Ukraine is the largest country in Eastern Europe, excluding Russia. It is slightly smaller than Texas, USA and is approximately 20 times larger than Belgium.

The total land area is 233,090 square miles (603,700 square kilometres) and the country borders the Black Sea. The Black Sea is a massive lake without a tide, and its water level never changes. Ukraine's terrain is mostly flat plains and plateaus, with forested mountains to the west and far south.

Ukraine was the land for Trypillian Civilization, one of the world's most ancient civilizations. Neolithic archeological culture existed between 5500 BC and 2750 BC on the territory of modern Ukraine.

Ukraine was at the center of the first eastern Slavic state, Kyivan Rus, which in the 10th and 11th centuries was the largest and most powerful state in Europe. Ukraine shares borders with seven countries: Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova.

Ukraine's history is intertwined with Russia's history. The first Russian state, the Kievan Rus (9th-13th centuries AD), headed by the Rurik dynasty, was centered in Kiev, the capital of modern Ukraine.

Ukraine has endured serious political and economic strife. The Russian military intervention in Ukraine, sometimes called the Russo-Ukrainian War, is a prolonged armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine that began in February 2014. The war focuses on the status of the Ukrainian regions of the Crimean peninsula, the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine, and other locations.

The International Republican Institute took a poll of the Ukrainian public, excluding Russian-annexed Crimea, in September 2014. They found that 89 percent of those polled opposed the 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine.

In 2017, Ukraine opened a case against Russia for involvement and financing of terrorism and racial discrimination in military occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and part of Donbas.

On December 29, 2019, Ukraine and Russia began swapping prisoners of war, in an attempt to restore peace and possibly end the war. Approximately 200 prisoners were exchanged.

2020 brought some hope for peace, until COVID-19. Ukraine had strict quarantine measures, stopped public transportation, and closed its borders, schools, and non-essential businesses, but COVID-19 hit the country hard, mainly because they have an underfunded national health system. Before COVID-19, more than three million Ukrainians needed humanitarian assistance in 2020.

Some people now hope the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis will lead to ending the war. Russian COVID-19 cases have surged, and the country faces a recession. Other people believe that Russia will be able to endure the economic crisis.

Ukraine's population was approximately 44 million in July 2018. More than half the population is ethnic Ukrainians. The other ethnic groups include Russians, Belarusians, Moldovans, Crimean Tatars, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Romanians, Jews, Armenians, Poles, Greeks, and Tatars.

The official language is Ukrainian, the dominant language spoken in western and central cities, and many rural areas. Most native Ukrainians speak Russian as their second language. In eastern and southern cities Russian is the most spoken language.

Orthodox Christianity is the dominant religion. They have Greek Catholicism, which is more popular then Roman Catholicism. Other Christian denominations include Protestantism. There are small communities of Calvinists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Lutherans, Methodists, Seventh-Day Adventists, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Judaism and Islam are also practiced. They also have Buddhism and paganism - the belief of pre-Christian Slavs. Ukraine has one of the highest levels of religious freedom and religious diversity in Europe.

Kiev is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine. Kiev is the industrial, scientific, educational, and cultural center of Eastern Europe.

Ukraine has several high-tech industries, approximately 150 colleges and universities, 80 research institutes, and world famous historical landmarks.

The National University of Ostroh Academy, founded in 1576, is the first university in Eastern Europe.

Ukraine is the fourth educated nation in the world with 99.4 percent literacy. 70 percent of adult Ukrainians have secondary or higher education. Only North Korea has such high literacy rates.

Ukrainian Petr Prokopovich invented the frame bee hive (cozy bee houses) in 1814. Ukraine is one of the three world leaders in the production of honey.

Playwright, short story writer, and novelist Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852) was born in the Ukrainian Cossack town of Sorochyntsi, in the Poltava Governorate of the Russian Empire. Gogol was an acclaimed author.

Ilya Yefimovich Repin (1844-1930) was a renowned artist of the 19th century. He was born in Chuhuiv, Ukraine.

Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski (Joseph Conrad) was a novelist, short story writer, and essayist (1857-1924) born in Berdychiv, Ukraine, then part of the Russian Empire; the region had once been part of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland.


Shchedryk is a wonderful 1916 Ukrainian New Year's folk song, known as "The Little Swallow." The three part vocal harmony composition and arrangement, by composer and teacher Mykola Leontovych, tells a story of a swallow bird flying into a household to sing of wealth that will come with the next spring.

