Geographical Location of Ukraine
Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe in terms of area, the geographical center of Europe is located just on the territory of Ukraine. Most of Ukraine is a flat landscape with an average height of 175 m above sea level. However, the country has several high mountainous regions such as the Crimean Mountains, the Donets Plateau in the south, and the Carpathians in the west. The highest mountain in Ukraine, Hoverla, is located in the Carpathians. Between the mountainous regions lies a large plain with access to the water of a number of rivers. The most important is the Dnieper, which flows from north to south and empties into the Black Sea. Ukraine has a temperate continental climate, with the exception of the very south of Crimea, where there is a Mediterranean climate. This means that the north and east experience cold winters, compared to warmer climates in the south and west. The main environmental problems in Ukraine are the deterioration of water quality, pollution and deforestation. Industrial emissions, widespread use of pesticides and radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl accident in 1986 contaminated large areas of the country. However, pollution levels have decreased somewhat in recent years.
Brief History of Ukraine
Several different groups of people visited the territory of Ukraine. On the territory of present-day northern Ukraine, the powerful Kievan Empire was founded at the end of the 8th century. From the 13th century, the area was first ruled by Mongolia, and then by Poland and Lithuania. Since the 17th century, Russia and Austria have dominated the area. As a result of World War I and the Russian Revolution of 1917, Ukraine declared itself independent. After three years of conflict and civil war, the western parts of the country were incorporated into Poland. The central and eastern parts were annexed to the Soviet Union in 1922 and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was established.
Under Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in the 1930s, the country was struck by severe famine and repression. Three to seven million human lives were lost. Between five and seven million Ukrainians died during World War II, of which almost one million were Jews. Ukraine remained part of the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War before becoming an independent state when the union collapsed in 1991.
Disagreement over whether Ukraine should forge closer ties with the EU or with Russia led to massive demonstrations in 2014 and forced President Viktor Yanukovych to step down. Russia then annexed the Crimean Peninsula and occupied territories in eastern Ukraine. The conflict escalated again in 2022 as a result of Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, with a brutal war still going on.
Society and Politics of Ukraine
Ukraine is a republic where the president is the head of state and leader of the country. The prime minister heads the government and is appointed by the president, but must first be approved by parliament. The political system in Ukraine has long been characterized by abuse of power and corruption. Around the 2004 presidential election, allegations of electoral fraud led to a political crisis and mass protests, which were later called the Orange Revolution. This forced the authorities to hold new elections with the participation of international observers. Ukraine has been a member of the UN since 1945. Ukraine and Belarus were recognized as independent, full members of the UN, despite the fact that they were part of the Soviet Union. Thus, the Soviet Union effectively had three votes in the UN General Assembly throughout the Cold War. After Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union, the country began to look more to the West, and there were discussions and plans for membership in both the EU and NATO. The population of the west of Ukraine has traditionally been more positive about the country's rapprochement with the EU, while the population of the east was more willing to maintain close ties with Russia.
Economy and Trade of Ukraine
Ukraine was important for the economy of the Soviet Union, and since that time many factories and industries have been preserved in the country. The production of metals and minerals forms the basis of the Ukrainian economy, along with agriculture. The lands of Ukraine are among the most fertile in the world, and the country is called the breadbasket of Europe. The country is still one of the world's largest grain exporters. Steel, coal, machinery and agricultural products are the most important export products. At the same time, the country is dependent on foreign trade, especially to meet its vast energy needs. The transition from a planned economy to a market economy was difficult, so the country's production fell sharply in the first years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. After that, the economy improved with average good growth until it was hit hard by the global financial crisis in 2008.
Ukrainian Cuisine and Culinary Traditions of Ukraine
Ukrainian cuisine is one of the most delicious national cuisines in Europe and is distinguished by a wide variety of recipes and products that are used to cook them. The secret of Ukrainian cuisine is quite simple - it has learned culinary traditions from almost all peoples with whom it has been in contact over many centuries of Ukrainian history. One of the symbols of Ukrainian cuisine is salo, a unique product that can only be obtained in Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and several other countries of the region. Borsch is a traditional Ukrainian dish, which is the hallmark of Ukrainian cuisine, and this is recorded in the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List. But besides lard and borscht, Ukrainian cuisine can offer many more different recipes, including homemade sausages, jelly, meat rolls, poladvitsa, deruny, casserole with mushrooms, banosh, dumplings, vareniki, stuffed cabbage, mazuriki, verkladenec, verguny, plyacki , Kiev cake and cutlets in Kiev-style. It is difficult to list all the dishes of Ukrainian cuisine, since it is one of the most diverse and rich in recipes of national cuisines in the world.