The Ukraine reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Ukraine

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Ukraine, formerly The Ukraine (when as a part of USSR), is a country in eastern Europe which borders the Black Sea to the south, the Russian Federation to the east, Belarus to the north and Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova to the west.

Україна
Ukrayina
Flag of Ukraine
Ukraine: Coat of Arms
(In detail) (In detail)
National motto: "Volia, Zlahoda, Dobro"
(Ukrainian: Freedom, Accord, Goodness)
image:LocationUkraine.png
Official language Ukrainian
Capital Kiev
President Leonid Kuchma
Prime minister Viktor Yanukovych
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 43rd
603,700 km²
Negligible
Population
 - Total (2002)
 - Population density>Density
Ranked 24th
48,396,470
80/km²
GDP
 - Total (2002)
 - GDP/head
Ranked 53rd
$41 billion
$850
Independence
 - Date
From the Soviet Union
August 24, 1991
Currency Hryvnia
Time zone UTC +2
National anthem Державний Гімн України
Internet TLD .UA
Calling Code 380

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Regions
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Miscellaneous topics
9 External links

History

Main article: History of Ukraine

The current territory of what is today the nation of Ukraine was a southern part of the first Eastern Slavic state, Kievan Rus'. Its capital was Kyiv, the capital of the modern Ukraine. Kievan Rus' was founded by Vikings, or so-called Varangians, from the area that later became Sweden. Varangians later became assimilated to the local population of Rus' (Ruthenian/Ukrainian) and gave Ukraine its first powerful dynasty, the Rurik dynasty. During the 10th and 11th centuries the territory of Ukraine became the center of the most important state in Europe--laying the foundation for Ukrainian national identity through subsequent centuries.

The term "Rus'" referred to many of the purely East Slavic principalities in the region (Rus' Chervona--Red Rus'/Ruthenia, for example). Kiev, and Kievian Rus' was the seat of the Grand prince of the Rurik Dynasty. The ruler of Kiev was also in effect the ruler of all the Rus' principalities. Kievan Rus' declined during the Mongol invasions.

Eventually, Kievan Rus' became weakened by internal quarrels and destroyed by Mongol and Tatar invasions. On Ukrainian territory, the state of Kievan Rus' was succeeded by the principalities of Halych and Volodymyr-Volynskii, which were merged into the state of Halych-Volynia, later subjugated by Lithuania and Poland, and after the 1376 marriage of Lithuania's Grand Duke Jagiello to Poland's Queen Jadwiga, ruled by the Poles (see the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth).

During the mid-17th century the Cossack Hetmanate, was established by Ukrainians fleeing from Polish serfdom, in central Ukraine, an independent military state. Independence was eventually lost to Russia over time, as a consequence of the controversial Treaty of Pereyaslav. After the partitions of Poland by Prussia, Austria and Russia at the end of the 18th century, Western Ukraine was taken over by Austria while Eastern Ukraine was progressively assimilated into the Russian Empire. Ukrainians played an important role in continuous wars between East-European monarchies and Ottoman Empire. Since then, the territory of Ukraine became a bridge betweeen Europe and Asia (Russia).

Following the Russian Revolution in 1917, Ukraine was briefly independent in two states, then united, in 1920. By 1922 Ukraine was split between Poland and Soviet Union. The Soviet Ukraine experienced two famines (1921-1922 and 1932-1933) - the second of which was deliberate, and termed the "Holodomor" - in which many millions died (scholarly estimates range from 4 to 10 million dead). Many Ukrainians played important roles in the Russian civil war. Much of the Cossack Army/Clan(Voysko) sided with the Red Army during the conflict.

At the onset of the World War II, in 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland and incorporated the Western Ukraine into the Ukrainian SSR. In 1941 the German invaders and their Axis allies crushed the Red Army. In the encirclement battle of Kiev, for the fierce resistance of the Red Army and of the local population, the city was acclaimed by the Soviets as a "Hero City," more than 660,000 Soviet troops were taken captive. Initially, the Germans were received as "liberators" by a small part of the Ukrainian population. It should be noted that this generally stemmed from the ferocious repressions of the landed pesantry (a class that included almost all Ukrainians) by Stalin, and to a feeling of Ukrainian nationalism. Soon, however, the Germans began their bloody regime of genocide, killing and deporting Jews and Ukrainian civilians and burning down entire villages, leading many Ukrainians to conclude that Nazi rule was just as terrible, or even worse, than the Soviet regime which had killed 4 to 10 million of the Ukrainian nation, albeit over a longer period of time. Total civilian losses during the War and German occupation in Ukraine are estimated at 7 million, including over half a million Jews shot and killed by the Einsatzgruppen. Of the estimated 11 million Soviet troops who fell in battle against the Nazis, about a fourth (2.7 million) were ethnic Ukrainians. Thus, the Ukrainian nation is distinguished as the first nation to fight the Axis powers during WW II in Carpatho-Ukraine and one that saw one of the greatest bloodsheds during the War.

