Posted on Sep 8, 2012 |

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I guess, not many of you have heard about my country, maybe only about it`s existence. Well, I`m going to give you general overview about my country`s history, geography, political situation and some interesting facts.

My name is Anna, I was born in Ukraine and spent here all 16 years of my life. I have travelled around the world and visited many European, African and Asian countries. They all are so special and beautiful, but no matter how far I go, my native country always remains in my heart and I am proud of being Ukrainian.

Ukraine is located in the South-Eastern Europe. It is surrounded by the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov in the South, has Crimean and Carpathian Mountains and borders Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova and has good political and economic relations with all of above, especially with Russia and Poland.

My country has always been in a center of conflicts & wars because of it`s geographical position (located in the place, where previously the border between Europe and Asia was), fertile soil, suitable for farming, rich natural recourses.

History

HistoryKiev (nowadays the capital of Ukraine) was founded in 882 and became the center of the most powerful European state of that time – Kievan Rus. Among the most famous Ukrainian Grand-Dukes were Vladimir the Great, who made Christianity governmental religion and his son, Yaroslav the Wise, who opened a lot of libraries and churches and contributed great into the development of culture. But than small provinces became more powerful and it resulted in decentralization of power and led to the division of the country. A successor state to Kievan Rus was the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia. Later, this coubntry became the vassal to the Mongolian Empire.
In the XIV century Ukrainian territories were under the rule of Poland and Lithuania. After the Union of Lublin in 1569 and the formation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Ukraine belonged to Poland. Polish government wanted to make Ukrainians slavors, catholics and wanted our language to disappear, but Ukrainian nation did not give up. In 1596 Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was founded as a compromise between Polish Catholics and Ukrainian Orthodoxs.Ukrainian History
It was also a time of Cossacks appearance. 1648 was a year when a great war began. Due to Khmelnytsky Uprising against Poland Ukraine gained it`s independence and became Cossack Hetmanate, which was located between two powerful states – Poland and Russia. In this situation Ukraine had to find a confederate. In 1654 a Treaty of protection with Russia was signed, but the governor of the state Bohdan Khmelnytsky died and the situation was critical. Some people were against the Treaty with Russia and they signed new one with Poland. It was new period of Ukrainian history – the Ruin, when it`s territory was divided between Russian and Polish influence.
Ukraine As a result of the Partitions of Poland most of Ukrainian territory was given to Russian Empire, the other the other to Austro-Hungary.
After the First World War and failure in gaining the independence almost all Ukrainian territories were united into Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic as a part of Soviet Union.
1932-1933 were sad pages of Ukrainian history. It was a time of Holodomor – man-made famine, when millions of Ukrainians died.
1941-1945 – are called “Great Patriotic War”. Our citizens bravely defended the territory of Soviet Union from Nazi Germany. We won this war, but human losses of Ukrainian SSR were the biggest in the whole word.
I think, everybody has heard about Chernobyl disaster. It happened on the 26th of April 1986. It is considered to be the most awful nuclear Ukraine power plant accident in the world history. This explosion caused a lot of illnesses, deaths, genetic modification. The radioactive influence on nature is still enormous.
In 1991 Ukraine gained it`s independence. As you see, it`s rather young country that overcame a lot of difficulties on her way. In 1996 the main law of Ukraine – the Constitution was signed. It becomes better to live here with each day. We still have some problems with corruption, but they are getting solved.

 

Geography & People

Nowadays it is the second largest country in Europe. Ukraine consists of 24 oblasts (like regions, provinces or states), Crimean autonomous republic and two cities with special status – Kiev (the capital of Ukraine) and Sevastopol.

Geography

Historically and ethnically we have a division on Western and Eastern Ukraine.
Western Ukraine Eastern Ukraine
Most spoken language Ukrainian Russian
General political orientation On European Union On Russia
The most widely spread religion Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Orthodox Church
Some peculiarities A lot of representatives of Ukrainian Nationalism A lot of people who regret about the division of the USSR

Ukraine
As you, see the differences are noticeable, but the attitude of people, living in different parts of Ukraine to each other is positive and it only makes our country more interesting and diverse.
According to the Ukrainian Census of 2001, ethnic Ukrainians make up 77.8% of the population. Russians 17.3%. We also have representatives of other nationalities.

Places to Visit

Being one of the largest countries of Europe, located in two climatic zones, having mountains, seas, big rivers, lakes, endless steps, fields of wheat and a lot of forests, Ukraine is a very interesting country to visit. I would like to write about some places, where you should obligatory go when travelling to my country.

