukraine (yōō´krān, yōōkrān´), Ukr. Ukraina, republic (2005 est. pop. 47,425,000), 232,046 sq mi (601,000 sq km), E Europe. It borders on Poland in the northwest; on Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova in the southwest; on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov in the south; on Russia in the east and northeast; and on Belarus in the north. Kiev is the capital and largest city.

Land and People

Drained by the Dnieper, the Dniester, the Buh, and the Donets rivers, Ukraine consists largely of fertile steppes, extending from the Carpathians and the Volhynian-Podolian uplands in the west to the Donets Ridge in the southeast. The Dnieper divides the republic into right-bank and left-bank Ukraine. In the north and northwest of the country is the wooded area of the Pripyat Marshes, with gray podzol soil and numerous swamps; wooded steppes extend across central Ukraine; and a fertile, treeless, grassy, black-earth (chernozem) steppe covers the south. The continental climate of the republic is greatly modified by its proximity to the Black Sea.

Ethnic Ukrainians make up more than three fourths of the population; Russians constitute around 17%, and there are Belarusian, Moldovan, Polish, Jewish, and other minorities. More than half the population is urban. The official language is Ukrainian. Many speak Russian as a first or second language, especially in E and S Ukraine. The majority of those practicing a religious faith belong to a branch of Orthodox Christianity—either to the Ukrainian (formerly Russian) Orthodox Church, which is subordinate to the Russian patriarch, or to one of two independent Orthodox churches that are headed by Ukrainian patriarchs and have attracted Ukrainian nationalists. Separate from both is the smaller West Ukrainian Catholic Church (also known as the Uniate or Greek Catholic Church), which in 1596 established unity with Roman Catholicism but was forced by the Soviet government in 1946 to sever its ties with Rome; these ties were reestablished in 1991, and the church experienced a revival.


One quarter of the workforce is employed in agriculture. Ukraine's steppe is one of the chief wheat-producing regions of Europe, and the area was long known as the "breadbasket of the Soviet Union." Other major crops include corn, rye, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, and flax.

Ukraine possesses numerous raw materials and power resources, and its central and E regions form one of the world's densest industrial concentrations. The heavy metallurgical, machine-building, and chemical industries are based on the iron mines of Kryvyy Rih, the manganese ores of Nikopol, and the coking coal and anthracite of the Donets Basin. The Dniprohes dam powers a hydroelectric station and has made the Dnieper navigable for nearly its entire length. The region also produces titanium, nickel, zinc, mercury, oil, natural gas, and bauxite.

Ukraine's main industrial centers are Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya, Makiyivka, Mariupol, and Luhansk. Odessa is the principal Ukrainian port on the Black Sea. Although mainly agricultural, W Ukraine has significant petroleum centers at Drohobych and Boryslav, natural gas at Dashava, coal industries at Novovolynsk, and rich salt deposits. Lviv is the cultural center and the main industrial city in W Ukraine. Zhytomyr and Vinnytsya are the main agricultural centers. The republic's leading industrial products include machinery and transportation equipment, ferrous and nonferrous metals, chemicals, building materials, fertilizers, and consumer goods. Food processing, notably the refining of sugar, is also a major industry. In spite of its many resources, Ukraine must import large quantities of natural gas and oil. Steel, petroleum products, machinery, and processed foods are exported. Russia is by far the largest trading partner; others include Germany, Turkmenistan, and Turkey.


Ukraine is governed under the constitution of 1996. The president, who is the head of state, is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The government is headed by the prime minister, who along with the cabinet is named by president. The unicameral legislature consists of the 450-seat Supreme Council (Verkhovna Rada), whose members are elected to serve five-year terms. All parties that win at least 3% of the national vote in the parliamentary election are awarded seats on a proportional basis. Administratively, Ukraine is divided into 24 provinces or oblasts, two municipalities with oblast status (Kiev and Sevastopol, the latter occupied and annexed by Russia and in 2014), and one autonomous republic (Crimea, similarly annexed in 2014).


Early History

In ancient times a major part of present-day Ukraine was inhabited by the Scythians (see Scythia), who were later displaced by the Sarmatians (see Sarmatia). Early in the Christian era, a series of invaders (Goths, Huns, Avars) overran the Ukrainian steppes, and in the 7th cent. the Khazars included much of Ukraine in their empire. The Ukrainians themselves can be traced to Neolithic agricultural tribes in the Dnieper and Dniester valleys.

The Antes tribal federation (4th–7th cent.) represented the first definitely Slavic community in the area. In the 9th cent., a Varangian dynasty from Scandinavia established itself at Kiev. Having freed the Slavs from Khazar domination, the Varangians united them in the powerful Kievan Rus. The land and people of Ukraine formed the core of Kievan Rus.

Following Yaroslav's reign (1019–54), which marked the zenith of Kiev's power, Kievan Rus split into principalities, including the western duchies of Halych (see Galicia) and Volodymyr (see Volodymyr-Volynskyy and Volhynia). These and the rest of the western region, which included Podolia, had separate histories after the conquest of Kievan Rus (13th cent.) by the Mongols of the Golden Horde.

In the mid-14th cent. Lithuania began to expand eastward and southward, supplanting the Tatars in Ukraine. The dynastic union between Poland and Lithuania in 1386 also opened Ukraine to Polish expansion. Ukraine had flourished under Lithuanian rule, and its language became that of the state; but after the organic union of Poland and Lithuania in 1569, Ukraine came under Polish rule, enserfment of the Ukrainian peasants proceeded apace, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church suffered persecution. In 1596 the Ukrainian Orthodox bishops, confronted with the power of Polish Catholicism, established the Uniate, or Greek Catholic, faith, which recognized papal authority but retained the Orthodox rite. Meanwhile, the Black Sea shore, ruled by the khans of Crimea, was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire in 1478.

The Struggle for Autonomy

The term Ukraine, which may be translated as "at the border" or "borderland," came into general usage in the 16th cent. At that time, Poland-Lithuania and the rising principality of Moscow, or Muscovy, were vying for control of this vast area south of their borders. The harsh conditions of Polish rule led many Ukrainians to flee serfdom and religious persecution by escaping beyond the area of the lower Dnieper rapids. There they established a military order called the Zaporizhzhya Sich ( "clearing beyond the rapids" ). These fugitives became known as Cossacks or Kozaks, an adaptation of the Turkic word kazak, meaning "outlaw" or "adventurer." In 1648 the Cossacks, led by Hetman Bohdan Chmielnicki, successfully waged a revolution against Polish domination.

Ukraine, however, was too weak to stand alone, and in 1654 Chmielnicki recognized the suzerainty of Moscow in the Treaty of Pereyaslavl. By the terms of the treaty, Ukraine was to be largely independent; but Russia soon began to encroach upon its rights (the czars contemptuously referred to the Ukrainians as "Little Russians," as contrasted with the "Great Russians" of the Muscovite realm). Through a treaty with Poland in 1658, Ukraine attempted to throw off Russian protection. The ensuing Russo-Polish war ended in 1667 with the Treaty of Andrusov, which partitioned Ukraine.

Russia obtained left-bank Ukraine, east of the Dnieper River and including Kiev; Poland retained right-bank Ukraine. Hetman Ivan Mazepa, presiding over a diminished Cossack state, sought once again to free Ukraine from Russian domination; he thus joined Sweden against Russia in the Northern War, but their defeat at Poltava by Czar Peter I in 1709 sealed the fate of Ukraine. Mazepa's fall crushed the last hopes for Ukrainian independence and further curtailed Ukrainian autonomy.

The last of Ukraine's hetmans was forced by Empress Catherine II to resign in 1764; the Zaporizhzhya Sich was razed by Russian troops in 1775, and Ukraine, its political autonomy terminated, was divided into three provinces. In 1783, Russia annexed the khanate of Crimea. The Polish partition treaties of 1772, 1793, and 1795 (see Poland, partitions of) awarded Podolia and Volhynia to Russia, thus reuniting left-bank and right-bank Ukraine; E Galicia went to Austria.

Colonization of the steppes proceeded apace in the 19th cent., and in the 1870s the great Ukrainian coal and metallurgical industrial region was established. Despite a Russian ban on use of the Ukrainian language in the schools and in publications, a movement for Ukrainian national and cultural revival blossomed in the late 19th cent. There was also renewed agitation for Ukrainian independence and for the union of all Ukrainian lands, including those of Austria-Hungary–Galicia, Bukovina, and Ruthenia (see Transcarpathian Region) under a single state. The Galician Ukrainians, who emerged as a political nationality during the 1848 Austrian revolution, made Galicia a haven abroad for the nationalist movement in Russian Ukraine. This movement was spearheaded by secret educational groups called hromadas, that were repeatedly suppressed by the czar.

Following the overthrow of the czarist regime in 1917, a Ukrainian central council was set up with Mikhailo Hrushevsky as president; in June, 1917, it formed a government with Vladimir Vinnichenko as premier and Simon Petlura as war minister. Originally declaring itself a republic within the framework of a federated Russia, Ukraine proclaimed complete independence in Jan., 1918, after the Bolshevik Revolution.

Soviet troops were sent into Ukraine, but the Central Powers, having acknowledged Ukrainian independence, then overran the territory with their own soldiers and forced the Red Army, through the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (Mar., 1918) to withdraw. The World War I armistice of Nov., 1918, in turn forced the withdrawal from Ukraine of the Central Powers. Meanwhile, with the disintegration of Austria-Hungary, an independent republic in W Ukraine had been proclaimed in Lviv. In Jan., 1919, the union of the two Ukraines was proclaimed; however, Soviet troops immediately occupied Kiev. A four-cornered struggle ensued among Ukrainian forces, the counterrevolutionary army of Denikin, the Red Army, and the Poles. Soviet troops eventually regained control of Ukraine, which in 1922 became one of the original constituent republics of the USSR.

Ukraine and the USSR

Lenin's attempts to assuage Ukrainian nationalism through a measure of cultural autonomy were abandoned by Stalin, who also imposed agricultural collectivization on Ukraine and requisitioned all grain for export. Millions of Ukrainians died in the resulting famine, which became known as the Holodomor [Ukr.,=starvation-killing]. Mykola Skrypnyk and other Ukrainian Communist leaders who opposed Stalinist measures were purged and executed. During World War II, many Ukrainians at first welcomed the Germans as liberators and collaborated with them against the USSR. However, the Nazis' scorn for all Slavs and their harsh occupation (1941–44) of Ukraine turned many Ukrainians into anti-German guerrilla fighters.

The republic suffered severe wartime devastation, esp. as a battleground both in 1941–42 (the German advance) and 1943–44 (the Russian advance). Most of Ukraine's 1.5 million Jews were killed by the Nazis during the war; many were shot outright in 1941, at such sites as Babi Yar (Ukr. Babyn Yar), outside Kiev. During the war Ukrainian guerrillas fought against both Soviet and German forces, and some anti-Soviet resistance continued until 1953.

Several major territorial changes occurred in Ukraine during and after the war. South Bessarabia, recovered from Romania in 1940, was incorporated into Ukraine, while the former Moldavian ASSR was detached from the republic and merged with central Bessarabia as the Moldavian SSR. The northern parts of Bukovina and Bessarabia were added to Ukraine, as was E Galicia, including Lviv, formally ceded by Poland in 1945. Transcarpathian Region, which had been part of Czechoslovakia since 1919, was also ceded in 1945, thus completing the process by which all Ukrainian lands were united into a single republic. Crimea was annexed to Ukraine in 1954. Although Russification intensified in Ukraine (as in other Soviet republics) after World War II, Ukrainian nationalism remained strong.

During the 1960s, Ukrainians emerged as tacit junior partners of the Russians in governing the Soviet Union. Leonid Brezhnev was born in Ukraine and held important party posts there before being called to Moscow. Former Soviet ruler Nikita Khrushchev, although a Russian by birth, served as first secretary of the Ukrainian Communist party during the 1930s and carried out the Stalinist purges in Ukraine. In 1986 one of the reactors of the Chernobyl nuclear power station exploded, contaminating a wide area of Ukraine.

An Independent Nation

The Ukrainian parliament passed a declaration of sovereignty in July, 1990, and in Aug., 1991, declared Ukraine independent of the Soviet Union. Ukraine became a charter member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Dec., 1991. Leonid Kravchuk, a former Communist turned nationalist, became Ukraine's first president. Parliamentary and presidential elections were held in 1994, and Kravchuk was defeated by Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma.

Kuchma implemented a few market reforms, but the economy remained dominated by huge, inefficient state-run companies and did not improve significantly. Ukraine, briefly the world's third largest nuclear power, also ratified the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (1994) and turned its nuclear arsenal over to Russia for destruction (completed 1996); in return, Ukraine received much-needed fuel for its nuclear power plants. The country's economic reforms and cooperation in disarmament helped it gain substantial Western aid and loans.

Tensions continued over the Crimean peninsula, a former Russian territory with a majority Russian population. In 1995, after Crimea challenged the Ukrainian government's sovereignty and threatened to secede, Ukraine placed Crimea's government under national control; its regional assembly, however, was retained. Another contentious issue was the division between Russia and Ukraine of the former Soviet Black Sea fleet, based in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. A basic agreement, under which four fifths of the fleet would fall under Russian control, was reached in 1995, and in 1997 it was agreed that Russia would be allowed to base its fleet at Sevastopol for 20 years.

Communists won the most seats in the 1998 legislative elections. Kuchma was reelected in 1999 after defeating the Communist candidate, Petro Symonenko, in a runoff, and in December Viktor Yushchenko, the central bank chairman and an advocate of market reforms, was chosen as prime minister. In Apr., 2000, voters in a referendum approved constitutional changes that increased the president's powers over parliament.

In Sept., 2000, a muckraking opposition journalist was murdered. When tape recordings implicating Kuchma in his murder and other abuses of power subsequently were aired, Kuchma's support in parliament eroded, and there were demonstrations in early 2001 calling for his resignation. The government refused to investigate the journalist's death and was accused of suppressing press coverage of the incident. The dismissal of Prime Minister Yushchenko in Apr., 2001, by parliament was a blow to reformers; he was succeeded by Anatoliy Kinakh, an ally of President Kuchma. In the Mar., 2002, parliamentary elections Yushchenko supporters won roughly a quarter of the seats, as did supporters of the president. In November, Kuchma dismissed Kinakh as prime minister and appointed Viktor Yanukovych to the post.

Ukraine and Russia signed a treaty in Jan., 2003, that defined their common borders everywhere except in the Sea of Azov. In September, Russia began building a sea dike toward Ukraine's Tuzla island in the Kerch Strait (which provides access to the sea), provoking a crisis; a subsequent accord allowed for joint use of the strait, declared Azov an internal body of water, and called for the delimiting of the Russian-Ukrainian border. Also in September, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia signed an agreement to create a common economic space, but by the time an accord was signed (2009) to establish a customs union Ukraine's relations with Russia had soured and it did not participate.

In Dec., 2003, the Ukrainian supreme court ruled that Kuchma could run for a third term because the election for his first term had occurred before the current constitution took effect. The parliament also approved a constitutional change allowing it, rather than the voters, to elect the president, but opposition and international protests led the legislators to reverse their decision two months later.

The 2004 presidential election appeared to mark a significant turning point for Ukraine, and led to the events known as the "Orange Revolution." The government candidate, Prime Minister Yanukovych, advocated close ties with Russia (and his candidacy was supported by Russian president Putin) while the opposition candidate, former Prime Minister Yushchenko, called for closer ties with the European Union and benefited from increased disillusionment with Kuchma. The October vote resulted in a narrow victory for Yushchenko, who had been poisoned by an unknown assailant during the campaign, but he failed to win a majority, forcing a runoff with Yanukovych. The November balloting was declared a victory for Yanukovych, but both it and the first round were denounced by most observers, who accused the government of holding an undemocratic election. Yushchenko's supporters mounted protests in the streets of Kiev and other W Ukraine cities, where his support was strong. Yushchenko also challenged the results in court. Meanwhile, Yanukovych and his supporters, who were more concentrated in the more heavily Russian east, denounced these moves, and the situation threatened to split Ukraine. Parliament narrowly declared the results invalid, an act with no legal significance, but in December the supreme court annulled the vote due to fraud and called for the runoff to be rerun. Subsequently, the constitution was amended to reduce the president's power to appoint the prime minister and most of the cabinet as part of an electoral reform package.

In late December a new vote resulted in a solid margin of victory for Yushchenko, but the result was not finalized until mid-Jan., 2005, because of legal challenges mounted by Yanukovych. In February Yushchenko appointed Yulia V. Tymoshenko, an outspoken political ally, as prime minister. Seven months later, however, Yushchenko dismissed Tymoshenko's government after conflicts between the cabinet and the presidency and accusations that the president tolerated corruption. The moderate economist Yuriy Yekhanurov succeeded Tymoshenko, but only after the president secured the support of Yanukovych's party by making concessions on investigations into electoral fraud in 2004 presidential election.

A dispute over the price of natural gas purchased from Gazprom, the Russian gas monopoly, led to a stalemate in late 2005. Ukraine had been purchasing gas at very favorable rates under a contract signed before Yushchenko won the presidency, and Gazprom now demanded a higher, market rate. In Jan., 2006, Gazprom halted its Ukrainian shipments, a move that also partially affected some downstream European customers. Although the dispute was soon resolved, the episode was generally regarded as a heavy-handed Russian response to Yushchenko's victory a year before. Opposition parties subsequently won a no-confidence vote against the cabinet over the agreement, but constitutional ambiguities made it unclear whether the vote had any validity or not.

Parliamentary elections in Mar., 2006, resulted in a setback for President Yushchenko, whose Our Ukraine party placed third, behind Yanukovych's Party of the Regions and the Tymoshenko bloc. In April the three former parties of the Orange Revolution—the Tymoshenko bloc, Our Ukraine, and the Socialist party—agreed to form a coalition government, but the agreement shattered in July as both sides disrupted sessions of parliament and the Socialists bolted for a coalition with the Party of the Regions and the Communists. The three parties nominated Yanukovych as prime minister, but the president initially refused to recognize the new coalition on the grounds that, under the law, it had been formed too soon after the Socialists left their previous coalition. Yushchenko and Yanukovych subsequently signed a unity pact, and Our Ukraine joined the three party coalition led by Yanukovych, who became prime minister in August. In October, however, Our Ukraine left the governing coalition and went into opposition. The same month Ukraine signed a deal with Gazprom to import natural gas at below market-rate prices. In December the president and prime minister became locked in disputes over the budget and foreign minister. The president vetoed the budget several times, and after parliament sacked the foreign and interior ministers, the president issued a decree calling on the foreign minister to stay in office. Parliament responded by passing (Jan., 2007) legislation giving it the right to appoint the foreign minister, which the president contested in court.

The struggle between the prime minister and president reached new crisis point in April when the president dissolved parliament and called for new elections. The previous month a number of deputies allied with the president had joined Yanukovych's coalition, despite legal and constitutional provisions that appeared to forbid such a move (only parties are allowed to form coalitions in parliament), but it also represented a threat to the president's power. The prime minister refused to recognize the president's decree, and appealed it to the constitutional court. The events led the parties on both sides to mount a number of large demonstrations. After the president fired several constitutional court judges for misconduct and after mounting tensions, both sides agreed in late May to September elections, but squabbling continued in months preceding the elections.

Although Yanukovych's party won plurality of the seats in the new parliament, the Tymoshenko bloc and the president's bloc together secured a narrow majority. The president's bloc, however, received less than 15% of the vote and less than half the seats of the Tymoshenko bloc, a significant blow to Yushchenko. The Socialist party, which previously had held the balance of power between the president's supporters and opponents failed to receive enough votes to be awarded any seats. In December, the Tymoshenko and presidential blocs formed a coalition government, with Tymoshenko as prime minister, but the subsequent months often saw Tymoshenko and Yushchenko at odds and tensions in parliament between supporters of the two.

The government's desire to begin the process of joining NATO led in early 2008 to confrontations in parliament with the Party of Regions and also provoked strong opposition from Russia. Both reactions contributed to NATO's decision to postpone (Apr., 2008) establishing an action plan for Ukraine's admission. Ukraine again confronted threatened cuts in its natural gas supplies when Gazprom demanded payment of its debts in Feb., 2008; although cuts were averted then, the following month supplies were reduced for several days when the issue again required resolution. In May, Ukraine became a member of the World Trade Organization.

In Sept., 2008, the governing coalition broke up after Tymoshenko's bloc and the Party of Regions joined together to reduce presidential powers; disagreements between the governing parties concerning how to respond to Russia's invasion of Georgia also led to the collapse. After attempts to reestablish the coalition failed, Yushchenko, despite his relative unpopularity, called for early elections, a move that was actively opposed in parliament and the courts in subsequent weeks by Tymoshenko. Ukraine secured a $16.4 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund in November; the money was needed to help stabilize Ukraine's currency and private banking system. Some of the disbursements of the loan subsequently were delayed, however, by the parliament's failure to pass the required budget legislaton. The country's industrial sector, especially in E Ukraine, was also hit hard by the global recession. In December, the governing coalition was finally re-formed, this time with the addition of a third, smaller party.

In Jan., 2009, Gazprom again cut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine; the issues were largely the same as those three years earlier. The cutoff eventually also led to the stoppage of the flow of gas shipped through Ukraine to other European countries, for which Russia and Ukraine each blamed the other. Central and SE European nations mainly were affected by the stoppage. After three weeks and pressure from the European Union a new, ten-year agreement was reached in which Ukraine secured lower current gas prices in exchange for higher future ones; the EU subsequently agreed to make significant investments in Ukraine's gas infrastructure, prompting a negative response from Russia. A drop in energy needs as a result of a slowing economy led Ukraine in late 2009 to seek modifications in its energy agreement with Russia.

Continuing tensions between Tymoshenko and Yushchenko led to the ouster of the foreign minister in Mar., 2009, and the defense minister in June; both posts are presidential appointments. In April, the parliament set the presidential election for Oct., 2009, but Yushchenko challenged the date as too early, and the constitutional court ruled for the president. In June, the vote was rescheduled for Jan., 2010. Also in June, ongoing negotiations between Tymoshenko and Yanukovych finally ended without an agreement. Relations with Russia remained largely sour, with Russian President Medvedev in August denouncing Yushchenko as anti-Russian, an act seen as an attempt to influence the upcoming presidential election. In Sept., 2009, however, Tymoshenko and Putin agreed in principle to reduce, in light of the recession, Ukraine's required gas purchases under the January agreement.

In the first round (January) of the 2010 presidential election, Yanukovych placed first, with Tymoshenko second, but no candidate won a majority, forcing a runoff (February) that Yanukovych won by a small margin (but he again gained less than 50% of the vote). The vote also evidenced Ukraine's continuing divisions, with Yanukovych winning in the predominantly Russian-speaking east and south, while Tymposhenko ran strongly in the Ukrainian-speaking west and center. Tymoshenko subsequently lost a confidence vote in parliament, and Yanukovych's Party of Regions formed a governing coalition with Mykola Azarov, a former finance minister, as prime minister.

In April, in a rapprochement with Russia, Ukraine agreed to extend Russia's lease on the Sevastopol naval base until 2042 in exchange for what were said to be discounts on Russian natural gas, but in 2012 Azarov acknowledged that the deal did not result in discounts. The new government also rejected pursuing NATO membership while seeking to speed progress toward joining the European Union. In Oct., 2010, the constitutional amendments adopted in Dec., 2004, were overturned on the grounds that they had not been approved by the constitutional court; the decision strengthened the powers of the president.

Later in 2010 Tymoshenko and several other members of her former government were arrested and charged with a variety of criminal offenses, leading the European Union enlargement commissioner to warn (Jan., 2011) Ukraine not to use criminal law for political ends. Additional charges were brought in 2011, and in Oct., 2011, Tymoshenko was convicted of abuse of power and imprisoned. In Mar., 2011, former president Kuchma—Yanukovych's one-time political patron—was charged with abuse of office in the 2000 disappearance and murder of an opposition journalist, but the charges were dismissed in Dec., 2011. Tymoshenko's case directly affected relations with the EU in December when the EU held off signing a cooperation agreement with Ukraine because of the belief that the charges against her were politically motivated; increased cooperation with the EU continued to be stymied by the political situation in Ukraine in subsequent months.

