Ukraine Facts

Ukraine Facts and History


Ukraine – The largest state in Europe

The word Ukraine translates into German as “borderland”, and Ukraine still is today: a border state in southern Eastern Europe, which lies beyond a strong economic area. In terms of area, Ukraine is – apart from Russia – the largest country in Europes. Large parts of the country are crossed by rivers, the river Dnieper or Dnipro is the third longest river in Europe, after 2,200 km it flows into the Black Sea. The forest Carpathians are located in the western part of Ukraine, here is the highest point in the country at 2,061 meters, the Hoverla. In the north there is still mixed forest, in the middle and in the south are the forest steppes and the drought-prone steppe zones, which are largely used as arable land. In Ukraine, natural vegetation is almost only found in a few nature reserves, so that only one eighth of the country’s area is covered by forest, mainly in the mountains and in northern Ukraine, in Polesia, where there are swamps and lakes.

The Black Sea was already called this by the ancient Greeks. It is separated from the Sea of Azov by the Crimean peninsula. When Russia recognized Ukraine’s independence in 1997, it also surrendered the Crimean peninsula with its naval port of Sevastopol to Ukraine; in return, Russia received most of the Black Sea fleet.

Since the independence of Ukraine, the Russian share of the population has been decreasing. The remaining Russians now live mainly in the Crimea, in the heavily industrialized eastern part of the country and in the central Ukrainian cities. Population growth in Ukraine has been declining since 1990, even in relation to the total population.

The country is clearly divided into different cultural areas: the east is closely connected to Russia, the west feels more like Central Europe. The western Ukrainians are also called “Bandery” (after the Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera), the eastern Ukrainians “Moskaly” (Moscow faithful). In the west of the country, Ukrainian is also predominantly spoken; Ukrainian is the second largest Slavic language in terms of the number of speakers; it is written in Cyrillic. Ukrainian is now taught in schools as a mother tongue and Russian as a foreign language, but for a long time it was the other way around. In Ukraine there is compulsory schooling for seven years, from six to seventeen years of age. In terms of climate, Ukraine is very diverse: the mainland is in the warm temperate climate zone, the Crimea is rather humid and subtropical. Continentality increases from northwest to southeast.

Ukraine is the second most important state within the CIS countries after Russia, but there is still a lack of willingness to reform. The transition to a market economy is still causing problems, and around 50% of gross national income still comes from the shadow economy or even white-collar crime. Agriculture, along with heavy industry, is still particularly important for Ukraine. In addition, the country suffers from a shortage of energy and can only cover around a fifth of its own requirements on its own.

Everyone was talking about Ukraine in 1986 because of the most serious reactor accident of all time: the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl north of Kiev caused the catastrophe due to radioactive radiationparts of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia are still contaminated today. In Ukraine 125,000 people died as a result of the accident, 3.5 million are victims of the consequences of the accident. Another event that kept Ukraine in the headlines of the world press for a long time was the so-called “Orange Revolution” of 2004. Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko competed against each other in the presidential elections. Yanukovych was initially able to win the runoff elections, but there was too much evidence of electoral fraud. For weeks there were peaceful mass protests by the population and the elections were finally repeated, with Yushchenko narrowly winning this time. During the election campaign, he suffered from dioxin poisoning, which left severe marks on the skin of his face.

The national soccer team of Ukraine took part in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germanypart – even though she was one of the very youngest at this major event. Football has always been the most popular sport in the region, but today’s Ukrainian national team only came into being after the USSR fell apart. Ukrainian players were very strong in the past, but many switched citizenship because they hoped for better career opportunities in Russia. Ukraine had to endure a long dry spell during which there was a lack of top players. With new talents like Andrij Shevchenko and coach Valeri Lobanowski, the team got stronger and stronger. After failing to qualify for the 2004 European Championship, the team was able to qualify for the 2006 World Championship.

