Ukraine, the largest country in Eastern Europe, Ukraine is bordered on the West by Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary; on the Southwest by Romania and Moldova; on the South by the Black Sea and Sea of Azov; on the East and Northeast by Russia; and on the North by Belarus. The Crimean Autonomous Republic - encompassing the Crimean Peninsula, or Crimea, in the South ó is included in Ukraine's borders. The capital and largest city is Kyiv (Kiev).

General Information

       The total area of Ukraine is 603,700 sq km (233,100 sq mi). The country extends 1,316 km (818 mi) East to West and 893 km (555 mi) North to South. Much of the country is a rolling upland plain, with the highest elevations in the western half of the country and the south-eastern Donets'k region. A lowland region of wooded bogs and swamps, called the Poles'ye, is located in northern Ukraine, although much of this region has been drained and cleared for agriculture. Low-lying plains are found in southern Ukraine in the lower Dnieper (Dnipro) River Basin and the Black Sea coastal region. Ukraine's coastline, including Crimea, extends 2,780 km (1,730 mi). The Carpathian Mountains in the extreme west and the Crimean Mountains in the southern end of Crimea take up about 5 percent of Ukraine's territory. Mount Hoverla in the Carpathians is the country's highest peak at 2,061 m (6,762 ft).

Nature and Climate

       Ukraine's relief is mostly flat. 95% of lands are plains and 5% are mountains. Ukraine's flat landscape is divided into three zones - mixed forests, forest-steppe and steppe.
       Ukraine is located in two climatic zones: moderate and subtropical (southern shore of Crimea). Mountainous regions have specific climatic conditions due to vertical division, various inclinations, local atmospheric circulations etc. Generally speaking, Ukraine belongs to the countries with moderate climate, and change of seasons can be clearly observed during the year here. The weather and climate of Ukraine's territory positively influence economic activity, tourism and recreation, as well as allow for use of ecologically clean resources of wind and sun.
       Bowels of Ukrainian earth are rich with various minerals, including coal, iron ore, oil and gas, gravel, salt etc. Donbass is Ukraine's main coal production base; its deposits are estimated at 109 bln. t. Dnipro lignite basin contains about 6 bln. t of lignite. Oil and natural gas are located in Dnipro-Donetsk (80%) and Black Sea-Crimea regions. Ukraine covers 10-15% of its oil consummation and 25% of gas consummation using its own resources. 3 bln. t of peat and shale oil have been located.
       Iron ore is found in Krivoy Rig (18.7 bln. t), Kremenchuck (4.5 bln. t), Bilozersky (2.5 bln. t) and Kerch (1.8 bln. t) basins. Nikopol basin contains the biggest deposits of manganese ore in the world. Nickel, chrome, titanium and mercury (2nd place in the world) deposits are also considerable. Recently more than 15 gold deposits were located.
       Ukraine's deposits of rock products place it among top producers of Europe and the world. It has the biggest ozocerite and brimstone deposits in the world. Its deposits of graphite are biggest in the continent. Rock and potassium salt have been mined in Ukraine for ages. Ukraine's nature created rich basis for metallurgy, chemical, porcelain, faience industries, production of ceramics and construction materials. Deposits of precious and semiprecious stone were found in Ukraine. They include beryl, amethyst, amber, jasper, rock crystal, morion etc.). Ukrainian mineral waters are very valuable. The springs are located in Mirgorod, Svalyava, Truskavets and Feodosia. Mud from towns of Evpatoria and Saki has good healing abilities.
       Ukraine is a sea power. In the south it is washed by Black and Azov Seas. Black Sea's coastline in Ukraine is 1540 km. The shores of Black Sea have many firths - Dniester, Dnipro, Bug and others. Black Sea is connected to Sea of Azov, Sea of Marmora and Mediterranean. Therefore is has outlet to the world ocean. Southern location, favorable climate, sandy beaches make Black and Azov Seas one of the most important and attractive recreational spots in Ukraine.
       Ukraine's territory is covered with dense network of large and small rivers. Their total number is 73,000. Ukraine has about 20,000 lakes. The biggest river systems are Dnipro, Danube, Dnistro, Southern Bug and Northern Donets. Dnipro (Dnepr) is the largest river in Ukraine. It is also third largest and longest river in Europe. A cascade of reservoirs (Kyiv, Kaniv, Kremenchuck, Dniprodzerzhinsk and Kakhovka) has been built on the river, thus increasing the efficiency of use of Dnipro's hydro energy recourses.
       Ukrainian flora includes about 30,000 plants. Natural vegetative complexes are widely used as a basis for cattle-breeding, beekeeping, hunting and collection of wild medicinal herbs. Due to economic activity, flora of Ukraine underwent through considerable changes. A network of natural reserve fund establishments has been created to preserve and rehabilitate it.
       Variety of Ukraine's natural conditions led to variety of species of animal world. About 44,800 animal species are found in Ukraine.