During early 2012 there were natural gas transshipment problems from Russia to Europe, and Russia's Gazprom blamed Ukraine; negotiations in 2011 between the two nations over the price of gas and transshipment issues had been inconclusive. Gazprom subsequently rerouted a significant amount of transshipped gas through Belarus, where it controlled the pipelines. In Feb., 2012, Russia banned cheese imports from several major Ukrainian producers, allegedly over adulteration, but the dispute was seen as an attempt to apply political pressure on Ukraine similar to Russian food-related bans involving other nations. In mid-2012 the government enacted a bill making Russian an official regional language in Russian-speaking areas of the country; the law was denounced by the opposition and by advocates of Ukrainian.

In the Oct., 2012, parliamentary elections the Party of Regions won a plurality of the seats, with Tymoshenko's party second. European and other monitors criticized the election campaign as being less fair than previous ones, the voting was married by irregularities, and the vote count took weeks to complete, leading some monitors and opposition figures to charge the government with attempting to steal elections. The Party of Regions formed a coalition government; Azarov again became prime minister (Dec., 2012). In Apr., 2013, two cabinet members under Tymoshenko who had been convicted of abuse of office were pardoned, but the former prime minister was not.

Trade tensions again flared with Russia in Aug., 2013, over Ukraine's trade negotiations with the European Union, but Ukraine ultimately rejected an agreement with the EU and won improved gas rates and loans from Russia. The failure to sign an EU agreement led in Nov., 2013, to antigovernment demonstrations by protesters who favored joining the EU. The protests, which were marked at times by clashes with security forces, continued into 2014; in January Azarov resigned as prime minister.

In February, after a deal to restore the 2004 constitutional amendments appeared to collapse, protests surged in Kiev and elsewhere, and elicited a stronger, more deadly police response. An agreement to end the crisis, keeping Yanukovych in power until December, was rejected by protesters, and he soon lost the support of the parliament and security forces and fled Ukraine. Oleksander Turchynov became acting president, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk prime minister; the parliament repealed the 2012 regional language law, and Tymoshenko was released. The new government discovered the treasury had been looted under Yanukovych and the country was in dire financial straits.

In Crimea, pro-Russian forces seized government buildings, and in closed-door (and reportedly invalid) votes Crimea's prime minister was replaced and a referendum on joining Russia scheduled. Local "self-defense" forces in conjunction with thinly disguised Russian military forces seized key facilities and surrounded Ukrainian bases in Crimea. The March referendum's reported turnout (80%) and result (99% in favor of joining Russia) was implausible given Crimea's political history and ethnic makeup. Russia quickly annexed the region, and the outnumbered Ukrainian military withdrew.

There also was scattered unrest in E Ukraine, especially in Donetsk, and at the same time, Russia massed troops near the E Ukrainian border, ostensibly for maneuvers, but the troops remained there in subsequent weeks. In April there was a more coordinated outbreak of pro-Russian militancy in E Ukraine, primarily in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and Russia issued veiled threats that it might intervene militarily. Russian citizens joined the rebels, some in prominent positions, and arms crossed the Russian border to the rebels. Meanwhile, Gazprom hiked the price it charged Ukraine for natural gas, leading to inconclusive negotiations concerning payments and charges for natural gas; in June, Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Ukraine. In early May Ukraine secured a $17 billion aid package from the International Monetary Fund in return for economic reforms.

Rebels in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions held "referendums" in mid-May that approved self-rule; rebel leaders there then called for union with Russia. Petro Poroshenko, a business executive who had held ministerial posts, easily won election as president in late May; many polling places in SE Ukraine were closed. Government forces began reversing rebel gains significantly in June; also that month, Ukraine signed an association agreement with the EU. A government ceasefire in late June was abandoned after no progress was made toward peace. Government forces subsequently made gains in N Donetsk region, and rebels consolidated their forces around Donetsk city. In August and September Russian forces intervened to reverse the gains and force (September) a ceasefire, but the ceasefire suffered from frequent violations, especially around Donetsk, where the rebels sought to recapture territory. There also were small-scale bombings in a number of Kiev, Odessa, and other Ukrainian cities. More than a million were displaced by the fighting by the end of 2014, with many of those fleeing to Russia, and the conflict led to an economic contraction in Ukraine in 2014.

In July, meanwhile, two parties withdrew from the governing coalition in order to force new parliamentary elections. In the October elections, Yatsenyuk's People's Front and the Poroshenko bloc placed first and second, with pro-Western parties generally making a strong showing; a five-party government with Yatsenyuk as prime minister was formed the next month, and subsequently enacted an austerity program and officially abandoned Ukraine's nonaligned status. Also in October, the EU brokered a deal between Ukraine and Russia to restore gas shipments. The rebels held their own vote in November, which won support from Russia, but was denounced by Ukraine as a violation of the ceasefire agreement. The rebel election led to increased tensions in E Ukraine.

Fighting continued into 2015, primarily around Donetsk and Mariupol. A new peace accord signed in Feb., 2015, called for a cease-fire and other measures, including political decentralization for the rebel areas and restoration of government control over the border (both by the end of 2015). Rebels, however, refused to honor the cease-fire around Debaltseve, a key town between Donetsk and Luhansk, and continued to fight there until they held the town; there also was fighting near Mariupol. Subsequently, the cease-fire was violated by recurring fighting, though on a more limited scale, and Russia was accused of continuing to deploy weapons systems in E Ukraine. In July, 2015, Ukraine suspended Russian gas purchases.


See R. Szporluk, Ukraine: A Short History (1979); O. Subtelny, Ukraine: A History (1988); I. L. Rudnytsky, Essays in Modern Ukrainian History (1988); J. A. Armstrong, Ukrainian Nationalism (3d ed. 1990); P. D'Anieri, ed., Orange Revolution and Aftermath (2010).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukraine." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukraine." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukraine." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from

Ukraine and Ukrainians


Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe, the second most populous among the Soviet successor states and Europe's second largest country after Russia. Its population in 2001 was 48,457,100, with ethnic Ukrainians comprising 77.8 percent of the total. Russians constitute by far the largest ethnic minority in the country (17.3%). Ukrainians are an Eastern Slavic people who speak the Ukrainian language, which is closely related to Russian and uses the Ukrainian version of the Cyrillic alphabet. The capital of Ukraine is Kiev (Kyiv). Geographically, Ukraine consists largely of fertile level plains that are ideal for agriculture. The country's main river is the Dnieper (Dnipro).


Ukraine did not exist in its current territorial form until the twentieth century. In ancient times, different parts of Ukraine were inhabited by the Scythians and Sarmatians, but Slavic tribes moved into the area during the fifth and sixth centuries. During the ninth century, the Varangians, who had controlled trade on the Dnieper, united the East Slavic tribal confederations into the state known as Kievan Rus. During the late tenth century, the Rus princes accepted Christianity and began developing a high culture in Church Slavonic. Scholars, however, believe that modern Ukrainian is a lineal descendent of the colloquial language that was spoken in Kievan Rus. The power of Kievan Rus began declining during the twelfth century, and during the thirteenth it was conquered by the Mongols. After the fall of Kiev, linguistic divergences between the languages spoken by Eastern Slavs in the Ukrainian and Russian lands began to harden.

Indigenous state tradition in the Ukrainian territories was extinguished during the early fourteenth century with the decline of the Galician-Volhynian Principality in the west. During the second half of this century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a rising Eastern European empire at the time, annexed virtually all the Ukrainian lands except Galicia, which was claimed by Poland. But the East Slavic lands preserved considerable autonomy, and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania even adopted the local Ruthenian language as its state language. This changed in 1569, when the dynastic union between Lithuania and Poland evolved into a constitutional union. The indigenous nobility gradually became Polonized, cities came to be dominated by Poles and Jews, and the local peasantry was enserfed and exploited. In 1596 a crisis in the Orthodox Church and pressure from Polish Catholics prompted the majority of Ukrainian Orthodox bishops in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to sign an act of union with Rome, resulting in the creation of the Uniate Church and a religious rift between the Orthodox and Uniate churches. From that time, social grievances of the Ukrainian lower classes coalesced with religious and national anxieties.

These growing tensions found their expression in the Cossack rebellions. The Cossacks were a class of free warriors that emerged during the sixteenth century on Ukraine's southern steppe frontier. Although originally employed by Polish governors to defend steppe settlements against the Crimean Tatars, the Cossacks, many of whom had been peasants fleeing serfdom, identified with the religious and social concerns of lower-class Ukrainians. In 1648 a large Cossack revolt turned into a peasant war. Led by a disgruntled Cossack officer named Bohdan Khmelnytsky, the rebels, who had secured Tatar support and had seen their ranks swelled with peasant recruits, inflicted several crushing defeats on the Poles. Khmelnytsky, who had been elected the Cossack leader, or hetman, and calling himself a defender of Orthodoxy and the Ruthenian people, soon began building a de facto independent Cossack state. Looking for allies against Poland, in 1654 Khmelnytsky concluded the Pereiaslav Treaty with Muscovy; the significance of this treaty remains a subject of controversy.

Whether it was intended as a temporary diplomatic maneuver or a unification of two states, according to the treaty, the Cossack polity accepted the tsar's suzerainty while preserving its wide-ranging autonomy. In the long run, however, the Russian authorities gradually curtailed the Cossacks' self-rule and, by the late eighteenth century, had established their direct control of Ukraine. The last serious attempt to break with Russia took place under Hetman Ivan Mazepa, who joined Charles XII of Sweden in his war against Tsar Peter I, but

the Russian army and the loyalist Cossacks defeated the united Swedish-Ukrainian forces in the Battle of Poltava (1709). The last hetman, a largely symbolic figure, was forced to resign in 1764, and in 1775 the Russian army destroyed the Zaporozhian Host, the principal bastion of the Ukrainian Cossacks.


Poland remained the master of Galicia, Volhynia, and other Ukrainian lands west of the Dnieper until its partitions in the years from 1772 to 1795. Following the disappearance of the Polish state, Galicia became part of the Austrian Empire, while other Ukrainian territories were incorporated into the Russian Empire, ruled by the Romanov Dynasty. The Ukrainian people's experience within the two empires was markedly different.

The Romanovs abolished the administrative distinctiveness of Ukrainian territories and promoted the assimilation of Ukrainians. The apogee of this policy was the 1863 official ban on Ukrainian-language publications, which was reinforced in 1876. Yet, the Russian conquest of the Crimea in 1783 opened up the southern steppes for colonization, thus greatly expanding Ukrainian ethnic territory. Following the abolition of serfdom in 1861, industrial development began in earnest in southeastern Ukraine, resulting in the creation of large coal and metallurgical centers in the Donbas and Kryvyi Rih regions. The Russian cultural physiognomy of cities and industrial settlements produced an assimilated working class, which would identify politically with all-Russian parties.

Like elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the Ukrainian national revival began with the discovery of a new notion of nationality as a cultural and linguistic community. Literature soon emerged as the primary vehicle of cultural nationalism, and the great poet Taras Shevchenko came to be seen as its high priest. Together with other members of the Cyril and Methodius Society (18451847), Shevchenko also laid the foundations of Ukrainian political thought, which revolved around the idea of transforming the Russian Empire into a democratic federation. Such was the reasoning of the hromady (communities), secret clubs of the Ukrainian intelligentsia, which spearheaded the Ukrainian national movement during the second half of the century. Ukrainian political parties began emerging at the turn of the twentieth century, yet could not built a mass support base during the short period of legal existence between the Revolution of 1905 and the beginning of World War I.

The Habsburg Empire, in contrast, was based simultaneously on accommodating its major nationalities and pitting them against each other. In addition to Transcarpathia, which for centuries had been part of the Hungarian crown, during the late eighteenth century the Habsburgs acquired two other ethnic Ukrainian regions: Eastern Galicia and Northern Bukovyna. In Galicia the landlord class was overwhelmingly Polish, whereas in Bukovyna Ukrainians competed with Romanians for influence. Although they were never Vienna's favorites, the Ruthenians of the Habsburg Empire did not experience the repressions against their national development that were suffered by the Little Russians (Ukrainians) in the Russian Empire. Ukrainians benefited from educational reforms that established instruction in their native language, and by the official recognition of the Uniate Church, which would become their national institution.

Ukrainians emerged as a political nationality during the Revolution of 1848, when they established the Supreme Ruthenian Council in Lviv and put forward a demand to divide Galicia into Ukrainian and Polish parts. The abolition of serfdom in 1848, however, did not lead to the industrial transformation of Ukrainian territories, which remained an agrarian backwater. Land hunger and rural overpopulation resulted in mass emigration of Ukrainians to North America, beginning in the 1880s. Modern political parties began emerging during the 1890s, and the introduction in 1907 of a universal suffrage provided Ukrainians with increasing political representation. However, the Ukrainian-Polish ethnic conflict in Galicia deepened during the early twentieth century. Developments in Bukovyna largely paralleled those in Galicia, while Transcarpathia remained politically and culturally dormant.


Galicia and Bukovyna were a military theater during much of World War I. The annexation of these lands and the suppression of Ukrainian nationalism there was one of Russia's war aims, but Russian control of Lviv proved short-lived. In the Russian Empire, the February Revolution of 1917 triggered an impressive revival of Ukrainian political and cultural life. In March of that year representatives of Ukrainian parties and civic organizations formed the Central Rada (Council) in Kiev, which elected the distinguished historian Mykhail Sergeyevich Hrushevsky as its president. Instead of a dual power, the situation in the Ukrainian provinces resembled a triple power, with the Russian Provisional Government, the Soviets, and the Rada all claiming authority.

With the Rada's influence steadily increasing, the Provisional Government was forced to recognize it and, in July 1917, grant Ukraine autonomy. Following the Bolshevik coup in Petrograd on November 7, the Rada refused to recognize the new Soviet government and proclaimed the creation of the Ukrainian People's Republic, in federation with a future, democratic Russia. Meanwhile, at the first All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets (Kharkiv, December 1917), the Bolsheviks proclaimed Ukraine a Soviet republic. In January 1918 Bolshevik troops from Russia began advancing on Kiev, prompting the proclamation by the Central Rada of full independence on January 22.

Following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Bolsheviks were forced to evacuate their troops from Ukraine. The Rada government returned with the German and Austro-Hungarian armies, but it was too left-leaning for the Central Powers. In April 1918 a German-supported coup installed General Pavlo Skoropadsky as Hetman of Ukraine. This conservative monarchy lasted in Ukraine until December, when the defeated Central Powers withdrew their troops, and was replaced by the Directory of the Ukrainian People's Republic. The new government was at first a dictatorship of several Ukrainian socialists and nationalists, who had previously been associated with the Rada, but later all power became concentrated in the hands of Symon Petliura.

As the Austro-Hungarian Empire began disintegrating in October 1918, the Ukrainian political leaders there declared the creation of the Western Ukrainian People's Republic. On January 22, 1919, the two Ukrainian republics proclaimed their unification, which, however, was never carried through. The Western Republic found itself fighting a civil war against the Poles, who claimed all of Galicia for their new state and eventually defeated the Ukrainian forces in July 1919. In the meantime, the Eastern Republic was being torn apart in an even more confusing and brutal civil war fought among the Directory, the Reds, the Whites, and various anarchist armies. The collapse of civic order in 1919 resulted in Jewish pogroms, which were committed by all the participating armies, but especially by unruly peasant rebels. By early 1920 Soviet forces controlled all Ukrainian territories of the former Russian Empire except Volhynia and Western Podolia, which were occupied by Poland. A Polish-Soviet war in the spring and summer of 1920 briefly restored the Petliura government in Kiev, but ultimately resulted in the affirmation of Ukraine's division between the USSR and Poland. Northern Bukovyna became part of the Kingdom of Romania, while Transcarpathia found itself within a newly created Czechoslovak republic.


The Ukrainian territories under Bolshevik control had been constituted as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which in 1922 became a founding member of the Soviet Union. Although it possessed all the structures and symbols of an independent state, Soviet Ukraine was effectively governed from Moscow. During the early years of Bolshevik rule, the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine, or CP(b)U, was predominantly Russian and Jewish in its ethnic composition. The proportion of Ukrainians increased to some 20 percent only in 1920, after the absorption of the Borotbisty, a non-Bolshevik communist party in Ukraine. Still, the CP(b)U always remained an integral part of the All-Union Communist Party.

During the 1920s, in order to reach out to the overwhelmingly peasant population and disarm the appeal of Ukrainian nationalism, the Bolsheviks pursued the policy of Ukrainization. This affirmative action program fostered education, publishing, and official communication in the Ukrainian language, and sponsored the recruitment of Ukrainians to party and government structures. By the late 1920s the proportion of ethnic Ukrainians in the CP(b)U exceeded 50 percent. The Ukrainization drive eventually caused resistance among Russian bureaucrats in Ukraine and uneasiness in Moscow. Yet, some Ukrainian Bolsheviks, led by the vocal Mykola Skrypnyk, defended the policy of Ukrainization. Peasant resistance to the forcible collectivization of agriculture during the First Five-Year Plan (19281932) led to Moscow's denunciation of Ukrainization and its defenders. Skrypnyk killed himself in 1933, the same year that millions of Ukrainian peasants died in a catastrophic famine, which was caused by state policies. Ukrainian cultural figures suffered disproportionately during the Great Terror. Stalinist-era industrialization, however, turned the Ukrainian republic into a developed industrial region.

In interwar Poland and Romania, Ukrainians experienced discrimination and assimilationist pressure. By the mid-1930s, popular discontent with the inability of mainstream Ukrainian political parties, such as the National Democrats, to counter Polish oppression, propelled Ukrainian radical nationalists to prominence. The conspiratorial Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN, founded in 1929) became increasingly influential among Ukrainian youth. The situation was different in Czechoslovakia, where the government promoted multiculturalism and modernized the economy in Transcarpathia. When Hitler began dismembering Czechoslovakia in 1938, this region was granted autonomy and briefly enjoyed independence as Carpatho-Ukraine before being occupied by Hungary.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (August 1939) transferred Poland's Ukrainian territories and Romania's Northern Bukovyna to the Soviet sphere of influence. The USSR occupied these regions in September 1939 and June 1940, respectively, under the guise of reuniting the Ukrainian nation within a single state structure. The OUN had just split into a more moderate wing led by Andrii Melnyk and a more radical one under the leadership of Stepan Bandera. The infighting between the OUN(M) and OUN(B) effectively prevented radical nationalists from putting up any resistance.


The surprise Nazi attack on the USSR in June 1941 turned the Ukrainian republic into a battlefield. The Germans scored one of the war's biggest victories when they took Kiev in September at a cost of 600,000 Soviet fatalities and an equal number of soldiers who were taken prisoner. By the end of 1941 the German armies controlled practically all of Ukrainian territory. In Lviv on June 30, 1941, the OUN(B) attempted the proclamation of a Ukrainian state, but the Gestapo soon began arresting the leading Banderites. The German administration divided Ukraine into several administrative entities and discouraged Ukrainian national aspirations. The economy was exploited and the population brutalized. The Nazis exterminated between 600,000 and 900,000 Ukrainian Jews, including 34,000 who were machine-gunned during a two-day massacre in the ravine of Babi Yar in Kiev (September 1941). The Red Army began the liberation of Ukraine in mid-1943, and completed it by October 1944. In Western Ukraine, Soviet troops encountered fierce resistance from the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which continued its guerilla war in the region until the early 1950s. In 1945 Czechoslovakia ceded Transcarpathia to the Soviet Union, thus completing the unification of all Ukrainian ethnic lands within the Ukrainian SSR.

The first postwar decade was characterized by economic reconstruction and the Sovietization of Western Ukraine. In 1946 the authorities forcibly dissolved the Uniate Church, the national institution of Galician Ukrainians. In Ukraine, the Zhdanovshchina (Zhdanov's time) campaign from 1946 to 1948 was aimed primarily at real and imaginary manifestations of Ukrainian nationalism, and to reinstall in Soviet culture Bolshevik values. In 1949 the long-serving first secretary of the CP(b)U, Nikita Khrushchev, left for a higher position in Moscow, but continued to consider the republic as his power base. Therefore, his ascendancy to power in the Kremlin after Stalin's death signaled the Ukrainians' promotion to the status of the Russians' junior partner in running the USSR. This change was sealed by the celebrations in 1954 of the tercentenary of Ukraine's "reunification" with Russia and the transfer of the Crimea from Russia to Ukraine. By 1959 ethnic Ukrainians constituted more than 60 percent of the membership of the Communist Party of Ukraine (renamed the CPU in 1952) and dominated its Central Committee and Politburo. Following a long line of non-Ukrainian party leaders, after 1953 all first secretaries were Ukrainian. In particular, Petro Shelest, who headed the CPU from 1963 to 1972, distinguished himself as a defender of the republic's economic interests and culture until his removal on charges of being soft on nationalism.

His replacement and Leonid Brezhnev's faithful client, Volodymyr Shcherbytsky (19721989) began his rule with a purge of patriotic intellectuals. From the late 1950s Ukraine was a hotbed of the dissident movement. In addition to human rights issues, Ukrainian dissidents focused on the defense of the Ukrainian language and culture. In 1975 the movement acquired more political coloration, when the writer Mykola Rudenko founded a Helsinki Watch Group. However, by the late 1970s the KGB succeeded in breaking up organized dissent in the republic. The Shcherbytsky regime promoted Russification and consumerism, but could do nothing to halt the deterioration of the economy. The crisis was brought home by the world's worst nuclear accident, at Chernobyl power plant near Kiev in April of 1986.

Glasnost was slow to develop in Ukraine due to Shcherbytsky's perseverance in his post, but the first mass demonstrations in Lviv and Kiev took place in 1988. The next year saw the emergence of a mass popular front, Rukh (Movement), and the defeats of many prominent party leaders in free elections. The elections to the Ukrainian Parliament in 1990 broke the Communist Party's hold on political power, while Rukh openly proclaimed independence as its ultimate aim.


In the wake of a failed coup in Moscow, on August 24, 1991, the Ukrainian Parliament proclaimed the republic's full independence, an act endorsed by more than 90 percent of voters in a referendum in December 1991. Under President Leonid Kravchuk (19911994), Ukraine experienced hyperinflation and a sharp drop in the gross national product. The state promoted Ukrainization of education and culture and in foreign affairs sought to develop closer ties with the West. In the elections of 1994 Kravchuk lost to Leonid Kuchma, who advocated economic reform and the restoration of Ukraine's special relationship with Russia. By dividing the Black Sea Fleet between Russia and Ukraine (1995), Kuchma resolved the tension between the two countries. In 1997 he signed a comprehensive friendship treaty with Russia. Kuchma was re-elected in 1999 and, after a long period of decline, the economy began to recover during Victor Yushchenko's tenure as prime minister from 1999 to 2001. For most of the 1990s Ukraine was among the largest recipients of U.S. financial aid. Relations between the West and Kuchma's administration cooled in 2001 and 2002 due to rampant corruption in Ukraine, as well as the president's alleged involvement in a journalist's murder and the sale of a sophisticated radar system to Iraq.

See also: borotbisty; cossacks; crimea; crimean tatars; cyril and methodius society; enserfment; kravchuk, leonid makarovich; muscovy; romanov dynasty; nationalities policies, soviet; nationalities policies, tsarist; skrypnyk, mykola oleksiiovych; uniate church; world war i; world war ii


Armstrong, John A. (1990). Ukrainian Nationalism, 3rd ed. Englewood, NJ: Ukrainian Academic Press.

D'Anieri, Paul; Kravchuk, Robert S.; and Kuzio, Taras. (1999). Politics and Society in Ukraine. Boulder, CO: Westview.

Dyczok, Marta. (2000). Ukraine: Movement without Change, Change without Movement. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers.

Harasymiw, Bodhan. (2002). Post-Communist Ukraine. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press.

Himka, John-Paul. (1988). Galician Villagers and the Ukrainian National Movement in the Nineteenth Century. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press.

Kappeler, Andreas. (1994). Kleine Geschichte der Ukraine. Munich: C. H. Beck.

