National name: Ukrayina
Located in southeast 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. Ukraine is bordered by Belarus on the north, by Russia on the north and east, by the Black Sea on the south, by Moldova and Romania on the southwest, and by Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland on the west.
Ukraine was the center of the first Slavic state, Kievan Rus, which during the 10th and 11th centuries was the largest and most powerful state in Europe. Weakened by internecine quarrels and Mongol invasions, Kievan Rus was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and eventually into the Polish- Lithuanian Commonwealth. The cultural and religious legacy of Kievan Rus laid the foundation for Ukrainian nationalism through subsequent centuries. A new Ukrainian state, the Cossack Hetmanate, was established during the mid-17th century after an uprising against the Poles. During the latter part of the 18th century, most Ukrainian ethnographic territory was absorbed by the Russian Empire. In World War II, German and Soviet armies were responsible for some 7 to 8 million more deaths. Final independence for Ukraine was achieved in 1991, democracy remained elusive as the legacy of state control and endemic corruption stalled efforts at economic reform, privatization, and civil liberties. A peaceful mass protest "Orange Revolution" in the closing months of 2004 forced the authorities to overturn a rigged presidential election and to allow a new internationally monitored vote that swept into power a reformist slate under Viktor YUSHCHENKO.
Unitary semi-presidential republic
- President Viktor Yanukovych
- Prime Minister Mykola Azarov
- Speaker of Parliament Volodymyr Lytvyn
Total 603,628 km2 (45th) 233,090 sq mi
-2010 estimate 45,888,000 (28th)
-2001 census 48,457,102