Ukraine

By: Max Weber

Ukraine has been fought over and subjugated for centu­ries. A short-lived independence from Russia in 1917-1920 was followed by Soviet rule that engineered two artificial famines in l921-22 and inl932-33, in which over 8 million died. Du­ring World War II German and Soviet armies were responsi­ble for some 7 million more deaths. Ukraine attained its inde­pendence in 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR.

Ukraine is bordered in the west by Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, in the southwest by Romania and Moldova; in the east and northeast by Russia; and in the north by Belarus.

Ukraine is washed by the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov in the south. The Crimean Autonomous Republic-encompassing the Crimean Peninsula or Crimea is part of Ukraine. The capital and the largest city is Kyiv. Ukraine has a strategic position at the crossroads between Europe and Asia.

Much of Ukraine is a fertile plain suited for agriculture, Ukraine is rich in natural resources and has an economy with significant agricultural and industrial sectors.

The country has a democratic form of government headed by a president.

From the 9th century A.D. northern Ukraine formed part of Kyivskaya Rus, the first significant East Slavic state, which was invaded by the Mongols in the 13th century. Ukraine was for centuries thereafter under the rule of a succession of foreign powers, including Poland and the Russian Empire. In 1918, a Communist government was established in Ukraine and in 1922 the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) was one of the four founding republics of the Union of Soviet So­cialist Republics (USSR). Ukraine's declaration of indepen­dence, approved by a vote on December 1, 1991, was a major factor in the USSR's collapse later that month.

Ukraine's coastline, including the Crimea, extends about 1050 km. The Carpathian Mountains in the extreme west and the Crimean Mountains in the southern end of the Crimea take up about 5 percent of Ukraine's territory. Mount Hoverla in the Carpathians is the country's highest peak at 2061 m.

The Dnieper, Europe's third largest river, flows through central Ukraine and forms the country's main river network. More than half of the country's rivers belong to this system. The Dnepr is Ukraine's longest river, measuring about 980 km in length within the country's borders. Other major rivers of Ukraine are the Dnestr, the Bug and the Southern Bug in the west, and the Donets in the east.

The climate of Ukraine is temperate continental and Me­diterranean only on the southern Crimean coast. It is mild and warm, with a long summer and a short winter.

The population of Ukraine is about 47,000,000. 73 % are Ukrainians, 22 % are Russians, 1 % are JewishHealth Fitness Articles, other 4 %.

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