Europe's second largest country, Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe, but the geographical center of Europe is placed here. Ukraine borders Russia to the east and northeast, Belarus to the northwest, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to the west, Romania and Moldova to the southwest, and the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to the south and southeast, respectively.
Human settlement in Ukraine and its vicinity dates back to 32,000 BCE, with evidence of the Gravettian culture in the Crimean Mountains. By 4,500 BCE, the Neolithic Trypillian Culture flourished in a wide area that included parts of modern Ukraine including Trypillia. During the Iron Age, the land was inhabited by Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians. Between 700 BC and 200 BC it was part of the Scythian Kingdom, or Scythia.
Later, colonies of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and the Byzantine Empire, such as Tyras, Olbia, and Hermonassa, were founded, beginning in the 6th century BC, on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea, and thrived well into the 6th century AD. In the 7th century AD, the territory of eastern Ukraine was the center of Old Great Bulgaria.
[+/-] show / hide Early History of Ukraine
According to a popular and well established theory, the medieval state of Kievan Rus was established by the Varangians in the 9th century as the first historically recorded East Slavic state which emerged as a powerful nation in the Middle Ages until it disintegrated in the 12th century. Kievan Princesses intermarried with the major European monarchies, such as France (Queen Anne). One of the princes of Kiev founded Moscow. By the middle of the 14th century, Ukrainian territories were under the rule of three external powers—the Golden Horde, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the Kingdom of Poland. After the Great Northern War (1700–1721) Ukraine was divided between a number of regional powers and, by the 19th century, the largest part of Ukraine was integrated into the Russian Empire with the rest under Austro-Hungarian control. A chaotic period of incessant warfare ensued, with several internationally recognized attempts at independence from 1917 to 1921, following World War I and the Russian Civil War. From 1922, Ukraine was occupied by Soviet troops and Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic became one of the founding republics of the Soviet Union. In 1945, the Ukrainian SSR became one of the founding members of the United Nations.
Ukraine became independent again when, after people's protests, the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. This dissolution started a period of transition to a market economy, in which Ukraine was stricken with an eight-year recession. Since then, however, the economy has experienced a high increase in GDP growth. The country remains a globally important market and, as of 2011, is the world's third largest grain exporter.
The country is home to 46 million people, 77.8 percent of whom are ethnic Ukrainians, with sizable minorities of Russians (17%).
Ukraine occupies 8th place in Europe by the number of tourists visiting, according to the World Tourism Organisation rankings.
Ukraine is a destination on the crossroads between central and eastern Europe, between north and south. It has mountain ranges – the Carpathian Mountains suitable for skiing, hiking, fishing and hunting. The coastline on the Black Sea is a popular summer destination for vacationers. Ukraine has vineyards where they produce native wines, ruins of ancient castles, historical parks, Orthodox and Catholic churches.
Kiev, the country’s capital city has many unique landmarks such as Saint Sophia Cathedral and broad boulevards. There are other cities well-known to tourists such as the harbour town Odessa and the old city of Lviv in the west. The Crimea, a little “continent” of its own, is a popular vacation destination for tourists for swimming or sun tanning on the Black Sea with its warm climate, rugged mountains, plateaus and ancient ruins. The south coast of Crimea, and the city of Yalta as its centre, is especially beautiful place with Mediterranean climat. A set of Crimean royal Palaces along with beautiful nature and crystal clear Sea water will make a perfect sea vacation in Ukraine. Visitors can also take cruise tours by ship on Dnipro River from Kiev to the Black Sea coastline. Ukrainian cuisine has a long history and offers a wide variety of original dishes.
|St Michael Church (Golden domed monastery) in Kiev, Ukraine||photo by © wiki|
|Livadia Place courtyard, Livadia near Yalta, Crimea (Ukraine)|
The country's tourism industry is generally considered to be underdeveloped, but it does provide crucial support for Ukraine's economy. Ukraine does have certain advantages, including much lower costs than other European destinations, as well as visa-free access for most people from Europe, the former Soviet Union, and North America.
Popular tourist city destinations in Ukraine:
Kiev - The historical capital of Kyivan Rus and modern Ukraine on the river Dnipro. Ancient churches, broad boulevards, beautiful landscapes and a variety of cultural facilities make it fascinating destination. (to See in Kiev: Saint Sofia Cathedral, Golden Gate, Kreshatik St, Independence Square, St Vladimir Cathedral, St Michael Churh, PinchukArtCentre)
Lviv - old Ruthenian city in the west of country, with its medieval old town and unique architecture with Polish and Austrian influences. The top tourist destination in Ukraine, when it comes to architecture and culture.
Yalta - a health resort on Black Sea, where the post-World War II Yalta peace conference took place. Perfect for summer vacation because of its Meditteranean climat. (to See in big Yalta: Royal Livadia Palace, Massandra Palace, Voroncovskiy Palace)
Sevastopol - a port city on the Black Sea coast of Crimean peninsula.
Chernivtsi - the capital of Bukovina offers Balkan atmosphere and fine classical Habsburg architecture in Central-European style, as it was part of Austrian empire (prior to 1918).
Ski resorts Bukovel and Slavske in western Ukraine, rightly described as "ukranian Switzerland".
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