Ukraine, with its area of 600,000 sq km, is the second largest country in Eastern Europe. It borders with the Russian Federation in the east and northeast, Belarus in the northwest, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary in the west, Romania and Moldova in the southwest. The southern coasts of Ukraine washed by the Black Sea and the Azov Sea. The Ukrainian Carpathians are located in the West of the country (the highest point – mountain Goverla, 2.061 m).and the Crimean Mountains in the South.
Ukraine's modern history began from at least the 9th century, when Ukraine was the center of the medieval living area of the East Slavs. This state, known as Kiev Rus', became a large and powerful nation, but disintegrated in the 12th century. After the Great Northern War, Ukraine was divided among a number of regional powers, and by the 19th century, the largest part of Ukraine was integrated into the Russian Empire, with the rest under Austro-Hungarian control.
After a chaotic period of incessant warfare and several attempts at independence (1917–21) following World War I and the Russian Civil War, Ukraine emerged on December 30, 1922 as one of the founding republics of the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic's territory was enlarged westward shortly before and after World War II, and southwards in 1954 with the Crimea transfer. Ukraine became independent again after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Ukraine is a unitary state composed of 24 oblasts (provinces), one autonomous republic (Crimea), and two cities with special status: Kiev, its capital and largest city, and Sevastopol, which houses the Russian Black Sea Fleet under a leasing agreement. Ukraine is a republic under a semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
Population of the country is 46 million people, 77.8 percent of whom are ethnic Ukrainians, with sizable minorities of Russians (17%), Belarusians and Romanians. The Ukrainian language is the only official language in Ukraine. Russian is also widely spoken. The dominant religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which has heavily influenced Ukrainian architecture, literature and music.
Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine (also known as Kiev), was founded by the three brothers Kyi, Schek and Khoryv, and their sister Lybid more than 1500 years ago in 482 A.D. Kyiv is one of the biggest cities in Europe with the population of about 2.6 million.
Composed of two equal horizontal bands of azure and golden yellow colours. The blue colour represents the the sky, and yellow symbolizes the lush golden wheat fields. These two colors, blue and yellow, have been associated with Ukraine from the times before the introduction of Christianity. Now they are incorporated into the flag of Ukraine.
The time in Ukraine is set two hours ahead of the Universal time in Greenwich (GMT +02:00). It is altered twice a year (the watches are set one hour forward in the last week of March and one hour backward in the last week of October).
On the national scale such holidays are celebrated in Ukraine:
o make a call from Ukraine abroad it is necessary to dial 00-10-code of the country - code of the city etc.
National Currency - Hryvnia (UAH). There are banknotes for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Hryvnias. 1 Hryvnia = 100 kopiykas. There are coins for 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 and 50 kopiykas. Personal checks practically do not exist in Ukraine, but many places in Kyiv accept major credit cards. Travellers’ cheques can be cashed in a number of banks. However, do not rely solely on credit cards or travellers’ cheques. Cash is preferred.
Every Ukrainian town and city has an extensive public transport system, including buses, trams, trolleys and a metro (in Kyiv and Donetsk). Although the metro does not cover the entire city, it is still the fastest way to get around the capital, particularly as the bus service can be unreliable and crowded at rush hours. Privately owned minibuses (known as marshrutkas) are also available; they can be flagged down anywhere along their routes and will usually have stops listed on their windows. Official taxis can be pre-booked by phone or hailed on the street. "Gypsy" cabs, or unmarked cars, may also stop; be sure to negotiate a price up front when choosing this option. Parking can be a problem in the city centre.