Kappeler, Andreas; Kohut, Zenon E.; Sysysn, Frank E.; and Von Hagen, Mark L., eds. (2003). Culture, Nation, and Identity: The Ukrainian-Russian Encounter, 16001945. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press.

Kuzio, Taras. (1997). Ukraine under Kuchma: Political Reform, Economic Transformation, and Security Policy in Independent Ukraine. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Kuzio, Taras. (1998). Ukraine: State and Nation Building. New York: Routledge.

Kuzio, Taras, and Wilson, Andrew. (1994). Ukraine: Perestroika to Independence. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Kuromiya, Hiroaki. (1998). Freedom and Terror in the Donbas: A Ukrainian-Russian Borderland, 1870s-1990s. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Magocsi, Paul R. (1985). Ukraine: A Historical Atlas. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Magocsi, Paul R. (1996). A History of Ukraine. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Marples, David. (1991). Ukraine under Perestroika: Ecology, Economics and the Workers' Revolt. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Motyl, Alexander J. (1993). Dilemmas of Independence: Ukraine after Totalitarianism. New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press.

Potichnyj, Peter J., and Aster, Howard, eds. (1987). Ukrainian-Jewish Relations in Historical Perspective. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press.

Potichnyj, Peter J.; Raeff, Marc; Pelenski, Jaroslaw; and Zekulin, Gleb N., eds. (1992). Ukraine and Russia in their Historical Encounter. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press.

Rudnytsky, Ivan L. (1987). Essays in Modern Ukrainian History. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press.

Shkandrij, Miroslav. (2001). Russia and Ukraine: Literature and the Discourse of Empire from Napoleonic to Postcolonial Times. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Subtelny, Orest. (2000). Ukraine: A History, 3rd ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Szporluk, Roman. (1982). Ukraine: A Brief History, 2nd ed. Detroit: Ukrainian Festival Committee.

Szporluk, Roman. (2000). Russia, Ukraine, and the Breakup of the Soviet Union. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.

Wilson, Andrew. (2000). The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Yekelchyk, Serhy. (2003). Stalin's Empire of Memory: Russian-Ukrainian Relations in the Soviet Historical Imagination. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Serhy Yekelchyk

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukraine and Ukrainians." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukraine and Ukrainians." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukraine and Ukrainians." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from

Ukrainian Peasants

Ukrainian Peasants



Ukraine is the land of the chernozem (black soil) and the breadbasket of the former Soviet Union. Because of the Ukraine's rich agricultural resources, the peasantry was the majority (75 percent) of its population prior to the Soviet Socialist Revolution. The peasantry of the Ukraine and the population in general were greatly reduced subsequently. Stalinist collectivization policies hit the Ukraine with particular force and led to the famine of the early 1930s. The population was further eroded by German occupation during World War II. Industrialization, spurred by the Ukraine's rich mineral resources, has encouraged a population shift from rural to urban areas, especially after World War II. Nonetheless, the peasantry remains an important part of Ukrainian life and constitutes approximately 50 percent of the total population. Furthermore, rural life has remained the Ukrainian ideal, both among the inhabitants of Soviet Ukraine and Ukrainians living in the diaspora. Rural life symbolizes Ukrainian identity, in part, because, prior to the Revolution, nonrural occupations were predominantly in the hands of ethnic minorities. Also, the states that held political power over the Ukrainethe Russian Empire and, later, the Soviet Unionliked to portray it as a backward, rural area and encouraged scholarly interest in ethnography and artistic expression through bucolic themes.

Demography. Of the agricultural regions of Ukraine, the most densely populated is the central, forest-steppe region, which has the best conditions for agriculture, namely the chernozem and sufficient moisture. This has long been the most densely populated region, the highest population density being in the western part (Chernivitsi Oblast, Vinnystia, and Ternopil). The rural population is less dense in the northern belt, where conditions are swampy, and even less so in the steppe to the south (the Crimea, Kherson), where conditions are unfavorably dry.


Approximately half of the rural population lives in villages of 1,000 to 5,000 people. Smaller villages characterize the forest belt and the mountain regions. On the left bank of the Dnieper River and also in the Kuban and the steppe, village size may be up to 10,000 inhabitants. In the forest-steppe regions settlements tend to be near rivers and in slight depressions to protect them from the wind. In the Carpathians and Podilia settlements are usually in valleys. In Polissia dwellings are located further from rivers, on higher, drier ground. The most common type is the irregular clustered village found in the forest-steppe and the steppe. It may have a central square or street from which side streets extend in an irregular fashion. The next most common is the ribbon village with houses side by side down one street and fields in long belts, usually at right angles to the road. The chain village is an irregular version of the ribbon village. Houses are also arranged down one street, but the spaces between them are variable. The regular or grid village is characteristic of southern Ukraine and of settlements established since the nineteenth century. It is arranged in a square or rectangle with regular spacing between the streets. Khutir is the term for an isolated, one-family settlement. Both World War II and collectivization have had little effect on village layout. Villages destroyed during the war were rebuilt according to old patterns; as for collectivization, the usual approach was to have one village become one collective farm, although some consolidation of smaller villages did occur. The most noticeable effects of collectivization in terms of village layout are that buildings such as tractor sheds, processing or storage facilities, and other communal-use structures were added on to the village outskirts.


Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Ukrainian peasant economy depends primarily on agriculture, supplemented by fishing, hunting, beekeeping, and the gathering of berries, mushrooms, and other wild foodstuffs. Although most households kept cows for milk and oxen for use as draft animals and may also have kept sheep and pigs, animal husbandry was an important market activity only in the western and the steppe regions. (It is currently important in the west only.) The principal crops are wheat, rye, millet, barley, oats, and, more recently, potatoes, buckwheat, maize, beans, lentils, peas, poppy seeds, turnips, hemp, and flax. Garden vegetables include garlic, onions, beets, cabbages, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, watermelons, and radishes. Hops, tobacco, and grapes are also cultivated, as are fruit and nut trees. The normal eating routine is to have four meals a day: breakfast, dinner at noon, a small afternoon meal at 4 P.M., and supper. The diet consists of dark rye bread, various porridges, soups, and fish and fruit when these are available. Meat is holiday fare; the usual pattern is to slaughter an animal before a holiday, eat some of the meat during the festival, and preserve the rest by curing and making sausages. The fire in the hearth is considered extremely important. Once lit, it is not permitted to be extinguished. The embers are fired up each morning for the baking of bread. When this is complete, the other foods to be eaten that day are cooked.

Industrial Arts and Trade. A variety of crafts and trades were practiced. These include carpentry, coppering, tanning and harness making, pottery, weaving, and embroidery. Ukraine is widely known for its embroidery and is nearly as esteemed for its weaving, pottery, and carved and inlaid woodwork. Embroidery has long been emblematic of Ukraine. There are indications that professionalization in this field occurred early, with certain women specializing in embroidery and selling their work to their fellow villagers or letting them copy designs. Actual commercialization was begun at the end of the nineteenth century by the Poltava County self-government. After World War I, embroidery was taken on by worker cooperatives. State folk-art workshops opened in 1934. Currently, the chief centers for production are Kaimianets-Podolskyi, Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr, Kiev, Chernihiv, Poltava, Kharkiv, Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk, Lwiw, Kosiv, and Chernivitsi.

Pottery has been characteristic of Ukraine since prehistory, as evidenced by the earthenware found in Trypillian excavations. Contemporary folk pottery is found in the areas of the best clays: Polilia, Poltava, Polisia, Podlachia, Chernihiv, Kiev, Kharkiv, Bukovina, and Transcarpathia. Glass painting, the production of a picture on the reverse of a sheet of glass, is experiencing a revival in western Ukraine. Ukrainian wax-resist dyed Easter eggs, pysanky, are also famous. These are decorated with geometric, floral, and animal motifs. The tradition of decorating eggs experienced a decline owing to the atheist policies of the Soviet system but is being rapidly revived now and is drawing on the Ukrainian diaspora for information on design and technique.

Division of Labor. The usual Slavic division of laborinside (female)/outside (male)was less characteristic of Ukrainians than of neighboring Slavic peoples. In Cossack families, this is probably because the male household head was absent for extended periods of time, leaving his wife and children to run the farmstead alone. Thus, women participated in the cultivation of field crops much more extensively than elsewhere, with the harvest especially being considered women's work. Collectivization was effective in the Ukraine: initial bitter resistance was counteracted by force and dissipated by the ensuing famine. Division of labor on the collective farm follows Russian patterns. Both contemporary anecdotes and statistics indicate that a new division of labor has arisen: jobs are assigned by gender, not according to degree of heavy physical labor involved, but by degree of technical expertise believed necessary, the technologically advanced jobs going to the men.

Kinship, Marriage, and Family

Although weddings and other life-cycle rites indicate the prior existence of extended-family patterns of social organization, the nuclear family was the norm from the time of extensive ethnographic work in the nineteenth century and has continued to be so. The reasons that Ukrainians were less dependent on large family units than their neighbors include favorable agricultural conditions, which permit the economic survival of smaller groups of workers, and the proliferation of the Cossacks and their way of life as the model for everything from clothing to family life. The importance of ancestors and the likely existence of a prior ancestor cult is indicated by the honoring of the dead in almost all yearly cycle rites, including the ritual meal eaten on family graves on the Sunday after Easter. Ancestors are treated as a general category rather than specific persons in a family's past. Godparenthood is important and bears the same incest taboos as biological relationships. Godparents are usually honored relatives of the father, but may be anyone in the village, one custom being that, in cases of difficult conception or birth, the first people encountered after the birth should be invited as godparents.

Marriage and childbearing are still extremely important markers of adulthood. Birth now usually occurs in a clinic. In the past, although protective magic was practiced during pregnancy and childbirth, the mother was not confined either before or after birth, and the actual birth did not occur in any specific place. The house was the desired location, with the welcoming of the newborn including not only his or her introduction to the family, but also an introduction to the house (by touching the infant to the roof beam and the stove). Where baptism is still practiced, the child is christened by the godparents immediately after birth because it is considered unsafe to nurse the baby otherwise. The mother was expected to work through pregnancy, so there are numerous reports of births occurring in the fields. The mother was also supposed to return to work soon after delivery, leaving the baby to be cared for by his or her grandparents or older siblings. Current practice is a mixture of tradition and Soviet policy, with work continuing through pregnancy but with more of a tendency to take permitted leave after delivery. The desire for children is attested in a number of ways, including the prevalence of fertility magic. There are remnants of a belief in conception as ingestion, and certain foods, such as eggs and powdered pussy willows, are supposed to enhance fertility. Since World War II abortion has become increasingly common and, as elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, is the primary means of birth control.

Marriage. Age of marriage was and has remained quite younglate teens or early twenties. Formal matchmaking by representatives of the prospective bride and groom (svaty ) was preceded by courtship, usually various meetings and activities arranged by the heads of the respective male (parubotski ) and female (divotski ) groups. The wedding itself is a complicated affair with a special wedding cake (korovai ), a "bachelor party" for the bride and her female friends, numerous exchanges of gifts and food between the groom's family and that of the bride, and ritual expressions of antagonism between the two sides. The wedding was supposed to last a week, with all of the village invited, and even now may last three days. The upsurge of nationalist feeling in Ukraine has found expression in attempts to revive traditional wedding customs.

Domestic Unit. The basic unit now is the nuclear family, incorporated into the community of the collective farm. There are indications that a similar arrangement existed prior to collectivization with families in a single village sharing pasturelands and having villagewide brotherhoods and sisterhoods of unmarried youths.

Inheritance. Inheritance is a moot question in a Soviet Ukrainian village. Prior to collectivization, Ukrainian inheritance was subject to the same laws as elsewhere in the Russian Empire, namely, women were permitted to inherit property as of the late nineteenth century. Traditional patterns of inheritance were that land and cattle were passed through the male line. Women owned all of their jewelry, which they passed on to daughters. They also controlled all of the cloth and other household items that they brought to the marriage.

Socialization. Respect for parents and adults in general is taught by everything from games to songs. Corporal punishment is used, although shaming and withdrawal of affection are important means of discipline. The attitude toward work is interesting, excessive industriousness being considered indicative of avarice, and thus avoided.

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs and Practices. Ukraine is nominally atheist. Ukrainian Orthodoxy was traditionally the religion of the eastern portion of the country and Uniate Catholicism was the religion of the west. The current political situation has fostered a great upsurge of religious feeling. Interestingly, whereas Orthodoxy was identified with independence at the time of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, Uniate Catholicism is serving that function now. Because Russia is Orthodox and the Orthodox church is the one legally sanctioned for Ukraine, expressions of nationalist feeling have centered around efforts to reestablish the legal standing of the Uniate Church.

The most important religious holiday is Easter, followed by Christmas. A rich and highly developed system of pagan belief has survived and partially blended with Christianity. Some of its most interesting manifestations are Christmastime mumming (Malanka) and fortune-telling; ceremonial treatment of sheafs of grain throughout the year; and summertime rites around Trinity Sunday (Zelene Sviata) and the feast of Saint John the Baptist (Ivan Kupalo), which include the honoring of vegetation by bringing it into the house, fire magic, and the sacrifice of a doll or decorated tree. These rites survived into the present in part because of Soviet encouragement of the pagan aspect of calendary rites as a substitute for Christian festivities and in part because of nationalist attempts to revive things considered indigenously Ukrainian. One manifestation of this revival was the celebration of the first public Malanka in Lwiw for New Year 1988.

The Ukrainian peasant believed in a whole pantheon of spirits: those of the forest, of field and stream, and of the various buildings of the farmstead (the house, the barn, the bathhouse). Often referred to as demons, these are actually helpful spirits that were relegated to the realm of the "unclean force" after the introduction of Christianity. One of the most interesting of the spirits is the mermaid, rusalka or mavka, a female being, usually the spirit of a drowned maiden, who, although dangerous, is said to bring moisture to the fields and to ensure crop fertility. The rusalka may well be a remnant of early matrifocal beliefs.

The primary religious practitioner is the village priest. In the case of the various spirits, however, safe contact is made by women, usually those in a liminal position; a man's seeing a spirit is an omen of misfortune or impending death.

Arts. Besides the rich tradition of embroidery and other tactile arts, Ukrainian culture has a highly developed tradition of oral literature. Folktales, folk songs, folk drama, proverbs, riddles, and numerous other genres have been extensively collected since the nineteenth century. Of special note is the Ukrainian epic tradition, dumy, and the professional performers who sang epic, along with other genres, the kobzari and lirnyky. These performers were blind mendicants organized into semireligious professional guilds.

Medicine. Current medical practices are a combination of the traditional and the modern. Babies are still routinely swaddled. Herbal medicine is very widely practiced, both to prevent illness and to cure ailments. Knowledge of the substances to use for common illnesses is virtually universal. More specialized knowledge of herbs is in the hands of znakhari, learned women and men.

Death and Afterlife. With remnants of the cult of ancestors being as widespread as they are, death was not viewed as a tragedy, but a natural process; the deceased was seen as leaving on a journey to the world of the dead and provided accordingly with food and coins. People who died in old age were dressed in their wedding clothes or a shroud. Those who died young, before they had a chance to marry, were dressed as for a wedding, supplied with a wedding ring, and had their funerals celebrated as wedding rites. Laments were sung over all who died by female members of the family or by professional mourners.

The dead are believed to continue to live on after death, but in a different state and a different place. There is confusion as to the location of the land of the dead. Pre-Christian beliefs had the dead living under the earth, affecting the crops. Christianity places the kingdom of the righteous dead in heaven. Certainly the realm of the dead is forty days away, both because a major commemorative service is held forty days after death and because of the importance of the number forty in both life-cycle and yearly-cycle ritual. There are indications of a belief in an assigned time on earth because those who die young, especially those who die violently (by human hands) are believed doomed to be unquiet dead, forced to remain on earth until their allotted time is expired.

See also Carpatho-Rusyns; Don Cossacks; Ukrainians


Chubinskyi, Pavlo, ed. (1872-1878). Trudy etnografichesko-statisticheskoi ekspeditsii v zapadno-Russkii krai. 7 vols. St. Petersburg.

Hnatiuk, Volodymyr (1904-1912). "Anadoby do Ukraiins'koi Demonolohii." In Naukove Tovarystvo imeni Shevchenka. Etnografichnii zbirnyk. Lvov.

Hrinchenko, Borys (1895-1899). Etnograficheskie materialy (Ethnographic materials). 3 Vols. Chernihiv.

Kubijovyc, Volodymyr, ed. (1963). Ukraine: A Concise Encyclopedia. Vol. 1, 208-429. Prepared by the Shevchenko Scientific Society. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, for the Ukrainian National Association.

Vostochnoslavianskiğ etnograficheskğ bornik (A collection of ethnographies of Eastern Slavic peoples) (1956). Moscow: Izd-vo Akademii Nauk SSR.

Zelenin, Dmytro (1927). Russische (ostslavische ) Volskunde (Russian [East Slavic] folklore). Berlin.


Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukrainian Peasants." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukrainian Peasants." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukrainian Peasants." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from




Potato Varenyky (Potato Dumplings)........................... 58
Cabbage Borshch........................................................ 59
Holubtsi (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls) ................................. 60
Kartoplia Solimkoi (Deep-Fried Straw Potatoes) ........... 60
Nachynka (Cornbread Stuffing)................................... 61
Kotlety Po-Kyivskomy (Chicken Kiev)........................... 61
Kutya (Sweet Porridge) ............................................... 63
Makiwnyk (Glazed Poppy Seed Cake).......................... 63


Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe. It is located between Poland and Russia. It is slightly smaller than the state of Texas. Much of the southeastern part of the country borders the Black Sea.

Most of Ukraine's land is made up of fertile plains, or steppes, and plateaus. Mountains are found only in the west and extreme south in the Crimean Peninsula. This area's climate is subtropical. Winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold farther inland. The temperature inland ranges from 66°F in July, to 21°F in January. Northern and western Ukraine average 27 inches of rainfall a year. This temperate climate is ideal for growing crops. In fact, more than 57 percent of the Ukraine's fertile soil is suitable for growing such crops as sugar beets, wheat, and potatoes.


The earliest known farmers in the Ukraine were the Trypillians (45002000 b.c.). The territory of the Ukraine had rich soil and a favorable climate perfect for cultivating crops. The Trypillians grew barley, millet, rye, and wheat. They also herded sheep, pigs, and cattle. Wheat was plentiful, and soon trading routes were established along Ukraine's Black Sea coast to market the grain. The Ukraine territory became the crossing road connecting Arabia, Europe, and Asia.

Life depended on the activities of cultivating soil for crops. In pre-Christian times, holidays were celebrated during times of transition from one type of agricultural activity to another. These seasonal festivities were later incorporated into Christian holidays, such as Christmas and Easter.

Over time, Ukraine fell under the power of many different countries, including Poland, Austria, and Russia. Despite being under Russian domination for almost 200 years, (gaining independence only in 1991), Ukrainians proudly kept their native traditions, customs, and cuisine.

Kovbasa (sausage) and sauerkraut have Polish origins. Varnyky (dumplings) and holubtsi (stuffed cabbage) were originally imported from Turkey. Strudels, breaded meats, and desserts, such as cheesecake and tarts, were carried over from Austro-Hungarian times. Although Ukrainian dishes have origins from different countries, how they are prepared are uniquely Ukrainian.

Potato Varenyky (Potato Dumplings)


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3½ cups instant mashed potatoes, prepared
  • ¾ cup cheddar or processed cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. To make filling: prepare instant potatoes according to package directions.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add cheese and mix well. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, egg, and salt.
  4. Mix in a little water at a time until dough is stiff.
  5. Roll out dough on floured surface, about ¼-inch thick.
  6. Using the rim of a glass or cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough.
  7. Fill each circle of dough with about 1 Tablespoon of the potato-cheese mixture. Fold over and seal edges.
  8. To cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop in the varenyky one at a time. They are done when they float to the top.

Serves 4 to 6.


In the southern part of the Ukraine, plains called steppes have what is considered some of the most fertile soil in the world. Abundant rain and a mild climate made the Ukraine famous for its chornozem, or "black earth." For centuries, the Ukraine was called "the breadbasket of Europe."

Ukrainian cuisine stems from peasant dishes based on the plentiful grains and staple vegetables grown in the country. Staple crops include sugar beets, potatoes, grapes, cabbages, and mushrooms. These are often key ingredients in soups and salads. The most popular dish is borshch, a hearty soup made in a variety of ways, depending on the person who is cooking it. Mushroom, bean, and pea soups, and thick millet (a type of grain) chowders are also common. Other vegetable dishes include holubtsi (stuffed cabbage) and kartoplia solimkoi ("straw potatoes"). Kotlety Po-Kyivskomy (Chicken Kiev), a chicken breast stuffed with a buttery filling, is a well-known dish outside Ukraine.

Cabbage Borshch


  • 3 cans beef broth (approximately 6 cups)
  • 1 pound cabbage, shredded
  • 1 beet, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • ½ Tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar


  1. Measure the beef broth into a large pot. add the vegetables, celery salt, and pepper.
  2. Cover and cook over medium to low heat for 25 minutes.
  3. Add the lemon juice and sugar. Cook an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Serve with bread.

Serves 6.

Holubtsi (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)


  • ¼ pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¾ cup tomato juice
  • 1 medium cabbage, core removed
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar


  1. To make filling: cook rice according to package directions.
  2. In a frying pan, add the oil and heat over medium heat.
  3. Brown the onions and hamburger.
  4. Combine rice, onion, and hamburger in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. In a large pot, bring the water and vinegar to a boil.
  7. Place the cabbage into the pot and simmer long enough for the cabbage leaves to become limp, about 5 to 10 minutes. Do not overcook.
  8. Remove cabbage and tear off cabbage leaves from the cabbage head.
  9. Remove the hard center part of the leaf.
  10. Place a spoonful of the rice mixture into the center of the leaf and roll tightly.
  11. Place cabbage rolls into a casserole dish and cover with the tomato juice.
  12. Bake for 1 to 1½ hours.

Makes 20 to 30 cabbage rolls.

Kartoplia Solimkoi (Deep-Fried Straw Potatoes)


  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled
  • 3 cups vegetable oil
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Cut the potatoes into small strips, about -inch thick.
  2. Drop them into a bowl of ice water, then drain.
  3. Spread out onto paper towels and thoroughly dry.
  4. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan over high heat. Drop small bunches of potatoes at a time into the oil and fry until golden brown.
  5. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

Serves 4 to 6.

Grains, such as wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, and buckwheat are cultivated and made into many different types of breads. Some examples are agnautka, a flat whole-grained loaf that is commonly eaten at meals; polianitsa, a large, round white bread; and ikrainka, a heavy, dark wheel-shaped loaf weighing about three pounds. Nachynka is a baked cornmeal side dish served with meat.

Nachynka (Cornbread Stuffing)


  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3½ cups heated milk
  • ½ cup half-and-half cream
  • 2 eggs, beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a frying pan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, but do not brown.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, salt, sugar, and pepper. Add to frying pan and mix well.
  4. Pour in the heated milk gradually and stir well until mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
  5. Add the eggs and mix well. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish.
  6. Bake the nachynka uncovered for 1 hour, or until golden brown.

Serves 6 to 8.

Kotlety Po-Kyivskomy (Chicken Kiev)


  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 8 Tablespoons butter (1 stick)
  • 1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped fine
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup flour (approximately)
  • 1½ cups soft bread crumbs
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  1. Cut the butter into eight equal parts, each about the size of your little finger. (Cut the stick of butter lengthwise into quarters, and then cut the quarters in half crosswise.)
  2. Roll the butter rectangles in parsley to coat, and set them aside in a cool place.
  3. Place the chicken breasts, one at a time, between two sheets of wax paper, and pound them with a rolling pin or kitchen mallet until they are thin. Carefully remove the wax paper.
  4. Place one butter rectangle on each chicken breast, and roll the breast around the butter. Press the roll together to form a compact roll. Repeat until all 8 breasts have been rolled.
  5. Beat the two eggs lightly in a shallow dish. On a sheet wax paper, spread some flour; spread some bread crumbs on another sheet of wax paper.
  6. Dip the rolls first into the flour, then the eggs, and then the bread crumbs.
  7. When four rolls are done, heat some oil in a large skillet, and carefully add the rolls. Fry, turning several times, for about 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken rolls are golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a serving dish, cover, and repeat with the remaining 4 rolls. (Keep the first batch warm in the oven set at the lowest temperature.)

