Ukraine is the largest country in Europe (not including Russia and Turkey, whose territories are in both Europe and Asia). It is located in the Eastern Europe’s Lowland, south-east from the Black Sea and Sea of Azov. The total area of the country is 603 700 km2 (including Crimea that is annexed by Russia and the occupied Donbass districts), it covers 5.7% of the European territory.
The total length of the Ukrainian border is 6992 km, from which 1355 km is sea border. In the west, Ukraine shares land border with Poland (526 km), Hungary (103 km), Slovakia (97 km) and Romania (in the south – 169 km, in the west – 362 km), in the north-west with Belarus (891 km) and in north-east and east with Russia (1576 km). The territory in Ukraine is mostly plain. 70% of the territory is covered in valleys, 25% – highlands and 5% – mountains (Carpathian and Crimean Mountains). In the west part of Ukraine are located the Dnieper Upland, Podolian Upland and Carpathian Mountains. The highest peaks are Mount Hoverla (2061 m) and Brebenescul (2032 m). In the east part the Zaporizhia’s Mountains and Donets Ridge are located, the largest coal-field in Europe is also located there – Donbass.
Ukrainian rivers, except for Dnieper, are not rich with water. The water is needed for field irrigation in the south-east part of the country. Thus, Dnieper has water reservoirs and canals extracting from them. In total, Ukraine has 23 000 rivers, largest of them is Dnieper (981 km), Southern Buh (806 km), Psel (717 km) and Dniester (705 km). There are approximately 20 000 lakes in Ukraine. Largest of them are Shatsk (210 km2), Yalpuh (149 km2) and Katlabuh (68 km2). The majority of forests is located in the Carpathians – the Polesian Lowland located in the borderland with Belarus.
According to calculations by Ukrainian State Statistics Office in 1 January 2016, 42 590 900 people live in Ukraine. By the number of the population, Ukraine is the 32nd largest country in the world. Approximately 7% of all European population live in Ukraine. The official language is Ukrainian.
The population’s age structure in Ukraine (2015):
• Aged between 0 and 14 – 15.22%,
• Aged between 15 and 64 – 69.98%,
• Aged 65 and above – 15.8%.
Median age 40.1 years:
• For men – 37 years,
• For women – 43.3 years.
• Death rate between infants per 1000 new-borns – 8.12:
• boys – 9.03 per 1000 new-borns,
• girls – 7.16 per 1000 new-borns.
Average life expectancy:
• joint – 71.57 years,
• for men – 66.81 years,
• for women – 77.73 years.
The level of education between citizens (included data about citizens aged 15 and above, who can read and write):
• joint – 99.8%,
• for men – 99.8%,
• for women – 99.7%.
The average density of population in Ukraine is 73.95 people per km2. 69% of the Ukrainian population live in cities and city-type settlements. The largest number of population in Ukraine was registered in 1993, it reached 52.2 million citizens. The UN Economic and Social Council forecast shows that in the current conditions, despite the war and inefficient government, the number of Ukrainian population will continue to decrease, in 2050, it could reach 34 million citizens, making it one of the countries that was most severely affected by depopulation. Important factors in this was the rather low birth rate and the high death rate between young (able-bodied) men that is due to various health issues.
According to the data from the 2001 population census, 77.8% of the population are Ukrainians, 17.3% – Russians, 0.6% – Belarussians, 0.5% – Moldavans, 0.5% – Crimean Tatars, 0.4% – Bulgarians, 0.3% – Hungarians, 0.3% – Romanians, 0.3% – Poles, 0.2% – Jews, 1.8% – other nationalities.
Although the official language in the country is Ukrainian, Russian is also widely used, the numbers of both language users are similar. In the east part of Ukraine, Russian is almost fully used, however, in the west part of the country, the citizens mainly speak in Ukrainian; bilingualism exists in the central regions of the country or the combination of the both languages (Surzhyk).
In Ukraine, the church is separated from the country and, according to the constitution, all citizens have the right for freedom of religion. According to the 2010 data from the Ukrainian Centre for Economic and Political Studies named after Olexander Razumkov, 68% of the population identified themselves with the Orthodox Church, 7.6% – with the Greek Catholic, 1.9% – with the Protestant, 0.9% – with the Muslim and 0.4% – with the Roman Catholic Church.
The 2014 data from the aforementioned centre, indicate that in the period between 2013 and 2014, the support for Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate has grown from 18.3% to 22.4%; however, the number of supporters for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate has decreased from 19.6% to 17.4%.
The administrative division of Ukraine’s territory, de iure, consists of one autonomous Republic (The Republic of Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014), 24 districts and 2 cities (the capital Kiev and Sevastopol), who have the status of a district. In total, there are 490 regions, 446 cities, 907 city-type settlements and 10 907 villages in Ukraine.
