Ukraine has been in the news a lot lately because of the conflict with Russia, but this country is much more than just a war zone. It’s also a fascinating place with a unique culture and history. Here are a few facts about Ukraine that you may not know:
Ukraine is bordered by Belarus to the north, Russia to the east, the Black Sea to the south, and Moldova and Romania to the southwest. It’s rich in natural resources and has a highly developed industry. Several of its cities have become major international business centers. It’s one of the world’s leading producers of steel and has large deposits of coal, iron ore, and uranium.
It’s also a major grain producer and has some of the best agricultural soils in Europe. The country is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Saint-Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv. Despite the current crisis, Ukrainians are known for their hospitable nature. Visitors are frequently welcomed into Ukrainian homes and offered a delicious meal. It’s also common to hear acoustic guitar music played on the streets and in cafes in summer.
In the modern era, Ukrainian nationalism was reinvigorated by the famine of 1932-33 (the Holodomor) and by Soviet repression. The country became a de facto independent state after 1991, but armed conflict with Russia over the country’s territorial integrity continues today.
Ukraine has a high level of education and produces many well-educated professionals. Its culture is a mix of Eastern Orthodoxy and secularism. People are open about their religion, though they often admit that they don’t practice it on a regular basis. In larger cities, people tend to be more secular and atheist than in rural areas.
Those visiting Ukraine should note that the country has strict visa policies for foreign citizens. Some countries – notably Turkey, the UAE, and Hong Kong – can’t enter the country at all, while others can stay for only 90 days in a 180-day period. In most cases, travelers should obtain a visa in advance at their embassy or consulate before traveling to Ukraine.
Traveling around the country is easy enough, as most major cities have metro systems. Other options include buses, trams, trolleybuses, and local trains. Marshrutkas – small busses that serve short trips between nearby towns and villages – are also popular, especially in the rural regions. They aren’t comfortable, however, and most passengers have to stand while the bus travels. For more information, visit the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. The site includes maps of the city and country. In addition, the site provides a list of official hotels and information about visa requirements. Also, it provides information about the climate of each region and tips on accommodation, dining, and entertainment. In the case of emergency, the site offers contact information for a number of NGOs. This is a great resource for travelers planning to travel to Ukraine. The site is available in English and Russian.