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Kievan Rus' grew and gained power under the rule of Vladimir the Great, becoming Christianized and the largest state on the continent by the 11th century. Kiev was invaded several times over the next centuries, including by Turkic tribes and the Mongols, which destroyed the state, and Galicia-Volhynia rose out of part of the territory. The region became controlled by Poland and Lithuania in the 14th century, and when the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was formed in 1569, Ukraine became part of Poland.
The peasants of the colony, who were known as Cossacks, began an uprising in 1648, with the Cossack war of independence. The period between 1657 and 1686 was known as The Ruin in Ukraine, with war fought between Russia and Poland, the Turks, and the Cossacks. Ukraine signed a protection treaty with Russia in 1654, and a peace treaty with in 1686 divided the lands among Russia and Poland. The Cossacks again revolted in 1768, along with religious conflicts, and the Russian Empire gained control of the region. A nationalist movement grew among the Ukrainians after the Russian Revolution in 1917, and after famine and civil war, Ukraine later became a member of the Soviet Union in 1922. During World War II, when the Soviet troops occupied Poland, the entire Ukrainian territory was reunited. The Ukrainian SSR was a founding member of the UN in 1945, and in 1991, Ukraine became independent. Since independence, Ukraine has struggled somewhat politically, but the country's economy has continued to grow. Beginning in November of 2013, citizen demonstrations have protested against the government, resulting in the ongoing conflict, violence, and death.
Ukraine shares borders with Belarus, Russia, Romania, Moldova, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary
- Kiev (capital)
Ukraine is situated in Eastern Europe, and is the largest country entirely within the European continent. Featuring the coastline along the Black Sea and the Sea Azov in the south, the land is situated primarily in the Great European Plain and Pannonian Plain. In the south are the Crimean Mountains, including the Crimean Peninsula which extends into the waters of the Sea of Azov, and the Carpathian Mountains are in the west, home to the highest peak in the country, at Hoverla, standing 2,061 meters (6,762 feet) above sea level.
Important rivers in Ukraine include the Bug and the Dnister, Dnipro, Desna, Danube, Prypiat, Siverian Donets, and the Sothern Buh. Most of the rivers drain into the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, but a few empty into the Baltic Sea basin.
Ukraine is home to both natural and man-made attractions worth experiencing. From hiking in the Carpathian Mountains to kayaking down the Dniester River or relaxing on the beaches in Crimea, the outdoor recreation in Ukraine is extensive. Historical sites are found all across the country, including the historic city center of Lviv, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its churches of many styles of architecture, its Lychakivsky Tsvyntar, or historic cemetery, the Market Square, and many museums.
In Kiev, the capital, architectural sites include St. Sophia's Cathedral, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery, and the Golden Gate of Kiev. Cultural sites in the city include Khreshchatyk Street in the busy city center, and Kiev Pechersk Lavra, the cave monastery and one of the oldest in Ukraine. The massive Motherland statue is a major monument located in the Museum of the Great Patriotic War.
The main airport in Ukraine is Boryspil International, located just outside of Kiev, which offers service from most major cities across Europe, as well to many destinations across the large country, like to Odessa. Overnight trains are available from several cities, including Berlin, Vienna, Belgrade, Budapest, Prague, and several other cities, arriving at either Kiev or Lviv. However, trains traveling from Western Europe into Ukraine have several hours of delay when crossing the border, as trains must be adapted to fit the differing rail gauges. Buses are a quicker option, and are available from Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and several other places. Driving is another option from these countries. Boats or ferries are an option for entering Ukraine from Istanbul and a few other locations.
Within Ukraine, trains are a comfortable and inexpensive way to get around, with an extensive but old rail system. Buses can be more expensive and less comfortable ways to travel, but they often have drink carts and entertainment aboard. Roads in Ukraine are varied in quality, but most major roads are well maintained. Cities typically have good, clean, and efficient public transportation systems, including the Metro in Kiev.
Last Updated On : March 20, 2014
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