The State

       For ages Ukraine has assumed many names. Among these names are Oriana, Roxolania, Scythia, Sarmatia, and the State of Anths. In the 9th century AD, the name "Rus" first appeared in Kyiv chronicle where it referred to the King and his men. According to Arab and Byzantian written sources, in the 12th century AD Rus was on the Taman Peninsula (Tmutorokan). Thereafter, Chervona (Red) Rus (or Halychyna), Bila (White) Rus (the territory of present-day Bielorus), and Western Rus Lands (Volyn) were referred to as Rus Provinces. Generally, the name "Rus" had been applied to all the lands of Kyiv Rus since the 6th century AD.
       In 1334, Mala (Small) Rus was the name first used in referring to the Halytsko-Volyn Principality as a successor of the Great Kyiv Rus, which survived after the Mongol-Tatar invasion. Later, the name spread to the entire Ukrainian territory.
       At the same time, the name "Ukraina" (Ukraine) was used widely as an unofficial version of "Rus". This name was first come upon in the Kyiv Manuscript (Ipatiev's version) where it was used to describe Pereyaslav, Kyiv and Chernihiv. Halych Ukraine is mentioned in the Halych-Volyn Manuscript in 1187 and 1213. In 1650, a French engineer and traveler, G.L. de Beauplan, published a book titled, "Description d'Ukraine" where he used the word "Ukraine" to describe Halychyna and Podilia (low lands). During Cossack times, since the 16th century, Cossack lands which included the lands along the Dnieper (Naddniprianshchyna) were called Ukraine. The Cossacks' State headed by Bohdan Khmelnytski was also called Ukraine. This is corroborated in the documents of many hetmans (Cossack leaders, or headmen) - from Khmelnytski to Ivan Mazepa and P. Orlyk. Ukraine became popular in Western Europe after 1661 owing to publications by G.L. de Beauplan.
       Beginning in the 19th century, the name Ukraine was used to denote the entire territory where Ukrainians lived. Thus, all other names irrespective of their origin and length of use were removed.
       After the declaration of the Ukrainian National Republic (1917), the Ukrainian Hetman State (1918), the Western Ukrainian People's Republic (1918), and Carpathian Ukraine (1939), "Ukraine" became the official name of the country. In 1919, Ukraine was called the Ukrainian Socialists Soviet Republic, and from 1937-1991 it was referred to as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
       Finally, the historical name "Ukraine" was given back to the country after it declared its independence in 1991. On June 28, 1996, this official name was corroborated into the Constitution of Ukraine.

State Symbols: Flag

       Various types of flags were used in Ukrainian history. The earliest mention of the modern national colors of Ukraine dates back to the period of Hetman State and is found in the Lviv Chronicle of the 17th century. Supposedly, the coat of arms of the city of Lviv (golden lion on a blue field) was granted to the city by Prince Lev. Yellow and blue also appeared in the coat of arms of the "Ruthenian Voyevodstvo (Province)" which was part of Poland in the 14th and 15th centuries. The description of some military flags from the times of the Hetman State (after the Periaslav Council of 1654) mention azure as the color of the flag cloth bearing different embroidered emblems and mottoes. Along with azure, often in combination with yellow, the favorite colors of the Kozak state were crimson and red.
       The heraldic conception of national colors that had been passed down from ancient times had been lost. Instead, blue was justified as being the color of the sky and yellow as the color of the wheat fields. On March 22, 1918 the Ukrainian Central Rada simultaneously adopted the yellow-and-blue flag and the trident as the national coat of arms. On November 12, 1918, the government of the Western Ukrainian National Republic also adopted these colors for its state flag. In accordance with the resolution of the Ukrainian National Rada of June 27, 1949, the state flag of the Ukrainian National Republic consisted of two equal horizontal stripes: blue at the top and yellow at the bottom.
       When Ukraine declared its independence in 1991, it adopted a new National Flag on January 28, 1992 - a horizontally 2-striped flag. The upper stripe, blue, signifying the open sky and the bottom yellow stripe, symbolizing the wheat fields of Ukraine.

