Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It borders Russia to the northeast, Belarus to the north, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to the west, Romania and Moldova to the southwest and the Black Sea to the south. The historic city of Kiev (Kyiv) is the republic's capital.

From at least the ninth century the territory of present-day Ukraine was a centre of medieval East Slavic civilization that formed the state that became known as Kievan Rus and for the following several centuries the territory was divided between a number of regional powers. After a brief period of independence (1917-1921) following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Ukraine became one of the founding Soviet Republics in 1922. The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic's territory was enlarged westward after the Second World War and finally in 1954 with the Crimea transfer.

The April 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine was the product of a flawed Soviet reactor design coupled with serious mistakes made by the plant operators in the context of a system where training was minimal. It was a direct consequence of Cold War isolation and the resulting lack of any safety culture. Nobody off-site suffered from acute radiation effects. However, large areas of especially Belarus and Ukraine, were contaminated in varying degrees.

Ukraine became independent again after the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991. At the turn of 2004-2005 there was a series of protests and political events, called Orange Revolution, that took place throughout the country in response to allegations of massive corruption, voter intimidation and direct electoral fraud during the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election. A second runoff found Viktor Yushchenko the winner. The orange coalition collapsed after few years, and new president Victor Yanukovych was elected. Yanukovych considered the current level of co-operation between Ukraine and NATO sufficient,and was against Ukraine joining NATO. In 2013, protests against the government of President Yanukovych broke out in downtown Kiev after the government made the decision to suspend the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement and seek closer economic ties with Russia. This began a several-months-long wave of demonstrations and protests known as the Euromaidan, which later escalated into the 2014 Ukrainian revolution that ultimately resulted in the overthrowing of Yanukovych and the establishment of a new government. These events precipitated the annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014, and the War in Donbass in April 2014.

The dominant religion in Ukraine is Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which is currently split between three Church bodies; the distant second is the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which practices the same liturgical and spiritual tradition as Eastern Orthodoxy, but is in communion with the See of Peter and recognizes the primacy of the Pope as head of the Church. There are also smaller groups of Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim faithful.

Ukrainian is the only official state language. Russian, which was a de facto official language in the Soviet Union, is largely used by many people, especially in eastern and southern Ukraine.

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Basic information

Full country name: Ukraine

Government type: Unitary semi-presidential constitutional Republic

President: Petro Poroshenko

Capital: Kiev (Kyiv)

Independence: 24 August 1991 (from the Soviet Union)

National holiday: Independence Day, 24 August (1991); the date of 22 January (1918), the day Ukraine first declared its independence (from Soviet Russia), is now celebrated as Unity Day

Area: 603,500 sq km

Administrative divisions: 24 provinces (oblasti, singular - oblast'), 1 autonomous republic (avtonomna respublika), and 2 municipalities (mista, singular - misto) with oblast status

Population: 44,291,413 (2014 est.)

Ethnic groups: Ukrainian 77.8%, Russian 17.3%, Belarusian 0.6%, Moldovan 0.5%, Crimean Tatar 0.5%, Bulgarian 0.4%, Hungarian 0.3%, Romanian 0.3%, Polish 0.3%, Jewish 0.2%, other 1.8% (2001 census)

Language: Ukrainian 67% - official , Russian 24%; small Romanian-, Polish-, and Hungarian-speaking minorities

Religion: Orthodox (includes Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox (UAOC), Ukrainian Orthodox - Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP), Ukrainian Orthodox - Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), Ukrainian Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish
note: Ukraine's population is overwhelmingly Christian; the vast majority - up to two-thirds - identify themselves as Orthodox, but many do not specify a particular branch; the UOC-KP and the UOC-MP each represent less than a quarter of the country's population, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church accounts for 8-10%, and the UAOC accounts for 1-2%; Muslim and Jewish adherents each compose less than 1% of the total population (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita: $2,979 (2014 est.)

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 18.7%, industry: 45.2%,
services: 36.1% (2005 est.)

Unemployment rate: 8.9% officially registered (2014 est.).

Population growth rate: -0.64% (2014 est.)

Source: The World Factbook. You can read full article here!

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