Surface area: 603.550 km²
Number of inhabitants: 44 million
Language: Ukrainian, Russian
Religion: Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant
Currency: Ukrainian Hryvna
Form of Government: parliamentary republic
Ukraine has a score of 0.743 on the Human Development Index (HDI). This is a composite number that includes numbers related to life expectancy, education and per capita income. This number is used to rank countries in four levels of human development. The higher these factors, the higher the index number. Ukraine ranks number 84 out of 186 countries worldwide. A history of political unrest and ongoing conflicts hamper lasting improvements regarding the development of the country. (source: UNDP) History and PoliticsIn ancient times, the Ukrainian territory was populated by various tribes including the Scythians, Goths and Huns. From the year 882 the Kiev Empire and taken over by the Mongols in 1240. Later, the country became part of Lithuania, then Poland and lastly Russia. The origin of Russia as a nation therefore closely relates to Ukraine. Due to the close ties of these two countries, the Russian Revolution in 1917 and the collapse of Russia as a German ally also had a major influence on the situation in the Ukrainian territories which resulted in an increasing strive for independence. A failed attempt towards setting up an independence movement meant that the SSR (Socialist Soviet Republic) was installed as part of the Russian state in 1917. In 1954, the Crimea joined the Ukrainian SSR and gradually developed into one of the most prosperous republics of the Soviet Union. In the late eighties the Soviet Union collapsed and elections for the Supreme Soviet made Leonid Kravchuk come to power in 1990. After the failed Communist coup in 1991 in Moscow, Ukraine declared itself independent later that year. That same year, a large majority of the population voted for secession from the Soviet Union. Since the nineties, the parties in the government of Ukraine have been divided between pro-Russian and pro-Western. Until 2014 the pro-Russian parties won the elections time and time again. Since that year, the pro-Western Arseny Yatseniuk bacame Prime Minister of Ukraine. However, tensions in Eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian rebels and the government army remain an issue today.
The industrial sector is the largest source of income in Ukraine. This sector employs 26% of the workforce and provides 30% of the GNP. Most important are machine building, the iron and steel industry, the heavy machine industry and the production of food articles. Also on an economic level, the Ukrainian republic is closely related to Russia. Russia is still the most important trading partner of Ukraine. Given the current crisis between these countries, future trade and its consequences is very unpredictable.Due to the heavily outdated industry, energy consumption in Ukraine is more than ten times higher than in some Western countries. The nuclear power plant at Kiev, Lvov and in southern Ukraine (the Crimea) account for about half of the national energy production. The accident with the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 was a low point in the history of Ukraine.(source: landenweb.nl)
The Ukrainian culture is influenced by both West and East Europe. As a result of its history with Russia, communism has had a strong influence on both literature and art. Christianity is the dominant religion in the country which makes for most holidays having a Christian source. There are also many churches in Ukraine, their architecture leans towards a style that is often seen in Russia.