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Ukraine Information - Page 2
History
Since Paleolithic times (the Old Stone Age) Ukraine has been inhabited by many peoples. These included Slavs who by the ninth century were united under the state of Kyivan Rus. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries wars and Mongol-Tatar invasions led to the collapse of Kyivan Rus. In time Ukrainian territory was annexed by Lithuania and Poland.

Ukrainian Cossacks, an important military force in the region, eventually turned to Russia; in the mid seventeenth century much of Ukraine became part of the Tsarist Russian Empire. As a result of the Partitions of Poland, at end of the eighteenth century, some Ukrainian territory passed to the Austrian Habsburg Empire.

In 1917 the end of Tsarist rule was followed by Ukrainian independence but Russia retook control in 1920; at the end of December 1922 Ukraine became a member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Members of the former USSR were Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Estonia (from WW2), Latvia (from WW2), Lithuania (from WW2) and Moldova (from WW2).

As a member of the USSR, Ukraine experienced famines in the early 1920s and 1930s. Further suffering was endured during the Second World War and Nazi occupation of 1941-1944.

Following the War, the relationship between the USSR and the West was one of distrust. The "Cold War" continued until Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985 introducing extensive political and economic reforms (Perestroika) and calling for a greater openness (Glasnost) between nations.

At the end of 1991 the USSR was dissolved and Ukraine became independent.

Economy
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) encouraged Ukraine to quicken the pace and scope of economic and legislative reforms.

At the end of October 2008, hit hard by the global financial crisis, Ukraine agreed, in principle, to a rescue plan with the IMF.

Industry produces a significant percentage of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Steel is Ukraine's main export. Other industries include coal, electric power, machinery and transport equipment, chemicals and food processing.

Over half of Ukraine's land is arable. During the Soviet era the country was known as the bread basket of the USSR. Produce includes grains, sugar beets, vegetables, sunflower seeds, dairy products and meat.

The services sector provides the largest percentage of GDP. Ukraine's tourist industry holds an annual international trade fair and is keen to promote the country's historic sites, protected areas and coastal resorts. (2008)

Arts
Ukraine has a long tradition of poetry dating back to the twelfth century and the "Song of Igorís Campaign". Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), the country's most well known poet, was born a serf in a Ukrainian village. Shevchenko's early life and his patriotism for Ukraine influenced his poetry.

Folk heritage is valued by Ukrainians and Folk Dance Ensembles can be found in Ukrainian communities throughout the world.

Cultural institutions in Ukraine are the National Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Kharkiv Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet, the Odessa State Academical Opera and Ballet Theatre and the Symphony Orchestra of the National Philharmonic Society of Ukraine.

Sport
Football is a very popular team game. One of Ukraine's leading clubs is Dynamo Kyiv.

Ukrainian competitors have taken part in the Olympic Games since the 1950s. Famous Olympic medallists include Larysa Latynina, the gymnast awarded a record eighteen medals (nine Gold), Yana Klochkova, the swimmer (two Gold Medals 2000), and Sergey Bubka, the pole-vaulter (Gold 1988).

Holidays
The main religious holidays are the Orthodox Christmas Day and Easter. Other days which are celebrated include New Year's Day (1 January), International Women's Day (8 March), International Solidarity of Workers (1 and 2 May), Victory Day (9 May), Constitution Day (28 June) and Independence Day (24 August).

News
News from Ukraine is available from Newslink.

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