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» Information » Ukraine Fact Sheet

Ukraine Fact Sheet

Created 2004; last updated April 2014

 
Location: Eastern Europe*; 
Neighbors are Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Russia, and Belarus 
*Ukraine is part of former Soviet Union or USSR, one of the NIS states ("Newly Independent States"), and member of CIS ("Commonwealth of Independent States", a subdivision of the NIS)
Population: 45.7 million (in 2011; down from peak of 52,2 million in 1993)
Area: 603,000 km2 (slightly larger than France and slightly smaller than Texas)
Capital: Kyiv (or Kiev)*
*Kyiv is derived from Ukrainian and Kiev from Russian (Kiev is considered the birthplace of Russian and East Slavic culture and statehood). While Kyiv is now considered politically correct, Kiev appears in Google much more frequently. 
More about Kiev >>
Major cities: official populations (both variants of Latin names given)
Kyiv / Kiev - 2,635,300 (realistically approaching 4 million) 
Kharkiv / Kharkov - 1,575,900
Dnipropetrovsk / Dnepropetrovsk - 1,161,200
Donetsk - 1,101,800
Odesa / Odessa - 1,059,500
Zaporizhya / Zaporozhye - 887,400
Lviv / Lvov - 805,900
Kryvyy Rih / Krivoy Rog - 703,000
Mykolayiv / Nikolaev - 519,000
Mariupol - 490,000 
Luhansk / Lugansk - 493,300
Languages: Ukrainian is the official language
In everyday Ukrainian and Russian are about equally popular across Ukraine, though proportion of usage differs widely by region. The vast majority of the population is functionally bilingual. Russian enjoys the status of an official regional language in some parts of Ukraine.
More about language in Ukraine >>
Ethno-lingual makeup: by respondents' self-definition
Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians: 38%
Russian-speaking Ukrainians: 30%
Russian-speaking Russians: 17%
not sure: 10% 
other ethnicity: 5% 
More about ethnic groups and demographics in Ukraine >>
Geography: 95% of Ukraine is flat or nearly flat, with small rolling hills. 
In the west the Carpathians rise to 2061 m (Hoverla), and in the south the Crimean Mountains reach 1545 m. 
More about Ukraine's geography >>
Climate: temperate continental, except for a small strip of Crimea's southern coast, which has a mediterranean climate
Ukraine weather map >>
Date of independence: August 24, 1991
History: see this easy-to-read timeline of Ukrainian history with dates and maps at uazone.net. Also, read my pages on Ukraine from 1988 to 1993 and other articles on Ukrainian life and society.
Major religions: 
Ukrainian Orthodoxy, Moscow Patriarchate
Ukrainian Orthodoxy, Kyiv Patriarchate
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodoxy
Ukrainian Catholicism (Uniate)
Protestantism, Jewish Orthodoxy, Greek Catholicism
GDP: $49.9 billion (2004), GDP per capita: $1023 (official*) 
*In actuality, about 50% of Ukraine's economic production is "in the shadows," and actual earnings are greater. In addition, the Hryvnia has been fixed to the dollar for years and is now quite undervalued. Using "purchasing power parity" the following numbers come closer to the truth: GDP: $260.4 billion, GDP per capita: $5400, GDP real growth rate: 9.4%
In 2004 Ukraine was Europe's fastest growing economy, but has yet to reach pre-1991 levels of economic production.
Currency: Hryvnia (or grivna, if transliterated from Russian), abbreviation = UAH (sometimes "hr"). Exchange rate since from 2004-2007 hovered around 5 UAH to 1 USD. From 2008-2013 — 8 UAH to 1 USD. As of 2014 it is at 10-12 UAH to 1 USD and quite unstable. 
See current exchange rates (Dollar, Euro, and Ruble) in left column here 
Handling money in Ukraine >>
Government structure: Republic
Powerful executive branch with five-year presidential term and Cabinet of Ministers with a Prime Minister appointed by the President. Legislative branch consists of unicameral 450-seat Verkhovna Rada (Supreme Council). People's deputies serve four-year terms. Judicial branch: Supreme Court, Constitutional Court. Ukraine's government structure is still in a developmental stage. During President Kuchma's terms (1994-2004) the executive branch became the only real center of power, but this is likely to be changed in 2005-2006 by a series of administrative and constitutional reforms. Ukraine consists of 27 administrative regions: 24 oblasts, the Crimea Autonomous Republic, and the cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol. As of 2014 Crimea and the city of Sevastopol de facto belong to Russia, but the accession has not been recognized by the vast majority of countries due to procedural violations. 
>> More on Ukraine's political system from Ukrainian Embassy in Canada 
>> Links to Ukraine's principal governing bodies from Ukraine State Tax Administration
National holidays:
January 1 - New Year's Day
January 7 - Christmas (Orthodox calendar)
March 8 - International Women's Day
(April or early May) - Easter (Orthodox calendar)
May 1 and 2 - International Workers' Solidarity Day
May 9 - Victory Day
June 28 - Constitution Day
August 24 - Independence Day
Holidays in Ukraine >>
Economy:
Principal exports are metals, minerals, electronics, chemicals, and crops and food products.
>> 2004 Report on Ukraine's economy, investment climate, and economic freedom from The Heritage Foundation
Demographic structure: 
Steadily aging population. The birth rate plummeted in the 1990s but is slowly recovering as the economic situation improves. One of the highest women-to-men ratios in the world.
Life expectancy: men - 62 years, women - 73 years