Serves 8.

In Ukrainian cuisine, when the dough isn't baked, it is usually boiled, such as kasha (hot cereal), or fried in the form of dumplings or fritters. Freshly made dumplings called varenyky are a common Ukrainian staple. Varenyky is dough stuffed with a variety of foods, such as potatoes, meats, cheeses, sauerkraut, and even fruit, such as blueberries or cherries, for dessert. Each region, restaurant, and family has its own recipe.

The foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, located in the western Ukraine, provide pastures for grazing beef and dairy cattle. Meats, such as kovbasa (sausage), poultry, and pork are important to the Ukrainian diet.

Pork is considered the national meat and pork fat is often used in cooking. It is used mostly for frying, but also can be eaten smoked or with salt. Common dairy products include milk, syrnyky (cottage cheese fritters), nalynsnyk (cheese-filled crepes), and riazhanka (fermented, baked milk).

Desserts are often baked into sweet breads, cakes, and cookies, and made with honey and fruits, such as plums, blueberries, and cherries.

Dinner Menu for Sviaty Vechir (Christmas Eve)

Kutya (a type of wheat porridge)

Borshch (hearty vegetable soup)

Baked or fried fish

Oseledsi (pickled fish)

Holubtsi (cabbage rolls)

Varenyky (dumpling) with potato, sauerkraut, and prune filling

Cooked beans

Kapusta and peas (sauerkraut and peas)

Beets with mushrooms

Stewed fruit


Around 85 percent of Ukrainians are Christian. Therefore, the most important holiday in the Ukrainian church is Easter, followed by Christmas. Both holidays are celebrated according to the old-style Julian calendar, resulting in Christmas Day falling on January 7. Christmas Eve is called the Sviaty Vechir (Holy Evening). To celebrate, a ritual meal is traditionally prepared with 12 mostly meatless dishes, which symbolize the 12 apostles who gathered at the Last Supper. In some homes, the supper table is scattered with some hay, in memory of baby Jesus in the manger, with an elaborate tablecloth. Kolach is a traditional bread placed in the middle of the table. The meal usually begins with a small bowl of kutya, a mixture of cooked wheat, honey, poppy seeds, chopped nuts, and apples. This is followed by several fish dishes, mushrooms, holubtsi (stuffed cabbage), varenyky (dumplings), fruits, cakes, such as makiwnyk (poppy seed cake) and bread. Borshch (a hearty soup) is usually included as well.

Kutya (Sweet Porridge)


  • 1 cup cream of wheat
  • ¼ cup margarine or butter
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup each honey, poppy seeds, and chopped nuts


  1. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Add the cream of wheat and chopped nuts. Stir until soft and the water is absorbed.
  3. Pour the mixture into a serving dish and add the butter and honey.
  4. Mix in the poppy seeds, saving a few for sprinkling over the top.

Serves 2.

Makiwnyk (Poppy Seed Cake)


  • ¾ cup poppy seeds
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • cup oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ lemon or orange rind, grated
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar


  1. Soak poppy seeds in milk for 1 hour in a large bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Add cornstarch, oil, sugar, vanilla and rind to the poppy seed-milk mixture and stir.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the poppy seed mixture and mix well.
  6. Pour into a greased cake pan and bake for 45 minutes.
  7. Top with glaze (see recipe).

Serves 6 to 8.

Makiwnyk Glaze (Poppy Seed Cake Glaze)


  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar


  1. Add the lemon juice and sugar to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  2. Stir gently until it forms a syrup.
  3. Drizzle over Makiwnyk.

A Ukrainian Easter meal also has its ritual foods. In the morning, breakfast foods such as hard-boiled eggs, kovbasa (sausage), baked cheese, breads, butter, and relishes, are placed into a basket and taken to church to be blessed. For Easter dinner, ham or roast pork, vegetable salads, cheesecake, tortes, and other pastries are eaten.

Besides Christmas and Easter, there are special breads for almost every important Ukrainian occasion. A bride and groom are blessed, and the dead remembered with kolach, a rich, intricate, braided bread, which symbolizes good fortune and eternity. For a typical wedding, seven bridesmaids grind flour from wheat grown in seven different fields to bake a korovai, a bread that symbolizes good luck. There are dozens of different ways of preparing and baking breads in the Ukraine.


In general, Ukrainians eat a light breakfast. It can be bread with butter served with coffee or tea, or pastries, such as a cream-filled blintz. Kasha (cereal), steamed buckwheat, barley, or millet with milk may also be served. Their main meal is eaten around mid-afternoon and usually consists of soup, such as borshch and a dish with meat or poultry. The third meal of the day takes place around 6 or 7 p.m. It is usually a time when all family members get together. Eating at a restaurant is considered a luxury, and is usually not done very often.

Ukrainians eat with a fork in their left hand and a knife in their right hand. It is considered impolite to hold your hands under the table during dinner, or to put your elbows on the table. In order not to seem wasteful, Ukrainians may eat everything on their plates. When they are visiting, Ukrainians may ask for second helpings to show appreciation for the food. Hosts often give guests a loaf of bread with salt on top, a tradition that dates back many centuries. Bread and salt were once considered necessary ingredients for health. The bread represents hospitality and the salt represents friendship.


About one-third of Ukraine's land is used as pasture. Crops include sugar beets, potatoes, rye, and wine grapes. Before its independence, Ukraine was the most productive agricultural area in the Soviet Union. The land accounted for one-quarter of Soviet Union grain production, one-fifth of its meat and dairy, and more than one half of its sugar beet production. Farmers raise cereal crops, such as wheat and corn. Since its independence, Ukraine has suffered financially, resulting in high food prices, a shortage of medical equipment, and modern facilities, especially in rural areas. Despite having economic difficulties, most Ukrainians receive adequate nutrition. In fact, less than one percent of children under five are malnourished, and only 6 percent of children are too short for their age. Since Ukraine joined the World Bank in 1992, many different programs have been implemented to help the country's economy.



Farley, Marta Pesetska. Festive Ukrainian Cooking. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1990.

Zahny, Bohdan. The Best of Ukrainian Cuisine. New York, NY: Hippocrene Books, 1998.

Web Sites [Online] Available (accessed April 22, 2001).

UkraineThe Breadbasket and the Sugar Bowl. [Online] Available (accessed April 22, 2001).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukraine." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukraine." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukraine." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from



UKRAINE. Ukraine entered the fifteenth century with no independent state of its own, as the formerly powerful principalities of Galicia and Volhyniaheirs of the once mighty Kievan Rus'succumbed to the rule of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. While the Rus' elites of the Galicia and Kholm regions, annexed by Poland in 1387, played little if any role in the political life of the Polish state, their counterparts in the rest of the Ruthenian (Ukrainian and Belarusian) territories, which were taken over by the Lithuanian princes in the course of the fourteenth century, became the most influential political force in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Their political clout was translated into cultural dominance, which was reflected in the status of the Ruthenian as the official language of the realm and in the conversion of numerous members of the Lithuanian ruling dynasty to Orthodoxy. The political, economic, and cultural dominance of the Ruthenian elites in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was, nevertheless, short-lived, as Lithuania, threatened by its northern and eastern neighbors, strengthened its ties with the Kingdom of Poland.

A number of agreements proclaiming the union of the two states opened the door to growing Polish political, religious, and cultural influences in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Union of Lublin (1569) concluded the process of the amalgamation of the two polities into one state, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The union was opposed by the Ruthenian princes, as it significantly curtailed their traditional powers in the region. It was supported nevertheless by the nobility, which as a result of the union received same political status as the Polish nobility (szlachta). After the conclusion of union, the Kingdom of Poland effectively took control of most of Ukraine, adding to its earlier Ukrainian possessions the Podlasia, Volhynia, Kiev, and Bratslav regions. All of the Belarusian lands remained within the boundaries of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The border between the new Commonwealth partners, in the Pripet River basin, laid the foundations for the modern Ukrainian-Belarusian border. One of the consequences of the union in the cultural sphere was the gradual replacement of Ruthenian as the official language of the area by Latin and Polish. The Union of Lublin increased the Polish presence in Ukraine, as kings granted large latifundia there to Polish nobles. It also helped to initiate a mass migration of the Jewish population into central and eastern Ukraine.

From the late sixteenth century, the union of the Orthodox and Catholic Christians of the Commonwealth became the leitmotif of a controversial government policy. The union was proclaimed at the church council of Brest in 1596, and it provoked a strong negative reaction on the part of Ruthenian princes, Orthodox brotherhoods, and the majority of the monastic clergy. These groups had, in the decades leading to the Union of Brest, worked hard for the revival of Orthodox religious tradition and culture. The leading role in promotion of Orthodox learning was played by Prince Kostiantyn Ostrozky, who founded the Ostrih Academy (c. 1576) and sponsored the publication of the Church Slavonic Bible in 15801581. The Union of Brest provoked the rise of religious polemics in Ukraine. The writings of Catholic authors, among whom Piotr Skarga was most prominent, and Uniate writers, led by Metropolitan Ipatii Potii, were countered by Orthodox polemicists, who included the author of the first Church Slavonic grammar, Meletii Smotrytsky. In 1620 the Orthodox managed to restore their church hierarchy, and by 1633 they assured its recognition by the authorities. Peter Mohyla, the first "legitimate" Orthodox metropolitan of Kiev since the proclamation of the Union of Brest, played a leading role in the reform of Orthodox Christianity. He helped establish the Kiev College to raise the educational level of the clergy, standardized liturgical practices, and sponsored the composition of the Orthodox confession of faith, which was approved by the eastern patriarchs in 1643. The Kievan metropolitanate under Mohyla led the entire Orthodox Church along the way to confessionalization.


An important role in the Uniate-Orthodox conflicts of the first half of the seventeenth century was played by the Ukrainian Cossacks, whose military clout assured the restoration of the Orthodox hierarchy in 1620. The Cossacks, whose existence is first recorded in historical sources at the end of the fifteenth century, grew by the mid-seventeenth century into an influential military and political force, which often raised the banner of Orthodoxy in its fight against the authorities. The growth of Cossackdom was closely associated with the colonization of the steppe areas of Ukraine, the construction of border castles and towns, and the advance of the magnates' latifundia, which resulted in the gradual enserfment of the peasantry. The transformation of Ukrainian Cossackdom from bands of fishermen, hunters, and freebooters to military formations in the service of Polish kings and a new social group striving for recognition on a par with the nobility was marked by a number of violent conflicts with the authorities. The latter tried to limit the number of Cossacks in the royal register and thus to curb the access of burghers and peasants to this socially and economically privileged group. Another reason for the authorities' desire to curb the growth of Cossackdom was constant Cossack interference in international affairs. The Cossacks' seagoing expeditions to the Ottoman possessions of the Black Sea littoral, their raids into the Crimea, and their interference into the internal affairs of Moldavia put the Commonwealth on a collision course with the High Porte and forced the Polish authorities to take a hard line against the Cossacks.

Between 1591 and 1638 there were five major Cossack uprisings against the Commonwealth and a number of smaller conflicts. By far the largest Cossack uprising started in the spring of 1648 under the leadership of the Cossack officer Bohdan Khmelnytsky. As with many earlier revolts, this one began at the Zaporozhian Sichthe Cossack headquarters in the lower Dnieper area. In a surprising move, the Cossacks united their forces with their traditional adversaries the Crimean Tatars and in the course of 1648 and 1649 scored a number of impressive victories over the armed forces of the Commonwealth. The Cossack military successes were accompanied by the massacre and expulsion of the Polish and Jewish population from the Cossack-controlled territories, as both groups were viewed by the rebels as close associates of the oppressive regime in Ukraine. In August 1649, after a successful battle against Commonwealth forces at Zboriv, the Cossacks made an agreement that recognized their control over three eastern palatinates of the Commonwealth and led to the foundations of a Cossack state known as the Hetmanate. Khmelnytsky's search for allies in his struggle with the Commonwealth led him first to the formal acceptance of Ottoman suzerainty in 1651. When the sultan failed to deliver the expected military assistance, Khmelnytsky turned to a Muscovite protectorate in 1654. He also sought other allies in his war against the Commonwealth, establishing especially close links with Sweden.

Khmelnytsky's policy of conducting an independent foreign policy irrespective of the wishes of Muscovy culminated during the tenure of his successor as hetman, former General Chancellor Ivan Vyhovsky. Disappointed with Muscovite policy, Vyhovsky turned to the Commonwealth, signing an agreement in September 1658 at Hadiach. This "union" would introduce the Ruthenian nation as a third partner in the Commonwealth, along with the Poles and Lithuanians. It expressed the strivings of the Ukrainian nobility but did not sit well with the Cossack rank and file. And the Polish side was not ready to accept the rebellious Ruthenians as equals. Both factors led to the collapse of the Hadiach agreement and the loss of power by Vyhovsky in 1659.


The new hetman, Bohdan Khmelnytsky's son Iurii, initially sided with Muscovy, but in 1660 switched allegiance to the Commonwealth, thereby creating a split within the Cossack officer stratum. Some, led by Colonel Iakiv Somko, denounced the younger Khmelnytsky and remained loyal to the tsar. What followed was the period which in Ukrainian historiography is known as the "ruin." Muscovy fought Polish-Lithuanian and Ottoman armies, each side assisted by competing Cossack factions led by their own hetmans. The signing of Andrusovo agreement (1667) between Muscovy and the Commonwealth effectively divided Ukraine into two parts: territories on the left bank of the Dnieper together with Kiev (first temporarily and then permanently) went to Muscovy, while the rest of Ukraine remained under Polish control. An attempt to reestablish Cossack control over both parts of Ukraine was led by Hetman Peter Doroshenko, who relied on Ottoman help to achieve this goal. His attempt ended in failure in 1676 when Doroshenko was forced to abandon his office and surrender to the pro-Muscovite hetman of Left Bank Ukraine. The decades of continuous war brought devastation to Ukraine. The Right Bank, which was turned into a battleground between the competing Ottoman, Polish, and Cossack armies, suffered especially. Between 1672 and 1699 Podillia and parts of Right Bank Ukraine were ruled by the Ottomans, but they then returned to Polish control.

Cossack statehood and autonomy survived only in Muscovite-controlled Left Bank Ukraine. The relative security and stability of the region attracted numerous immigrants from Right Bank Ukraine. Among these was the Cossack officer Ivan Mazepa, who became hetman in 1687. Mazepa's name is linked to the Hetmanate's last attempt to play an independent role in international politics. Unhappy with the policies of Peter I of Russia, which aimed to further limit the Hetmanate's autonomy, in 1708 Mazepa joined the invading army of Charles XII of Sweden. Only part of the Cossack officers followed their hetman, and the defeat of Charles XII and Mazepa's forces at the hands of the Russian army in the battle of Poltava in 8 July (27 June o.s.) 1709 firmly reestablished Russian control over Left Bank Ukraine. Mazepa's "treason" was used by Peter to launch a decisive attack on the remnants of the Hetmanate's autonomy. The capital of the Hetmanate was moved closer to the border with Russia, the tsar took over the right to appoint Cossack colonels, his representative took up permanent residence at the hetman's court, and eventually the office of the hetman itself was abolished and replaced in 1722 by the rule of the Little Russian Collegium.


In the course of the eighteenth century the Left Bank Cossack officer stratum developed a new identity, defined by loyalty to the "Little Russian" nation. That identity was deeply rooted in the loyalty to the Hetmanate's political traditions and institutions. It stressed cultural differences between Russia and Ukraine, but in most cases complemented the all-Russian identity of the Hetmanate's elite. The sons of Little Russia were among the architects of the all-Russian identity through most of the eighteenth century, and although they resented the abolition of their autonomy, after Mazepa they were reluctant to rebel against the tsar. Taking advantage of the change of rulers in St. Petersburg, the Cossack officers managed to restore the hetman's office twice, in 17271734 and 17501764. Nevertheless, these temporary successes in preserving the symbol of Cossack statehood could not reverse the slowly but evenly advancing process of the imperial absorption of the Hetmanate. This process culminated under Catherine II, who in the 1760s1780s permanently abolished the hetman's office; liquidated the Zaporozhian Sich, an autonomous Cossack Host in Lower Dnieper; and finally liquidated the Hetmanate altogether.

The successful wars with the Ottomans in the second half of the eighteenth century and the annexation of the Crimea by the Russian Empire in 1783 opened the steppes of southern Ukraine to further colonization and brought numerous settlers of Russian, Serbian, German, and Mennonite extraction into the region, apart from Ukrainian Cossacks and peasantry. The partitions of Poland (17721795) brought under Russian control most ethnic Ukrainian territories, with the exception of Galicia, Bukovina, and Transcarpathia, which were ruled by the Habsburgs. The Russian Empire took over territories settled mostly by Ukrainian and Belarusian peasants, the majority of whom adhered by that time to the Uniate church and were ruled by Polish, or heavily Polonized, Roman Catholic nobility.

See also Andrusovo, Truce of ; Belarus ; Cossacks ; Hetmanate (Ukraine) ; Khmelnytsky, Bohdan ; Khmelnytsky Uprising ; Lithuania, Grand Duchy of, to 1569 ; Lithuanian Literature and Language ; Lublin, Union of (1569) ; Mazepa, Ivan ; Orthodoxy, Russian ; Poland to 1569 ; Poland-Lithuania, Commonwealth of, 15691795 ; Reformations in Eastern Europe: Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox ; Russia ; Ukrainian Literature and Language ; Uniates ; Union of Brest (1596) .


Frick, David A. Meletij Smotryc'kyj. Cambridge, Mass., 1995.

Gordon, Linda. Cossack Rebellions: Social Turmoil in the Sixteenth-Century Ukraine. Albany, N.Y, 1983.

Gudziak, Borys A. Crisis and Reform: The Kyivan Metropolitanate, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the Genesis of the Union of Brest. Cambridge, Mass., 1998.

Hrushevsky, Mykhailo. History of Ukraine-Rus'. Edited by Andrzej Poppe and Frank E. Sysyn. Translated by Marta Skorupsky. Edmonton, 1997. See especially vols. 7 and 8.

Kaminski, Andrzej Sulima. Republic vs. Autocracy: Poland-Lithuania and Russia, 16861697. Cambridge, Mass., 1993.

Kohut, Zenon E. Russian Centralism and Ukrainian Autonomy: Imperial Absorption of the Hetmanate, 1760s1830s. Cambridge, Mass., 1988.

Pelenski, Jaroslaw. The Contest for the Legacy of Kievan Rus'. Boulder, Colo., and New York, 1998.

Plokhy, Serhii. The Cossacks and Religion in Early Modern Ukraine. New York, 2001.

. Tsars and Cossacks: A Study in Iconography. Cambridge, Mass., 2002.

Polonska-Vasylenko, Natalia. The Settlement of the Southern Ukraine, 17501775. New York, 1955.

Sevcenko, Ihor. Ukraine Between East and West: Essays on Cultural History to the Early Eighteenth Century. Edmonton, 1996.

Subtelny, Orest. The Mazepists: Ukrainian Separatism in the Early Eighteenth Century. Boulder, Colo., and New York, 1981.

Sysyn, Frank E. Between Poland and the Ukraine: The Dilemma of Adam Kysil, 16001653. Cambridge, Mass., 1985.

Serhii Plokhy

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukraine." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukraine." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukraine." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from



Official name: Ukraine

Area: 603,700 square kilometers (233,090 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Hoverlya (2,061 meters/6,762 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 2 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 1316 kilometers (818 miles) from east to west; 893 kilometers (555 miles) from north to south

Land boundaries: 4,558 kilometers (2,832 miles) total boundary length; Belarus 891 kilometers (554 miles); Hungary 103 kilometers (64 miles); Moldova 939 kilometers (583 miles); Poland 428 kilometers (266 miles); Romania 531 kilometers (330 miles); Russia 1,576 kilometers (979 miles); Slovakia 90 kilometers (56 miles)

Coastline: 2,782 kilometers (1,729 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


Ukraine is the second-largest country in Eastern Europe. It shares borders with Belarus, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. It has a southeastern shoreline on the Sea of Azov and a south-central coast along the Black Sea. With a total area of about 603,700 square kilometers (233,090 square miles), the country is slightly smaller than the state of Texas. Ukraine is administratively divided into twenty-four oblasti, one autonomous republic, and two municipalities.


Ukraine has no outside territories or dependencies.


The climate of Ukraine is considered moderate and continental, with warm summers and cold winters. The climate is Mediterranean along the southern Crimean coast, with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. In Kiev, the July temperature averages 20°C (69°F), while in January the average is -6°C (21°F). Summers are warmer and winters are colder in eastern Ukraine, where the weather is influenced by large air masses from the steppes of Central Asia.

Ukraine's mild-to-moderate climate includes moderate levels of precipitation, averaging around 50 centimeters (20 inches) per year, although the amount varies by region. Rainfall is most frequent in summer; the highest amounts occur in the Carpathian Mountains and the lowest occur on the Black Sea coast, which proves favorable for the Crimean tourism industry.


Due to its great size, Ukraine features a wide variety of terrain and climate conditions. The center of the country is predominantly a rolling upland plain, or steppe. This plain is crossed by many of Eastern Europe's major rivers. Other lower plains are found along the Black Sea coast, while the southwestern corner of the country is part of the delta of the Danube River. The Polesye Marshes consist of low-lying swamps and wooded bogs in northern Ukraine, extending into Belarus. The Carpathian Mountains rise in the west. Lower mountains dot the Crimean Peninsula (an autonomous republic considered part of Ukraine) and the southeastern Donets region. Ukraine is located on the Eurasian Tectonic Plate.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

Ukraine's coastline lies entirely on the Black Sea in the south. Only the southwestern coast is on the Black Sea proper, however; the rest is on the Sea of Azov, an arm of the Black Sea that is formed by Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. The Black Sea is an inland body of water that lies between the continents of Europe and Asia. It contains calm waters that are free of tides and dangerous marine life. Called the "Hospitable Sea" by the ancient Greeks, the Black Sea is only half as saline as the Mediterranean Sea and has gentle sandy slopes, making it ideal for swimming.

Sea Inlets and Straits

Estuaries of the Dnieper, Southern Bug, and Dniester Rivers, as well as the delta of the Danube in the southwest, empty into the Black Sea. Karkinit Bay indents the coast deeply, nearly separating the Crimean Peninsula from the mainland. On the far side of the peninsula, the Kerch Strait connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. The Sea of Azov is otherwise completely enclosed by Ukraine in the west and Russia in the east. It has an area of 14,517 square miles (37,599 square kilometers). Its coastline in Ukraine consists of uplands and steppes. In the northeast, it extends deeply into Russia at the Gulf of Taganrog. In the west, the Sivash Lagoon nearly reaches Karkinit Bay in the Black Sea, separated only by the narrow Isthmus of Perekop.

Coastal Features

The coast on the Black Sea itself is a lowland area, with clay soils.

The Crimean Peninsula, also known as the Crimea, is an autonomous republic in southeastern Ukraine. The peninsula extends well into the Black Sea, measuring 175 kilometers (110 miles) from north to south and 320 kilometers (200 miles) from east to west, with a total area of 25,993 square kilometers (10,036 square miles). The narrow Isthmus of Perekop joins the peninsula to the mainland in the north and the Kerch Peninsula extends to the east, almost linking it with Russia. The Arabat Spit is a long stretch of sand along the northeast coast of Crimea that helps to form the Sivash Lagoon.

The climate along the southern Crimean coast is mild and the land is scenic, with an abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards, and resorts. Although the southeastern section of the peninsula is mountainous, most of the interior is a flat plain or steppe. In contrast to the Mediterranean-like southern coast, the Crimean plains experience cold, windy winters and arid summers.