At Carnegie Hall on October 5, 1921, Alexander Koshetz's Ukrainian National Chorus presented a performance of the original Shchedryk song, directed by composer Oleksander Koshets. Peter J. Wilhousky heard the performance and in 1936 he created Carol of the Bells. Wilhousky's lyrics were not based on the Ukrainian lyrics. Carol of the Bells became a popular Christmas song in the U.S. and in Canada, but the Ukrainian lyrics by Leontovych had nothing to do with Christmas. Shchedryk is a Ukrainian shchedrivka, a New Year's carol.



Summertime, one of the world's most famous songs written by George Gershwin in 1934, is an aria composed for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. The lyrics are by DuBose Heyward, the author of the novel Porgy on which the opera was based, the lyrics are also co-credited to Ira Gershwin by ASCAP.

Summertime is often considered an adaptation of the African American spiritual, Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child, which ends the play version of Porgy.

The song was also inspired by an 1837 traditional Ukrainian lullaby, Oi Khodyt Son Kolo Vikon - The Dream Passes By The Windows. Gershwin's parents were from Odessa, Ukraine. They emigrated shortly before his birth and had affection for Ukrainian culture. Gershwin was impressed when he heard the Ukrainian composition at a 1929 New York City performance of the Ukrainian National Chorus conducted by Alexander Koshetz.

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong

Ukrainian Lullaby
Oi Khodyt Son Kolo Vikon
The Dream Passes By The Windows


Popular Ukrainian Songs


After Kiev withstood the Nazis in the Battle of Kiev in 1941, the Soviet Union declared the entire city to have "hero status."


When Winston Churchill was a young journalist, a Ukrainian man rescued him from execution. Nobody knows this man, except for documents in archives.

The Yalta Conference was a meeting of three World War II allies: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. The trio met in February 1945 in the resort city of Yalta, Ukraine. They discussed the post-war fate of defeated Germany and the rest of Europe, the terms of Soviet entry into the ongoing war in the Pacific against Japan, and the formation and operation of the new United Nations.

The Arsenalnaya Metro Station in Kiev, built in 1960, is the world's second deepest station, approximately 346 feet below ground. The station is near the House of Parliament. It is said that nearby tunnels have secret shelters built for the political elite.

The catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear disaster, under jurisdiction of the central authorities of the Soviet Union, occurred on April 26, 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine (then officially the Ukrainian SSR) in the now abandoned Ukrainian town of Pripyat. An explosion and fire released huge quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, which spread over much of the west USSR and Europe. Radioactive rain reached as far away as Ireland. The radiation released was 400 times greater than that created by the bomb dropped on Hiroshima during WWII. The Chernobyl accident was the worst nuclear plant disaster in history.


Kiev is the birthplace of the world's largest freight-carrying plane, the Antonov An-225 Mriya, completed in 1988. Only one was built. It was originally designed for spacecraft transportation, but is now used as a cargo plane.

WELT Documentary
Antonov An-225 Aircraft Documentary


Ukraine, not The Ukraine: The English-speaking world commonly referred to the country as The Ukraine. In 1993 the Ukranian government requested that the country be called just Ukraine. U.S. ambassador William Taylor knew "the" was considered insulting by some Ukrainians. He said the addition of "the" implied a disregard for the country's sovereignty.

Ukraine was the world's first state to give up its nuclear arsenal. Their last remaining Soviet-era nuclear warheads were removed and dismantled in 1996.

Bread plays a large part in Ukrainian history. It was once known as the breadbasket of Europe because of its large agricultural industry. This caused hardship when Ukraine became responsible for feeding the Soviet Union under Stalin. In 2011, Ukraine was the world's third-largest grain exporter. Ukraine has large deposits of natural resources including iron, coal, gas, oil, manganese, and other metals. Ukraine grows sunflowers, sugar beets, various grains, and rears cattle.

Ukraine has vast regions of land for growing sunflower plants. It is estimated that Ukraine's sunflower farmlands could cover the entire territory of Slovenia.

The blue and yellow of Ukraine's flag represent the sky over fields of grain.


Vyshyvanka, the bohemian embroidered shirt, was a top summer fashion in 2016. It is one of the oldest wardrobe items in Ukraine, distinguished by Ukrainian embroidery.


Ładna Kobieta - Anna Senik
Ukrainian Ethno (Ethnic) Photographer
(You can see many embroidered shirts here.)


The national drink of Ukraine is horilka, an alcoholic beverage that is often served with chili pepper. The name means, "burning water."

One of Ukraine's national dishes is salo, cured pig fat. It is usually served cold with garlic, onion, and pickle. Traditional Ukrainian dishes include varenyky and pierogi dumpling dishes, soup called borsch, and specialties named after the city of Kiev, such as Chicken Kiev and Kiev Cake. Chicken Kiev does not come from Kiev. It is believed to be a 19th century French recipe, brought by Russian aristocracy fascinated by French cuisine.

