Area: 233,000 sq. ml. (603,700 sq. km)
Population (1999 est.): 49,811,174 (average annual rate of natural increase: —0.68%): birth rate: 9.5/1 000; infant mortality rate: 21.7/1000; density per sq. ml.: 214
Capital: Kyiv (Kiev), 2,637,000. Other large cities: Kharkiv, 1,622,000; Donetske, 1,121,000; Odessa, 1,104,000; Lviv, 803,000. Monetary unit: Hryvnia (since Sept. 2, 1996). Language: Ukrainian. Ethnicity/race: Ukrainian 73%, Russian 22%, Jewish1%, other 4%. Religions: Orthodox, 76%; Ukrainian Catholic (Uniate), 13.5%; Jewish, 2.3%; Baptist, Mennonite, Protestant, and Muslim, 8.2%. Literacy rate: 100%
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (1997 eat.): $124.9 billion; $2,500 per capita. Real growth rate: —3.2% (1997 est.). Inflation: 10% (est. 1997). Unemployment: 2.6%, plus large numbers of underemployed (Dec. 1997). Arable land: 58%. Labor force: (est. 1997) 22.8 million; industry and construction, 32%; agriculture and forestry, 24%; health, education and culture, 17%, trade and distribution, 8%; transport and communication, 7%; other, 12% (1996). Natural resources: iron ore, coal manganese, natural gas, oil, salt, sulfur, graphite, titanium, magnesium, kaolin, nickel, mercury, and timber. Agriculture: grain, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, vegetables, meat, milk. Exports: $15.2 billion (1997 eat.): ferrous and nonferrous metals, chemicals, machinery and transportation equipment, food products. Imports: $20.2 billion (1997 est.): machine and parts, transportation equipment, chemicals, energy, plastics, rubber. Major trading partners: C.I.S. countries, EU, Poland, Czech Republic, China, Switzerland.
Geography Located in southeastern Europe, the country consists largely of fertile black soil steppes. Mountainous areas include the Carpathians in the southwest and the Crimean chain in the south. There are forest lakes in the north. Ukraine is bordered by Belarus on the north, by Russia on the north, north, east, and east, by the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea on the south, by Moldova and Romania on the southwest, and by Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland on the west.
Government Constitutional republic.
History Ukraine was known as “Kievan Rus” (from which Russia is a derivative) up until the 16th century. In the 9th century, Kiev was the major political and cultural center in eastern Europe. Kievan Rus reached the height of its power in the 10th century and adopted Byzantine Christianity, the Church Slavonic written language, and the Cyrillic alphabet during that period. The Mongol conquest in 1240 ended Kievan power. From the 13th to the 16th century, Kiev was under the influence of Poland and Western Europe. The negotiation of the Union of Brest-Litovsk in 1596 divided the Ukrainians into Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic faithful. In 1654, Ukraine asked the czar of Moscovy for protection against Poland and the Treaty of Pereyasav signed that year recognized the suzerainty of Moscow. The agreement was interpreted by Mos. cow as an invitation to take over Kiev and the Ukrainian state was eventually absorbed into the Russian empire.
After the Russian Revolution, Ukraine declared its independence from Russia on Jan. 28, 1918, and several years of warfare ensued with several groups. The Red Army finally was victorious over Kiev and in 1920, Ukraine became a Soviet republic. In 1922, Ukraine became one of the founders of the United Soviet Socialist Republics. In the 1930s, the Soviet government’s enforcement of collectivization met with peasant resistance, which in turn prompted the confiscation of grain from Ukrainian farmers by Soviet authorities; the resulting famine took an estimated 5 million lives. Ukraine was one of the most devastated Soviet republics during World War II.
For details on World War II. see Headline History, World War II.) On April 26, 1986, the nation’s nuclear power plant at Chernobyl was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident. On Oct. 29, 1991, the Ukrainian Parliament voted to shut down the reactor within two years’ time and asked for international assistance in dismantling it.
When President Leonid Kravchuk was elected by the Ukrainian Parliament in 1990, he vowed to seek Ukrainian sovereignty. Ukraine declared its independence on Aug. 24, 1991. In Dec. 1991, Ukrainian, Russian, and Betarus leaders confounded a new Commonwealth of Independent States with the new capital to be situated in Minsk, Belarus. The new country’s government was slow to reform the Soviet-era state-run economy, which was plagued by declining production, rising inflation, and widespread unemployment in the years following independence. The U.S. announced in Jan. 1994 that an agreement had been reached with Russia and Ukraine for the destruction of Ukraine’s entire nuclear arsenal. In Oct. 1994, Ukraine began a pro- grain of economic liberalization and moved to reestablish central authority over Crimea. In 1995, Crimea’s separatist leader was removed and the Crimean constitution revoked.
In June 1996, the last strategic nuclear warhead was removed to Russia. Also that month Parliament approved a new constitution that allows for private ownership of land. An agreement was signed in May 1997 on the future of the Black Sea fleet, by which Ukrainian and Russian ships will share the port of Sevastopol for 20 years. Ukraine and Russia also signed a 10-year political treaty three days later, by which, among other provisions, Russia recognized the political and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula.
The Russian financial crisis in fall 1998 led to severe problems for the Ukrainian economy, which is dependent on Russia for 40% of its foreign trade. Ukraine remains saddled with its Soviet-era economy, and all of its major industries are still under state control. Western investors have shown only minimal interest.
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