Ukraine is a country of Central-Eastern Europe. Ukraine has borders with the Russian Federation, Belarus, Poland, Slovak Republic, Hungary, Romania and Moldova.
The territory of Ukrainian State is 603,700 km2, or 5.7% of European territory. Its territory is bigger than those of France (544,000 km2), Spain (505,000 km2), Sweden (450,000 km2), Germany (356,000 km2) and Poland (312,000 km2). Ukraine occupies the South-Western part of Eastern-European Plains and a part of the Carpathian and Crimean mountains. It stretches for 893 km from North to the South and for 1316 km from West to East. Ukraine is located in moderate latitudes and has outlets to Black and Azov Seas.
Ukraine's relief is mostly flat. 95% of lands are plains and 5% are mountains.
Ukraine is a sea power. In the south it is washed by Black and Azov Seas. The shores of Black Sea have many firths - Dniester, Dnipro, Bug and others. Black Sea is connected to Sea of Azov, Sea of Marmora and Mediterranean. Therefore is has outlet to the world ocean.
Ukraine's territory is covered with dense network of large and small rivers. Their total number is 73,000. Ukraine has about 20,000 lakes. The biggest river systems are Dnipro, Danube, Dnistro, Southern Bug and Northern Donets. Dnipro (Dnepr) is the largest river in Ukraine. It is also third largest and longest river in Europe. A cascade of reservoirs (Kyiv, Kaniv, Kremenchuck, Dniprodzerzhinsk and Kakhovka) has been built on the river, thus increasing the efficiency of use of Dnipro's hydro energy recourses.
ADMINISTRATIVE AND TERRITORIAL SYSTEM
Ukraine is comprised of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and 24 oblasts: Vinnitsa, Volyn, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Zhitomir, Zakarpattya, Zaporizhzhya, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kyiv, Kirovograd, Lugansk, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Poltava, Rivne, Sumy, Ternopil, Kharkiv, Kherson, Khmelnitsky, Cherkasy, Chernigiv, Chernivtsy. The cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol have a special status set by the laws of Ukraine. Ukraine has 490 rayons (districts), 446 cities, 907 towns and 10,196 villages.
Kyiv (Kiev) is the capital of Ukraine
Ukraine has about 48.5 mln. residents. In terms of population, Ukraine ranks 5th in Europe (after Germany, Italy, Great Britain and France) and 21st in the world. It has 7.3% of Europe's and 1% of global population. The majority of people (68%) live in urban areas. 32% live in countryside.
Ethnic Ukrainians comprise 73% of population. The biggest national minority are Russians (11,400,000 people, 21% of population). For ages, Crimean Tatars, Jews, Romanians, Moldavians, Belarussians, Bulgarians, Poles, Hungarians, Greeks, Armenians, Gypsies, Germans, Azerbaijani, Gagaus, Uzbeks, Lithuanians, Kazakhs, Czechs, Slovaks and people of other ethnic groups have been living in Ukraine.
The state language is Ukrainian.
Ukraine became an independent country in 1991, as it gained its political independence from the Soviet Union. However, Ukrainians value and celebrate their country's long and colorful history, which reaches back more than 1,500 years. Over the centuries, wave after wave of successive civilizations have washed over Ukraine: the Scythian, Greek, Scandinavian, Slavic, and Turkic peoples have all left their traces on the Ukrainian people.
The legend of the establishment of the Slavic state is rooted in a legend of three brothers and a sister, who founded a city along the Dnipro River at the end of the fifth century. Named after one of the brothers, the city Kyiv became the center of the city-state of Kyivan-Rus (Kyiv Rus was founded in the IX century). As such, Kyiv was a flourishing center of trade and culture a thousand years ago, and the wellspring of the east-Slavic states that exist today. Christianity was introduced in the year 988. Kyiv Princesses become queens of France, Norway, Hungary.