The 14th European Football Championship will take place from June 8th to July 1st, 2012. It is hosted by Poland and also the Ukraine. That is what the UEFA Executive Committee decided on April 18, 2007 in Cardiff. Greece, Turkey, Italy, Croatia and Hungary had also applied for the major sporting event, in which 16 teams will take part for the last time (from 2016 then 24). The games will be split between four Polish and four Ukrainian stadiums, with the final taking place in Kiev. The other Ukrainian venues are Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lemberg (Lviv).

After three months of protests – especially on Maidan Square in Kiev – on 18./19. President Yanukovych was ousted by parliament and the opposition had taken power in the country until early elections on May 25, 2014. The President of Parliament was appointed as the interim president. In the elections on June 7, 2014, Petro Oleksijowytsch Poroshenko (born 1965) was elected as the new president.

This year parts of eastern Ukraine were occupied by separatists with support from Russia. On July 18, 2017, this led to the “Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics” being declared the state of Little Russia.


Another special feature is the Crimea, which only became part of the Ukraine through a Soviet administrative act in 1954. Sevastopol the port in Crimea is the home port of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

Triggered by the coup and the associated dismissal of President Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine in February 2014, there were strong separatist efforts in Crimea – supported by Russia.

After Sergei Aksjonow had been appointed as the new Prime Minister of Crimea by the regional parliament, the founding of the Republic of Crimea was declared on March 2, 2014 and a referendum was decided to legitimize the act. The referendum took place on March 16, 2014. According to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, 96.77% voted in favor of joining Russia – with a turnout of 83.1%.

On March 18, 2014, Russia and the Republic of Crimea signed a treaty integrating Crimea into the Russian Federation.

After the treaty was ratified by the Russian Duma and the Russian Federation Council, President Vladimir Putin signed the constitution-amending law on March 21, 2014.

The Republic of Crimea had become part of Russia.

Name of the country Ukraine/Ukrajina
Form of government Presidential Republic
Geographical location Ukraine is located in Eastern Europe, bordering Russia and Belarus to the east and north of Poland, the Slovak Republic and Hungary to the west and to Romania and Moldova to the south.Ukraine is bordered to the west by the Carpathian Mountains and the Black Sea and to the south by the Sea of Azov.
National anthem Schche ne wmerla Ukrajina (Ще не вмерла Українa). In German translation: Ukraine is not dead yet.
Population approx. 45.7 million (Credit: Countryaah: Ukraine Population)
Ethnicities 73% ethnic Ukrainians,Russians: 11.36 million (approx. 22%),

Jews: approx. 486,000,

Belarusians: approx. 440,000,

Moldavans: approx. 325,000,

Bulgarians: approx. 233,000,

Poles: approx. 219,000,

Hungarians: approx. 163,000,

Romanians: approx. 135,000,

Germans: approx. 40,000

Religions Ukrainian Orthodox (Patriarchate Kiev): 19%, Orthodox: 16%, Ukrainian Orthodox (Patriarchate Moscow): 9%, Ukrainian-Greek Catholics: 6%, Others (other Orthodox, Jewish and Protestant faiths), 38% without denomination
Languages State language: Ukrainian; umgangssprachlich many Russian, regional and Gagauz, Slovak, Romanian, Polish, Hungarian and other
Capital Kyiw (Kiev) with approx. 2.8 million residents
Surface 603,700 km² – excluding the Crimea 577,620 km²
Highest mountain The Hora Hoverla with a height of 2,061 m
Longest river The most water-rich and economically most important river is the Dnipro (Dnepr), which crosses the country from north to south with a length of 2285 m.
Largest lake in area The Kachowka reservoir on the Dnieper river with an area of 2,155 km²
International license plate UA
National currency 1 hryvnia = 100 kopecks
Time difference to CET +1 h
International phone code (0) 380
Mains voltage, frequency 230 volts and 50 hertz.(An adapter is required.)
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .ua