More than twenty thousand small lakes dot the Ukraine landscape, covering a total area of about 18,139 square kilometers (7,000 square miles). The largest lakes in the country are all artificial, as the many dams on the Dnieper have created huge reservoirs. The Kremenchuk Reservoir and the Kakhovka Reservoir are the largest. The Kiev, Kaniv, and Dniprodzerzhynsk Reservoirs are also noteworthy. The largest natural lake is Lake Yalpuh (220 square kilometers/136 square miles) in the Danube flood plain. Lake Svityaz (27 square kilometers/17 square miles) is a lake in the Polesye Marshes of the northwest.


Ukraine's most important river is the Dnieper. It flows south across the middle of the country for about 980 kilometers (610 miles), curving first east, then west, then finally south again before entering the Black Sea. It flows for a total of 2,290 kilometers (1,420 miles) from its source in Russia, making it the third-longest river in Europe. Only the Volga and Danube Rivers are longer.

Over half of Ukraine's rivers belong to the Dnieper system, draining a vast area of nearly 518,000 square kilometers (200,000 square miles). Passing through Ukraine's most agriculturally developed and industrialized areas, the Dnieper River is used to ship grain, lumber, and metals. In Ukraine the river is entirely navigable, although it freezes during the winter. The capital city of Kiev is located on the upper Dnieper. There are numerous hydroelectric dams and large reservoirs all along the Dnieper in Ukraine. Important tributary rivers include Berezina, Desna, and Pripyat' (Pripet).

The northernmost channel of the Danube River forms Ukraine's southwestern border with Romania. At 2,850 kilometers (1,771 miles), it is the second-longest river in Europe. Thus, while it flows through Ukraine for only a short distance before emptying into the Black Sea, the Danube is the longest river that passes through the country. The Danube has been a vital commercial and communications link since ancient times, connecting the interior of Eastern and Central Europe to the Black Sea.

The Dniester River originates in the Carpathian Mountains near Drohobych in western Ukraine. It then flows southeast for 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) through western Ukraine and eastern Moldova (forming part of the border with that country), before emptying into the Black Sea southwest of Odessa. Its average width is 152 to 229 meters (500 to 750 feet), but near the mouth it reaches a maximum width of 427 meters (1,400 feet) and also forms a broad, marshy lagoon called the Dnistrovskyy Lyman. For most of the year, grain, vegetables, sunflower seeds, cattle, and lumber produced in the Dniester River Basin are shipped down the river to the Black Sea and on to European and Asian markets. The Dniester Basin encompasses some 77,700 square kilometers (30,000 square miles). In winter the river remains largely frozen.

The Donets River (1,015 kilometers/631 miles) has its source in Russia and flows south into Ukraine, then curves east across the easternmost part of the country and reenters Russia. A tributary of Russia's Don River, which empties into the Sea of Azov, the Donets has long been used as a transportation artery. The Donets Basin is an important center of industry and population in Ukraine.

The Bug River (Western Bug) originates in western Ukraine and flows north, forming part of the border with Poland. Another river of the same name, the Southern Bug, rises in northwestern Ukraine and flows southeast, eventually emptying into the Black Sea near the mouth of the Dnieper. Navigation is possible only for about 160 kilometers (100 miles) because of shallow conditions and rough water. At 856 kilometers (532 miles) in length, the Southern Bug is the longest river that lies entirely within Ukraine.

The Tisza River, noted for its abundance of fish, is formed by the confluence of the Black Tisza and the White Tisza rivers in the Ukraine's Carpathian Mountains. It then flows northeast into Romania, curving southwest and then south, running for a total of some 970 kilometers (600 miles) before finally joining the Danube in northern Serbia.

The Polesye Marshes are a lowland in northern Ukraine and southern Belarus, located along the Pripyat' River and covering about 270 square kilometers (105 square miles), making them the largest wetland in Europe. The land consists mostly of flat, sandy, bog soils, interspersed by a few low hills. Forests cover about a third of the marshes. The marshes range in elevation from 100 meters (328 feet) in the northeast to 250 meters (820 feet) in the south.


There are no desert regions in Ukraine.


Central Ukraine is characterized by mixed forest-steppe, with grasslands interspersed with various deciduous trees, primarily oak. A true steppe zone (grassy plains) covers the lower third of the country, thinning out in the drier, more arid south. Along the southern Crimean coast lies a narrow Mediterranean zone of mixed shrubs, grasses, and evergreens.

Ukraine has well-defined forest zones, with beech trees in the west; linden, oak, and pine forest in the north and northwestern swamps and meadows; and spruce trees in the northeast. About 18 percent of the country is blanketed by forest; the densest tree cover occurs in the Carpathian Mountains and in the Polesye Marshes.

Outside of its mountains, Ukraine has several areas of hills and uplands. The most noteworthy are the Azov Upland north of the Sea of Azov, the Donets Hills, and the Dnieper Upland, which is the watershed between the Dnieper and the Southern Bug.


The Carpathian Mountains in the extreme west are the highest peaks in the country. Mount Hoverlya, the tallest summit in the country (2,061 meters/6,762 feet), emerges from the Carpathians. The Crimean Mountains at the southern end of Crimea are also noteworthy, reaching a maximum height of 1,545 meters (5,068 feet) at Mount Roman-Kosh.


The Giant Gypsum Caves of Western Ukraine are located within the region north of the Carpathian Mountains. One of the most famous is Optimistic Cave, which has labyrinth passageways that stretch for a total distance of about 212 kilometers (132 miles), making it the largest cave on the continent and one of the largest in the world.

The Monastery of the Caves, near Kiev, is a fifty-six-acre complex that started out as a small cave dwelling for a single Russian Orthodox monk. Around the year 1051, as others joined him in his monastic life, the small cave was dug into a larger underground community of cells (residences for the monks) and a church. Eventually, the monks moved above ground and began to use the caves as a burial site. Today, the caves and the more recent cathedral structures have been designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.


There are no major plateau regions in Ukraine.


Ukraine has a large number of dams built along nearly all of the major rivers of the country. The largest ones are located on the Dnieper River. These include the Kremenchuk, the Kakhovka, the Kiev, the Kaniv, and the Dniprodzerzhynsk Dams. They are used primarily for hydroelectric power, flood protection, and irrigation. All of these dams have created large reservoirs throughout the course of their respective rivers.


In April 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in northern Ukraine experienced an explosion and core meltdown. Radioactive contamination spread through the air over northern Ukraine and southern Belarus and seeped into the ground, poisoning the water supply and the nearby farmland. The devastating effects of this accident on human health and the environment continue into the twenty-first century.



Bassis, Volodymyr. Ukraine. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1997.

Magocsi, Paul Robert. Ukraine: A Historical Atlas. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985.

Subtelny, Orest. Ukraine: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988.


Edwards, Mike. "Ukraine." National Geographic, May 1987, 595-631.

Web Sites:

The Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, DC. (accessed May 9, 2003).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukraine." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukraine." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukraine." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from





POPULATION: Over 50 million (total population of country; 75 percent, or 37.5 million, are ethnic Ukrainians)

LANGUAGE: Ukrainian

RELIGION: Christianity


Ukraine has had three periods of national statehood. The first period was that of Kievan Rus, with its capital in Kiev, which existed from the ninth to fourteenth centuries ad. The second was the Cossack period, lasting from the middle of the seventeenth century to the end of the eighteenth century. The third period began with the fall of tsarist (royal) Russia in 1918. A sovereign Ukrainian state, the Ukrainian National Republic, was established on January 22, 1918. However, it lasted only a few years. Ukraine was then divided among Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania. After World War II (193945), all Ukrainian territories were integrated into the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine gained its independence. Leonid Kravchuk was elected president. The government began implementing democratic, free-enterprise policies. On June 29, 1996, the Ukrainian Parliament approved the first Constitution of Ukraine, just a few weeks before the fifth anniversary of its independence.


Ukraine is the second-largest country in Europe, after France. It covers about 233,000 square miles (604,000 square kilometers) of land in Eastern Europe. Thanks to its wheat production, Ukraine is commonly referred to as the "breadbasket of Europe." Approximately 65 percent of its soil is fertile "black earth" (chornozem). It is also rich in mineral resources. Ukraine has a population of over 50 million people; 37.5 million of which are ethnic Ukrainians.


Ukrainian is the native language of over 40 million people. It is now the official language of Ukraine. It is spoken widely in central and western Ukraine. In cities where there are large concentrations of ethnic Russians, the Ukrainian and Russian languages are both commonly used. In eastern Ukraine near the border with Russia, the Russian language, spoken with a Ukrainian accent, dominates.

The Ukrainian alphabet resembles Russian, with a few subtle differences.

Examples of everyday Ukrainian words include dobryj den (hello), tak (yes), nee (no), bood laska (please), dyakooyoo (thank you), and do pobachenya (goodbye).


Ukrainian legends include tales of the founding of the city of Kiev by the three brothers Kyi, Scheck, and Khoryv, and their sister Lybed. Other legends tell of the magical weed of the steppes region called yevshan zillia. It had the power of bringing lost souls back to their homeland. There is also the tale of Oleksa Dovbush, a Ukrainian Robin Hood who lived in the Carpathian Mountains. He stole from the rich to give to the poor. A number of different sites in the Carpathians are named after him.


In 1988 Ukrainians celebrated the 1,000-year anniversary of Christianity in Ukraine. About 75 percent of Ukrainians belong to the Eastern Orthodox faith.

Under the communist regime (192091), the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was forcibly incorporated into the Russian Orthodox Church. The Ukrainian Catholic Church met a similar fate soon after its abolition by the Soviet government in 1946.


The most important holiday in the Ukrainian church is Easter. Ukrainians are known throughout the world for their pysanky (pie-SANK-ee), decorating of eggs at Easter. Acrylic or oil paint is applied to hollow eggshells in bold, geometric patterns. Families save their finest examples, passing the decorated eggshells down as treasured family heirlooms.

Both Christmas and Easter are celebrated according to the Julian calendar. (The Julian calendar was established during the rule of Julius Caesar in 46 bc. It was modified by Pope Gregory in ad 1582. The modified calendar, called the Gregorian calendar, is used by most countries of the world. Some religions, including Eastern Orthodoxy, use the Julian calendar, which is thirteen days behind the Gregorian. Thus Christmas Day is celebrated on January 7 rather than December 25.) New Year's is celebrated with special carols called shchedrivky.


The majority of Ukrainians mark the major events of the life cycle within the traditions of the Orthodox church.

The Ivan Kupalo festival has remained a popular custom among Ukrainian youth. Kupalo was believed to be the god of love and fertility. In his honor, young men and women gather around streams and ponds, where they build fires and sing songs. Some youths even practice jumping over the fire. They may braid field flowers into wreaths that are sent floating on the water. If the wreath floats, they will be lucky in love; if it sinks, they will be unhappy.


Ukrainians are very warm and hospitable. They greet visitors with the standard Dobryiden (Good day), and very often with three kisses on the cheek. Hugging is another way Ukrainians greet one another, followed by a hearty handshake. During the early 1990s, a popular greeting among Ukrainians was Slava Ukraini (Glory to Ukraine). The toast is also a popular custom among Ukrainians. Often one person in a group will announce a toast, followed by the words na zdorovia (to your health), or day Bozhe (glory to God).


Approximately two-thirds of Ukraine's population live in cities. High-rise apartments built during the Soviet era (192091) are the most common dwellings there. Living quarters are often poorly constructed, overcrowded, and small by Western standards.

About one-third of Ukraine's population live in rural areas. In the small villages and homesteads, farming is the most common occupation. The standard of living in rural areas is lower than in cities. Recently, many rural dwellers have migrated to the cities to find more profitable work.


Family size has decreased rapidly in Ukraine. Many families have only one child because they cannot afford to have any more. Marriage is a festive affair, involving many old customs and traditions. In recent years, the divorce rate has been rising.

Women in Ukraine have been, and remain, economically dependent on men. The Ukrainian parliament is nearly all male, with only a few female deputies out of over four hundred parliament members.


Ukrainians generally wear Western-style clothing. Young Ukrainians enjoy following Western trends and fashions. They especially like popular brand-name or designer clothes. Different regions of Ukraine have their own traditional costumes. These are worn on holidays or other special occasions. The costumes are decorated with beautiful, colorful embroidery unique to each region.


Ukrainian cuisine plays a role in customs and rituals. There are ritual breads for Christmas, Easter, weddings, and funerals. These include Easter paska bread, and wedding korovai and dyven. Other traditional foods are pyrohy (baked pies with fillings), varenyky (filled, cooked dumplings), and holubtsi (stuffed cabbage rolls). Borshch (red beet soup) is served with dinner. Pork and pork products, such as ham, sausage (kovbasa), and blood sausage (kyshka), are the most popular meats. Ukrainians also eat large amounts of potatoes, cooked buckwheat (kasha), and different types of rye bread. Some popular drinks include tea, coffee, honey liqueur, kvas ( an alcoholic beverage make from fermented bread and water, and sold from barrels by street vendors), kompot (homemade fruit drink), and vodka (horilka in Ukrainian).


Borshch Ukrainsky


  • 2 cans of sliced beets (12 ounces each)
  • 2 cans of beef broth
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and cut in half lengthwise
  • ½ cup sour cream (plain yogurt may be substituted)


  1. Combine beets and beef broth in pan.
  2. Heat slowly, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
  3. Ladle into bowls.
  4. Float a hard-boiled egg half, cut side up, in each bowl, and top with a spoonful of sour cream or yogurt.

Note: This may be served hot or cold.

Adapted from Webb, Lois Sinaiko. Holidays of the World Cookbook for Students. Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 1995.


Ukrainian children are required to attend school for eleven years, from about the age of seven to the age of eighteen. After grade nine, students have two choices: they can continue in a general academic program or enroll in technical or trade school. There are about 150 schools of higher education in Ukraine, including 9 universities. The largest and most popular universities are the Kiev State University, Lviv State University, and Kharkiv State University.


The music of Ukraine is firmly rooted in its folklore. The bandura, Ukraine's national instrument, may have from twenty to sixty-five strings and is similar to a lute. The bandura is most often played to accompany dancers and singers. In the late 1800s, Ukrainian musicians known as kobzari (kawb-ZAHR-ee) developed epic songs called duma (DOO-mah), depicting heroic efforts of Ukrainians to win freedom and peace. The compositions of Mykola Lysenko (18421912) are infused with Ukrainian folk themes and motifs. Borys Lyatoshynsky (18951968) is considered the father of modern Ukrainian music. Leading contemporary composers include Volodymyr Huba, Ivan Karabyts, and Oleh Kyva. To date, the most important Ukrainian pop composer is Volodymyr Ivasiuk (194979). The most original of the newer songwriters is Taras Petrynenko.

The "father" of modern Ukrainian literature was Ivan Kotliarevsky, author of the Eneida (1798), which transformed the heroes of Virgil's Aeneid into Ukrainian Cossacks. The most outstanding poet of the nineteenth century was Taras Shevchenko (181461). The greatest realist of the late 1800s was Ivan Franko, whose novels told of life in contemporary Galicia (a western region of Ukraine, later ceded to Poland).

During much of the communist era (192091) in Ukraine, literature was strictly censored by the government. Certain literary styles, such as Socialist Realism, were promoted by the Communist Party during this time.


Ukraine is now in the process of moving into a market economy, which has been socially and politically difficult because of inflation, unemployment, and general economic uncertainty. Most of Ukraine's population is employed in agriculture or in the metalworking, construction, chemical, or food industries.


Ukrainians engage in soccer, volleyball, track and field, basketball, hockey, skating, and swimming. Soccer is definitely the biggest sport, and the favorite team is Kiev Dynamo. With the success of Olympic medal-winners Oksana Baiul and Victor Petrenko, ice skating has also become very popular. Ukrainian gymnasts won twenty-two medals in the Summer 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Skiing, mostly in the Carpathian mountains, is also a sport enjoyed by many.


Ukraine's new democratic government lacks funds to support the arts. However, one can still find numerous art exhibits, concerts, literary evenings, and plays in most cities. The Shevchenko National Opera Company, Ivan Franko National Theater, and State Operetta are home to opera and ballet performances, as well as other cultural events.

Folk dancing is done on special occasions, such as weddings and festivals. In a popular folk dance called the hopak, male dancers compete against each other, performing acrobatic leaps.


Embroidery (vyshyvannia) is the most popular Ukrainian folk art and hobby. It is known for its varied colors, complex stitches, and intricate designs. The Ukrainian vyshyvka (embroidered design) is applied to many everyday items, including pillows, aprons, towels, and other household articles.


As a newly independent country, Ukraine faces a number of social problems similar to those in the West. Alcoholism, unemployment, organized crime, drugs, prostitution, and the AIDS epidemic are the main areas of concern. The crime rate has also risen, especially in the cities.


Kardash, Peter. Ukraine and Ukrainians. Australia: Fortuna Co., 1991.

Kubijovyc, Volodymyr, and Danylo Husar Struk, ed. Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, Inc., 1993.

Subtelny, Orest. Ukraine: A History. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press in association with the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1988


World Travel Guide. [Online] Available, 1998

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukrainians." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukrainians." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukrainians." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from

Ukrainian Literature and Language


UKRAINIAN LITERATURE AND LANGUAGE. The history of a literary language in Ukraine begins with the Christianization of Kievan Rus' about 988 and the adoption of the Church Slavonic language for use in liturgy and literature (chronicles, saints' lives, sermons). The Mongol Tatar destruction of Kiev in 1240 and the fourteenth-century partition of Ukrainian lands, chiefly among Lithuania and Poland, had profound effects on the development of languages and literatures in the area. In 1433 the Polish king Władysław II Jagiełło introduced Polish usage in Galician chanceries (at first Latin, then Latin and Polish) for court records and documents of state. In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, on the other hand (which included what would become the Kiev Palatinate at this point), Ruthenian (ruskii) was employed in the chancery. Although the language came to have Belarusian features at its base, it tolerated Ukrainian dialect features as well and could serve as the "vulgar tongue" (prostyi iazyk, prostaia mova) for a "Ruthenian nation" that had not yet differentiated into Ukrainians and Belarusians.

After the "silence" of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, Ukrainian intellectuals helped to mount a Ruthenian revival. These activities came in reaction to the confessional and cultural challenges posed by the Reformation and Counter-Reformation in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Among other things, the then Calvinist (and future Antitrinitarian) minister Szymon Budny had published a Ruthenian catechism at Niasvizh (Nieśwież) in 1562. The architect of the Union of Brest, the Polish Jesuit Piotr Skarga, had asserted in 1577 that only Greek and Latin could function as languages of learning and religion, because only they possessed grammars and lexicons and thus "are always the same and never change." Responses came from centers in Ostrih (the Slavic-Greek-Latin Academy) as well as Lviv, Vilnius, and Kiev, where brotherhoods, schools, and printing presses were employed in the "national" cause.

Ruthenian scholars sought to answer Skarga's challenge by writing grammars and dictionaries of Church Slavonic, in which they wished to see a Ruthenian Latin. First attempts to produce a grammar (Adelphotïs, a Greek grammar with facing Slavonic translation, 1591; Lavrentii Zyzanii's Slavonic Grammar, 1596) culminated in Meletii Smotrytskyi's Collection of Rules of Slavonic Grammar (16181619), which served as the norm throughout the Orthodox Slavic world until the early nineteenth century. Pamvo Berynda (1627), Iepyfanii Slavynetskyi (1642), and Slavynetskyi together with Arsenii Koretskyi (1649) would offer lexicons and dictionaries.

Editions of Holy Scripture and liturgical books were a part of the revival. The Peresopnytsia Gospel (15561561), a sort of Slavonic-Ruthenian hybrid, remained in manuscript form. A Church Slavonic apostol (Acts and Epistles) was printed at Lviv in 1574, and a Bible, the first complete printing in the language, at Ostrih in 15801581. Metropolitan Peter Mohyla directed a project of correction and edition of Church Slavonic liturgical books in the 1630s and 1640s.

With the growth of Catholic and Protestant confessional propaganda and devotional literature (in both Polish and Ruthenian) came attempts to establish Ruthenian as a "national" vulgar tongue. Borrowing the argumentation of Protestant and Catholic discussions on the licitness and range of uses for popular languages, Meletii Smotrytskyi motivated his decision in 1616 to offer a Ruthenian translation of the old Slavonic Homiliary Gospel (a collection of sermons he hoped would stand in as an Orthodox postil) with the argument that, although he would rather use "the more noble, beautiful, concise, subtle and rich Slavonic language," he had listened to St. Paul and offered the work now in the "baser and more vulgar tongue," since "it is a more useful thing to speak five words in an intelligible tongue, than ten thousand in an unknown tongue (especially for the instruction of the people)" (1 Cor. 14:19). Although a certain number of works related to confession and devotion continued to appear in Ruthenian, Polish soon dominated in these areas of Ruthenian letters. The effects of the increasing Polonization that followed the Union of Lublin (1569) can be seen clearly in the history of the polemic leading up to and following the Union of Brest (1596). In the early stages, Orthodox, Uniates, and Catholics often employed Ruthenian in their tracts, sometimes issuing parallel Polish versions. By 1597 the Orthodox side had issued a first polemical treatise in Polish, and after 1628 all sides used Polish exclusively.

Thus by the early seventeenth century Ukrainians were using three literary languages: Church Slavonic in its new Meletian codification, Polish, and Ruthenian. Ruthenian usage began to accept more and more recognizably Ukrainian features; at the same time, Ruthenian texts came to look more and more like Polish written with Cyrillic letters. The program of Smotrytskyi and others had been to set Church Slavonic on a level with Latin as the language of Ruthenian culture, education, and high literature (including poetry), and to set Ruthenian next to Polish as a "vulgar tongue" with a wide range of usage in literature and private devotion. The program reached far beyond practice. Nonetheless, literature in Ruthenian experienced a modest flourishing in the seventeenth century. The archimandrite of the Kiev Caves Monastery Zahariia Kopystenskyi produced a monumental statement of the Orthodox position on the confessional debates in his Palinodia of 16201624, which, however, remained in manuscript until 1894. Monk Ivan Vyshenskyi used Ruthenian in the polemical tracts and epistles he sent to Rus' from Mt. Athos. The churchmen Leontii Karpovych, Meletii Smotrytskyi, Kyrylo Trankvilion-Stavrovetskyi, Ioannikii Haliatovskyi, Antonii Radyvylovskyi, Lazar Baranovych, Dmytro Tuptalo, and Stefan Javorskyi published Ruthenian sermons, individually and in large collections. Among exemplars of Ruthenian baroque poetry we may note Kasiian Sakovych's Verses on the Sorrowful Funeral of the Noble Knight, Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachnyi, Hetman of the Zaporozhian Army of His Royal Grace (1622), as well as the many encomiastic poems with which Ruthenian churchmen and scholars prefaced their works. Among Cossack histories, the Eyewitness Chronicle (late seventeenth century) and the works of Hryhorij Hrabjanka (after 1709) and Samiilo Velychko (c. 1720) deserve mention. Ruthenian was also used in school dramas and intermedia. Still, it is important to note that Polish continued to function as a literary language for Ruthenians, even for the Orthodox: it was in this language that Mohyla printed Sylvester Kosiv's version of the lives of the Kievan Caves Fathers (1635) and Afanasii Kolnofoiskyi's collection of miracles connected with the Caves Monastery (1638).

Ukrainian Ruthenian was employed in the chancery of the Cossack Hetmanate, but its use declined in all areas with the now increasing Russianization of left-bank Ukraine and the continuing Polonization of the right bank. With Hetman Ivan Mazepa's defeat at Poltava in 1709, the Hetmanate became more and more a Russian province. In 1720 Tsar Peter I banned printing of church books in Ukraine. In 1723 the Cossack state lost the right to choose hetmans. In 1775 the Zaporozhian Sich was liquidated; in 1783 serfdom was introduced; and in 1785 the Cossack starshyna was incorporated into the Russian nobility. Church Slavonic was eventually replaced (except for liturgical uses) by the Slaveno-Russian that Ukrainian philologists helped to create. The Ruthenian vulgar tongue continued to find some use in Ukrainian administration until about 1780, during the reign of Catherine the Great; from that point the language would be relegated to mostly private use, allowed, with the advent of classicism's theory of the three styles, to function only in the "lowest" genres of belles lettres.

