Ukraine is a large country forming much of the area of Eastern Europe. It shares borders with six other nations. Ukraine has a population of over 40 million people, so it’s no wonder it is famous for many things, including a rich culture, UNESCO cultural heritage sites, diverse landscapes and tasty food!
Read and enjoy Interesting facts about Ukraine
Ukraine’s location and neighbours
With a territory of over 600 thousand km² ((233,000 sq mi), Ukraine is the largest country in Europe after Russia.
Ukraine is bordered by Russia to the east, Belarus to the north, Poland and Slovakia to the west, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova to the southwest, and the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to the south.
Ukraine has a long and rich history. Ukrainian civilizations date back to the Trypillian (copper age) culture from about 4,800 BCE and the Scythian civilization of the first millennium BCE. These ancient cultures left behind many artifacts and treasures that are still admired today. Some scholars believe the wheel was invented here in the early bronze age.
In the 9th century CE, the Kyivan Rus’ kingdom was founded in this area, and it would go on to become one of the most powerful global empires (spoiler alert: for Rus – think “Russian”). Over the years, Ukraine has been ruled by a number of different empires and countries, including the Mongolian “Golden Horde” in the thirteenth century, the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and Poland.
Ukraine had one of Europe’s earliest written constitutions. Ukrainian Hetman Pylyp Orlyk was the country’s head of state from 1710 to 1711. His role in drafting the constitution is why it bears his name.
After World War II, Ukraine became a republic of the Soviet Union until its declaration of independence in 1991.
The national currency of Ukraine is called the Ukrainian Hryvnia (UAH). There are 100 kopecks in one hryvnia. But if you come to Ukraine, it’s better to have Euros or US dollars with you.
In most parts of the country, Ukrainians consider themselves to be very approachable, and they like to develop friendships with people they meet. They also take pride in their strong work ethic and have no respect for laziness.
Facts about Ukrainian geography
As such a large country, Ukraine has a diverse landscape, you might expect, including mountains, rivers, and forests.
Ukraine is famous for having very fertile soil, and it was called the breadbasket of Europe. This is reflected in the national flag – a simple horizontal division representing golden-yellow wheat below a blue sky.
Ukraine has coasts on two inland seas – the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
The Dnieper River is the main waterway in Ukraine, rising in the Valdai Hills of Russia then flowing through Belarus and Ukraine to drain into the Black Sea.
The highest point in Ukraine is Mount Hoverla, which reaches a height of 2,061 meters (6,762 feet). This mountain is located in the Carpathian Mountains, which are in the western part of the country.
Facts about Ukrainian climate and weather
Although Ukraine is located far from the ocean in the middle of the Eurasian landmass, its climate is moderated somewhat by the nearby seas, giving it milder winters and cooler summers than those of other mid-continental countries at similar latitudes. However, its climate is still continental, with winter from early December to late March and a fairly hot summer lasting from June to September. An average July temperature would be 27 degrees Celsius.
Ukraine’s food is exceptionally interesting and diverse, with a range of ethnic variations representing a rich multicultural heritage. So expect an array of diverse cuisines. Many traditional dishes are based on potatoes. Others include borscht (a soup made from beets) and varenyky – wheatflour dumplings that can be savoury or sweet and filled with mushroom, potato, sauerkraut, and cottage cheese or fruit – often cherry.
Ukrainians love drinking a local vodka, known as horilka. The name comes from the Ukrainian word “hority”, which means to burn. It’s easy to understand why!
Another popular beverage is kompot. This is a sweet non-alcoholic drink made by stewing dried fruit. Kompot provides a delicious warming drink in winter and a cool sweet juice in summer.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ukraine
Ukraine is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Some of these sites include the ancient city of Kiev, the Chersonesus archaeological site, the Struve Geodetic Arc, and the Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans. Each of these sites is important either culturally or in terms of the ancient landscape, and all tell a part of Ukraine’s unique history.
- St. Sophia Cathedral & Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra
- Lviv Historic Centre Ensemble.
- Struve Geodetic Arc.
- Virgin Beech Forests of the Carpathians.
- Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans.
- Wooden Churches of the Carpathian Region.
Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident
In 1986, an accident occurred at Chernobyl. This event is considered the worst nuclear accident in history. Chernobyl power plant was built near the town of Pripyat, Ukraine, in the 1970s and was operated by the Soviet Union.
On April 26, 1986, there was a catastrophic power outage causing a fire to break out in the reactor building, and the resulting damage to the structure released large amounts of radiation into the atmosphere. It was felt even in Sweden and Finland with measurable effects n the British Isles.
