Ukraine - Facts and Features

Ukraine - Overview

Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe located in its southeastern part. Ukraine is a unitary state and a parliamentary-presidential republic. It is an industrial-agrarian country with a predominance of raw materials.

Total area: 603,549 sq. km. (233,100 sq. mi.) - the territory according to the constitutional structure of the country with all the territories that are currently not under Ukrainian control.

Boundaries: north - Belarus; east - Russia; south - the Black and Azov seas; west - Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova.

Elevations: the highest point - Mount Hoverla (6,762 feet or 2,061 meters); the lowest - Kyleutske in the Crimea (59 feet or 18 meters).

Population: about 41.17 million (2021) (without Crimea).

GDP (purchasing power parity): 441 billion USD, per capita - 12,660 USD (2022).

GDP (nominal): 151 billion USD, per capita - 4,349 USD (2022).

Largest cities: Kyiv (the capital of Ukraine), Lviv, Odesa, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia.

Major languages: Ukrainian and Russian.

Major religious groups: Orthodox Christians, Greek Catholics (Uniates), Protestants, Roman Catholics.

International calling code: +380.

Currency: Ukrainian Hryvnia (UAH), the average exchange rate - 37 UAH per 1 USD (2023).

Internet TLD: .ua

Time zone: UTC +2, UTC +3 (DST).

Ukraine flag

Ukraine flag

Ukraine coat of arms

Ukraine coat of arms

Ukraine national anthem

Flag of Ukraine

The flag of Ukraine, consisting of two equal horizontal stripes (the upper one is blue and the lower one is yellow), is the official state symbol of Ukraine and one of the national symbols of Ukrainians. According to the generally accepted interpretation of the flag, yellow symbolizes wheat fields, and blue - a clear sky above them.

One of the versions of the origin of the flag is associated with the year of 1708, with the permission made by the Swedish king Charles XII to Hetman Ivan Mazepa of the right to use the colors of the Swedish military flag - yellow and light blue - as flags on the peaks of the Cossack detachments.

From the 18th century, the Zaporizhzhya Cossacks began to use mainly yellow-blue flags. In 1803, Emperor Alexander I granted two banners of yellow-blue and blue-yellow colors to the Black Sea Cossack army, based on the Zaporizhzhya Cossacks.

Some researchers consider the starting point for the development of the current national flag of Ukraine in 1848, when the yellow-blue flag was first used during the revolution in the Austrian Empire by the Supreme Ruthenian Council in Lviv.

Geography of Ukraine

Ukraine on the world map

Ukraine on the world map

The control of Ukraine over the Crimean peninsula and parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions was lost in 2014.

As of 2023, as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine doesn’t control about two-thirds of the territory of Kherson Oblast (the entire territory on the left bank of the Dnieper River), about 70% of the territory of Zaporizhzhia Oblast (its southern and central parts), about two-thirds of Donetsk Oblast, and almost the entire Luhansk Oblast.

The territory of Ukraine is stretched from west to east by 1,316 km and from north to south by 893 km. The country is located in zones of pine and mixed forests, forest-steppes and steppes.

The geographical center of Europe, measured by the military department of Austria-Hungary in 1887 and by Soviet scientists after the Second World War, is located on the territory of present Ukraine, not far from the town of Rakhiv in the Zakarpattia region.

The relief of Ukraine is predominated by plains (95% of the total area), which belong to the southwestern part of the East European Plain. Mountains in Ukraine are represented by part of the Carpathian Mountains - the Ukrainian Carpathians, where the highest peak of the country is located - Mount Hoverla (2,061 m above sea level) and the Crimean Mountains, the highest peak of which is Mount Roman-Kosh (1,545 m).

Throughout Ukraine, the climate is moderately continental. The average temperature in January (the coldest month) ranges from minus 7-8 degrees Celsius in the northeast to plus 1-4 degrees Celsius in the south. In July (the warmest month), the average monthly temperature ranges from plus 17-19 degrees Celsius in the north and north-west of the country to plus 22-23 degrees Celsius in the southern regions.

Ukraine is one of the world’s leading mineral and raw materials countries. In total, the country has about 20,000 deposits and manifestations of 111 types of minerals. In particular, Ukraine holds leading positions in the world in terms of reserves and extraction of iron, manganese, titanium-zirconium ores, and a lot of types of non-metallic raw materials.

Brief History of Ukraine

People lived in the territory of present Ukraine since the Paleolithic era. In ancient times, state formations of the Scythians, the Greek colonists, the Goths appeared on this territory. The starting point of the Slavic statehood and culture was the Kievan Rus of the 9th-13th centuries.

After the Mongol invasion, the Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia became its heir. Subsequently, these territories became part of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which formed a federal state - the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569-1795).

The formation of the new Ukrainian nation was intensified during the Khmelnytsky Uprising also known as the Cossack-Polish War (1648-1657). The result of the war was the creation of a Cossack state in the Dnieper River basin. After 1667, it was divided between the Commonwealth and the Moscow Kingdom. In the 18th century, after the majority of Ukrainian lands became parts the Russian Empire, local autonomy was gradually abolished.

In the early 20th century, during the Civil War in the former Russian Empire, several national states appeared on the territory of Ukraine: the Ukrainian People’s Republic, the Ukrainian State, the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic, and others. In 1917-1921, as a result of several wars, these states were seized by their neighbors: Soviet Russia, the Polish Republic, the Kingdom of Romania, and the Czechoslovak Republic.

