Ukraine is a country of Central-Eastern Europe. It occupies the South-Western part of Eastern-European Plains and a part of the Carpathian and Crimean mountains. It stretches for 893 km from North to the South and 1,316 km from West to East. Ukraine borders Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and Poland on land and Russia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey on the sea. The country gained its independence from the Soviet Union on December 1, 1991. The capital and largest city is Kyiv.
Ukraine is located in moderate latitudes and has outlets to Black and Azov Seas. The geopolitical location on the boarder of Western and Eastern peoples and cultures considerably influenced history and current development of the nation. In 1945, Ukraine became a member of the United Nations (UN). In December 1991, it was a founding member of the CIS, and in November 1995 it became a full member of the Council of Europe. It is also a member of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). In 1992, Ukraine became a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank). It also then became affiliated with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The territory of Ukraine is 603,700 square km, 5.7% of the European territory or 0.44% of world's territory. Ukraine is a transit country for passengers and cargo from many countries due to its advantageous location in the center of Europe and wide network of air, railroad, sea and automobile transport.
In 2001, Ukraine had 49.5 million residents. In terms of population, Ukraine ranks 5th in Europe (after Germany, Italy, Great Britain and France) and 21st in the world. It has 7.3% of Europe's and 1% of the global population. 68% of Ukrainians live in urban areas while 32% live in countryside.
The official language of the country is Ukrainian. A majority of the population adheres to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Other denominations include Roman Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and Baptists.
Ukraine is an industrial and agricultural country. It is rich in natural resources such as coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel and uranium. Highly developed industries include metallurgy, mining, power and fuel, machine-building, food production and textile.
Ukraine is important to world energy markets as it is a critical transit center for exports of Russian oil and natural gas to Eastern and Western Europe. It is a major energy producer (including nuclear power) and consumer.
The national economy includes heavy machine building, ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, shipbuilding, automotive industry, manufacturing of agriculture machinery, production of power plants, oil extraction and equipment. Ukraine produces planes and ships, trucks and buses, motorcars and trains, computer and electronic equipment, precision instruments and agricultural machines, TVs and radios, and chemicals. Odessa, Sebastopol, Nikolaev, Kherson and Kerch are the main Ukrainian sea ports.
Ukraine's biggest trade partners are Russia, Germany, USA, Turkey, Italy, Belarus, Poland, China, Bulgaria and France.
Nature and climate of Ukraine
Ukraine's landscape is mostly flat. Approximately 95% of lands are plains and 5% are mountains. Ukraine is located in two climatic zones: moderate and subtropical (southern shore of Crimea). The weather and climate of Ukraine's territory positively influence economic activity, tourism and recreation, as well as allow for use of ecologically clean resources of wind and sun.
Most of Ukraine has four distinct seasons and a moderate, continental climate, with cold winters and warm summers. The Crimean coast, however, has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers.
Ukraine is a sea power. In the south it is washed by Black and Azov Seas. The Black Sea's coastline in Ukraine is 1,540 km. The Black Sea is connected to the Azov Sea, Sea of Marble and the Mediterranean Sea. The southern location, favorable climate and sandy beaches make the Black Sea and Azov Seas among the most important and attractive recreational spots in Ukraine.
Ukraine's territory is covered with a dense network of 73,000 large and small rivers and about 20,000 lakes. The biggest river systems are Dniepro, Danube, Dnistro, Southern Bug and Northern Donets. The Dniepro (Dnepr) is the largest river in Ukraine and the third largest and longest river in Europe.
Due to favorable climatic conditions, Ukraine has traditionally been an agricultural paradise. It grows wheat, maize, buckwheat and other corns, red and green vegetables, many kinds of fruit, melons and berries. Ukraine is one of the world's main sugar producing counties. It produces sugar both for its internal market as well as exports a considerable portion to Western countries.
Ukrainian vegetation includes about 30,000 plants used for cattle-breeding, beekeeping, hunting and for the collection of wild medicinal herbs. Due to economic activity, flora of Ukraine underwent considerable changes. A network of natural reserve fund establishments has been created to preserve and rehabilitate it.
January 1 - New Year
January 7 - Orthodox Christmas
March 8 - Women's Day
May 1, 2 - Labor Day
May 5 - Easter
May 9 - Victory Day
June 28 - Constitution Day
August 24 - Independence Day