Lviv, Ukraine, is home to 1,500 cafés, the most per capita of any city in the world. Lviv is also believed to be the home of the first gas/kerosene lamp, invented in 1853 by Ignatius Lukasevich and Jan Zach, pharmacy workers. A gas/kerosene lamp was presented at an international exhibition in Munich, where this invention was marked with a special diploma. Today, the invention is honored by a café called Gasova L'ampa.

Ukraine and Austria both claim credit for inventing the European coffee shop. It is believed that Yuri Kulczycki, a Ukrainian war hero, brewed the first cup of coffee in Vienna, Austria in the 1680s.

The McDonald's fast food restaurant in Kiev is one of the busiest in the world, serving more than two million customers each year.

Askania Nova Steppes Reserve is the oldest in the world. It is home to 500 various plants and 3000 animal species.

Ukraine has many interesting animals including lynxes, wolves, wild boar, brown bears, beavers, otters, hamsters, and gophers. Carp, bream, and catfish are common fish species. Great White pelicans are native to southwest areas.

Ukraine has ski resorts, including Bukovel in the Carpathian Mountains, with 55km of slopes and 15 lifts.

Ukraine has the largest desert in Europe. Desert surfaces receive a little more than twice the solar radiation received by humid regions and lose almost twice as much heat at night. Many mean annual temperatures range from 20-25 degrees Celsius. The extreme maximum ranges from 43.5-49 degrees Celsius. Minimum temperatures sometimes drop to -18 degrees Celsius.

Ukraine is a home of 5000 castles. Many are ruins because they have not being reconstructed. Most are in the western part of Ukraine.

Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Ukraine. The two most successful teams are rivals FC Dynamo Kyiv and FC Shakhtar Donetsk.

Ukrainians wear their wedding rings on the ring finger of their right hand instead of their left hand.

Within its large borders, Ukraine has seven World Heritage Sites, including the 11th century Saint-Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, the ancient city of Chersonesus, and the primeval beech forests of the Carpathians. Another is the Struve Geodetic Arc, a chain of survey triangulations linking Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea in Ukraine. It "helped to establish the exact size and shape of the planet and marked an important step in the development of earth sciences and topographic mapping," according to Unesco. Beyond its World Heritage Sites it has a wealth of majestic Orthodox cathedrals, including St Michael's in Kiev.

Within Ukraine is the geographical centre of Europe. A number of locations lay claim to the title. The small town of Rakhiv in western Ukraine is one such place. The country has a second claim in Transcarpathia, where an obelisk marks the spot.

Kiev's main street, Khreshchatyk Street, is often referred to as the shortest yet widest main street in the world. It is only 1.2km long but remarkably broad. The street, which was destroyed in Second World War, is a focal point of the capital.

A stretch of railroad track surrounded by arches of trees on both sides, to create a green tunnel to shield trains from prying eyes, winds through a forest between the Ukrainian towns of Klevan and Orzhiv. It is nicknamed "The Tunnel of Love" because of its enchanting beauty. According to local legends, couples that visit will have their wishes granted. The track was used to secretly transport supplies during the Cold War. A private train to transport wood for a local factory now uses the track.

Creative Commons Photograph - Wikipedia

Ukrainians invented the tradition of painting eggs in celebration of Easter. The first eggs were colored using dye and wax known as pysankas. Ukrainians create eggs with intricate designs. Different regions have different styles and methods for decorations. The practice was banished by the Soviet Union, but continued in North and South America by Ukrainian immigrants.

Creative Commons Photograph - Wikipedia

Cossacks were a rough-and-tumble group of independent communities of Ukraine and southern Russians, famed for horsemanship and battle prowess.

The Asgarda are a group of Ukrainian women who train in martial arts in the Carpathian Mountains. Their goal is to empower women to win the hearts of warrior men.

It is customary for native Ukrainians to rarely smile in public.

The longest musical instrument in the world is a wooden three-meter tube horn called a trembita. Polish and Ukrainian highlanders play it.

A traditional summer holiday celebration called "Kupala Night" requires young couples to jump over a fire. Legend claims if they maintain their handhold while jumping, their love will last forever.

Ukraine was once home to the Guinness World Record for the largest wine flute, which held 56.25 litres. This record was broken by Brazil in 2014 with 100.5 litres!

Ukrainian Dmitriy Khalazhi has held an amazing 63 Guinness World Records for stunts.

There is much more about Ukraine. Please research further on your own, if you wish to learn more.