Ukraine

Ukraine

The former “breadbasket of the Soviet Union,” Ukraine lies on the north coast of the Black Sea. Politics is divided between pro-Russian sentiments and pro-European nationalism.

Geography: Mainly fertile steppes and forests. Carpathian Mountains in west, Crimean chain in south. Pripet Marshes in northwest.

 Climate: Mainly continental climate, with distinct seasons. Southern Crimea has Mediterranean climate.

 People and Society: Over 90% of people in the west are Ukrainian, but in cities in the east and south, and in Crimea, Russians form a majority. The government is wary of Crimean separatism. Tatars have been returning there since the Soviet Union’s collapse and now comprise around 12% of the local population. Over five million people in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia live in areas “contaminated” by the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster.

 The Economy: Minerals: 5% of global reserves. Slow reform of land laws, holding back agriculture. Oil/natural gas transit from Russia and the Caspian to Europe: natural gas price disputes with Russia. Political crisis.

 Insight: Ukraine means “on the border,” referring to its position on the edge of the old Russian Empire

Fact-File:

 Official Name: Ukraine

 Date of Formation: 1991

 Capital: Kiev

 Population: 45.7 million

 Total Area: 223,089 sq. miles (603,700 sq. km)

 Density: 196 people per sq. mile

 Languages: Ukrainian*, Russian, Tatar

 Religions: Christian (mainly Orthodox) 95%, other 5%

 Ethnic Mix: Ukrainian 78%, Russian 17%, other 5%

 Government: Presidential system

 Currency: Hryvna = 100 kopiykas

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