Ukraine Overview

By | January 19, 2021

Ukraine Overview

Ukraine Overview

Ukraine, the second largest country in Europe, achieved independence after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Divided over centuries between several domains and cultures, the country, which had long been perceived as a “white spot”, came into public awareness as a result of the 2004 Orange Revolution and the 2014 Euromaidan.

Subject areas

Country overview & natural area

Ukraine – in terms of area larger than France – is a country whose mountains and forests, seashores and steppes illustrate the diversity of nature, a diversity that is also reflected in the languages and cultures of the country and fascinates every traveler.

Opera house in Odessa

Opera house in Odessa

History & State

According to intershippingrates, Ukraine is a country located in Eastern Europe. Ukraine is a young state, but can look back on an eventful history that goes back to the 10th century of our era. Europe’s historical and political turning points have shaped this bridgehead between West and East over the centuries.

Kyiv

Kyiv

Economy & Development

Rich in natural resources and a well-educated population, the Ukrainian economy suffers from bureaucracy, corruption and a concentration of power on only a few actors who are closely connected with politics. Ukraine has been part of the Free Trade and Association Agreement (DCFTA) with the European Union since 2016.

Society & culture

Ukrainian society is far more heterogeneous today than it was in Soviet times. The opening to the West has also ensured that the number of the population has steadily declined and that some of the minorities settled on Ukrainian territory have also left the country.

Kamjanec-Podilskyj, fortress

Kamjanec-Podilskyj, fortress

Everyday life & practical information

The everyday life of Ukrainians has changed a lot since the transition to the market economy. For foreigners, Ukraine is an attractive and, for the most part, a safe travel destination. Ukraine welcomes its guests with open arms, which is evident not least from the fact that the visa requirement for EU citizens has been abolished.

Official name: Ukraine

Area: 603,628 km²

Residents: 41.92 million (2020)

Population growth: 0.04% (2018)

Seat of government: Kyїv

Official language: Ukrainian

Regional languages: Crimean Tatar, Russian, Romanian, Hungarian

Location and size

In terms of area, Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe (after Russia). It is 40% larger than Germany, but it has a much lower population density (Ukraine: 76 residents per km², Germany: 231 residents per km²). Ukraine is the immediate neighbor of the European Union (EU external border) and shares borders with seven countries (total length: around 4600 km). In the west it borders on Slovakia (97 km), Poland (526 km), Hungary (103 km), Romania (531 km) and the Republic of Moldova (939 km), in the north on Belarus (891 km) and in the east Russia (1576 km) and in the south to the Black and Azov Seas. From west to east the country extends over 1316 km and from north to south over 893 km including Crimea and east). The peninsula Crimea has been annexed by Russia since 2014. In 2014, two so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, which are not recognized under international law, were proclaimed in eastern Ukraine.

Location of the Ukraine in the world

Location of the Ukraine in the world

Landscape and climate

Ukraine has fascinating landscapes. The largest part of the territory is made up of lowlands (Polisska lowlands, Dnepr lowlands) and plateaus (e.g. Podolische, Donetsk plateau). In the southwest of the country and on the southern coast of the Crimean peninsula, two mountain ranges extend: the Ukrainian Carpathians and the Crimean Mountains. The highest peak in Ukraine is the Hoverla in the Carpathian Mountains (2061 m above sea level). At 1545 m above sea level, the Roman-Kosch forms the highest elevation in the Crimean Mountains. In the north of the country (Polissja) are wetlands. The country is rich in different bodies of water (there are over 70,000 rivers and streams in Ukraine with a total length of over 245,000 km). The largest rivers are Dnipro, Sivers’kyj Donec ‘, Dniester, Dunaj (the Danube) and Pivdennyj Bug (the Southern Bug) and flow into the Black Sea. In contrast to Germany, most of the rivers in Ukraine have not been straightened. The largest of around 8,000 Ukrainian lakes is Sassyk Lake (also Kunduk-Liman) and is located between the deltas of the Danube and the Dniester.

DniproHES (hydroelectric power station)

DniproHES (hydroelectric power station)

The climatic conditions in Ukraine are similar to those in Germany, but the Ukrainian climate is more continental. The average temperatures in winter (January) vary between -8 °C in the east and + 4 °C in Zakarpattja and in summer (July) between + 17 °C in the western part and + 23 °C in the east. The climate of Crimea is different from the rest of the country, it is Mediterranean and allows viticulture.

Topographic map of Ukraine

Topographic map of Ukraine

Flora, fauna, mineral resources

Thanks to its geographic location and mild climate, Ukraine has a rich flora and fauna. Of the approx. 30,000 plant species, around 400 are currently threatened and are under protection. The most lush vegetation is found in the Carpathian Mountains and the Crimean Mountains with around 30% of all plant species. 14% of Ukraine is covered by forests, mostly in the mountains and in the north of the country. The forest is predominantly mixed forest (coniferous and deciduous trees). The Ukrainian primeval beech forests of the Carpathians are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Heavy and uncontrolled deforestation However, especially in the last twenty years, the Ukrainian forests have become more and more difficult.

Wheat field in Ukraine

Wheat field in Ukraine

The fauna of Ukraine counts about 45,000 species. The forest areas are home to elk, roe deer, wild boar, squirrels, foxes, wolves, hares and brown bears. The steppes extend all over central Ukraine and take up about 40% of the whole country. The typical animal and bird species of the Ukrainian steppes live there, such as hamsters, marmots, jerboa and field mice, steppe eagles, larks and quails.

Ukrainian Carpathians

Ukrainian Carpathians

The southern coast of the Crimean peninsula, the tip of which belongs to the subtropical climatic zone, has lush and species-rich vegetation and fauna. The river deltas on the Black Sea and the Azov Sea are home to ducks, pelicans, storks, gulls, cormorants and others. Sturgeons, herrings, mackerels, mullets and others can be found in both seas. Carp, perch, bream, pikeperch and pike live in the fresh waters. Trout can also be found in the mountain rivers of the Carpathian Mountains. Uncontrolled fishing has increased steadily in recent years, which has resulted in over 90% of the Ukrainian fish market being exported.

There are several nature reserves and national parks in Ukraine. The most famous are Askanija-Nova, the Schatskyj National Park, the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve and the Karadag National Park in Crimea.

The Ukraine is rich in various natural resources. To this day, coal, iron ore, graphite and manganese are mined in the Donets Basin in the east of the country. However, since the beginning of the war in Donbas in 2014, a large part of the mines has been under the control of the separatists.

In Europe, in addition to the Czech Republic, the controversial uranium is also extracted in Ukraine. In the west of the country, in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, crude oil, natural gas, lignite, potassium, salts and limestone are extracted and processed.