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Facts


Population: 45.49 million(2013)
Area: 603,628 km²
Capital City: Kiev


About Ukraine
is a sovereign state in Eastern Europe, bordered by Russia to the east and northeast, Belarus to the northwest, Poland and Slovakia to the west, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova to the southwest, and the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to the south and southeast, respectively. Ukraine is currently in territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula which Russia annexed in 2014 but which Ukraine and most of the international community recognise as Ukrainian. Including Crimea, Ukraine has an area of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the largest country entirely within Europe and the 46th largest country in the world.
It is known for its Orthodox churches, Black Sea coastline and forested mountains. Its capital, Kiev, features the gold-domed St. Sophia’s Cathedral, with 11th-century mosaics and frescoes. Overlooking the Dnieper River is the Kiev Pechersk Lavra monastery complex, a Christian pilgrimage site housing Scythian tomb relics and catacombs containing mummified Orthodox monks.


Currency

UAH – Ukrainian Hryvnia. The Ukrainian Hryvnia is the currency of Ukraine. Our currency rankings show that the most popular Ukraine Hryvnia exchange rate is the UAH to EUR rate. The currency code for Hryvni is UAH, and the currency symbol is ₴.


Climate


Ukraine has a mostly temperate climate, with the exception of the southern coast of Crimea which has a subtropical climate. The climate is influenced by moderately warm, humid air coming from the Atlantic Ocean. Average annual temperatures range from 5.5–7 °C (41.9–44.6 °F) in the north, to 11–13 °C (51.8–55.4 °F) in the south. Precipitation is disproportionately distributed; it is highest in the west and north and lowest in the east and southeast. Western Ukraine, particularly in the Carpathian Mountains, receives around 1,200 millimetres (47.2 in) of precipitation annually, while Crimea and the coastal areas of the Black Sea receive around 400 millimetres (15.7 in).


Language

According to the constitution, the state language of Ukraine is Ukrainian. Russian is widely spoken, especially in eastern and southern Ukraine. According to the 2001 census, 67.5 percent of the population declared Ukrainian as their native language and 29.6 percent declared Russian. Most native Ukrainian speakers know Russian as a second language. Russian was the de facto official language of the Soviet Union but both Russian and Ukrainian were official languages in the Soviet Union and in the schools of the Ukrainian SSR learning Ukrainian was mandatory. Effective in August 2012, a new law on regional languages entitles any local language spoken by at least a 10 percent minority be declared official within that area. Russian was within weeks declared as a regional language in several southern and eastern oblasts (provinces) and cities. Russian can now be used in these cities’/oblasts’ administrative office work and documents. On 23 February 2014, following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, the Ukrainian Parliament voted to repeal the law on regional languages, making Ukrainian the sole state language at all levels; however, the repeal was not signed by acting President Turchynov and current President Poroshenko.
Ukrainian is mainly spoken in western and central Ukraine. In western Ukraine, Ukrainian is also the dominant language in cities (such as Lviv). In central Ukraine, Ukrainian and Russian are both equally used in cities, with Russian being more common in Kiev, while Ukrainian is the dominant language in rural communities. In eastern and southern Ukraine, Russian is primarily used in cities, and Ukrainian is used in rural areas. These details result in a significant difference across different survey results, as even a small restating of a question switches responses of a significant group of people.


Economy

The economy of Ukraine is an emerging free market. Like other post-Soviet states, its gross domestic product fell sharply for 10 years following the collapse the Soviet Union in 1991. However, it grew rapidly from 2000 until 2008 when the Great Recession began worldwide and reached Ukraine as the 2008-2009 Ukrainian financial crisis. The economy recovered in 2010, but since 2013 the Ukrainian economy has been suffering from a severe downturn.
The depression during the 1990s included hyperinflation and a fall in economic output to less than half of the GDP of the preceding Ukrainian SSR. GDP growth was recorded for the first time in 2000, and continued for eight years. This growth was halted by the global financial crisis of 2008, but the Ukrainian economy recovered and achieved positive GDP growth in the first quarter of 2010. By October 2013, the Ukrainian economy lapsed into another recession. The previous summer Ukrainian export to Russia was substantially worsened due to stricter border and customs control by Russia. The early 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia, and the War in Donbass that started in the spring of 2014 severely damaged Ukraine’s economy and severely damaged two of the more industrial oblasts. In 2013, Ukraine saw zero growth in GDP. Ukraine’s economy shrank by 6.8{850e4105b3f3ff89e6b6f6113a109417d3a3f4bf675ac31a8f759acc3339d3c2} in 2014, and this continued with a 12{850e4105b3f3ff89e6b6f6113a109417d3a3f4bf675ac31a8f759acc3339d3c2} decline in GDP in 2015. In January 2016 the World Bank expected Ukraine to experience an economic growth rate of 1{850e4105b3f3ff89e6b6f6113a109417d3a3f4bf675ac31a8f759acc3339d3c2} in 2016, which if true will end the recession.


