Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe, bordering Russia to the north and Poland and Slovakia to the west. It is a semi-presidential republic. The president is elected by popular vote.
Ukrainians speak a bilingual language, mainly Russian and Ukrainian. Many Ukrainians have a Russian heritage. Most religiously, they are Orthodox Christians, though there are other groups as well.
Ukraine’s economy is based on agriculture and multi-sectoral industry. A major export is sunflower oil. Other exports include iron and steel, machinery, and agricultural products. Unlike its neighboring countries, Ukraine is not a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). But it does have a free trade agreement with the United States.
Since its independence in 1991, Ukraine has become a semi-presidential republic. Its parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, is a unicameral legislature. The government is headed by a prime minister, who is appointed by the president.
The country is rich in culture and tradition. There are several artistic traditions, including wood carving and religious folk iconography. Embroidery is also widespread, and it is one of the best known aspects of Ukrainian culture. Another art form is pysanky, which are embroidered Easter eggs with wax-resist designs.
The country is divided into three regions. Central Ukraine covers two-thirds of its territory, while the southernmost region has only a small part of its area. The chernozems of central Ukraine are some of the richest soils in the world. These soils are rich in humus and can be as thick as five feet.
The Carpathian Mountains, a chain of mountains located in Romania and Ukraine, are great for hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities. They have been protected by UNESCO. In the west, you can find the Chersonesus, an ancient Greek colony on the shores of the Black Sea. This region was occupied by the Soviet and German armies during World War II. Today, Chersonesus is the largest city in western Ukraine.
Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, is an attractive city. Its skyline features golden domes. It is home to the National Anti-Corruption Agency, the Maritime Arbitration Court, and the Industry International Commercial Arbitration Court.
During the Cold War, Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union. However, after World War I, the country briefly recognized its independence. Afterward, it was absorbed by Lithuania and Austria-Hungary.
The Ukrainians have a rich tradition of Orthodox Christianity. This religion has also intersected with art, culture, and geopolitics. Throughout the history of the country, the Kyivan Rus people have been the namesake of the modern nation. Hundreds of churches were built in the Kyivan Rus era and still exist today.
Russia, Ukraine’s former ally, invaded the country in 2022. Putin ordered the mobilization of 300,000 more troops. Moscow’s attack was met with fierce resistance from Ukraine, which launched a counteroffensive. Several thousand square miles of territory in the Kharkiv and Kherson regions were reclaimed by the Ukrainian army.
The Russian-backed separatists then began an insurgency against the Ukrainian military. Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons to defend territorial integrity. Nevertheless, Western leaders avoided actions that might escalate the conflict. Ultimately, Russia’s aggression galvanized public support for Ukraine’s Westward leanings.