Ukraine: history

Before the year 1000

Numerous cultures from the Middle and Paleolithic and the Bronze Age left their mark on the region. The area of today’s Ukraine was inhabited by Indo-European steppe peoples such as the Kurgan people, the Scythians, the Alans, Sarmatians and the Cimmerians before the 7th century BC. During the 6th and 7th centuries BC, the Greeks founded their colonies on the coast of the Black Sea, to the Sea of Azov and on the Crimean Peninsula. These colonies later developed into the Bosphoran Empire. During the 3rd and 4th centuries BC The region was ruled by the Goths, and parts of them stayed in the area for many centuries. A little later, numerous nomadic peoples of Asian origin such as the Huns and the Avars traveled through the steppes in southern Ukraine.

According to Abbreviationfinder website, Ukraine (“border region”) was the name given to those areas on the border with the steppe. The steppe separated the settled Christian Slavs from the nomadic, Islamic peoples.

From the year 1000 to the 17th century

In the 9th century the “Kievan Rus” was established by Slavs and Scandinavians: a large empire that had its center in Kiev and which is still a forerunner state today. In 1187 the name “Ukraina” was mentioned for the first time in a chronicle; initially it was only used for the south-western areas of the empire, but eventually for the entire Galician-Volhyn area.

The Kievan Rus

879-912 succeeded Prince Oleg to unite 14 East Slavic tribes under his rule. His new empire stretched from Karelia in the north to the steppe borders in the south and from the Dniester to the Volga. The city of Kiev became the center of the empire of the same name. In 911 Prince Oleg concluded a trade agreement between his Kievan Rus and Byzantium.

The word “Rus” originally comes from the Greek Rhos (= sources) and was the name for the Varangian upper class of the emerging empire. In the course of time, the term was carried over to the East Slav population in order to finally become the name of the homeland of the Russians in “Russia”.

In 988 the Christianization of Rus took place under Vladimir (978-1015). Slavic was introduced and recognized as a church language as the Russian Orthodox Church was subordinated to the Patriarchate of Constantinople.


The death of Wladimir led to brotherly feuds: Svyatopolk had his brothers Boris and Gleb slain, who later were venerated as the first saints of the Russian Orthodox Church.


The political and cultural heyday of Kievan Rus began with Yaroslavl the Wise. He strengthened the internal security through the generally valid legal order, the “Russkaja prawda”, and he had the imperial capital Kiev converted into a magnificent residence, the center of which was the St. Sophia Cathedral, begun in 1037. Jarowslavl’s church policy was shaped by efforts to gain independence from Byzantium, so that in 1051, without the consent of the Patriarch of Constantinople, he had his chaplain Ilarion elected as the new Metropolitan of Kievan Rus. Numerous monasteries were founded during this time. Since the middle of the 11th century, a few cities in addition to Kiev have developed into up-and-coming trading cities. The merchant class in particular reflected the new self-image of the cities.


The five sons of Yaroslavl split up the Kievan Rus among themselves. Wars of succession and military attacks by the steppe nomads led to the formation of new political centers in northeastern Russia. The principalities of Vladimir-Suzdal and Rostov Veliky were established.


The supremacy of the Kiev princely house was very much weakened within Russia. Grand Duke Vladimir II (Monomakh) and his son Grand Duke Mstislaw I successfully defended their royal house for the last time.


The city of Novgorod broke away from the Kiev principality.


Moscow was founded by Jurij Dolgorukij, Prince of Suzdal. Fierce fighting began for supremacy in Kievan Rus.


That year, Kiev, the capital of Russia, was destroyed by Andrei Bogolyubsky (1157-1174). Vladimir became the residential capital of his Grand Duchy. Due to his strong claim to sole rule, Bogolyubsky fell victim to a boyar conspiracy in 1175.


The Russian principalities gained more and more importance, the principality Vladimir-Sudal experienced under Vsevolod III. the height of his power. The result of the increase in power of the principalities were always new armed conflicts, the only peacemaker was the unifying influence of the church.