Places

The Capital of Ukraine

Kiev
Kiev is not only the capital of Ukraine, but also one of the most important centers of culture, economy and science of South-Eastern Europe. This city is more than 1530 years old. Be sure, there are a lot of places to visit here: churches, that are more than 1000 years old, museums, cathedrals, Pinchuk art center, where you can visit exhibitions of famous modern artists for free! According to the researches, Kyiv is the greenest capital in the whole Europe. Explore adventure on the longest trolley in the continent (you can go from one side of the bay to an opposite one with a help of it). Don`t miss a chance to go to the main street Khreschatyk and the Square of Independence in the evening, you`ll never forget it!

One of the Most Beautiful Cities

Chernivtsi
Our next station is Chernivtsi. Be sure, that once you are in this city, Hogwarts like Yurij Fedkovych National University will be the first thing to impress you. You will be astonished not only by it`s architecture, but also by it`s long and tangled history. Chernivtsi is a city full of unpredictable surprises, one of which is a huge bicycle in the city center. Once you are there, do not forget to ride it! It is always worthwhile.

Center of Western Ukraine

Center of western ukraine
If you like European medieval towns with their narrow streets full of gingerbread houses and ancient pavement – Lviv is definitely for you. This wonderful city historically became the center of Western Ukraine. There is no other place in the whole country, where you can entirely feel Ukrainian atmosphere. City Opera House will amaze you by it’s beauty and intricate architecture. Little old trams are available for tourists, who want to feel the whole history of this amazing city. Don`t miss a chance to visit different restaurants with unusual food and service: Galician Jewish Tavern with it`s price absence & Kryjivka Tavern with it’s specific design.

Crimean Peninsula

Crimean
Have you ever thought about visiting a place, where the largest concentration of attractions, historical places and sights of Ukraine is combined with sub-Mediterranean climate, high mountains, clear blue sea and sand shores? If you have, then you should definitely consider going to the Crimean Peninsula. The list of the places to visit is endless: wondrous Bakhchisarai Palace, which once was a residence of the Khan of Golden Horde; 15-meters-high Jur-Jur Waterfall, which is peculiar natural organ that has never stopped playing its beautiful melody to the surrounding mountains; the old knight’s castle called the Swallow’s Nest, which stands on a cliff and is a so-called symbol of the Southern cost of Crimea; the National Park of Karadag, which lays in the valley of a volcano that was active 150 million years ago, and where more than 10,000 species of rare plants and trees are gathered and protected. These are just few out of the great amount of beautiful places, which are available to visit on the peninsula. Come to Crimea and enjoy those impressive sights!

Explore Diversity!


You should definitely visit Ternopil if you are not a fan of big cities, but still love a serene environment and nature. This city will blow your mind with Seret river, big lake, theatre, Opera house & Greek-catholic cathedral. It can be also named the home of X-ray, because according to some researches, Ukrainian scientist Ivan Pul`uj was the first to discover it (nobody knows if it`s true). Visit Ternopil if you are willing to diversify in culture as this is a home for different people and cultures from all over the world.

City of Black Coal and White Roses


If you are interested in powerful plants & factories, don`t miss a chance to visit industrial center of Ukraine – Donetsk. But it`s not only about metallurgy & coalmining. Donetsk is considered to be a city of white roses for it`s parks` beauty, a lot of flowers & trees on the streets. Being one of the biggest Ukrainian cities, Donetsk gives you an opportunity to visit a lot of museums, festivals, exhibitions & cultural events. And football fans can enjoy excursion on the newly opened Donbass Arena stadium.

Cossak Island

The largest river island in the world is a kind of Ukraine in miniature. Here you can see different types of landscapes – from steppes to forests, from mountains to deserts. Having a 5000 year old history, Khortitsya was a home for many tribes and of course for famous Ukrainian knights – Zaporozhye Cossacks. The best way to fill the spirit of Cossack period is to take a boat and to sail along the island`s shores. In the south-eastern part of the island you may have a chance to see traditional Cossack performances, games, dances, acrobatics. You can also taste traditional food of that times, ride a horse, make Ukrainian coins for souvenirs by yourself.

The Highest Mountain


Adventurous trip to Hoverla will not leave any tourist indifferent, as this is the highest mountain in Ukraine.The ascent on Hoverla is interesting and exhausting in the same time. When starting the trip, you go through a small forest, where no light can be seen. Than a rapid ascent with a lot of stones begins. You can even notice some snow that lies on the grass even in summer. After some hours of lifting, you can enjoy a wonderful view from the top.

The Pearl of the Black Sea


Odessa is one of the biggest Ukrainian cities. It`s a large recreation area and at the same time the biggest port, located in the Southern part of the country. While visiting this wonderful city you can enjoy going to astronomical observatory, Archeological museum, Spaso–Preobrazhenskiy cathedral and to a lot of other sightseeings. Don`t miss a chance to enjoy swimming in the Black Sea, taking yacht tour & having chat with friendly Odessa citizens, who have wonderful sense of humor!