The strength of Kyivan-Rus was undermined by in-fighting between the city-state's princes, by the sacking of Constantinople by Crusaders and by changes in regional trading patterns. In 1240, Mongols, led by the grandson of Genghis Khan, sacked Kyiv and controlled the region for nearly two centuries. In the wake of Mongol domination, Ukraine was invaded and ruled by Poland and Lithuania, Russia and others. In response to these aggressions, Cossack armies were formed, each led by a Hetman (military leader). One of the most famous Hetman in Ukraine's history was Bohdan Khmelnytsky. He inspired a Cossack uprising that led to the liberation of Ukraine from Poland in 1648. Nonetheless, some considered him a traitor after he signed the Treaty of Pereyaslav in 1654, which joined Ukraine and Russia and led to Ukraine's subjugation by the Russian Empire and ultimately the Soviet Union.
Stalin, in an effort to weaken Ukraine further, induced the Great Famine of 1932-33 by forcibly collecting grain and deliberately starving to death nearly ten million Ukrainians. In September 1941, Ukraine became one of the theaters of war during World War II when Nazi forces entered Kyiv. In November 1943, Soviet forces recaptured the city and retained control of the Ukraine republic for almost fifty years.
The world's attention turned to Ukraine in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in April 1986.
Changes in the political philosophy of Soviet leaders spurred Ukraine to proclaim its sovereignty in July 1990. Ukrainians formally realized their dream of independence following the failed coup in Moscow of August 1991. In a national referendum held on December 1, 1991 the people of Ukraine endorsed independence and voted for the Ukraine's first democratically elected President – Leonid Kravchuk.
The current Ukrainian President, Viktor Yushchenko was sworn in early 2005. The presidential elections in late 2004 were followed by peaceful but dramatic demonstrations, called the Orange Revolution, a rerun of the voting was ordered and Voctor Yushchenko won.
Ukrainian cuisine is very much a part of the population's culture, lifestyle and customs. Well-known for its great diversity and amazing flavors, Ukrainian cuisine recipes have had a number of influences including Russian, Polish, German and Turkish. Popular ingredients in the cuisine of Ukraine are meat, mushrooms, vegetables, berries, fruit and herbs. As Ukrainians are extremely hospitable their meals are served in very generous quantities.
Some of the best Ukrainian cuisine is actually very simple. Many ingredients are used in what many would consider unusual combinations, creating a unique and sumptuous dish. Considered the “breadbasket of Europe”, bread is a staple in Ukraine. There are dozens of methods used in preparing breads which are often used in rituals. Dishes often contain pickled vegetables when these are not in season and certain dishes can only be made when ingredients are available. Pastries and cakes are popular, but not very sweet.
Below you can find a list of traditional Ukrainian dishes with descriptions.
You can find some recipes at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_cuisine.
Borshch – beet soup often made with meat.
Ukha – fish soup typically with carp.
Hybivka – mushroom soup.
Vinigret – beetroot salad made with beans, peas and onions.
Oseledets – pickled herring salad with onion, sunflower oil and pepper.
Kapustianyi – sauerkraut salad with oil, walnuts and mayonnaise.
Paska – Easter bread.
Korovai – braided bread used in wedding celebrations.
Babka – Easter bread containing dried fruit.
Varenyky – boiled dumplings stuffed with fruit, potatoes, cheese and cabbage.
Holubtsi – cabbage rolls stuffed with millet or minced meat with rice.
Blyntsi – crepes served with meat, cheese, fruit or caviar.
Pechenya – roast pork, lamb, beef or veal.
Studynets – jellied meat or fish.
Kotljetys – fish or meat fritters.
Deruny – potato fritters served with sour cream or cottage cheese.
Shashlyk – type of shish kebab usually with marinated lamb and vegetables.
Tort – cakes often made with ground walnuts or almonds instead of flour.
Kutia – a Christmas dessert with honey, nuts, poppy seeds and wheat.
Zhely – jellied fruit.
Pampushky – fried dough, similar to doughnuts.
Kvas – made from bread with a sweet-sour taste.
Compote – dried or fresh fruit drink.
Kefir – sour milk.