State Symbols: Coat of Arms

       The national emblem - the coat of arms, the flag, and the seal - alternated during the millennium of Ukrainian history owing to various political, social, cultural, and other factors - a phenomenon common to many European nations.
       The contemporary national coat of arms of Ukraine, Azure or trident, is the most ancient as well as most dignified of all the Ukrainian insignia of nationwide significance. Its emblazonment represents a synthesis of a preheraldic device of the ruling dynasty in the tenth century and of the oldest Ukrainian national heraldic tinctures from the 13th century.
       The problems associated with the origin and of the original meaning of the Ukrainian trident have still not been solved by scholars. The archaeological finds of tridents in Ukraine go back to the 1st century AD. Undoubtedly this emblem was a mark of authority and a mystic symbol of one or of several of the ethnic groups which inhabited ancient Ukrainian territory and which came to compose the Ukrainian nation.
       The trident, left to Volodymyr the Great by his ancestors became a hereditary preheraldic badge of all his descendants and rulers of medieval Ukraine - the Grand Princes of Kyiv and the Princes of all other constituent principalities of the vast Kyivan Realm. Tridents and bidents are found on many objects of that period: coins, stones, and bricks of significant buildings (i.e., palaces, castles, cathedrals), armor, signets, seals, official jewelry, ceramics and manuscripts.
       After the renascence of independent Ukraine on January 22, 1918, the trident was adopted, by a law of March 22, 1918, as the national device of the Ukrainian National Republic. It was adopted in the form of a Great and a Small Coat of Arms representing the classic trident of Volodymyr the Great in an ornamental wreath. The trident was emblazoned in official use (e.g., in uniforms of armed forces, and service flags).

State Symbols: State Anthem

       The Ukrainian State Anthem, Shche ne vmerla Ukraina ("Ukraine Has Not Yet Perished" - or "Ukraine Lives On") is of quite recent origin. Rev. Mykhailo Verbytskyi (1815-70), composer of many Ukrainian songs realized the need for an anthem at the first Ukrainian concert in Peremyshl, in Western Ukraine, to honor the poet Taras Shevchenko. In the same year a poem, "Shche ne vmerla Ukraina" appeared in the Lviv magazine Meta ("The Goal"), written by Pavlo Chubynsky (1839-84). However, the magazine mistakenly accredited the poem to Shevchenko. Rev. Verbytskyi was impressed by the poem's simplicity yet strong patriotic appeal, and set it to music.
       The popularity of the song rapidly spread throughout the country. In 1864 it was sung at the conclusion of a program in Permyshyl honoring Taras Shevchenko. Shche ne vmerla Ukraina was first published in 1885 in the Lviv music anthology "Kobzar". Finally, in 1917 it became the rallying song of the Ukrainian revolution and was officially adopted as the state anthem of the Ukrainian Republic.
       According to Article 20 of the Constitution of Ukraine (adopted on June 28, 1996) the State Anthem of Ukraine is the national anthem with the music of M. Verbytskyi and words, confirmed by law and approved by a constitutional majority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

National holidays

       January 1        New Year Day
       January 7        Christmas
       March 8           International Women Day
       May 1 and 2    The Day of International Solidarity of Workers
       May 9              Victory Day
       June 28            Constitution Day
       August 24         Independence Day

       The following religious holidays are also nonbusiness days:
       January 7                    Christmas
       One day (Sunday)       Easter
       One day (Sunday)       Whitsunday

Administrative Districts

       Ukraine is comprised from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and 24 oblasts: Vinnitsa, Volyn, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Zhitomir, Zakarpattya, Zaporizhzhya, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kyiv, Kirovograd, Lugansk, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Poltava, Rivne, Sumy, Ternopil, Kharkiv, Kherson, Khmelnitsky, Cherkasy, Chernigiv, Chernivtsy.
       The cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol have a special status set by the laws of Ukraine. Ukraine has 490 rayons (regions), 446 cities, 907 towns and 10,196 villages.
       Ukrainian territorial system is based on unity and integrity of national territory, combination of centralization and decentralization of state power, balance of social and economic development of regions taking into account their historical, economic, geographic and demographic features as well as ethnic and cultural traditions.