Chernobyl and nearby places are now ghost towns. A 1,000 square kilometre exclusion zone now surrounds the site of the former power plant, which still has to be managed to prevent new risks from emerging from the decaying structure.
Facts about Ukrainian culture
Folk tales are a rich part of Ukraine’s culture. These tales often feature fantastic creatures and elements of magic, and they often have a moral component to guide the listener to behave wisely – or at least sensibly.
According to Ukrainian folk tales, the city of Kiev has three destinations for witch gatherings. It is said that on certain days of the year, witches fly into the capital on their brooms to take part in these meetings. While today there are only fairy tales, witch trials were a very real part of Kiev’s history as early as the 15th century.
Ukrainian national costume
Ukrainian national costume is extremely elaborate and colourful. A woman’s blouse will be of brightly coloured fabric and decorated with ornamental hand-woven embroidery and lace. The skirt will be of several layers of fabric – a long one for a married woman and calf-length for a girl. The belt is made of leather or wood and decorated with metal studs or embroidery. A brightly colored headscarf completes the costume for a married woman, while a girl might wear a floral headdress. A woman’s married status is also shown by wearing a waistcoat. The man’s costume comprises a loose white blouse with an embroidered front panel. He wears vast baggy trousers of a single bright colour, tucked into high leather boots, and a long scarf tied about the waist. A man usually wears a hat, the design of which varies widely regionally. Some are fur buzbys, others have brims and colourful hatbands.
The World’s longest musical instrument is in Ukraine.
The World’s longest musical instrument is a variation of a hornpipe and can be found in Marhanets, Ukraine. This particular horn has been crafted from locally sourced willow. It measures over 80 metres (262 feet) in length.
Ukrainian is an eastern Slavic or Ruthenian language. It is written in the Cyrillic alphabet using a slightly different character set from Russian. Russian and Ukrainian are fairly similar languages sharing some grammatical structure and a proportion of vocabulary, unlike, for example, the Kazakh language, which though written in Cyrillic, is entirely unrelated. Ukrainian is, of course, the first official language of Ukraine, although Russian is also an official language in some parts of the nation.
Most Ukrainians are multilingual. In western Ukraine, many speak Polish, and Russian is also still widely used, especially amongst the older citizens and those residing in big cities.
At a linguistic contest held in Paris in 1934, Ukrainian took second place as the worlds most melodic language after Italian. As the most beautiful language – using criteria of phonetics, vocabulary, phraseology and sentence structure it was classed with French and Persian as one of the World’s three most beautiful.
Religion in Ukraine
The dominant religion in Ukraine is Eastern Orthodox Christianity – the religion of Constantinople dating from when the Catholic church split between Rome and the East. Religious iconography and styles greatly influence Ukrainian architecture literary and musical styles.
Ukrainian religious leaders offered protection to many Jews during World War II.
Facts about Kiev – the capital city of Ukraine
Kiev (or Kyiv, to give it the official international spelling of its name), with almost three million people, is one of the biggest cities in Europe. Kiev was named after the early Slavic tribe who lived there, and ultimately after the name of one of a family comprising three brothers and a sister who are the legendary founders of the city.
Kiev is one of a dozen soviet Hero Cities. (“misto-heroy” in Ukranian) This was a Soviet award given to cities on the eastern front of WW II in 1942 to recognize the efforts of its armies in what the soviet union called the “Great Patriotic War” The award itself comprised a gold star, a certificate and an obelisk.
Kiev is also called the “Mother of Rus” The modern nation of Russia is named after the Russian civilization which emerged in Eastern Ukraine around Kiev in the ninth century.
Home to a large number of churches and religious monuments, Kiev is also considered the country’s spiritual capital. Some of the most famous religious landmarks in Kiev include Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kiev Monastery of the Caves, and Saint Andrew’s Church and Monastery.
The World’s deepest metro station
Kiev boasts the deepest metro station in the World. Arsenalna station was built in the 1950s. It has a depth of 105 meters (348 feet) and serves the Sviatoshynsko-Brovarska (Red) Line of the Kiev Metro system.
The station is so deep because it is located below the high banks of the Dnieper river.
Interesting facts about Ukraine – Summary
Ukraine is a large country in Eastern Europe and is known for its rich culture, heritage sites, diverse landscape and tasty food. It has many amazing places to visit, including ancient sites, beech forests and a sparkling coastline.