The disintegration of Rus into largely isolated individual principalities. From the 13th century onwards, Asian nomadic tribes ruled over the Ukrainian territory, which from now on must be viewed separately from Russia in terms of its history, as its centers were located further north in Moscow and Novgorod. Daniel Romanowitsch of Galicia (King Daniel of Halych-Volodymyr) was next to Alexander Newski the most important prince during the period of Mongol rule.

With the decline of the Golden Horde in the middle of the 14th century, Lithuania and Casimir the Great of Poland conquered Galicia;

The southern part of the area became independent as the “Crimean Khanate” and ruled by the Turks.

Social tensions arose between the Cossack-led resistance and Polish rule; Bohdan Khmelnyzkyj established in 1648 by a treaty with the Polish king, Jan Kazimierz, his own Ukrainian Cossack state (Hetmanat), which had its seat of government in Tschyhyryn. Just a few years later, in 1654, the latter placed himself under the protection of the Russian tsar and thus again became dependent, also through alliances with the Ottoman Empire. A short time later, the area was divided against the will of the Cossacks: the area east of the Dnieper went to Russia, the Zaporozhian Cossack area came under Polish-Russian administration.

In the 18th and 19th centuries

Between 1772 and 1795 there were three partitions of Poland: Most of the Ukrainian territory went to Russia; Galicia, Volhynia and Podolia came to Austria. Russian rule ensured that the previously deserted steppe areas were settled. In 1796 the southern and eastern regions were conquered by the Ottomans and combined to form “New Russia”, a Russian governorate, within which the cities of Sevastopol, Simferopol and Odessa were founded.

The Ukrainian national consciousness already strengthened in the first half of the 19th century: the historian Mychailo Hruschewskyj succeeded in proving that the ethnicities of the Russians and the Ukrainians had developed separately, which created the scientific basis for a Ukrainian national movement, but it was initially suppressed under Nicholas I.

In the 20th century until today

The tsarist government was overthrown by the February revolution in 1917 and a new Ukrainian parliament was founded, which proclaimed the Ukrainian People’s Republic on November 19th of that year. Hrushevsky himself presided over the Supreme Council.

Since December 1917, the People’s Republic faced a Bolshevik Soviet government in Kharkov, which after the October Revolution in January of the following year initially proclaimed Ukraine’s independence. In February and March 1918, however, after the peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk, German and Austro-Hungarian troops occupied the area. When the German troops withdrew after the war, there was initially another civil war. In 1919 the Red Army was able to take Kiev again, in 1921 Ukraine was divided between Poland and Russia in the Peace of Riga.

In 1922 Ukraine became a member state of the Soviet Union and was given the name Ukrainian SSR (Soviet Socialist Republic), the Red Army under Trotsky had defeated the Machno movement.

As a result of Soviet industrialization, today’s megacities of Dnepropetrovsk, Donetsk and Charkov emerged in eastern Ukraine. Stalin also introduced a forced collectivization of agriculture, through which well over a million people died of hunger between 1932 and 1933. The Ukrainian rural population refused to pay their taxes, so the situation turned into chaos with the deployment of communist shock brigades, confiscations, threats and reprisals. The so-called “Corn Act” stipulated that in future the death penalty should be imposed for “wasting socialist property”. 125,000 people were sentenced in the following years, 5,400 of them to death. The situation only got worse until the death rate peaked in 1933, while the Soviet Union exported nearly two million tons of grain. Since the reporting was already censored in Ukraine, the genocide was largely shielded from the world public. In 1937 and ’38 there was a final increase in the Stalinist “purges” and a large part of the Ukrainian political elite were wiped out. Between 1937 and 1939 censuses were carried out, which suggest a number of four million deaths, some researchers even assume 6-7 million deaths. and much of the Ukrainian political elite were wiped out. Between 1937 and 1939 censuses were carried out, which suggest a number of four million deaths, some researchers even assume 6-7 million deaths. and much of the Ukrainian political elite were wiped out. Between 1937 and 1939 censuses were carried out, which suggest a number of four million deaths, some researchers even assume 6-7 million deaths.

