As one of the world’s best places for agriculture, Ukraine has a long history as a “breadbasket.” Breads made from rye and wheat flour are a staple on Ukrainian dinner tables and the cuisine features many dishes derived from ancient peasant recipes. Vegetables are also well represented, especially root vegetables like potatoes, cabbage and carrots. In addition to traditional Slavic techniques, the cuisine reflects influences from neighboring European countries.
Ukraine’s long and tumultuous history has left deep scars. Following the collapse of czarist Russia in the late 1700s, the country achieved a short-lived period of independence (1917-20) before being reconquered by brutal Soviet rule that engineered two forced famines (1921-22 and 1932-33) killing between three and five million people. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, endemic corruption and patronage politics stymied efforts at economic reform and political liberalization.
The annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and the resulting armed conflict in eastern Ukraine have refueled nationalist sentiments, especially among those in areas under Russian or separatist control. As a result, the Government of Ukraine has restricted access to Russian media and censored the internet in these regions. This has fueled popular anger towards the Russian government and contributed to a growing sense of isolation within Ukraine.
As a result, the Ukrainian economy has stalled, with GDP per capita falling from $22,040 in 2011 to $15,200 in 2022. Inflation has also been a problem and the Government of Ukraine has implemented a currency devaluation in an attempt to address these challenges.
Amid the ongoing instability, a wave of protests began in early 2015 and eventually led to the resignation of President Victor YANUKOVYCH and his replacement by former prime minister Viktor YUSHCHENKO on February 27, 2018. The new president has vowed to tackle corruption and promote economic reform.
Although the protests have largely ended, you should continue to monitor local and international news media for updates. You should also ensure that your travel documents are up to date and follow any instructions issued by the authorities. Martial law is in place in parts of the country.
Dining in Ukraine typically begins with a soup or cold appetizer, followed by a main course and dessert. During meals, locals generally hold forks in their left hand and knives in their right. A variety of beverages are enjoyed with meals, but horilka, a vodka-based spirit infused with herbs, berries and roots is a must-try.
In the event of a medical emergency, the Embassy recommends that you obtain private medical evacuation insurance before travelling to Ukraine. The level of medical care in Ukraine is not comparable to that of the United States, and it can be extremely expensive to evacuate patients from the country. Hospitals are privately run and may require payment in advance before services will be provided. Some hospitals do not accept credit cards. For these reasons, the Embassy does not endorse any particular provider. The Embassy also encourages you to discuss any health-related concerns with your healthcare provider before traveling to Ukraine.