See also Lithuanian Literature and Language ; Mohyla, Peter ; Polish Literature and Language ; Reformations in Eastern Europe: Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox ; Smotrytskyi, Meletii .


Primary Source

Rothe, Hans, ed. Die älteste ostslawische Kunstdichtung, 15751647. Bausteine zur Geschichte der Literatur bei den Slawen, vol. 7. Giessen, Germany, 19761977.

Secondary Sources

Čyževsk'yj, Dmytro. A History of Ukrainian Literature. Translated by Dolly Ferguson, Doreen Gorsline, and Ulana Petyk. Littleton, Colo., 1975.

Martel, Antoine. La langue polonaise dans les pays Ruthènes: Ukraine et Russie Blanche, 15691657. Lille, France, 1938.

Voznjak, Mykhalo. Geschichte der ukrainischen Literatur. Translated by Katharina Horbatsch. Bausteine zur Geschichte der Literatur bei den Slawen, vol. 4. Giessen, Germany, 1975.

David Frick

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukrainian Literature and Language." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukrainian Literature and Language." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukrainian Literature and Language." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from

Ukrainian literature

Ukrainian literature, literary writings in the Ukrainian language.

Kievan Church Slavonic texts of the 11th cent. and W Ukrainian texts of the 13th cent. show Ukrainian linguistic features, which predominate in the Galician-Volhynian chronicle of the 13th cent. and in much of the writing of the 14th–16th cent. Ukrainian oral literature attained its high point in the 16th cent. with the Cossack epic songs, the dumy. The first books printed in Ukrainian (16th cent.) were translations of the Gospels. A grammar appeared in 1596 and a dictionary in 1627. Ukrainian cultural life of the 17th cent. centered around the Kievan academy, established in 1633.

Gregory Skovoroda (1722–94) was the outstanding 18th cent. poet and philosopher. A leading early figure in the Ukrainian literary revival was Ivan Kotliarevsky (1769–1838), whose travesty of the Aeneid and operetta Natalka Poltavka are major works of Ukrainian classical literature. Classicism predominates also in the writings of the novelist Gregory Kvitka (1778–1843) and in the plays of Vasil Gogol (d. 1825). Interest in folklore and ethnography is represented in the works of Levko Borovykovsky (1806–89) and Ambros Metlynsky (1814–70), poets of the Kharkiv romantic school.

With the founding in the 1830s of a university in Kiev, the capital became once again the cultural center of Ukraine. The leading scholar of the period was the historian Mikola Kostomarov (1817–85). The poet Taras Shevchenko was the great figure of Ukrainian romanticism, represented also in the dramatic works of Michael Staritsky (1840–1904), Marko Kropivnitsky (1840–1910), and Ivan Tobilevich (1845–1907). Realism in Ukrainian prose found expression in the works of Boris Hrinchenko (1863–1910) and Ivan Nechuy-Levitsky (1838–1918) and in the naturalistic tales of Marko Vovchok (pseud. of Maria Markovich, 1834–1907).

Turn-of-the-century Ukrainian literature is also represented by the outstanding writer Ivan Franko and the poet Lesia Ukrainka. Michael Kotsiubynsky (1864–1913) and Vasil Stefanyk (1871–1936) were masters of impressionist prose. Major early 20th cent. literary figures include the novelist Olha Kobylanska (1868–1942) and the novelist and political writer Vladimir Vinnichenko. Many Ukrainian writers were killed or deported by the Soviet regime during the 1930s, among them the dramatist Mikola Kulish (1892–1934), the humorist Ostap Vyshnia, and the theorist of neoclassicism Mikola Zerov.

One of the leading writers of the proletarian age, Mikola Khvylovy (1893–1933), proposed the reorientation of Ukrainian literature toward the West. Important writers who survived the purges of the 1930s include the master of subjective verse Maxim Rylsky, the neo-romantic poet Mikola Bazhan, the lyric poet Pavlo Tychyna, the dramatist Aleksandr Korneichuk, and the novelists Oles Honchar and Michael Stelmakh. The thaw that occurred after Stalin's death was followed by the reimposition of strict censorship in 1964. A number of writers circulated their work clandestinely, and some was later published in the West. Whether the breakup of the Soviet Union, and Ukrainian independence, will produce a surge in the country's literary life remains to be seen.

See G. Luckyj, Literary Politics in the Soviet Ukraine, 1917–34 (1956; rev. 1990) and Between Gogol and Sevcenko (1971); D. Chyzhevskyi, A History of Ukrainian Literature (1975).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukrainian literature." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukrainian literature." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukrainian literature." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from



Culture Name



Identification. Ukrainian nationhood begins with the Kyivan Rus. This Eastern Slavic state flourished from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries on the territory of contemporary Ukraine, with Kyiv as its capital. The name Ukraine first appeared in twelfth century chronicles in reference to the Kyivan Rus. In medieval Europe cultural boundary codes were based on a native ground demarcation. Ukraine, with its lexical roots kraj (country) and krayaty (to cut, and hence to demarcate), meant "[our] circumscribed land." The ethnonym Rus was the main self-identification in Ukraine until the seventeenth century when the term Ukraine reappeared in documents. This ethnonym of Rus people, Rusych (plural, Rusychi ), evolved into Rusyn, a western Ukrainian self-identification interchangeable with Ukrainian into the twentieth century. Ruthenian, a Latinization of Rusyn, was used by the Vatican and the Austrian Empire designating Ukrainians.

Location and Geography. Ukraine, Europe's second largest country during the twentieth century, occupies 232,200 square miles (603,700 square kilometers). Its main geographical features are the Polissya and Volyn northern forests, the central forest steppes, the Donetsk eastern uplands (up to 1,600 feet [500 meters] above sea level), and the coastal lowlands and steppes along the Black and Azov Seas. The Carpathian mountains in the west reach 6,760 feet (2,061 meters) at Mount Hoverla. Roman-Kosh in the Crimean peninsula reaches 5,061 feet (1,543 meters.) Alpine meadowscalled polonyna in the Carpathians and iajla in the Crimeaare another interesting geographical feature.

Ukraine's climate is moderate. The yearly average temperatures range from 40 to 49 degrees Fahrenheit (6 to 9 degrees Celsius)except for the southern steppes and in Crimea, where yearly average temperatures range from 50 to 56 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 13 degrees Celsius).

Ukraine has twenty-four administrative unitsoblastsalmost all named for their capitals. From east to west, they are Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Poltava, Zaporizhzhya, Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovohrad, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odessa, Cherkasy, Kyiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, Zhytomyr, Vinnytsya, Rivne, Luts'k (Volyns'ka oblast'), Khmel'nyts'kyj, Ternopil', Lviv, Ivano-Frankivs'k, Uzhhorod (Zakarpats'ka oblast'), and Chernivtsi. The Crimean oblast became an autonomous republic in 1991.

Ukraine's regional ethnographic cultures, not always congruent with oblast boundaries are: Donbas, Slobozhanshchyna, Zaporizhzhya, Steppes Ukraine, Poltava, Cherkasy, Polissya, Podillya, Volyn, Halychyna, Bukovyna, Transcarpathia, and Crimea. Crimean Tatar culture predominates in Crimea, and the Hutsul highlanders live in Halychyna, Bukovyna, and Transcarpathia.

Demography. Ukraine's 1989 census showed a population of 51,452,000. A negative population growth was probably caused by economic and environmental crises, including the Chernobyl disaster. The 1989 census shows the following percentages of the population's ethnic composition: Ukrainians, 72.7 percent; Russians, 22.1 percent; Jews, 0.9 percent; Belorussians, 0.8 percent; Moldovans, 0.6; Poles, 0.5 percent; Bulgarians, 0.4 percent; Hungarians, 0.3 percent; Crimean Tatars, 0.2 percent; Romanians, 0.2 percent; Greeks, 0.2 percent; Armenians, 0.1 percent; Roma (Gypsies), 0.1 percent; Germans, 0.1 percent; Azerbaijanis, 0.1 percent; Gagauz, 0.1 percent; and others, 0.5 percent.

Linguistic Affiliation. Ukrainian is an Indo-European language of the Eastern Slavic group. Its Cyrillic alphabet is phonetic; its grammar is synthetic, conveying information through word modification rather than order. Contemporary literary Ukrainian developed in the eighteenth century from the Poltava and Kyiv dialects. Distinctive dialects are the Polissya, Volyn, and Podillya dialects of northern and central Ukraine and the western Boyko, Hutsul, and Lemko dialects. Their characteristics derive from normatively discarded old elements that reappear in dialectic usage. The surzhyk, an unstable and variable mixture of Ukrainian and Russian languages, is a by-product of Soviet Russification. A similar phenomenon based on Ukrainian and Polish languages existed in western Ukraine but disappeared almost completely after World War II.

In 1989 statistics showed Ukrainian spoken as a native language by 87 percent of the population, with 12 percent of Ukrainians claiming Russian as their native language. The use of native languages among ethnic groups showed Russians, Hungarians, and Crimean Tatars at 94 to 98 percent and Germans, Greeks, and Poles at 25 percent, 19 percent and 13 percent, respectively. Assimilation through Ukrainian language is 67 percent for Poles, 45 percent for Czechs, and 33 percent for Slovaks. As a second language Ukrainian is used by 85 percent of Czechs, 54 percent of Poles, 47 percent of Jews, 43 percent of Slovaks, and 33 percent of Russians.

Formerly repressed, Ukrainian and other ethnic languages in Ukraine flourished at the end of the twentieth century. Ukrainian language use grew between 1991 and 1994, as evidenced by the increase of Ukrainian schools in multiethnic oblasts. However, local pro-communist officials still resist Ukrainian and other ethnic languages except Russian in public life.

Symbolism. The traditional Ukrainian symbolstrident and blue-and-yellow flagwere officially adopted during Ukrainian independence in 19171920 and again after the declaration of independence in 1991. The trident dates back to the Kyivan Rus as a pre-heraldic symbol of Volodymyr the Great. The national flag colors are commonly believed to represent blue skies above yellow wheat fields. Heraldically, they derive from the Azure, the lion rampant or coat of arms of the Galician Volynian Prince Lev I. The 1863 patriotic song "Ukraine Has Not Perished," composed by Myxaylo Verbyts'kyi from a poem of Pavlo Chubyns'kyi, became the Ukrainian national anthem in 1917 and was reaffirmed in 1991. These symbols were prohibited as subversive under the Soviets, but secretly were cherished by all Ukrainian patriots.

The popular symbol of Mother Ukraine appeared first in Ukrainian baroque poetry of the seventeenth century as a typical allegory representing homelands as women. When Ukraine was divided between the Russian and Austrian empires, the image of Mother Ukraine was transformed into the image of an abused woman abandoned by her children. Mother Ukraine became a byword, not unlike Uncle Sam, but much more emotionally charged. After 1991 a new generation of Ukrainian writers began to free this image from its victimization aspects.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Ukrainian nationhood begins with the Kyivan Rus realm, which arose from a unification of Antian tribes between the sixth and ninth centuries. Rus is mentioned for the first time by European chroniclers in 839 c.e. The Kyivan state experienced a cultural and commercial flourishing from the ninth to the eleventh centuries under the rulers Volodymyr I (Saint Volodymyr), his son Yaroslav I the Wise, and Volodymyr Monomakh. The first of these rulers Christianized Rus in 988 c.e. The other two gave it a legal code. Christianity gave Rus its first alphabet, developed by the Macedonian saints Cyril and Methodius. Dynastic fragmentation and Mongol and Tatar invasions in the thirteenth century caused Kyiv's decline. The dynastically related western principality of Halych (Galicia) and Volyn resisted the Mongols and Tatars and became a Rus bastion through the fourteenth century. One of its most distinguished rulers was Danylo Romanovich, the only king in Ukrainian history, crowned by the Pope Innocent IV in 1264.

After the fourteenth century, Rus fell under the rule of foreign powers: the Golden Horde Mongols, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the kingdom of Poland. Lithuania controlled most of the Ukrainian lands except for the Halych and Volyn principalities, subjugated after much struggle by Poland. The southern steppes and the Black Sea coast remained under the Golden Horde, an outpost of Genghis Khan's empire. The Crimean khanate, a vassal state of the Ottomans, succeeded the Golden Horde after 1475. Eventually northwestern and central Ukraine were absorbed into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania which then controlled almost all of Ukrainegiving Ukrainians and Belorussians ample autonomy. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania adopted the administrative practices and the legal system of Rus and a state language that was Old Slavonic, heavily imbued with vernacular Ukrainian and Belorussian. However, Lithuaniaunited with Poland by a dynastic linkage in 1386gradually adopted Roman Catholicism and Polish language and customs. In 1569 the Lublin Union created the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Ukraine was annexed to Poland. The 1596 Brest-Litovsk Union divided Ukrainians into Orthodox and Uniate Catholics. Northern borderlands initially colonized by Rus princes increasingly diverged from the Kyivan culture with the rise of the Duchy of Muscovy.

In the fifteenth century Ukraine clashed with the Crimean Khanate. The 1490 chronicles mention Ukrainian warriors called kozaks defending Ukrainian lands from Crimean Tatar slave raids. Kozaks were based on the Zaporozhian Sich, an island fortress below the Dnipro River rapids. Nominally subject to the Polish crown, the Zaporozhian kozaks became symbols of Ukrainian national identity. Strife between the Ukrainians and their Polish overlords began in the 1590s, spearheaded by the kozaks. In 1648, led by the kozak hetman (military leader) Bohdan Khmelnytsky, Ukrainians rose against Poland, forming an independent state. Khmelnytsky sought help against the Poles in a treaty with Moscow in 1654, which was used as a pretext for occupation by the Muscovites. Poland recognized Moscow's suzerainty over Kiev and the lands east of the Dnipro, and the Ukrainian hetmanate was gradually subjugated by Moscow. Despite this, the hetmanate reached its pinnacle under Ivan Mazepa (16871709). Literature, art, architecture in the distinctive Kozak baroque style, and learning flourished under his patronage. Mazepa wanted a united Ukrainian state, initially under the tsar's sovereignty. When Tsar Peter threatened Ukrainian autonomy, Mazepa rose against him in alliance with Charles XII of Sweden. The allies were defeated in the Battle of Poltava in 1709. Fleeing from Peter's vengeance Mazepa and his followers became the first organized political immigration in Ukrainian history.

During the eighteenth-century partitions of Poland, the Russian Empire absorbed all Ukraine except for Galicia, which went to Austria. The empress Catherine II extended serfdom to the traditionally free kozak lands and destroyed the Zaporozhian Sich in 1775. During the nineteenth century all vestiges of nationhood were repressed in Russian-held Ukraine. The Ukrainian language was banned from all but domestic use by the Valuev Decree of 1863 and the Ems Ukase of 1876. Ukrainians opposed this policy by developing strong ties with Ukrainian cultural activists in the much freer Austrian Empire. An inclusive national movement arose during World War I, and in 1917 an independent Ukrainian state was proclaimed in Kyiv. In 1918 western Ukraine declared independence striving to unite with the East, but its occupation by Poland was upheld by the Allies in 1922.

After two years of war Ukraine became part of the Soviet Union in 1922. Its Communist party was subordinated to the Russian Communists. Only 7 percent of its 5,000 members were Ukrainian. Favoring city proletariansmostly alien in nationality and ideologythe Bolsheviks had very little support in a population 80 percent Ukrainian, and 90 percent peasant. However, Ukrainian communists implemented a policy of Ukrainization through educational and cultural activities. This rebirth of Ukrainian culture ended abruptly at the time of the Stalin's genocidal famine of 1933. This famine killed up to seven million Ukrainians, mostly peasants who had preserved the agricultural traditions of Ukraine along with an ethnic and national identity. The destruction of Ukrainian nationalism and intelligentsia lasted through the Stalinist purges of the late 1930s and continued more selectively until the fall of the Soviet Union.

When Germany and the Soviets attacked Poland in 1939, Galicia was united to the rest of Ukraine. The German-Soviet war in 1941 brought hopes of freedom and even a declaration of independence in western Ukraine. However, the brutal Nazi occupation provoked a resistance movement, first against the Germans and then against the Soviets. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army fought overwhelming Soviet forces that subjected western Ukraine to mass terror and ethnic cleansing to destroy the resistance. At the end of World War II almost three million Ukrainians were in Germany and Austria, most of them forced laborers and prisoners of war. The vast majority of them were forcibly repatriated to the Soviet Union, and ended up in Gulag prison camps. Two-hundred thousand refugees from Ukraine managed to remain in Western Europe and immigrated to the United States and to other Western countries.

In 1986, the Chernobyl accident, a partial meltdown at a Soviet-built nuclear power plant, shocked the entire nation. After Mikhail Gorbachev's new openness policy in the 1980s, the democratized Ukrainian parliament declared the republic's sovereignty in 1990. Following a failed coup against Gorbachev in the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian parliament declared independence on 24 August 1991, overwhelmingly approved by referendum and internationally recognized.

National Identity. National identity arises from personal self-determination shared with others on the basis of a common language, cultural and family traditions, religion, and historical and mythical heritages. There is a lively reassessment of these elements in contemporary Ukraine in a new stage of identity development. Language issues focus on the return of phonetics, purged from Soviet Ukrainian orthography by Russification, and on the macaronic Russo/Ukrainian surzhyk. A revival of cultural traditions includes Christian holidays, days of remembrance, and church weddings, baptisms, and funerals. The Ukrainian Catholic Church emerged from the underground and the exiled Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church united formally with the Kyivan patriarchy. Ukrainian Protestants of various denominations practice their religion unhampered.

The 988 baptism of the Rus melded Christian beliefs with existing customs, leading to a Rus identity connected to both homeland and religion. In the seventeenth century Ukrainian identity held its own against Polish identity and the Roman Catholic Church. In the Russian empire Ukrainians preserved their identity through culture and language because religion by itself integrated them with Russians.

Historical facts and myths as bases of national identity were first reflected in the literature of the Ukrainian baroque. In later times, the proto-Slavic origins of the Ukrainian people were ascribed to the settled branch of Scythians (500 b.c.e.100 b.c.e.) mentioned by ancient Greek and Roman historians. Recent theories connecting origins of Ukrainian culture with the first Indo-European tribes of the Northern Black Sea region and with the Trypillya culture (4,000 b.c.e.) are supported by plausible research.

Ethnic Relations. Ukraine, surrounded by diverse nations and cultures, is home to Belorussians in northern Polissia; Poles, Slovaks, Hungarians, and Romanians in western Ukraine; Moldovians and Gagauz in southern Ukraine; and Russians in eastern and northern Ukraine. The Russian Empire settled Germans, Swedes, Bulgarians, Greeks, Christian Albanians, and Serbs in southern steppes. Russian landlords brought ethnic Russian serfs to the steppes, and Russian Old Believers also settled there fleeing persecution. In 1830 and 1863 the Russian government exiled Polish insurgents to southern Ukraine. Serbs and Poles assimilated with Ukrainians, but the other groups retained their identities. Tatars, Karaims, and Greeks were native to Crimea. Since the Middle Ages Jews and Armenians settled in major and minor urban centers. Roma (Gypsies) were nomadic until Soviets forced them into collective farms. The last major immigration to Ukraine took place under the Soviets. Ethnic Russians were sent to repopulate the villages emptied by the 1933 genocide and again after 1945 to provide a occupying administration in western Ukraine.

Historically, ethnic conflicts emerged in Ukraine on social and religious grounds. The seventeenth century Ukrainian-Polish wars were caused by oppressive serfdom, exorbitant taxes, and discrimination or even elimination of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by Polish magnates. Their appointment of Jewish settlers as tax collectors in Ukrainian villages also led to strife between these ethnic groups. The settled Ukrainians and the nomadic steppe tribes conflicted since medieval times. From the fifteenth century on, Crimean Tatars raided Ukraine for slaves, and Zaporozhian kozaks were the only defense against them. Even so, Zaporozhians made trade and military agreements with the Crimean khanate: Tatar cavalry often assisted Ukrainian hetmans in diverse wars. Likewise, Ukrainian cultural and educational connections with Poles existed despite their conflicts: Bohdan Khmelnytsky and many other kozak leaders were educated in Polish Jesuit colleges, and initially Khmelnytsky considered the Polish king as his liege. Ukrainian Jewish relations of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries also cannot be wholly described in terms of ethnic strife. Jewish merchants regularly traded with kozaks and several high officers of the hetmanatesuch as members of the renowned Markevych/Markovych aristocratic familieswere of Jewish origin.

In contemporary Ukraine ethnic communities enjoy governmental support for their cultural development. Ethnic language instruction increased considerably in multicultural regions. The first center for preservation and development of Roma culture opened in Izmail near Odessa. Two prominent issues in ethnic relations concern the return to Crimea of the Crimean Tatars exiled in Soviet times and the problem of the Russian-speaking population. The Crimean Tatar Medjlis (parliament) demands citizenship for Tatars returning from Stalinist exile while the Russian-dominated parliament of the Crimean autonomous republic opposes that demand.

Pro-Russian elements identify Russophones with Russian ethnicity. However, statistics show a large number of Russophones who do not consider themselves Russian. In 1989, 90.7 percent of Jews, 79.1 percent of Greeks, and 48.9 percent of Armenians and other ethnic groups in Ukraine recognized Russian as a language of primary communication but not an indicator of ethnicity or nationality. Forcing a Russian ethnic identity onto non-Russian Russophones infringes on their human rights. Russians in Ukraine are either economic migrants from Soviet times, mostly blue-collar workers, or the former Russian nomenklatura (bureaucratic, military, and secret police elite). The latter were the upper class of Soviet society. Since losing this status after the Soviet Union collapsed, they have rallied around a neo-Communist, pro-Russian political ideology, xenophobic in the case of the Crimean Tatars.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

A prototypical architectural tradition was found by archeologists studying ancient civilizations in Ukraine. Excavations of the Tripillya culture (4,0003,000 b.c.e.) show one- and two-room houses with outbuildings within concentric walled and moated settlements. The sophisticated architecture of Greek and Roman colonies in the Black Sea region in 500 b.c.e.100 c.e. influenced Scythian house building. The architecture of later Slavic tribes was mostly wooden: log houses in forested highlands and frame houses in the forest-steppe. The Kyivan Rus urban centers resembled those of medieval Europe: a prince's fortified palace surrounded by the houses of the townsfolk. Tradesmen and merchants lived in suburbs called posad. Stone as a building material became widespread in public buildings from the tenth century, and traditions of Byzantine church architecturecross plan and domescombined with local features. Prime examples of this period are the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv (about 1030s) and the Holy Trinity Church over the Gate of the Pechersk Monastery (11061108). Elements of Romanesque style, half-columns and arches, appear in Kyivan Rus church architecture from the twelfth century, principally in the Saint. Cyril Church in Kyiv (middle-twelfth century), the Cathedral of the Dormition in Kaniv, and the Saint Elias Church in Chernihiv.

Ukrainian architecture readily adopted the Renaissance style exemplified by the Khotyn and Kamyanets'-Podil'skyi castles, built in the fourteenth century, Oles'ko and Ostroh castles of the fifteenth century, and most buildings in Lviv's Market Square. Many Ukrainian cities were ruled by the Magdeburg Law of municipal self-rule. This is reflected in their layout: Lviv and Kamyanets' Podil'skyi center on a city hall/market square ensemble.

Ukrainian baroque architecture was representative of the lifestyle of the kozak aristocracy. At that time most medieval churches were redesigned to include a richer exterior and interior ornamentation and multilevel domes. The most impressive exponents of this period are the bell tower of the Pechersk Monastery and the Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv, Saint George's Cathedral in Lviv, and the Pochaiv Monastery. A unique example of baroque wooden architecture is the eighteenth century Trinity Cathedral in former Samara, built for Zaporozhian kozaks. The neoclassical park and palace ensemble became popular with the landed gentry in the late eighteenth century. Representative samples are the Sofiivka Palace in Kamianka, the Kachanivka Palace near Chernihiv, and the palace in Korsun'-Shevchenkivskyi.