The Second World War

At the beginning of the Second World War, Western Ukraine was reunited with the Ukraine, using the Secret Additional Protocol of the Hitler-Stalin Pact. Between 1941 and 1942, after the German attack on the USSR, Ukraine was one of the main combat areas, with the Ukrainian population initially partly cooperating with the German occupiers amid the horror of the Stalinist terror. However, the German occupation policy was so brutal that the resistance on the part of the Ukrainians soon increased. The SS and the German Wehrmacht murdered 5-7 million Ukrainian citizens and planned to settle 20 million Germans in a kind of “colony” and to exploit them. More than a million Ukrainians were deported to Germany for forced labor, numerous other deportations and shootings followed.

All Ukrainian organizations were forcibly dissolved, eventually even schools were closed and all newspapers censored, books were no longer allowed to be printed. Along with eastern Poland, Ukraine is the region that was most affected by the Holocaust of Jews, Sinti and Roma; In September 1941 alone, 33,000 Jewish Kievan people were shot in Babi Yar near Kiev; further mass shootings resulted in more than 70,000 deaths. Around 1.4 million prisoners were murdered in the camps in Germany to which other Ukrainian Jews were deported.

Around the time of the partisan war (1943 – 1947) against the German occupiers, a strong nationalist independence movement developed against Soviet rule, which was, however, suppressed; Ukraine became part of the Soviet Union again as the “Ukrainian Federal Socialist Soviet Republic” (USFSR). The displacement of Poland to the west resulted in the expulsion of Ukrainians from Poland and Poles from Ukraine.

From February 4 to 11, 1945 the conference of the “Big Three” (Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill) took place in Yalta in the Crimea on further politico-military action.

After the Second World War until today

After the Second World War, Carpathian Ukraine was assigned to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. In 1954, Crimea came to Ukraine through a Soviet administrative act under Nikita Khrushchev. In the 1960s, a Ukrainian opposition movement formed; this was reinforced by a religious opposition in western Ukraine.

In 1986 there was a disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant: an explosion released radioactive substances that have contaminated parts of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia to this day. In Ukraine 125,000 people died as a result of the accident, 3.5 million are victims of the consequences of the accident. It is the most momentous reactor accident of all time. The Soviet authorities played down the disaster and delayed the necessary countermeasures, which led to massive criticism.

In 1990 Ukrainian was made the state language, and a few months later the country declared itself sovereign within the USSR. In 1991 there was a putsch by the Orthodox-Communist forces, after which Ukraine finally separated completely from the union of states of the USSR and declared its independence on August 24, 1991.

The Ukraine is fighting a foreign policy position that both the West and since the 1990s, with serious economic problems and to build up Russia is neutral with them. The country is trying to gain independence from Russia, but has leased a military port to the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula.

The road to democracy was generally not an easy one. The first president of independent Ukraine was Leonid Kravchuk, who failed with his initiatives because of the anti-reform majority in the Supreme Council. The population became increasingly dissatisfied, which was manifested in a miners’ strike in 1993. Leonid Kuchma, president of the country since 1994, advocated closer cooperation with Russia.

In 1998 there was a parliamentary crisis lasting several months, after which Kuchma decided to rule by decree. Against

At the end of 2000 there were violent protests against the Ukrainian authorities, in which the opposition accused the authorities of obstructing the media, of suppressing and intimidating critical politicians, influencing the judiciary and corruption. International human rights organizations called for fundamental improvements in the human rights situation in Ukraine. The Russian Black Sea Fleet has its home port in Sevastopol, the large Black Sea port in Crimea.

