Ukraine (pronounced in Ukrainian UKRAYINA) is
a country in south-eastern Europe, the second largest of the continent after Russia, and
one of the most populous in Europe. Its history spans more than a thousand years. For
several centuries it had stayed under Russia’s domination and regained independence in
The Golden Gate of Kyiv.
Ukraine lies in a temperate climatic zone and receives 16 to 24 inches (400 to 600 mm) of
precipitation annually. The Dnipro, Don, Dniester, and other rivers all drain southward
through the plains to empty into the Azov-Black Sea Basin. Ukraine's most important river,
the Dnipro, is extensively dammed along much of its course for hydroelectric and
|Industries and agriculture
The belt of mixed forest and steppe running west-east across south-central Ukraine has rich black soils whose intense cultivation has made the country a major producer of winter wheat and sugar beets. Other crops include sunflower seeds, corn (maize), potatoes, grapes, oats, rye, millet, and buckwheat. Fruits and vegetables are grown on the outskirts of cities, and cattle and pigs are raised throughout the country.Ukraine has rich reserves of iron ore, bituminous and an thracite coals, and manganese-bearing ores located in close proximity to each other. This region, in east-central Ukraine, is the industrial heartland of the country and one of the majors heavy-industrial and mining-metallurgical complexes of Europe. Ukraine also produces natural gas and petroleum, though reserves of these fuels were much depleted during the Soviet period.
Besides its basic mining industries, Ukraine has ferrous-metals industries that produce iron and steel in large quantities. Durable goods manufactured include mining and metallurgical equipment, automobiles, and tractors. The chemical industry produces large amounts of sulphuric acid and mineral fertilizers. Ukraine's food-processing industries yield a wide spectrum of all kinds of food of good quality.
Ukraine's political system underwent rapid changes in the early 1990s after the country gained its independence from the collapsing Soviet Union in late 1991. Ukraine’s parliament is called the Verkhovna Rada (Supreme Council), whose members (People’s Deputies) are chosen to four-year terms in free, multicandidate elections. The chief executive of Ukraine is the president, who is also chosen in free elections. The day-to-day administration of the government rests in the hands of the prime minister, who heads the Cabinet of Ministers and is chosen by the president with parliamentary approval.
Some historical facts
The building of the Council of Ministers.
|After the Union of Lublin in 1569, rule over
Ukraine was transferred from Lithuania to Poland. Religious dissent and social strife
between the Ukrainians and their Polish overlords were augmented by the Zaporozhian
Cossacks, who were in fact a class of free warriors. From their stronghold along the lower
Dnipro River, the Cossacks in 1648, led by their Hetman (military leader) Bohdan
Khmelnytsky, rose against the Poles and formed a semi-independent, if short-lived, state.
Khmelnytsky's need for help against the Poles led to an agreement with the Muscovite tsar
In the late 18th-century the Russian Empire obtained the Ukrainian lands west of the Dnipro, except for Galicia, which went to Austria. A Ukrainian nationalist movement developed in the 19th century, but in Russian-held Ukraine the movement faced political repression and restrictions against the Ukrainian language.
After the Russian Revolution of February 1917, Ukrainian and Bolshevik forces struggled for control of Ukraine until 1921, when the Soviet government emerged victorious.
Beginning in the 1930s, the Soviet government under Joseph Stalin carried out by brutal
force a policy of rapid industrialization and collectivization of agriculture in Ukraine.
This policy met with peasant resistance, which in turn prompted the confiscation of grain
from Ukrainian farmers by Soviet authorities, with the result that a famine in the early
1930s took an estimated five million lives.
Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union (1941) brought devastation to Ukraine and enormous suffering to its population. A major reconstruction effort after the defeat of the Nazis restored the country’s economy to its pre-war level in a short time.
After the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the reforms in the late 1980s, Ukrainian nationalist feelings gradually awoke, leading the newly democratized Ukrainian parliament to declare the republic's sovereignty in 1991.
Both Western and domestic observers agree that Ukraine has a great economic potential but the pace of reforms is slowed down by the leftist opposition, ineptitude, inefficiency and corruption. In the fall of 1998 Ukraine was hit by a bad economic crisis. But Ukraine’s very rich historical and cultural legacy, determination on the part of many forces working for the good of the country, will hopefully pull Ukraine through and launch it successfully into the 21st century.
Photos by Yuri Buslenko