Education

According to the Ukrainian constitution, access to free education is granted to all citizens. Complete general secondary education is compulsory in the state schools which constitute the overwhelming majority. Free higher education in state and communal educational establishments is provided on a competitive basis. There is also a small number of accredited private secondary and higher education institutions.
Because of the Soviet Union’s emphasis on total access of education for all citizens, which continues today, the literacy rate is an estimated 99.4{850e4105b3f3ff89e6b6f6113a109417d3a3f4bf675ac31a8f759acc3339d3c2}. Since 2005, an eleven-year school programme has been replaced with a twelve-year one: primary education takes four years to complete (starting at age six), middle education (secondary) takes five years to complete; upper secondary then takes three years. In the 12th grade, students take Government tests, which are also referred to as school-leaving exams. These tests are later used for university admissions.
The Ukrainian higher education system comprises higher educational establishments, scientific and methodological facilities under national, municipal and self-governing bodies in charge of education. The organisation of higher education in Ukraine is built up in accordance with the structure of education of the world’s higher developed countries, as is defined by UNESCO and the UN. Ukraine has more than 800 higher education institutions and in 2010 the number of graduates reached 654,700 people.


President, Parliament and Government

The President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and is the formal head of state. Ukraine’s legislative branch includes the 450-seat unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. The parliament is primarily responsible for the formation of the executive branch and the Cabinet of Ministers, headed by the Prime Minister. However, the President still retains the authority to nominate the Ministers of the Foreign Affairs and of Defence for parliamentary approval, as well as the power to appoint the Prosecutor General and the head of the Security Service.
Laws, acts of the parliament and the cabinet, presidential decrees, and acts of the Crimean parliament may be abrogated by the Constitutional Court, should they be found to violate the constitution. Other normative acts are subject to judicial review. The Supreme Court is the main body in the system of courts of general jurisdiction. Local self-government is officially guaranteed. Local councils and city mayors are popularly elected and exercise control over local budgets. The heads of regional and district administrations are appointed by the President in accordance with the proposals of the Prime Minister. This system virtually requires an agreement between the President and the Prime Minister, and has in the past led to problems, such as when President Yushchenko exploited a perceived loophole by appointing so-called ‘temporarily acting’ officers, instead of actual governors or local leaders, thus evading the need to seek a compromise with the Prime Minister. This practice was controversial and was subject to Constitutional Court review.
Ukraine has a large number of political parties, many of which have tiny memberships and are unknown to the general public. Small parties often join in multi-party coalitions (electoral blocs) for the purpose of participating in parliamentary elections.


Culture


Ukrainian customs are heavily influenced by Orthodox Christianity, the dominant religion in the country. Gender roles also tend to be more traditional, and grandparents play a greater role in bringing up children, than in the West. The culture of Ukraine has also been influenced by its eastern and western neighbours, reflected in its architecture, music and art.
The Communist era had quite a strong effect on the art and writing of Ukraine. In 1932, Stalin made socialist realism state policy in the Soviet Union when he promulgated the decree “On the Reconstruction of Literary and Art Organisations”. This greatly stifled creativity. During the 1980s glasnost (openness) was introduced and Soviet artists and writers again became free to express themselves as they wanted.
The tradition of the Easter egg, known as pysanky, has long roots in Ukraine. These eggs were drawn on with wax to create a pattern; then, the dye was applied to give the eggs their pleasant colours, the dye did not affect the previously wax-coated parts of the egg. After the entire egg was dyed, the wax was removed leaving only the colourful pattern. This tradition is thousands of years old, and precedes the arrival of Christianity to Ukraine. In the city of Kolomyia near the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in 2000 was built the museum of Pysanka which won a nomination as the monument of modern Ukraine in 2007, part of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine action.


Health

There is radiation contamination in the northeast from the accident at Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. However the effect is negligible unless you permanently live in Chornobyl area itself. There are even tours to the town of Prypyat’ which is the closest to the station. The town is famous for the haunting scenery of blocks of apartment buildings abandoned in 1986, now standing out amid the vegetation which spawned from years of neglect.
Do not drink tap water. Major reason of this is that water in many regions is disinfected using chlorine, so taste is horrible. Whenever possible buy bottled water, which is widely available and generally OK. Ukraine has the highest adult HIV prevalence rate in Europe at nearly 1.5{850e4105b3f3ff89e6b6f6113a109417d3a3f4bf675ac31a8f759acc3339d3c2} or 1 in 66 adults. Be Safe. Condoms are widely available and cheap. They can be found in pharmacies, which are ubiquitous, especially in big cities like Kyiv.
Many hospitals in Ukraine are by far below medical standards, even on most urban areas, so if you are injured or ill, then it’s best to be medically evacuated to a nearby country with reasonable medical standards, such as Poland, but at a highly expensive cost. Furthermore, Ukraine is not a disabled-friendly environment, so don’t assume any disabled-friendly facilities available in Ukraine, as there is rarely any.


