Ukraine (Republic of), independent country in Eastern Europe, bordered by Poland to the northwest; by Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldavia to the southwest; by the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov to the south; by Russia to the northeast and east; and by Byelorussia to the north. The capital is Kiev.
Land and climate
Ukraine consists for a large part of lowlands, with mountains on the Crimean and in the west: the Carpathian Mountains. The country has a moderate continental climate, with a subtropical climate in the Crimean peninsula.
About 75% of the population is Ukrainian, and Russians form the largest minority. The official language is Ukrainian. The population belongs to either the Ukrainian Orthodox Church or the Greek Orthodox Church.
The economy is based on heavy industry. Principal crops are sugar beets and potatoes. Important industrial cities include Kharkov, Donetsk, and Dnepropetrovsk. The chief Black Seaport is Odessa. Ukraine owns a number of nuclear plants; the explosion in the Chernobyl plant (1986) was the biggest nuclear disaster in history.
The region was ruled by the Mongols in the 13th century and by Poland and Lithuania from the 14th to the 17th century. In the late 18th century it came under Russian rule. After a brief period of independence (1918–22), it became part of the Soviet Union. It was almost completely destroyed by the Nazi occupation during World War II (1941–44), after which it was rebuilt. In the 1980s there was a rise in nationalist sentiment, especially in the western Ukraine. Together with the collapse of communism this resulted in independence in 1991. Relations between Ukraine and Russia strongly improved at the end of the 1990s.
See also: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.