About Ukraine



As varied peoples migrated from Asia into Europe, Ukraine was first settled by the Neolithic people, followed by the Iranians and Goths, and other nomadic peoples who arrived throughout the first millennium BC.

Around 600 B.C., the ancient Greeks founded a series of colonies along the shore of the Black Sea, and Slavic tribes occupied large areas of central and eastern Ukraine.

Near the end of the 10th century, Vladimir Sviatoslavich (Vladimir the Great) converted most of the population to Christianity, and at that same time, Kiev (Kyiv) was growing into an important part of Kievan Rus.

Kievan Rus was an influential medieval polity (or city state) and the largest in Eastern Europe from the late 9th to the mid-13th century. It eventually disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240.

In fact, the Mongol raiders (from China) all but destroyed Kiev in the 13th century. The Mongols were cruel and took few prisoners, so locals often fled to other countries and Ukrainian settlements soon appeared in Poland and Hungary.

Because Poland and Lithuania fought successful wars against the Mongols, most of the territory of what is now modern Ukraine was annexed by Poland and Lithuania in the 14th century. And following the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (or union) ArmeniansGermans, Poles and Jews immigrated to the Ukraine.

After the formation of the Commonwealth, Ukraine became a part of the Kingdom of Poland. Colonization efforts by the Poles were aggressive, social tensions grew, and the era of the Cossacks (peasants in revolt) was about to surface.

The Ukrainian Cossack rebellion and war of independence began in 1648, and it sparked an era known in Polish history as The Deluge, an effort that surely undermined the foundations and stability of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In the late 1700s Poland’s three powerful neighbors,Austria, Prussia and Russiacoveted Poland. None wanted war with each other so they just decided to divide the now-weakened Poland in a series of agreements called the Three Partitions of Poland, and much of modern-day Ukraine was integrated into the Russian Empire.

In the 19th century, the western region of Ukraine was under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Russian Empire elsewhere, and the economy was totally dependent on its agricultural base.

Ukrainians were determined to restore their culture and native language. However, the Russian Government imposed strict limits on attempts to elevate Ukrainian culture, even banning the use and study of the Ukrainian language.

When World War I finally ended, many European powers (such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire) ceased to exist, and because the October Revolution broke apart Russia, the Ukrainians now saw an opportunity and they declared an independent statehood.

Unable to protect themselves militarily, the Ukraine landmass was soon fought over by many forces, including Russia’s Red Army and the Polish Army. In the end (by treaty) Poland would control land in the far west, while the eastern two-thirds became part of the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

In the 1920s, Ukrainian culture and pride began to flourish once again, but Joseph Stalin (the Soviet leader) was not pleased, and his government created an artificial famine; a deliberate act of genocide that by 1932 caused (an estimated) 3 to 7 million peasant deaths.

Fast Facts

  • Name: Ukraine
  • Capital City: Kyiv (Kiev) (2,797,553 pop.)
    (3,648,000 metro)
  • Ukraine Population: 45,134,707 (2010 est.)
  • World Populations (all countries)
  • Currency: Hryvnia
    (conversion rates)
    100 hryvnia
  • Ethnicity: Ukrainian 77.8%, Russian 17.3%, Belarusian 0.6%, Moldovan 0.5%, Crimean Tatar 0.5%, Bulgarian 0.4%, Hungarian 0.3%, Romanian 0.3%, Polish 0.3%, Jewish 0.2%, other 1.8%
  • GDP total: $306.3 billion (2010 est.)
  • GDP per capita: $6,700 (2010 est.)
  • Land Sizes
  • Language: Ukrainian (official) 67%, Russian 24%, other 9% (includes small Romanian-, Polish-, and Hungarian-speaking minorities)
  • Largest Cities: (by population) Kyyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Odesa, Zaporizhzhya, L’viv, Kryvyy, Mykolayiv, Mariupol, Luhansk
  • Name: The origin of Ukraine’s name can be traced back to ancient times, and simply means ‘land.’
  • National Day: August 24
  • Religion: Ukrainian Orthodox – Kyiv Patriarchate 50.4%, Ukrainian Orthodox – Moscow Patriarchate 26.1%, Ukrainian Greek Catholic 8%, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox 7.2%, Roman Catholic 2.2%, Protestant 2.2%, Jewish 0.6%, other 3.2%
  • Symbols

Land Statistics

  • Coastline: 1,728 miles (2,782 km)
  • Land Area:
    (land) 223,679 sq miles (579,330 sq km)
    (water) 9,351 sq miles (24,220 sq km)
    (TOTAL) 233,031 sq miles (603,550 sq km)
    To convert sq km (kilometers) to sq mi (miles)
    use our converter
  • Land Area: (all countries)
  • Land Divisions: 24 oblasti, 2 municipalities** and 1 autonomous republic*: Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Chernivtsi, Crimea or Avtonomna Respublika Krym* (Simferopol’), Dnipropetrovs’k, Donets’k, Ivano-Frankivs’k, Kharkiv, Kherson, Khmel’nyts’kyy, Kirovohrad, Kyiv**, Kyiv, Luhans’k, L’viv, Mykolayiv, Odesa, Poltava, Rivne, Sevastopol’**, Sumy, Ternopil’, Vinnytsya, Volyn’ (Luts’k), Zakarpattya (Uzhhorod), Zaporizhzhya, Zhytomyr
  • Horizontal Width: 784.93 miles (1263.22 km) fromUzhhorod east to Luhans’k
  • Vertical Length: 346.4 miles (557.48 km) fromOdesa north to Chernihiv

    Note: Lengths and widths are point-to-point, straight-line measurements from a Mercator map projection, and will vary some using other map projections

  • Bordering Countries: (8) Belarus, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania (south), Romania (southwest), Russia, Slovakia
  • Geographic Center: 6.71 miles (10.78 km) northeast of Kirovohrad
  • Highest Point:  Hora Hoverla 6,762 ft (2,061 m)
  • Lowest Point:   Black Sea 0 m
  • Latitude and Longitude
  • Relative Location



  • Latitude/Longitude (Absolute Locations)
    Kyiv: (capital city) 50° 27′ N, 30° 31′ E
    L’viv: 49° 50′ N, 24° 1′ E
    Odesa: 46° 29′ N, 30° 43′ E
    Reni: 45° 27′ N, 28° 16′ E
  • Latitudes and Longitudes: (specific details)
  • Find any Latitude & Longitude
  • Relative Locations: (specific details)