Ukrainian folk architecture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries shows a considerable influence of baroque ornamentation and neoclassic orders while preserving traditional materials like wood and wattled clay. Village planning remained traditional, centered around a church, community buildings, and marketplace. The streets followed property lines and land contours. Village neighborhoods were named for extended families, clans, or diverse trades and crafts. This toponymy, dating from medieval times, reappeared spontaneously in southern and eastern Ukrainian towns and cities, such as Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Simferopol that were built in the eighteenth century.

Throughout the nineteenth century and into the beginning of the twentieth century, the empire architectural style came to Ukraine from the West. Modern urban planninga grid with squares and promenadeswas applied to new cities. At the beginning of twentieth century, there was a revival of national styles in architecture. A national modernism combined elements of folk architecture with new European styles. A prime exponent of this style is Vasyl' Krychevs'kyi's design of the 1909 Poltava Zemstvo Building.

Soviet architecture initially favored constructivism as shown in the administrative center of Kharkiv and then adopted a heavy neoclassicism pejoratively called totalitarian style for major urban centers. Post-World War II architecture focused on monobloc projects reflecting a collectivist ideology. However, contemporary Ukrainians prefer single houses to apartment blocs. The traditional Ukrainian house has a private space between the street and the house, usually with a garden. Striving for more private space people in apartment buildings partition original long hallways into smaller spaces. Dachas (summer cottages) are a vital part of contemporary Ukrainian life. Laid out on a grid, dacha cooperatives provide summer rural communities for city dwellers.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Ukrainians prefer to eat at home, leaving restaurants for special occasions. Meal times are from 7:00 to 10:00 A.M. for breakfast, from 12:00 noon to 3:00 P.M. for dinner or lunch, and from 5:00 to 8:00 P.M. for supper. The main meal of the day is dinner, including soup and meat, fowl, or a fish dish with a salad. Ukrainians generally avoid exotic meats and spices. A variety of soupscalled borshch collectivelyis traditional and symbolic, so it is never called "soup."

Menu items in restaurants are usually Eastern European. Expensive restaurants are patronized at supper time by a new breed of business executives who combine dining with professional interaction.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Culinary traditions in Ukraine are connected with ancient rituals. The calendar cycle of religious holidays combined with folk traditions requires a variety of specific foods. Christmas Eve supper consists of 12 meatless dishes, including borshch, cabbage rolls, varenyky (known in North America as pierogi), fish, mushrooms, various vegetables, and a wheat grain, honey, poppyseed, and raisin dish called kutya. The latter dish is served only at Christmas time. On Easter Sunday food that has been blessed previously is eaten after Resurrection services. It includes a sweet bread called paska, colored eggs, butter, meat, sausages, bacon, horseradish, and garlic. On the holiday of the Transfiguration (19 August), apples and honey are blessed and eaten along with other fruits of the season. Various alcoholic drinks complement the meals. It is customary to offer a drink to guests, who must not refuse it except for health or religious reasons.

Basic Economy. Traditional Ukrainian food products are domestic. Pressured by the economic crisis, people grow products in their home gardens and dachas. City and village markets are places of bartering consumer goods and food products. In the late 1990s, the development of the food industry was stimulated by economic reforms.

Land Tenure and Property. Private property rights were reinstated in Ukraine after 1991. Collective farms were abolished in 2000, and peasants received land titles. Privatization also has been successful in cities. Inheritance law in Ukraine, as in other countries, applies to transfers of property according to legal testaments.

Commercial Activities. The current government has decontrolled prices, reduced subsidies to factories, and abolished central economic planning. Ukraine imports chemicals, specialized metals, raw rubber, metalworking equipment, cars, trucks, electrical and electronic products, wood products, textiles, medicines, and small appliances. Ukraine exports aircrafts, ships, and agricultural and food products.

Major Industries. Heavy industry in Ukraine includes aircraft plants in Kharkiv; shipbuilding in Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Kerch; and steel and pig iron mills in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhya oblasts. The latter depend on large supplies of coal and iron ore from Kryvbas and Donbas. Electronics, machine tools, and buses are produced in Lviv, and one of the world's largest agrochemical plants is located in Kalush. Other important industrial products include ferro-alloys, nonferrous metals, and building materials. Under the Soviet command economy, Ukraine's industry focused on raw materials and on the production of armaments and heavy machinery25 percent of all Soviet military goods. Lately, successful joint ventures with foreign partners produce consumer goods. Seventy percent of the land is in agricultural use.

Trade. The integration of Ukraine into the world economic system is indispensable for an effective export-oriented economic reform and for foreign investments. Establishing trade relations with the G7 countries (the seven largest industrialized countries: United States, Japan, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Canada) is a priority for Ukraine's international economic strategy.

Division of Labor. Contemporary Ukraine has a high level of both official and hidden unemployment, especially in industry and in research institutions formerly oriented to military needs. Equal opportunity employment rules have not been implemented at the end of the twentieth century.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Soviet Ukrainian society was officially classless with three equal groups: workers, peasants, and working intelligentsia. In reality the Communist Party elite enjoyed an immensely preferential status, with several internal gradations. In contemporary Ukraine many former Soviet bureaucrats (nomenklarura ) retained their status and influence as members of the new administration or as newly rich business professionals. Education, health care, and research professionals, all dependent on state budgets, are in the lowest income bracket. Unemployment among blue-collar workers rose when heavy industry shifted its production focus. Farmers are in a transitionary phase in the re-institution of land property rights.

Symbols of Social Stratification. In Soviet times ownership of so-called deficit goods (scarce items available only to party elite in restricted stores) conferred a superior social status. The free market made prestigious goods available to anyone with cash. Social distinctions are popularly based on material status symbols such as cars, houses, luxury items, and fashionable attire. A more modest and traditional social and regional identification shows through apparel: many older suburban and country women wear typical kerchiefs, and Carpathian highlanders of any gender and age often wear characteristic sheepskin vests or sleeveless jackets.

Political Life

Government. Constitutionally, Ukraine is a democratic, social, law-based republic. The people exercise power through elected state and local governments. The right to amend the constitution belongs solely to the people and may be exercised only through popular referenda.

The office of president was instituted in 1917 in the Ukrainian National Republic and reinstated in 1991. The constitution vests executive power on the president and the prime minister and legislative power on the Verkhovna Rada, a unicameral body of 450 directly elected representatives. All suffrage is universal. The president is elected by direct vote for a five years' cadence. The president appoints the prime minister and cabinet members, subject to approval by the Verkhovna Rada.

Leadership and Political Officials. Ukraine has more than one hundred registered political parties. Right of center and nationalist parties include the National Front, Rukh, and UNA (Ukrainian National Association). The most prominent of them is Rukh, championing an inclusive national state and free market reforms. The leftist parties are the Communist, Progressive Socialist, Socialist, and United Socialist. Communists oppose land privatization and propose to revive the Soviet Union. Centrists are most numerous and include the Agrarian, Popular Democratic, Hromada, Greens, and Labor-Liberal parties. The Green Party became a political force because of its pro-active concern with ecology.

Political leaders and activists in Ukraine are generally accessible. However, most of them are used to old Soviet models of interaction. By contrast, younger politicians are much more attuned to a democratic style of communication.

Social Problems and Control. The Security Service of Ukraine, the Internal Affairs Ministry, and the Defense Ministry are responsible for national security, reporting to the president through his cabinet. The armed and security forces are controlled by civilian authorities. The Internal Affairs Ministry and its police, called militsia, deal with domestic crime and run correctional institutions. The Security Service succeeded the Soviet KGB. It deals with espionage and economic crimes. Public confidence in the authorities is gradually replacing the well-founded fear and mistrust of Soviet times.

Military Activity. The Ukrainian army conscripts males between the ages of eighteen and twenty five for eighteen months of compulsory service, with medical and hardship exemptions and student deferments. In 1992 the Ukrainian armed forces numbered 230,000. The Soviet Black Sea Fleet was incorporated into the Ukrainian naval forces. Ukrainian infantry participated in the United Nations peacekeeping effort in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ukrainian armed forces conduct frequent joint maneuvers with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

Ukrainian social welfare programs are in their beginnings. Unemployment assistance is available at governmental centers that offer professional retraining aided by nongovernmental organizations. International charity organizations provide assistance to the needy. Help to Chernobyl disaster victims is funded by taxes and by international charity. Statistics from 1995 show Chernobyl-accident compensations to 1.5 million persons, 662,000 of them children.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Community associations have a long history in Ukraine. The Prosvita (Enlightenment) Society established in 1868 under the Austrian Empire and in 1905 under the Russian Empire promoted literacy in Ukrainian through reading rooms and lending libraries, publishing activities, amateur theatrics, and other cultural activities. It was closed by the Soviets but flourished in western Ukraine until 1939. Prosvita was re-established in independent Ukraine with its original mission. Many contemporary Ukrainian non-governmental organizations derive from the human rights movements of the 1970s. A society, Memorial, was organized in the late 1980s to collect evidence and memories of political persecution and to assist former political prisoners.

The Ukrainian Women's Association was established in 1884. Currently, this organization and its diasporan counterpart concentrate on the preservation of national culture, on education, on human issues, and on charity work. Ukrainian women participate in politics through the Ukrainian Women Voter organization. The nongovernmental organization, La Strada, supports services for victims of sexual trafficking and helps to run prevention centers in Donets'k, Lviv, and Dnipropetrovs'k.

Gender Roles and Status

Division of Labor by Gender. Ukrainian labor laws guarantee gender equality, but their implementation is imperfect. Few women work at higher levels of government and management, and those who do are generally in subordinate positions. As in the Soviet Union, women work in heavy blue-collar jobs, except for coal mining. Nevertheless, there still is a traditional labor division by gender: teachers and nurses are mostly women; school administrators and physicians are mostly men. Women in typically female jobs such as teachers and nurses are paid less and promoted more slowly than men.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Males in positions of authority generally perceive women as the weaker sex. Women are welcome as secretaries or subordinates but not as colleagues or competitors. Women politicians and business executives are rare. They have to adopt a male style of interaction to function effectively. Sexual harassment in the workplace is widespread.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Ukrainians favor endogamy. Traditionally, young people chose mates at social events. Historically, parental approval and blessing were sought. Marriages against parents' wishes were rare in the past, and matchmakers mediated between the two families. The parents' role in the marriage has been preserved in contemporary Ukrainian culture through their responsibilities to organize and finance the wedding ceremonies and festivities for their children. The festivities show the family's social status. Most marriage ceremonies today are both civil and religious.

In traditional society public opinion pressured young people to marry early. This still leads to many marriages between the ages of seventeen and twenty five. It also leads to a high number of divorces, very rare in the traditional past. The Ukrainian Catholic Church prohibits divorce and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church discourages it. Civil courts grant divorce, adjudicating property and custodial rights.

Domestic Unit. The traditional Ukrainian domestic unit is a single family. Elderly parents eventually lived with the child who inherited their property. The chronic housing shortage in the Soviet Union and the economic crisis in contemporary Ukraine forced young couples to live with their parents in close quarters. This reduction of personal space frequently caused familial dysfunction.

The Ukrainian agricultural tradition clearly defined men's and women's parallel responsibilities. Men were responsible for tilling the fields and for their sons' socialization. Women were housekeepers, who also took responsibility for home crafts and budgets and for the daughters' socialization.

Inheritance. Ukrainian customs and laws of property inheritance never discriminated by gender. Historically, sons and daughters inherited parents' property equally, and a widow was the principal heir of her deceased husband. At present, inheritance is granted by testament. Without a testament, an estate is divided regardless of gender between children or close relatives in court. Inheritances and deeded gifts are not subject to division in divorce cases.

Kin Groups. In Ukraine kinship beyond the immediate family has no legal standing, but it is an important aspect of popular culture. A kin group usually includes cognates of all degrees and godparents. A non-relative who is chosen as a godparent is thereby included into the kin group. Kin group reunions take place on family occasions such as marriages, baptisms, or funerals, and on traditional festive days.


Infant Care. In 1992, 63 percent of children under age seven in urban areas and 34 percent in rural areas attended day care. These figures have decreased as current legislation provides paid maternity leaves for up to one year and unpaid leaves up to three years, recognizing Ukrainian women's preference for personal care of their children. Grandparents also provide care for grandchildren, especially in lower-income families. A well-cared for child is a traditional source of family pride. The decreasing number of births may be explained by the potential parents' inability to provide appropriate care for their children during economic crisis. An increasing number of children are abandoned by dysfunctional parents.

Child Rearing and Education. Ancient beliefs regarding child rearing still exist in contemporary Ukraine: a baby's hair is not cut until the first birthday; baptism is seen as a safeguard, and safety pins inside a child's clothing ward off evil spells.

Children attend school from age six. Education is compulsory and universal through nine grades. Students may graduate after the ninth grade at age sixteen and may work with special permission or enter vocational and technical schools. Since the number of specializations in these schools has decreased, most students finish the full eleven grades. A curricular revision is introducing new courses and programs for gifted children.

Higher Education. In post-secondary education undergraduate degrees are granted directly by universities. Candidate and doctor of sciences or arts degrees are granted by the Highest Attestation Commission of the Ministry of Education in a bureaucratically complicated system. Every major field of learning is covered in major universities. Every large and medium-sized urban center has at least one institution of higher learning.


Social interaction in Ukraine is regulated by etiquette similar to the rest of Europe. Some local idiosyncrasies are a personal space of less than an arm's length in business conversations and the habit of drinking alcohol at business meetings, a relic of Soviet times.


Religious Beliefs. Religious beliefs are central to Ukrainian culture. Ukraine experienced a revival of many religions: Ukrainian Orthodox, Ukrainian Catholic, Protestantism, Judaismincluding Hasidismand Islam. The constitution and the 1991 Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religion provide for separation of church and state and the right to practice the religion of one's choice.

Religious Practitioners. Ukrainian Orthodox clergy are educated in divinity schools such as the Kyiv Theological Academy. The Ukrainian Catholic Church, banned in Soviet times, needs priests and provides a wide array of educational programs at the Lviv Theological Seminary. Protestant denominations, principally Baptists and Seventh-Day Adventists, train their ministers with the assistance of American and Western European mission programs. The numerically small Roman Catholic clergy is assisted by pastoral visitors from abroad. Since the time of independence, Jewish rabbis have been completing their studies in Israel. Muslim clergy is educated in Central Asia and Turkey.

Rituals and Holy Places. Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic Churches share historic, ritual, and national heritages. Popular culture incorporated many ancient pagan rituals into a folk version of Christianity. Orthodox priests still perform exorcisms by the canon of Saint Basil the Great. The Holy Virgin icon and the spring of the Pochaiv Orthodox Monastery are believed to have miraculous healing powers. Zarvanytsia in western Ukraine is a place of holy pilgrimage for Ukrainian Catholics. The grave of the founding rabbi of Hassidism, situated near Uman', is a pilgrimage site for Hasidic Jews.

Death and the Afterlife. Ukrainians observe ancient funeral traditions very faithfully. A collective repast follows funeral services and is repeated on the ninth and fortieth days and then again at six and twelve months. An annual remembrance day called Provody on the Sunday after Easter gathers families at ancestral graves to see off once again the souls of the departed. Provody is widely observed in contemporary Ukraine. Under the Soviets it symbolized an ancient tradition. Its Christian symbolism represents Christ's victory over death. Its pre-Christian roots are attuned to the rebirth of nature in the spring and to an ancient ancestors' cult.

Medicine and Health Care

Ukraine's comprehensive and free health care includes primary and specialized hospitals and research institutions. Yet folk healing is not ignored by professional medicine. The popularity of folk healing is based on a distrust of standard medicine. The folk healers' knowledge of natural resources and lore is an ancient cultural heritage. Rituals, prayers, and charms are used by folk healers only as additional elements of healing. These healers prefer to work individually and let the patient determine the fee.

Another type of healer has become popular since the last days of the Soviet Union. These healers hold collective sessions eliciting mass hysteria from their audiences for an admission fee. Their popularity may be explained as a reaction among the less educated to stressful economic and social situations combined with the spiritual vacuum created by seventy-four years of compulsory atheism.

Secular Celebrations

There are several secular official holidays in Ukraine, some left over from Soviet times. The International Women's Day, 8 March, is celebrated now in the same context as Mother's Day: men present small gifts and flowers to all women family members and work colleagues. Victory Day, 9 May, became a day of remembrance of those who died in World War II. Constitution Day is 28 June. Independence Day, 24 August, is celebrated with military parades and fireworks.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. The former Soviet Union provided governmental support for the arts through professional organizations such as unions of writers, artists, or composers. These organizations still exist and try to function despite a general lack of funds. Young and unconventional artists usually organize informal groups funded by individual sponsors and grants from international foundations.

Literature. Ukrainian literature begins with the chronicles of Kyivan Rus and the twelfth century epic The Tale of Ihor's Campaign. Principal authors in the baroque period were Lazar Baranovych (16201693), Ioannykii Galyatovs'kyi (d. 1688), Ivan Velychkovs'kyi (d. 1707), and Dymitrii Tuptalo (16511709), who wrote didactic poetry and drama. Kozak chronicles of the early eighteenth century include The Chronicle of the Eyewitness, The Chronicle of Hryhorii Hrabyanka, and The Chronicle of Samijlo Velychko.

Ivan Kotlyarevskyi (17691838) first used the proto-modern Ukrainian literary language in his 1798 poem Eneida (Aeneid). He travestied Virgil, remaking the original Trojans into Ukrainian kozaks and the destruction of Troy into the abolition of the hetmanate. Hryhorij Kvitka Osnov'yanenko (17781843) developed a new narrative style in prose.

In 1837 three Galician writers known as the Rus'ka Trijtsia (Ruthenian Trinity)Markiian Shashkevych (18111843), Ivan Vahylevych (18111866) and Yakiv Holovats'kyi (18141888)published a literary collection under the title Rusalka Dnistrovaya (The Nymph of Dnister). This endeavor focused on folklore and history and began to unify the Ukrainian literary language. The literary genius of Taras Shevchenko (18141861) completed the development of romantic literature and its national spirit. His 1840 collection of poems Kobzar and other poetic works became symbols of Ukrainian national identity for all Ukrainians from gentry to peasants. In his poetry he appears as the son of the downtrodden Mother-Ukraine. Later, his own image was identified with an archetypal Great Father, embodying the nation's spirit. This process completed the creation of a system of symbolic representations in Ukrainian national identity.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, Ukrainian writers under the Russian EmpirePanteleimon Kulish (18191897), Marko Vovchok (18341907), Ivan Nechuj-Levyts'kyj (18381918), Panas Myrnyj (18491920), and Borys Hrinchenko (18631910)developed a realistic style in their novels and short stories. Osyp-Yurij Fed'kovych (18341888) pioneered Ukrainian literature in the westernmost Bukovyna under Austrian rule. Ivan Franko (18561916) is a landmark figure in Ukrainian literature comparable to Shevchenko. His poetry ranged from the most intimate introspection to epic grandeur. His prose was attuned to contemporary European styles, especially naturalism, and his poetry ranged from introspective to philosophical.

Mykhailo Kotsubynskyi (18641913); Vasyl Stefanyk (18711936), a master of short psychological stories in dialect; and Olha Kobylianska (18651942) all wrote in a psychologically true style. Lesya Ukrainka (18711913) saw Ukrainian history and society within a universal and emotionally heightened context in her neo-romantic poems like Davnya Kazka (The Ancient Tale, 1894) or Vila-Posestra (Sister Vila, 1911) and such dramas as U Pushchi (In the Wilderness, 1910), Boiarynia (The Noblewoman, 1910) and Lisova Pisnya (Song of the Forest, 1910). Popularly, Shevchenko, Franko, and Lesia Ukrainka are known in Ukrainian culture as the Prophet or Bard, the Stonecutter, and the Daughter of Prometheus, images based on their respective works.

After the Soviet takeover of Ukraine, many Ukrainian writers chose exile. This allowed them to write with a freedom that would have been impossible under the Soviets. Most prominent among them were Yurii Lypa (19001944), Olena Teliha (19071942), Evhen Malaniuk (18971968) and Oksana Liaturyns'ka (19021970). Their works are distinguished by an elegant command of form and depth of expression along with a commitment to their enslaved nation.

Ukrainian literature showed achievements within a wide stylistic spectrum in the brief period of Ukrainization under the Soviets. Modernism, avant-garde, and neoclassicism, flourished in opposition to the so-called proletarian literature. Futurism was represented by Mykhailo Semenko (18921939). Mykola Zerov (18901941), Maksym Rylskyj (18951964), and Mykhailo Draj-Khmara (18891938) were neoclassicists. The group VAPLITE (Vil'na Academia Proletars'koi Literatury [Free Academy of Proletarian Literature], 19251928) included the poets Pavlo Tychyna (18911967) and Mike Johansen (18951937), the novelists Yurij Yanovs'kyi (19021954) and Valerian Pidmohyl'nyi (19011937?), and the dramatist Mykola Kulish (18921937). The VAPLITE leader Mykola Khvyliovyi (18931933) advocated a cultural and political orientation towards Europe and away from Moscow. VAPLITE championed national interests within a Communist ideology and therefore came under political attack and harsh persecution by the pro-Russian Communists. Khvyliovyi committed suicide after witnessing the 1933 famine. Most VAPLITE members were arrested and killed in Stalin's prisons.

From the 1930s to the 1960s, the so-called social realistic style was officially mandated in Ukrainian Soviet literature. In 1960 to 1970 a new generation of writers rebelled against social realism and the official policy of Russification. Novels by Oles' Honchar (19181995), poetry by Lina Kostenko (1930) and the dissident poets Vasyl' Stus (19381985) and Ihor Kalynets' (1938) opened new horizons. Unfortunately, some of them paid for this with their freedom and Stus with his life.

Writers of 1980s and the 1990s sought new directions either in a philosophical rethinking of past and present Ukraine like Valerii Shevchuk (1939) or in burlesque and irony like Yurii Andrukhovych (1960). Contemporary culture, politics, and social issues are discussed in the periodicals Krytyka and Suchasnist'.

Graphic Arts. Ancient Greek and Roman paintings and Byzantine art modified by local taste were preserved in colonies in the Northern Black Sea region. The art of the Kyivan Rus began with icons on wooden panels in Byzantine style. Soon after the conversion to Christianity, monumental mosaics embellished churches, exemplified by the Oranta in Kyiv's Saint Sophia Cathedral. Frescoes on the interior walls and staircases complemented the mosaics. Frescoes of the period also were created for the Saint Cyril Church and Saint Michael Monastery in Kyiv.

Medieval manuscript illumination reached a high level of artistry and the first printed books retained these illuminations. Printing presses were established in Lviv and Ostrih in 1573, where the Ostrih Bible was published in 1581. In the seventeenth century Kyiv became a center of engraving. The baroque era secularized Ukrainian painting, popularizing portraiture even in religious painting: The icon Mary the Protectress, for example included a likeness of Bohdan Khmelnytsky. Kozak portraits of seventeenth and eighteenth centuries progressed from a post-Byzantine rigidity to a high baroque expressiveness.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, several Ukrainian artists worked in Saint Petersburg: Antin Losenko (17371773), Dmytro Levyts'kyi (17351825), Volodymyr Borovykovs'kyi (17571825), and Illia Repin (18441928). In 1844 Taras Shevchenko, a graduate of the Russian Academy of Arts, issued his lithography album Picturesque Ukraine. An ethnographic tradition of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is represented by Lev Zhemchuzhnikov (19281912) and Opanas Slastion (18551933).

Mykola Pymonenko (18621912) organized a painting school in Kyiv favoring a post-romantic style. National elements pervaded paintings of Serhii Vasylkyvs'kyi (18541917). Impressionism characterized the works of Vasyl (18721935) and Fedir Krychevs'ky (18791947). The highly individualistic and expressive post-romantics Ivan Trush (18691941) and Oleksa Novakivs'kyi (18721935) ushered western Ukrainian art into the twentieth century.

Yurii Narbut's graphics (18861920) combined Ukrainian baroque traditions with principles of modernism. Mykhailo Boichuk (18821939) and his disciples Ivan Padalka (18971938) and Vasyk Sedlyar (18891938) combined elements of Byzantine art with modern monumentalism. Anatol' Petryts'kyi (18951964), an individualistic expressionist, survived Stalinist persecution to remain a champion of creative freedom to the end of his life.