On the Russian territory, the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic (USSR) was established, which became one of the founding states of the Soviet Union in 1922. During the Second World War, Western Ukraine was annexed to the Ukrainian SSR. After the war, Transcarpathia became part of the country, in 1954 - the Crimea.

Ukraine as an independent state was formed as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Independence of Ukraine was proclaimed on August 24, 1991.

The Ukrainian Revolution of 2014 (the Euromaidan Revolution, Revolution of Dignity), which took place in the winter of 2013-2014, led to the removal of the pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych and the formation of a new government focused on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union.

These events became a suitable occasion of armed aggression of Russia that included the annexation of the Crimea and the war in the east of Ukraine, in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions bordering on Russia.

Diversity of Ukrainian nature

Fields of the Lugansk region

Fields of the Lugansk region

Author: Alexander Byelkin

Rocks in the Lviv region

Rocks in the Lviv region

Author: Andriy Verh

Carpathian Mountains in the Zakarpattia region

Carpathian Mountains in the Zakarpattia region

Author: Andriy Chmelov

Ukraine - the Origin of the Name

According to the most widespread version, the name “Ukraine” (“Ukraina”) comes from the Old Russian word “oukraina” (“border region”), which was originally applied to different borderlands of Rus and the old Russian principalities.

According to the Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary, since the end of the 16th century, after South-Western Rus in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania became part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, part of its territory stretching from Podillia in the west to the mouth of the Dnieper in the south was unofficially called “Ukraina”.

This was due to the border location of these territories in the Polish state. In the 16th-18th centuries, “Ukraine” became a specific geographical concept equivalent to the names of other historical and ethnographic regions (Volyn, Podillia, Zaporozhye) - the territory in the Middle Dnieper controlled by the Cossacks. The people living there began to be called Ukrainians.

The number of Ukrainians gradually increased, and the name “Ukraine” spread to regions outside the original territory. During the Khmelnytsky Uprising, it began to be applied to the whole territory where military operations took place.

Since the 18th century, the concept of “Ukraine” was used in a geographical sense. As national self-consciousness grew, the meaning of the word increased. It become perceived not only as a geographical term, but also partly as a name for ethnic space. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the term “Ukraine” as the name of the entire ethnic territory became completely independent and self-sufficient, replacing other self-names.

Some Ukrainian historians and linguists put forward the version that the name “Ukraine” comes from the words “krai”, “kraina” meaning simply “country”, “a land populated by its people”. This version, in particular, is given in some school textbooks on the history of Ukraine.

Photos and pictures

Rich historical heritage of Ukraine

St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral in Kyiv

St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral in Kyiv

Author: Ivanov E.A.

Black House (Kamenitsa) at Rynok Square in Lviv

Black House (Kamenitsa) at Rynok Square in Lviv

Author: Marek Zdziechowski

Magnificent fortress of Kamianets-Podilskyi

Magnificent fortress of Kamianets-Podilskyi

Author: Mariusz Rzetala

Picturesque cities of Ukraine

In the center of Mukachevo

In the center of Mukachevo

Author: Anna Dziuba

Trinity Cathedral in Chernihiv

Trinity Cathedral in Chernihiv

Author: Lada Stupina

Former Residence of Metropolitans in Chernivtsi

Former Residence of Metropolitans in Chernivtsi

Author: Volodymyr Ivanov

The questions of our visitors

James asks: I am volunteering to help in Ukraine, I do not want to return to US in 90 days but would rather give Ukraine a year or more depending on the situation. I have skill sets in all phases of constructions \ urban and rural development. I am 51 years of age and in good health with no criminal record. My US passport was just renewed this year and I will be ready to volunteer \ depart for Ukraine in June. All my personal affairs are in order, what is the best direction to move forward to lengthen my volunteer work in Ukraine.
Expert's answer:
As a construction specialist, you should contact the following Ukrainian volunteer organization - Dobrobat. They focus on the initial reconstruction of damaged buildings. Probably they can provide more contacts of similar organizations as well.
Charlie asks: My girlfriend and young daughter want to come to America to visit for a few weeks, she says the biometric passport costs 280 USD for her and 220 USD for her daughter. And takes 7 days to arrive. My question is should the passports cost this much?
Expert's answer:
This information is not true. The price of an international bio-metric passport in Ukraine is about 20-40 USD and usually it takes 7-20 working days to get it, delays of up to several weeks are also possible at the moment. You can check the following official page on the site of the Migration Service of Ukraine about obtaining an international Ukrainian passport (auto-translated from Ukrainian, the current exchange rate is about 37 UAH (Ukrainian Hryvnias) per 1 USD). It should also be noted that no third-party assistance from any "agency" is required to receive this service.
Sue asks: My Ukraine visitors 8 year old needs to renew passport ASAP. What documents are required to present at the Consulate in Edinburgh. We have 3 hrs travel to get there so need to know we have everything. Thank you
Expert's answer:
The following documents are required to extend the validity of a Ukrainian passport abroad: an application for a passport extension, which is filled out directly at the consulate, the original international passport of the person, the birth certificate, the passport of the legal representative of the child (parent). I do not advise you to just go to the consulate without an appointment, they are overloaded with work and the queue most likely stretches for weeks ahead. Contact them directly before you go to find out what date you can sign up for an appointment.

The comments of our visitors

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I am gathering some information about Ukraine and asking some specific information from your 'Expert'. I find your site extremely helpful, honest and full of substance. I have and continue to recommend your site to others. Thank You, JG

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Very good site, with good useful info. A page of the local cost of living would be useful, staples, rent, food, utilities, transportation costs, wages,etc that are up to date. Good Work, well done... thank you, Doc

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