Although the country’s recent history has been marred by conflict with Russia, Ukraine has a long and rich history that includes several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. While the crisis may make some people hesitant to visit, those who do will find a welcoming, friendly nation that is eager to show off its many treasures.
The climate is continental, with hot summers and cool winters. The southern part of the country is much warmer than the north.
Precipitation is moderate to heavy. Snowfall is light to moderate in the north but is heavy in the Carpathian Mountains and Crimea. Annual precipitation is between 47 and 96 inches (120 to 300 cm) in the west, with higher amounts near the Black Sea coast and in Crimea.
Agriculture is a vital sector of the economy. The chernozems of central Ukraine are among the most fertile soils in the world; they’re about five feet (1.5 metres) thick and rich in humus. The chernozems extend into the south and east of the country as well, but are less deep and less rich.
Wine is another major industry in the country. Ukrainian wines have received increasing international attention, and their quality is often comparable to that of French or Italian wines. However, the war in eastern Ukraine has made it difficult for most wineries to operate, and many vineyards have been destroyed or damaged by shelling.
Ukraine has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv and the golden-domed Chernihiv Synagogue in the city of Chernivtsi. The country also has a strong tradition of folk arts, with wood carving and embroidery being particularly prominent.
The cuisine of Ukraine is rich and diverse. Many dishes feature meat, especially pork and beef, but vegetarians will find plenty to eat as well. Potatoes, cabbage, and cheese are common ingredients.
Chicken Kiev, a dish that’s popular in the west as well as in Ukraine, consists of a fillet of chicken that’s been pounded and coated in cold butter with dill and parsley. It’s then either fried or baked. Nalesniki are delicate crepes filled with cheese and dill or, in sweet variations, canned berries or sweet cottage cheese.
Diners in Ukraine usually start with a soup or a cold appetizer, then move on to the main course and dessert. Most people like to drink vodka, but non-alcoholic beverages are also available. Table manners are relaxed; locals usually hold forks in their left hands and knives in their right, while eating.