After the WWII, the borders of then Soviet Ukraine were extended to the West, (as stipulated in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, see also Curzon line), uniting most Ukrainians under one political state. In 1954, Crimea was transferred from the RSFSR to Ukraine (Crimea has no continuous land bridge to the Russian Federation.) This decision of Nikita Khrushchev, intended to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the controversial Treaty of Pereyaslav, seen in Soviet historiography as the 'union of two fraternal peoples', led to tensions between Russia and Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Independence was achieved in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukraine was a founding member of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Ukraine

Ukraine is a parliamentary democracy with separate executive, judicial, and legislative branches. The President of Ukraine nominates the prime minister, who must be confirmed by the parliament, Verkhovna Rada.

Ukrainian politics are still troubled by excessive state control, and endemic corruption where the state has relinquished it. This stalls efforts at economic reform, stifles privatization, and endangers civil liberties.

See also: Foreign relations of Ukraine

Regions

Main article: Regions of Ukraine

Ukraine is subdivided into 24 regions (oblasti, singular - oblast), 1 autonomous republic (avtonomna respublika) in the Crimea, and 2 municipalities (mista, singular - misto) with special legal status, marked by a *:

Geography

Main article: Geography of Ukraine

Map of UkraineEnlarge

Map of Ukraine

The Ukrainian landscape consists mostly of fertile plains or steppes and plateaus, crossed by rivers such as the Dniepr, Donets, Dnister and the Southern Bug as they flow down into the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov. To the southwest the delta of the Danube forms the border with Romania. Mountains are found only in the western range of the Carpathian Mountains, of which the highest is the Hora Hoverla at 2,061 m, and in the Crimean peninsula in the extreme south along the coast.

Ukraine has a temperate continental climate, though a more mediterranean clime is found on the southern Crimean coast. Precipitation is disproportionately distributed; it's highest in the west and north and lesser 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, but generally hot in the south.

Economy

Main article: Economy of Ukraine

Formerly an important agricultural and industrial region of the Soviet Union, Ukraine now depends on Russia for most energy supplies, especially natural gas, and the lack of significant structural reform have made the Ukrainian economy vulnerable to external shocks. After 1991 the government liberalised most prices and erected a legal framework for privatisation, but widespread resistance to reform within the government and the legislature soon stalled reform efforts and led to some backtracking. Output by 1999 had fallen to less than 40% the 1991 level. Loose monetary policies pushed inflation to hyperinflationary levels in late 1993.

The current government has pledged to reduce the number of government agencies, streamline the regulatory process, create a legal environment to encourage entrepreneurs, and enact a comprehensive tax overhaul. Reforms in the more politically sensitive areas of structural reform and land privatisation are still lagging. Outside institutions - particularly the IMF - have encouraged Ukraine to quicken the pace and scope of reforms and have threatened to withdraw financial support.

The GDP in 2000 showed strong export-based growth of 6% - the first growth since independence - and industrial production grew 12.9%. The economy continued to expand in 2001 as real GDP rose 9% and industrial output grew by over 14%. Growth was undergirded by strong domestic demand and growing consumer and investor confidence.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Ukraine

Ethnic Ukrainians make up about 75% of the total population, ethnic Russians number about 20%. The industrial regions in the east and southeast are the most heavily populated, and about 70% of the population is urban. Ukrainian (the official state language) and Russian are the principal languages and although Russian is very widely spoken most of the population identifies Ukrainian as their native language. Other minorities include small groups of Romanians (with Moldovans, 0,8%), Belarusians (0,6%), Crimean Tatars (0,5%), Bulgarians (0,4%), Hungarians, Poles (0,4%) and Jews (0,3%).

The dominant religions are the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, an Eastern Orthodox church, and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which practices eastern Christian rites but recognises the Roman Pope as head of the church. Most of the authority and property of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church belongs to the Moscow Patriarchy, while a separate Kiev Patriarchy declared independence from Moscow (after Ukraine declared independence) and attracted the most believers. In addition to these, there also is a Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, as well as smaller Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Moslem communities.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Ukraine

Miscellaneous topics

External links


Commonwealth of Independent States
Armenia | Azerbaijan | Belarus | Georgia | Kazakhstan | Kyrgyzstan | Moldova | Russia | Tajikistan | Turkmenistan | Ukraine | Uzbekistan

Countries in Europe
Albania | Andorra | Austria | Azerbaijan | Belarus | Belgium | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Bulgaria | Croatia | Czech Republic | Cyprus | Denmark | Estonia | Finland | France | Germany | Greece | Hungary | Iceland | Ireland | Italy | Latvia | Liechtenstein | Lithuania | Luxembourg | Republic of Macedonia | Malta | Moldova | Monaco | Netherlands | Norway | Poland | Portugal | Romania | Russia | San Marino | Serbia and Montenegro | Slovakia | Slovenia | Spain | Sweden | Switzerland | Turkey | Ukraine | United Kingdom | Vatican City
Dependencies: Faroe Islands | Gibraltar | Guernsey | Isle of Man | Jan Mayen | Jersey | Svalbard