Viktor Yushchenko was Prime Minister of Ukraine between 1999 and 2001, but was forced to resign as a result of a vote of no confidence: he had campaigned against the growing corruption in the country, which had become a threat to the oligarchs. Anatoly Kinach was his successor, from 2002 Viktor Yanukovych held the office of Prime Minister. after the turbulent events surrounding the 2004 presidential elections, he announced his resignation on December 31 of that year.

In the presidential elections, Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko ran against each other. Yanukovych was initially able to win the runoff elections, but there was too much evidence of electoral fraud. For weeks there were peaceful mass protests by the population, which went down in history as the “Orange Revolution”. The elections were finally repeated, with Yushchenko narrowly winning this time. During the election campaign he fell ill with dioxin poisoning, which left heavy marks on the skin of his face. From 2005 to 2010 Yushchenko was President of Ukraine.

In the runoff election on February 7, 2010, the former President Viktor Yanukovych won the election for President of Ukraine with 48.7% against his competitor Yulia Tymoshenko with 45.5%.

From November 2013, peaceful protests against the government’s policies began on Maidan Square in Kiev, including calls for rapprochement with the EU. The protests broadened over time, leading to calls for new elections and the resignation of the government and the president.

On February 18, 2014, clashes similar to civil war broke out between the demonstrators and the security forces, in which around 100 people lost their lives and thousands were injured.

On February 21, 2014, the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland managed to find a peaceful solution. According to this, a transitional government was formed, the 2004 constitution was reinstated and the president and parliament should be re-elected by the end of the year at the latest. This agreement had already expired on February 22nd, as parliament had declared President Viktor Yanukovych to be deposed and Kiev had also fallen into the hands of the opposition. Yulia Tymoshenko was released the same day after serving almost three years in prison. On June 7, 2014, Petro Proschenko (born 1965) took office as president of the country after a democratic election.


On the picture you can see how our Ukrainian employee put down a few red roses in front of the embassy in Berlin on February 22nd, 2014. Many of her relatives, such as her mother and niece, live in Kiev.

Goruma bows to the Ukrainian freedom fighters and mourns with the Ukrainians for the many dead of the Maidan

Crimea In

early March 2014, Russia effectively took power in Crimea and was supported by large sections of the population. On March 16, around 95.5% voted in a referendum to join Russia. Even if the West does not recognize the annexation, Crimea is part of Russia

Fight in Eastern Ukraine

After the interrogation of Crimea, struggles for independence began in eastern Ukraine, which were increasingly dominated by infiltrated Russians and Chechens.

But only the democratically elected new President of Ukraine – Petro Poroshenko – who took office on June 7, 2014, began to fight the separatists massively with the help of the army.

The fighting has so far been very costly for both sides, 44 Ukrainian soldiers alone died when a military plane was shot down. At least 30 Ukrainian soldiers were killed when a troop transport was fired by so-called “Stalin organs”.

The Ukrainian army suffered a terrible defeat when the separatists were able to take the strategically important city of Debaltseve after the Minsk Agreement.

The Minsk Agreement was passed on February 12, 2015 (Minsk II) between Putin, Poroshenko, Merkel and Hollande.

A first agreement (Minsk I) was signed in Minsk on September 5, 2014, but it was unsuccessful.

Boeing 777 shot down over Ukraine

The Boeing 777 passenger aircraft marked MH 17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) on July 17, 2014, when it was shot down in eastern Ukraine.

298 people were on board and all were killed. Among the passengers were 193 Dutch, 44 Malay, 27 Australian, nine British and four Germans.

The machine was probably shot down with the help of a BUK-M1 rocket (NATO code: SA-11 Gadfly), which is loaded with 55 kg of explosives and can shoot targets up to a height of over 20 km.

Only recently, the separatists had publicly boasted that they had captured such a missile. In addition, there were (allegedly) radio messages in which the error of having shot down a civilian machine was confirmed.

Ukraine Facts