October 19, 2021
Ukraine (Ukrainian: Україна, Ukrayina, pronounced: [ukrɑˈjinɑ]) is an Eastern European country bordering Russia to the east and northeast; Belarus in the northwest; Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to the west; Romania and Moldova to the southwest; and Black Sea and Sea of Azov to the south and southeast, respectively. The country has a territory comprising an area of 603 628 square kilometers, which makes it the largest country entirely on the European continent. The Ukrainian territory began to be inhabited about 4,000 years ago and the region is believed to be home the domestication of the horse and the Indo-European language family. In the Middle Ages, the nation became a center of East Slav culture, known as the mighty Russia of Quieve. After its fragmentation in the 13th century, Ukraine was invaded, ruled and divided by a variety of peoples. A Cossack republic emerged and prospered during the 17th and 18th centuries, but the nation remained divided until it consolidated into a Soviet republic in the 20th century. It became an independent nation-state only in 1991. Ukraine is considered the "granary of Europe" due to the fertility of its land. In 2011, the country was the third largest grain exporter in the world, with a crop well above the average. Ukraine is one of the ten most attractive regions for buying agricultural land in the world. In addition, it has a well-developed manufacturing sector, especially in the area of aeronautics and industrial equipment. The country is a unitary state composed of 24 oblasts (provinces), an autonomous republic (Crimea) and two cities with special status: Quieve, the capital and largest city, and Sevastopol, which houses Russia's Black Sea Fleet under contract of leasing. Ukraine is a republic under a semi-presidential system with separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the country continues to hold the second largest army in Europe, after Russia. The country is home to 42 million people, 77.8% of whom are ethnic Ukrainians, with minorities of Russians (17%), Belarusians and Romanians. Ukrainian is the official language and its alphabet is Cyrillic. Russian is also widely spoken. The dominant religion is Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which strongly influenced the country's architecture, literature, and music.