In Lviv of the 1930s Ukrainian artists worked in different modernist styles: Pavlo Kovzhun (18961939) was a symbolist and a constructivist. Several western Ukrainian artists between the two world warsSviatoslav Hordynsky, Volodymyr Lasovsky, Mykhailo Moroz, and Olena Kulchytskastudied in Paris, Vienna, Warsaw, and Cracow. Many artists, such as the neo-Byzantinist Petro Kholodnyi, Sr. (18761930) and the expressionist Mykola Butovych (18951962), left Soviet Ukraine for western Ukraine in the 1920s to avoid persecution. Old icons influenced Vasyl Diadyniuk (19001944) and Yaroslava Muzyka (18961973). Alexander Archipenko (18871966), the most prominent Ukrainian artist to emigrate to the West, attained international stature with paintings and sculptures that combined abstraction with expressionism. Akin to Grandma Moses are the folk painters Maria Pryimachenko (1908) and Nykyfor Drevniak (19001968).

After World War II many Ukrainian artists immigrated into the United States and other Western countries. Jacques Hnizdovsky (19151985) achieved wide recognition in engraving and woodcuts. The highly stylized sculpture of Mykhailo Chereshniovsky showed a unique lyrical beauty. Edvard Kozak (19021998), a caricaturist in pre-World War II Lviv, became a cultural icon in the diaspora.

After Stalin's genocide of the 1930s, social realism (a didactic kind of cliched naturalism applied to all literary and artistic media) became the only style allowed in the Soviet Union. In the 1960s some young Ukrainian artists and poets, who also defended civil rights, rejected social realism. For some of them this proved tragic: the muralist Alla Hors'ka was assassinated, and the painter Opanas Zalyvakha was imprisoned in the Gulag for long years. During the 1980s, modernism and postmodernism appeared in Ukraine in spontaneous art movements and exhibitions. Post-modern rethinking infused the works of Valerii Skrypka and Bohdan Soroka. An identity search in the Ukrainian diaspora showed in the surrealistic works of Natalka Husar.

Performance Arts. Ukrainian folk music is highly idiosyncratic despite sharing significant formal elements with the music of neighboring cultures. Epic dumas ancient melodies, especially those of seasonal ritualsare tonally related to medieval modes, Greek tetrachords, and Turkic embellishments. The major/minor tonal system appeared in the baroque period. Typical genres in Ukrainian folk music are solo singing; part singing groups; epic dumas sung by (frequently blind) bards who accompanied themselves on the bandura (a lute shaped psaltery); and dance music by troisty muzyky, an ensemble of fiddle, wind, and percussion including a hammered dulcimer. Traditional danceskozachok, hopak, metelytsia, kolomyika, hutsulka, and arkan differ by rhythmic figures, choreography, region, and sometimes by gender, but share a duple meter. Traditional folk instruments include the bandura, a variety of flutes, various fiddles and basses, drums and rattles, the bagpipe, the hurdy-gurdy, the Jew's harp, and the hammered dulcimer.

The medieval beginnings of professional music are both secular and sacred. The former was created by court bards and by skomorokhy (jongleurs). The latter was created by Greek and Bulgarian church musicians. Ukrainian medieval and Renaissance sacred a capella music was codified and notated in several Irmologions. The baroque composer and theoretician Mykola Dylets'kyi developed a polyphonic style that composers Maksym Berezovs'kyi (17451777), Dmytro Bortnians'kyi (17511825), and Artem Vedel (17671808) combined with eighteenth-century classicism. The first Ukrainian opera Zaporozhets za Dunayem (Zaporozhian beyond the Danube) was composed in 1863 by Semen Hulak-Artemovs'kyi (18131873). The Peremyshl School of western Ukraine was represented by Mykhailo Verbyts'kyi (18151870), Ivan Lavrivs'kyi (18221873), and Victor Matiuk (18521912). All three composed sacred music, choral and solo vocal works, and music for the theater.

A scion of ancient kozak aristocracy, Mykola Lysenko (18421912) is known as the Father of Ukrainian Music. A graduate of the Leipzig Conservatory, a pianist, and a musical ethnographer, Lysenko created a national school of composition that seamlessly integrated elements of Ukrainian folk music into a mainstream Western style. His works include a cyclic setting of Shevchenko's poetry; operas, including Taras Bulba; art songs and choral works; cantatas; piano pieces; and chamber music. His immediate disciples were Kyrylo Stetsenko (18831922) and Mykola Leontovych (18771919). Twentieth-century Ukrainian music is represented by the post-Romantics Borys Liatoshyns'kyi (18951968), Lev Revuts'kyi (18991977), Vasyl Barvins'kyi (18881963), Stanyslav Liudkevych (18791980), and Mykola Kolessa (1904). Contemporary composers include Myroslav Skoryk, Lesia Dychko, and Volodymyr Huba.

Many Ukrainian performers have attained international stature: the soprano Solomia Krushelnyts'ka (19731952), the tenor Anatoliy Solovianenko (19311999), and the Ukrainian-American bass Paul Plishka (1941).

The theater in Ukraine began with the folk show vertep and baroque intermedia performed at academies. The baroque style with its florid language and stock allegories lasted longer in Ukraine than in Western Europe. The eighteenth-century classicism featured sentimentalist plays presented by public, private, and serf theaters. Kotliarevs'ky's ballad opera Natalka-Poltavka (Natalka from Poltava ) and the comedy Moskal'-Charivnyk (The Sorcerer Soldier ) premiered in 1819 and began an ethnographically oriented Ukrainian theater. In 1864 the Rus'ka Besida (Ruthenian Club) in Lviv under Austria established a permanent Ukrainian theater, while in the Russian Empire Ukrainian plays were staged by amateurs until banned by the Ems Ukase. Despite this prohibition, Marko Kropyvnyts'kyi (18401910) staged Ukrainian plays in 1881 along with Mykhailo Staryts'kyi (18401904) and the Tobilevych brothers. The latter became known under their pen and stage names as the playwright Ivan Karpenko-Karyi (18451907) and the actors and directors Panas Saksahans'kyi (18591940) and Mykola Sadovs'kyi (18561933). They created an entire repertoire of historical and social plays. Sadovs'kyi's productions marked the beginning of Ukrainian cinema: Sakhnenko's studio in Katerynoslav filmed his theater productions in 1910.

From 1917 to 1922 numerous new theaters appeared in both Eastern and western Ukraine. The most prominent new figure in theater was Les' Kurbas, director of The Young Theatre in Kyiv and later of Berezil theater in Kharkiv. His innovative approach combined expressionism with traditions of ancient Greek and Ukrainian folk theaters and included an acting method based on theatrical synthesis, a psychologically reinterpreted gesture, and a rhythmically unified performance. The expressionist style was adopted in the cinema by the internationally recognized director Oleksandr Dovzhenko (18941956).

Berezil's leading dramatist Mykola Kulish (18921937) reflected in his plays the social and national conflicts in Soviet Ukraine and the appearance of a class that used revolution for personal purposes. In 19331934 Kurbas, Kulish, and many of their actors were arrested and later killed in Stalin's prisons. As in every other art, social realism became the only drama style, exemplified by the plays of the party hack Oleksander Korniichuk. In 1956 former members of The Young Theatre and Berezil formed The Ivan Franko Theatre in Kyiv, but without the innovative character of the former ensembles.

Some Berezil members who escaped from the Soviet Union during World War II brought Kurbas's style to western Ukraine. After World War II these and other Ukrainian actors found themselves in refugee camps in Western Europe and made theater an influential force for preservation of national culture and reconstitution of the refugees' identity after cultural shocks of war and displacement. Theaters led by Volodymyr Blavats'kyi (19001953) and former Berezil actor Josyp Hirniak continued their performances as professional companies in New York in the 1950s and 1960s.

New ideas appeared in Ukrainian cinema of the 1960s. Director Kira Muratova's work showed existentialist concepts. The impressionistic and ethnographically authentic Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964) by Sergij Paradzhanov and Jurii Ilienko was a prize-winner at Cannes. Ilienko is now a leading Ukrainian film director and cinematographer of post-modern style.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The present National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine succeeds its Soviet eponym. It is an umbrella for research institutes, specializing in all fields of sciences and humanities. Most institutes are funded by the state, and unfortunately their budgets were cut by 38 percent in the year 2000. The scientific institutes usually sign independent contracts to provide research for industry. At present they have developed their own small enterprises in order to finance otherwise unfunded projects. Institutes in humanities and social sciences survive through publication grants from independent foundations. The National Academy of Medical Sciences and the National Academy of Pedagogy are similar to the Academy of Sciences and are financed by the state. Other research institutes are sponsored by diverse industries combining general research with product-oriented work. University-based research groups obtain funds from the Ministry of Education on the basis of open competition. The Ministry of Science has a yearly competition for project awards for research institutes. The competition concept is indicative of the transition from a centralized budget to funding through merit grants.


Armstrong, John A. Ukrainian Nationalism, 19391945, 1955.

Asyeyev, Yu S. Dzherela. Mystetstvo Kyivs'koi Rusi, 1980.

Before the Storm: Soviet Ukrainian Fiction of the 1920s, 1986.

Bilets'kyi, P. O. Ukrainske mystetstvo druhoi polovyny XYIIXVIII stolit', 1981.

Chirovsky, Nicholas L. Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Ukraine, 1986.

Constitution of Ukraine, 1996.

Contemporary Ukraine: Dynamics of Post-Soviet Transformation, 1998.

Conquest, Robert. The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine, 1986.

von Hagen, Mark. "The Russian Imperial Army and the Ukrainian National Movement in 1917." The Ukrainian Quarterly, 54, (34): 220256, 1998.

Hnizdovsky. Woodcuts, 19441975, 1976

Hordynsky, Sviatoslav. The Ukrainian Icon of the Twelfth to Eighteenth Centuries, 1973.

Hrushevs kyi, Mykhailo. History of Ukraine-Rus', 1997.

Iavornyts'kyi, D. I. Istoria zaporiz'kykh kozakiv, 1992.

, M. C. Samokysh, and S. I. Vasyl'kivs'kyi. Z Ukrains'koi starovyny,

Ilnytzkyj, Oleh S. Ukrainian Futurism, 19141930: A Historical and Critical Study, 1997.

Isajiw, Wsevolod W., Yury Boshyk, and Roman Senkus, eds. The Refugee Experience: Ukrainian Displaced Persons after World War II, 1992.

Knysh, George D. Rus and Ukraine in Medieval Times, 1991.

Kolessa, F. M. Muzykoznavchi pratsi, 1970.

Krypiakevych, Ivan, ed., Istoria ukrains'koi kul'tury, 1994.

Kulish, Mykola. Zona/ Blight 1996.

Kultura i pobut naseleniia Ukrainy, 1991.

Kuzio, Taras. Ukraine under Kuchma: Political Reform, Economic Transformation, and Security in Independent Ukraine, 1997.

Lavrynenko, Yurii. Rozstriliane vidrodzhennia, 1959.

Luckyj, George S. N. Ukrainian Literature in the Twentieth Century: A Reader's Guide, 1992.

Lobanovs'kyj, B.B., and P.I. Hovdia. Ukrains'ke mystetstvo druhoi polovyny XIXpochatku XX st., 1989.

Lohvyn, Hryhorii ed. Sophia Kyivs'ka. Derzhavnyj arkhitekturno istorychnyj zapovidnyk, 1971.

Magosci, Paul Robert. A History of Ukraine, 1996.

Maria Prymachenko, 1989.

Michaelsen, Katherine Janszky, and Nehama Guralnik, eds. Alexander Archipenko: A Centennial Tribute, 1986.

Motyl, Alexander J. Dilemmas of Independence: Ukraine after totalitarism, 1993.

Mudrak, Myroslava. The New Generation and Artistic Modernism in the Ukraine, 1986.

Natalka Husar's True Confessions, 1991.

Onyshkevych, Larissa M. L. Z. ed. Antolohia Modernoi ukrains'koi dramy, 1998.

Ovsijchuk, V. A. Ukrains'ke mystetstvo XIV-pershoi polovyny XVII stolittia, 1985.

Panibud'laska, V. F. ed. Natsional'ni protsesy v Ukraini. Istoria I suchasnist', 1997.

Reeder, Ellen, ed. Scythian Gold: Treasures from Ancient Ukraine, 1999.

Serech, Yury. Druha cherha. Literatura. Teatr. Ideolohii, 1978.

Sevcenko, Ihor. Ukraine Between East and West: Essays on Cultural History to the Early Eighteenth Century, 1996.

Shcherbak, Yurii. Chernobyl: A Documentary Story, 1989.

Shkandrij, Myroslav. Modernists, Marxists, and the Nation: Ukrainian Literary Discussion of the 1920s, 1992.

Sochor, Zenovia A. "No Middle Ground? On the Difficulties of Crafting a Political Consensus in Ukraine." Peoples, Nations, Identities: The Russian-Ukrainian Encounter. The Harriman Review 9 (12): 57-61.

Spirit of Ukraine: Five Hundred Years of Painting; Selections from the State Museum of Ukrainian Art, Kiev, 1991.

Subtelny, Orest. Ukraine: A History, 1988.

Szporluk, Roman. "Russians in Ukraine and Problems of Ukrainian Identity in the USSR." Ukraine in the Seventies, 1974.

Towards an Intellectual History of Ukraine: An Anthology of Ukrainian Thought from 1710 to 1995, 1996.

Ukrainian Painting, 1976.

Ukrains'kyi narodnyi odiah XVII-pochatku XIX st. v akvareliakh Yu.Hlohovs'koho, 1988.

Ukrains'kyi seredniovichnyj zhyvopys (Ukrainian Medieval Painting), 1976.

Voropaj, Oleksa. Zvychai nashoho narodu, 1958.

Vozniak, Mykhailo. Istoriia ukraïns koï literatury, 1992.

Wanner, Catherine. Burden of Dreams: History and Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine, 1998.

Wolowyna, Oleh. "Ukrains'ka mova v Ukraini: Matirnia mova za natsional'nistiu I movoiu navchannia." Essays on Ukrainian Orthography and Language, 1997.

Hanna Chumachenko

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukraine." Countries and Their Cultures. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukraine." Countries and Their Cultures. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukraine." Countries and Their Cultures. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from




The people of Ukraine are called Ukrainians. About 75 percent of the population traces their origins to the Ukraine. Other groups include Russians (about 22 percent), mainly in eastern Ukraine, in an area known as the Crimean Peninsula. Crimean Tatars, also concentrated on the Crimean Peninsula, represent a small percentage of the total population. For more information on the Russians and Tatars, see the chapter on Russia in Volume 7.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukraine." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukraine." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukraine." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from


Ukrainian Language spoken by c.40–45 million people in Ukraine. Significant Ukrainian-speaking communities are to be found in Kazakstan, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, and Siberian Russia. Like Russian and Belorussian, Ukrainian belongs to the e branch of the Slavic family of Indo-European languages.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukrainian." World Encyclopedia. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukrainian." World Encyclopedia. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukrainian." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from


U·krain·i·an / yoōˈkrānēən/ • n. 1. a native or national of Ukraine, or a person of Ukrainian descent. 2. the East Slavic language of Ukraine. • adj. of or relating to Ukraine, its people, or their language.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukrainian." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukrainian." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukrainian." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from


Ukrainianantipodean, Crimean, Judaean, Korean •Albion •Gambian, Zambian •lesbian •Arabian, Bessarabian, Fabian, gabion, Sabian, Swabian •amphibian, Libyan, Namibian •Sorbian •Danubian, Nubian •Colombian • Serbian • Nietzschean •Chadian, Trinidadian •Andean, Kandyan •guardian •Acadian, Akkadian, Arcadian, Barbadian, Canadian, circadian, Grenadian, Hadean, Orcadian, Palladian, radian, steradian •Archimedean, comedian, epicedian, median, tragedian •ascidian, Derridean, Dravidian, enchiridion, Euclidean, Floridian, Gideon, Lydian, meridian, Numidian, obsidian, Pisidian, quotidian, viridian •Amerindian, Indian •accordion, Edwardian •Cambodian, collodion, custodian, melodeon, nickelodeon, Odeon •Freudian • Bermudian • Burundian •Burgundian •Falstaffian, Halafian •Christadelphian, Delphian, Philadelphian •nymphean • ruffian • Brobdingnagian •Carolingian • Swedenborgian •logion, Muskogean •Jungian •magian, Pelagian •collegian •callipygian, Cantabrigian, Phrygian, Stygian •Merovingian • philologian • Fujian •Czechoslovakian • Pickwickian •Algonquian • Chomskian •Kentuckian •battalion, galleon, medallion, rapscallion, scallion •Anglian, ganglion •Heraklion •Dalian, Malian, Somalian •Chellean, Machiavellian, Orwellian, Sabellian, Trevelyan, triskelion •Wesleyan •alien, Australian, bacchanalian, Castalian, Deucalion, episcopalian, Hegelian, madrigalian, mammalian, Pygmalion, Salian, saturnalian, sesquipedalian, tatterdemalion, Thessalian, Westphalian •anthelion, Aristotelian, Aurelian, carnelian, chameleon, Karelian, Mendelian, Mephistophelian, Pelion, Sahelian •Abbevillian, Azilian, Brazilian, caecilian, Castilian, Chilean, Churchillian, civilian, cotillion, crocodilian, epyllion, Gillian, Lilian, Maximilian, Pamphylian, pavilion, postilion, Quintilian, reptilian, Sicilian, Tamilian, vaudevillian, vermilion, Virgilian •Aeolian, Anatolian, Eolian, Jolyon, Mongolian, napoleon, simoleon •Acheulian, Boolean, cerulean, Friulian, Julian, Julien •bullion •mullion, scullion, Tertullian •Liverpudlian •Bahamian, Bamian, Damian, Mesopotamian, Samian •anthemion, Bohemian •Endymion, prosimian, Simeon, simian •isthmian • antinomian •Permian, vermian •Oceanian •Albanian, Azanian, Iranian, Jordanian, Lithuanian, Mauritanian, Mediterranean, Panamanian, Pennsylvanian, Pomeranian, Romanian, Ruritanian, Sassanian, subterranean, Tasmanian, Transylvanian, Tripolitanian, Turanian, Ukrainian, Vulcanian •Armenian, Athenian, Fenian, Magdalenian, Mycenaean (US Mycenean), Slovenian, Tyrrhenian •Argentinian, Arminian, Augustinian, Carthaginian, Darwinian, dominion, Guinean, Justinian, Ninian, Palestinian, Sardinian, Virginian •epilimnion, hypolimnion •Bosnian •Bornean, Californian, Capricornian •Aberdonian, Amazonian, Apollonian, Babylonian, Baconian, Bostonian, Caledonian, Catalonian, Chalcedonian, Ciceronian, Devonian, draconian, Estonian, Etonian, gorgonian, Ionian, Johnsonian, Laconian, Macedonian, Miltonian, Newtonian, Oregonian, Oxonian, Patagonian, Plutonian, Tennysonian, Tobagonian, Washingtonian •Cameroonian, communion, Mancunian, Neptunian, Réunion, union •Hibernian, Saturnian •Campion, champion, Grampian, rampion, tampion •thespian • Mississippian • Olympian •Crispian •Scorpian, scorpion •cornucopian, dystopian, Ethiopian, Salopian, subtopian, Utopian •Guadeloupian •Carian, carrion, clarion, Marian •Calabrian, Cantabrian •Cambrian • Bactrian •Lancastrian, Zoroastrian •Alexandrian • Maharashtrian •equestrian, pedestrian •agrarian, antiquarian, apiarian, Aquarian, Arian, Aryan, authoritarian, barbarian, Bavarian, Bulgarian, Caesarean (US Cesarean), centenarian, communitarian, contrarian, Darien, disciplinarian, egalitarian, equalitarian, establishmentarian, fruitarian, Gibraltarian, grammarian, Hanoverian, humanitarian, Hungarian, latitudinarian, libertarian, librarian, majoritarian, millenarian, necessarian, necessitarian, nonagenarian, octogenarian, ovarian, Parian, parliamentarian, planarian, predestinarian, prelapsarian, proletarian, quadragenarian, quinquagenarian, quodlibetarian, Rastafarian, riparian, rosarian, Rotarian, sabbatarian, Sagittarian, sanitarian, Sauveterrian, sectarian, seminarian, septuagenarian, sexagenarian, topiarian, totalitarian, Trinitarian, ubiquitarian, Unitarian, utilitarian, valetudinarian, vegetarian, veterinarian, vulgarian •Adrian, Hadrian •Assyrian, Illyrian, Syrian, Tyrian •morion • Austrian •Dorian, Ecuadorean, historian, Hyperborean, Nestorian, oratorian, praetorian (US pretorian), salutatorian, Salvadorean, Singaporean, stentorian, Taurean, valedictorian, Victorian •Ugrian • Zarathustrian •Cumbrian, Northumbrian, Umbrian •Algerian, Cancerian, Chaucerian, Cimmerian, criterion, Hesperian, Hitlerian, Hyperion, Iberian, Liberian, Nigerian, Presbyterian, Shakespearean, Siberian, Spenserian, Sumerian, valerian, Wagnerian, Zairean •Arthurian, Ben-Gurion, centurion, durian, holothurian, Khachaturian, Ligurian, Missourian, Silurian, tellurian •Circassian, Parnassian •halcyon • Capsian • Hessian •Albigensian, Waldensian •Dacian • Keatsian •Cilician, Galician, Lycian, Mysian, Odyssean •Leibnizian • Piscean • Ossian •Gaussian • Joycean • Andalusian •Mercian • Appalachian • Decian •Ordovician, Priscian •Lucian •himation, Montserratian •Atlantean, Dantean, Kantian •bastion, Erastian, Sebastian •Mozartian • Brechtian • Thyestean •Fortean • Faustian • protean •Djiboutian •fustian, Procrustean •Gilbertian, Goethean, nemertean •pantheon •Hogarthian, Parthian •Lethean, Promethean •Pythian • Corinthian • Scythian •Lothian, Midlothian •Latvian • Yugoslavian •avian, Batavian, Flavian, Moldavian, Moravian, Octavian, Scandinavian, Shavian •Bolivian, Maldivian, oblivion, Vivian •Chekhovian, Harrovian, Jovian, Pavlovian •alluvion, antediluvian, diluvian, Peruvian •Servian • Malawian • Zimbabwean •Abkhazian • Dickensian •Caucasian, Malaysian, Rabelaisian •Keynesian •Belizean, Cartesian, Indonesian, Milesian, Salesian, Silesian •Elysian, Frisian, Parisian, Tunisian •Holmesian •Carthusian, Malthusian, Venusian

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukrainian." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukrainian." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukrainian." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from


Ukraineabstain, appertain, arcane, arraign, ascertain, attain, Bahrain, bane, blain, brain, Braine, Cain, Caine, campaign, cane, chain, champagne, champaign, Champlain, Charmaine, chicane, chow mein, cocaine, Coleraine, Coltrane, complain, constrain, contain, crane, Dane, deign, demesne, demi-mondaine, detain, disdain, domain, domaine, drain, Duane, Dwane, Elaine, entertain, entrain, explain, fain, fane, feign, gain, Germaine, germane, grain, humane, Hussein, inane, Jain, Jane, Jermaine, Kane, La Fontaine, lain, lane, legerdemain, Lorraine, main, Maine, maintain, mane, mise en scène, Montaigne, moraine, mundane, obtain, ordain, pain, Paine, pane, pertain, plain, plane, Port-of-Spain, profane, rain, Raine, refrain, reign, rein, retain, romaine, sane, Seine, Shane, Sinn Fein, skein, slain, Spain, Spillane, sprain, stain, strain, sustain, swain, terrain, thane, train, twain, Ujjain, Ukraine, underlain, urbane, vain, vane, vein, Verlaine, vicereine, wain, wane, Wayne •watch chain • mondaine • Haldane •ultramundane • Cellophane •novocaine • sugar cane • marocain

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ukraine." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"Ukraine." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . (October 20, 2016).

"Ukraine." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from