5 Things to do in Dnepropetrovsk
1) Walk along the esplanade, which is the longest in Europe, and see the highest and the most beautiful fountain in Ukraine.
2) Visit the Creative Club Bartolomeo and enjoy seeing the old barque, zoo, tennis lawns, where you can play, rest and simply rejoice life.
3) Attend the theater called ‘Krik’. The principal feature, which distinguishes it among theaters, is the fact, that this theatre has only one actor. But believe me, even though you may not know Russian, you will receive incredible emotions. The actor’s name is Mikhail Melnik, and he is genious.
4) Have a tour with a nice tram around the main city’s street.
5) And after all, you may have a look at the shortest underground in the world, circus, diorama, Jewish center and synagogue, railroad for children, Monastirsky island and a lot of more interesting sites.

These are only some examples of what to do in Ukraine. For more detailed information about other cities don`t hesitate to contact me!

Ukrainian cuisine


Writing an article about Ukraine & not mentioning cuisine is just an offense. It`s so unique, tasty & special. Ukrainians like to talk about food. Be sure, one of their first questions to you will be: “Have you tasted borsch?”

While being in Ukraine, ignore going to pizza houses and McDonald`s. You should obligatory try: borsch, varenyky, holubtsi, mlyntsi & salo. Our articles are about misconceptions, so I won`t go deeper into details now.
Achievements
Politics:
In 1710 Ukrainian Hetman Pylyp Orlyk signed the first Constitution in the world history
Ukraine is the only country in the world, who refused to use nuclear weapons (the amount of them was the third in the world after Russsia & USA)
Science
Ukrainian constructor Sikorskiy created the first helicopter in the world.
In 1853 in Lviv Lukasevich & Zech invented gas lamp
Ukrainian plane AN 225 “Mria” occupies the first position by load capacity in the world.
The factory “Pivdenmash” in Dnepropetrovsk produces the most ecologically clean launch vehicles In the world
Education
Ukraine takes the fourth place in the world according to the amount of people with higher education

Positive Facts/ Achievements

The central street of Kiev – Kreschatyk is the shortest central street of the capital in the whole world.
There are only 2 cities in Europe that have lakes in the center of the town. One of them is Ternopil.
Ukrainian musical instrument – trembita is the longest in the world (it`s length can be up to 4m).
On the language competition, that was held in 1934 in Paris Ukrainian language won 3d place according to lexis, phonetics & phraseology after French & Persian and second place according to euphony after Italian.
Kiev metro station Arsenalna is the deepest in the world (1225 m).
Ukraine takes the fourth place according to space activities after USA, Russia & France.
Ukraine has the largest reserves of manganese ore in the world (11% of world`s recourses).
There is the monument, devoted to “Smile” in Lviv .
25% of world`s black soil are in Ukraine, because of it, our country is the most suitable for agriculture in the world.
Leonid Stadnyk, Ukrainian citizen, is the highest person in the world nowadays.
The geographical center of Europe is located in Western Ukraine, Rachiv.
The longest trolleybus road in the world is between two Crimean cities – Yalta & Simferopol (86 kms).
The first safari park in Europe is located in Crimea.
The biggest solar energy station in the world is located in Ukraine.

Misconceptions

1. Radioactive land

Radio Active Land
Yes, Chernobyl disaster happened in Ukraine, but it does not mean that the whole country is polluted. Nowadays you can even visit Chernobyl nuclear power station by going on excursion.

2. Russian province


Ukraine has been a part of Russian empire and Soviet Union for a long period of time. But actually our country is elder than Russia (I`m talking about Kievan Rus). We have our own law, national symbols, language, mentality. We are an independent country!

3. Gas stealers


You can often hear from mass-media, that Ukraine steals gas from Russia. That is not right. Gas is a reason of many quarrels between Russia and Ukraine. They export gas to us and we are their main transit area to Europe. So it`s all about politics. We don`t sit near the tube pumping gas.

4. Bordello


I have travelled a lot and have seen many prostitutes everywhere, but not in my native country. I will not argue, we have them, but you never notice them on the streets, because prostitution is illegal Ukraine.

5. Ukrainian women are pretty tall blonds
Yes, Ukrainian girls are really pretty, but they are not blonds. In Ukrainian folklore the most beautiful ladies are described as tall brunettes with brown eyes.

6. Commies


Ukraine became an independent country in 1991. Nowadays we don`t even have Communistic Party in the government. The majority of people want to enter European Union.

This article has been written by Anna Vasylyeva, who is the Ukrainian Ambassador for Project Unify. Read about her and other ambassadors here.

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