Geographically, most of Ukraine is made up of flat, fertile plains called steppes.
In the west, however, there are the Carpathian Mountains, which stretch across several other eastern European countries. In the south, there are the Crimean Mountains.
Ukraine can be divided into several vegetation-soil zones. Northern Ukraine is primarily a forest zone, with pine and oak trees predominating.
Forest-steppe zone, located just to the south of the forest zone, is capable of sustaining agriculture. This zone is the most fertile area, it is particularly rich in black earth called “chernozem”.
The zone of rich black soils is running west-east across the south-central Ukraine and its intense cultivation has made Ukraine a major producer of winter wheat and sugar beets.
The largest rivers of Ukraine
Rivers play an important role in Ukrainian life. They are vital for shipping, generating electrical power, and fishing. The Dnieper is Ukraine’s largest river, it is also the third largest river in Europe flowing from Belarus through northern Ukraine, and empties southward into Black Sea.
The Dniester is Ukraine’s second-largest river. Located in the western Ukraine, it flows into the Black Sea on Ukraine’s southern border.
The Black Sea is polluted in its deeper depths by sulfur dioxide, which limits the fishing output. Bordering Ukraine and Russia, there is the Azov Sea, a very shallow body of water.
The remoteness of Ukraine from oceans, continental Eurasia, and mainly flat nature of its territory determine the climate of the country as a temperate-continental, gradually changing from west to east.
Only a narrow coastal strip of the southern coast of Crimea is characterized by sub-tropical (Mediterranean) climate.
Most of precipitation fall in the Ukrainian Carpathians (up to 1600 mm per year) and in Crimea (800-1150 mm). In other regions it ranges from 700-750 mm (north-west) to 300-350 mm (in the south-east).