Political System


       The Constitution of Ukraine designates the President as the Head of State, acting on its behalf. The President is a guarantor of national sovereignty, territorial integrity, adherence to the Constitution, human and civil rights and freedoms. The President is elected by the citizens of the state on the basis of equal and direct universal suffrage through secret vote. The term of presidential office is five years. Only a citizen of Ukraine, who was residing in Ukraine for ten years before the elections, has voting rights and speaks state language, may be elected President. President may hold his/her post no longer than two consecutive terms.


       The only legislative body of Ukraine is the Parliament - the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. People's deputies of Ukraine are elected by the citizens of Ukraine on the basis of equal and direct universal suffrage through secret vote. The election system is mixed - majority and proportional.
       Altogether 450 deputies are elected. 225 of them are elected at single-mandate constituencies on the basis of relative majority, and another 225 are elected proportionally at multi-mandate national constituency from the lists of candidates coming from political parties and their election blocks.
       The powers of people's deputies of Ukraine are established by the Constitution and laws of Ukraine. People's deputies of Ukraine may voluntarily unite themselves into deputies' groups (factions) of no less then 25 members. Deputies' groups are formed both at party and non-party basis. Deputies' groups formed at party basis are called 'factions'. Non-party deputies may join a faction if they support the program of relevant party. Deputies' groups formed at non-party basis unite deputies who share the same or similar views of national, social and economic development.


       The Cabinet of Ministers (Government) of Ukraine is the supreme executive authority. Its actions are based on the Constitution, laws of Ukraine and presidential orders. The Government is responsible to the President and is controlled by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, to which it also must report. In practice, this dependency results in presidential appointment of a Prime Minister (with parliamentary consent). The President may also suspend Prime Minister's authorities and discharge him/her. Upon Prime Minister's submission, the President appoints and discharges the members of Cabinet of Ministers and other heads of central executive authorities.
       Parliamentary control of the Government and its reporting to the Verkhovna Rada results is parliamentary approval of government-submitted annual budget, parliamentary resolutions on fulfillment of budgetary provisions, approval or rejection of governmental program and control of government's work.

The System of Judicial Authority

       Legal proceedings are carried out by the Constitutional Court and courts of general jurisdiction. The supreme authority of the system of courts of general jurisdiction is the Supreme Court of Ukraine. Legal proceedings may be carried out only by courts. Courts' jurisdiction covers all legal relationships in the state. The system of courts of general jurisdiction is based on the principles of territorial and special jurisdiction.
       The Constitutional Court of Ukraine is a separate entity, independent from the courts of general jurisdiction. It cannot be used as a cassation, appeal or supervisory authority for the courts of general jurisdiction. The activities of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine promote constitutional control in all spheres, stabilization and strengthening of constitutional order, establishment of principle of primacy of law and the supreme legal force of the Constitution, promotion of constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens.

Local Government

       Ukraine consists of the Crimean Autonomous Republic and 24 regions (oblast): Vinnitsa region, Volyn region, Dnipropetrovsík region, Donetsík region, Zhitomyr region, Zakarpattya region, Zaporizhzhya region, Ivano-Frankivsík region, Kyiv region, Kirovograd region, Luhansík region, Lviv region, Mykolaiv region, Odessa region, Poltava region, Rivne region, Sumy region, Ternopilí region, Kharkiv region, Kherson region, Khmelnitsky region, Cherkasy region, Chernihiv region, Chernivtsi region.
       Kyiv and Sevastopol are the cities of special status, stated by laws of Ukraine. There are 490 districts, 446 cities, 907 towns and 10196 villages.
       Territorial structure is based on the principles of indivisibility and unity of the country, the unity of centralization and decentralization of power, balance of social-economic development of regions, according to their historical, economic, geographical and demography peculiarities, ethnical and culture traditions.