Safety


Many people will tell you that you can take a copy of your visa with you. Sadly, some people experience trouble over this. It’s always better to carry your passport with you. A photocopy can be refused as proof of identity. A phone call to a local who can help can prove very effective.
Get the details of your local embassy and/or consulates in advance and note their emergency numbers.
If you can it is useful to have a bilingual acquaintance who can be called in an emergency or if you encounter difficulties. If staying for any length of time, it is advisable to get a local SIM card for your mobile for emergencies and for cheaper local calls/texts. These are widely available, cheap (often free) and easy to ‘top-up’.
As in any other country, using common sense when traveling in Ukraine will minimize any chances of being victim of petty crime and theft. Try not to publicize the fact that you’re a foreigner or flaunt your wealth: by clothing or otherwise. With the exception of Kiev, Odessa, and other large cities, foreign tourists are still quite rare. As in any other country, the possibility of petty theft exists. In Kiev, make sure to guard your bags and person because pickpocketing is very common, especially in crowded metro stations.
Racially motivated violence and harassment can occur without corrective action by local authorities.
While there’s a lot of swimming and diving attractions throughout Ukraine, local water rescue is tremendously underfunded. It is unlikely that you would be noticed while drowning, especially on the river. Use only officially established beaches.


Transport

In total, Ukrainian paved roads stretch for 164,732 kilometres (102,360 mi). Major routes, marked with the letter ‘M’ for ‘International’, extend nationwide and connect all major cities of Ukraine, and provide cross-border routes to the country’s neighbours. There are only two true motorway standard highways in Ukraine; a 175-kilometre (109-mile) stretch of motorway from Kharkiv to Dnipropetrovsk and a section of the M03 which extends 18 km (11 mi) from Kiev to Boryspil, where the city’s international airport is located.
Rail transport in Ukraine connects all major urban areas, port facilities and industrial centres with neighbouring countries. The heaviest concentration of railway track is the Donbas region of Ukraine. Although rail freight transport fell by 7.4{850e4105b3f3ff89e6b6f6113a109417d3a3f4bf675ac31a8f759acc3339d3c2} in 1995 in comparison with 1994, Ukraine is still one of the world’s highest rail users. The total amount of railroad track in Ukraine extends for 22,473 kilometres (13,964 mi), of which 9,250 kilometres (5,750 mi) is electrified. Currently the state has a monopoly on the provision of passenger rail transport, and all trains, other than those with cooperation of other foreign companies on international routes, are operated by its company ‘Ukrzaliznytsia’.
Transport by air is developing quickly, with a visa-free programme for EU nationals and citizens of a number of other Western nations, the nation’s aviation sector is handling a significantly increased number of travellers. The Euro 2012 football tournament, held in Poland and Ukraine as joint hosts, prompted the government to invest heavily in transport infrastructure, and in particular airports. The Donetsk airport, completed for Euro 2012, was destroyed by the end of 2014 because of the ongoing war between the government and the separatist movement.
Kiev Boryspil is the county’s largest international airport; it has three main passenger terminals and is the base for both of Ukraine’s national airlines. Other large airports in the country include those in Kharkiv, Lviv and Donetsk (now destroyed), whilst those in Dnipropetrovsk and Odessa have plans for terminal upgrades in the near future. Ukraine has a number of airlines, the largest of which is the nation’s flag carrier, Ukraine International Airlines. Antonov Airlines, a subsidiary of the Antonov Aerospace Design Bureau is the only operator of the world’s largest fixed wing aircraft, the An-225.
International maritime travel is mainly provided through the Port of Odessa, from where ferries sail regularly to Istanbul, Varna and Haifa. The largest ferry company presently operating these routes is Ukrferry.


Cuisine


The traditional Ukrainian diet includes chicken, pork, beef, fish and mushrooms. Ukrainians also tend to eat a lot of potatoes, grains, fresh, boiled or pickled vegetables. Popular traditional dishes include varenyky (boiled dumplings with mushrooms, potatoes, sauerkraut, cottage cheese, cherries or berries), nalysnyky (pancakes with cottage cheese, poppy seeds, mushrooms, caviar or meat), kapuśniak (soup made with meat, potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage, millet, tomato paste, spices and fresh herbs), borsch (soup made of beets, cabbage and mushrooms or meat), holubtsy (stuffed cabbage rolls filled with rice, carrots, onion and minced meat) and pierogi (dumplings filled with boiled potatoes and cheese or meat). Ukrainian specialties also include Chicken Kiev and Kiev cake. Ukrainians drink stewed fruit, juices, milk, buttermilk (they make cottage cheese from this), mineral water, tea and coffee, beer, wine and horilka.

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