1. Zakarpattia District
2. Cherkasy District
3. Chernihiv District
4. Chernivtsi District
5. Dnipropetrovsk District
6. Donetsk District
7. Kharkiv District
8. Kherson District
9. Khmelnytskyi District
10. Ivano-Frankivsk District
11. Kiev District
12. Kirovohrad District
13. Luhansk District
14. Lviv District
15. Mykolaiv District
16. Odessa District
17. Poltava District
18. Rivne District
19. Sumy District
20. Ternopil District
21. Vinnytsia District
22. Volyn District
23. Zaporizhia District
24. Zhytomyr District
By economic type, Ukraine is an industrially developed country with a significant agricultural sector. The country has developed mechanical engineering, metallurgy, chemical industry and food production.
According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, in 2019 the GDP of the Republic grew by 3.2%, in 2018 the Ukrainian economy grew by 3.4%, but in 2017 - by 2.5%.
World Bank data testify that per capita GDP in Ukraine in 2018 reached 3095 USD. The dominant part (60%) of GDP is put in by services, 28.6% is occupied by industry and 12.2% by agriculture.
In 2019 and 2018, the average inflation level in the country was 4.1% and 9.8%, respectively.
According to statistics, the unemployment rate remains high: in 2019, it was 8.7% of the economically active population.
The main Ukrainian export markets in 2019 were China (7.2% of total exports), Poland (6.6%), Russia (6.5%), Turkey (5.2%), Italy (4.8% ) and Germany (4.8%). Ukraine exports mainly agricultural products and food (sunflower oil, corn, cereals, rapeseed, etc.), as well as metals and their products (iron ore, wires, cables, pipes, etc.).
The largest importers to Ukraine in 2019 were China (9.2%), Russia (6.99%), Germany (5.99%), Poland (4.1%), Belarus (3.75%) and the United States (3.28%). Mineral resources and fuel, as well as mechanical engineering products and medicines, are decisive in the structure of imports.
The current President of Ukraine since May 20, 2019 is Volodymyr Zelensky. He was born on January 25, 1978 in Kryvyi Rih (Dnipropetrovsk region). He obtained his higher education at the Kryvyi Rih Institute of Economics of the Kiev National University of Economics, obtaining a degree in law. However, V.Zelensky has never worked in this specialty, already during his studies he focused on conducting humor shows.
Since March 4, 2020, the Prime Minister of Ukraine is Denis Shmigal. He was born in 1975 in Lviv. Graduated from the National University of “Lviv Polytechniska”, specializing as an engineer-economist. Since 2003, he has held leading positions in various public and private companies. From August 1, 2019 to February 4, 2020, he headed the Ivanofrankivska region State Administration, and from February 4 to March 4, 2020 he was Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Community and Territorial Development of Ukraine.
Since March 4, 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is Dmitro Kuleba. He was born on April 19, 1981 in Sumy. In 2003 he graduated from Kiev National University named after T.Shevchenko Institute of International Relations. From 2003 to 2013, he held various positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. In 2013, D.Kuleba became the head of the Cultural Diplomacy Foundation "UART", which deals with the promotion of Ukraine and its culture abroad, but in 2014 he returned to work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From August 29, 2019 to March 4, 2020, he held the position of Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine in the government headed by Oleksiy Goncharuk.
Since March 4, 2020, the Minister of Defense of Ukraine has been retired Lieutenant General Andriy Taran. He was born in 1955 in Frankfurt on Main (then the German Democratic Republic) into the family of a military person. In 1977, he graduated from the Kiev Higher School of Anti-Rocket Engineering, majoring in military radio engineering. Until 1992, he initially served in the Soviet Army, but then in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. From 1992 to 1994, he continued his service in the central apparatus of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. In 1994, he became an employee of the GUR of the Main Intelligence Department of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. In 2008, A.Taran was appointed Deputy Commander of the GUR, but in 2015-2016 he was the Deputy Commander of the Land Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In 2016, A.Taran was retired into the reserve.
После второго тура президентских выборов 21 апреля 2019 года, на котором комик Володимир Зеленский был избран президентом, в Украине происходит кардинальная смена политической элиты. Этому процессу способствовало юридически сомнительное заявление, сделанное в день инаугурации (20 мая 2019 г.) В.Зеленским относительно роспуска существующего (восьмого) парламента и проведения внеочередных парламентских выборов. На внеочередных парламентских выборах, состоявшихся 21 июля 2019 года, впервые в истории Украины политической силе, партии В.Зеленского «Слуга народа» удалось получить более половины парламентских мандатов (248 из 450).
Результаты этих выборов в сочетании с традиционно слабо развитыми институциями и готовностью руководителей различных государственных учреждений сосредоточиться на победителях выборов создали фактическую монополию на власть В.Зеленского, которую глава государства пытается использовать для увеличения своих полномочий. Хотя, согласно конституции, Украина является парламентской президентской республикой, в действительности Кабинет министров и парламент стали исполнителями решений, принятых в канцелярии президента. Это особенно очевидно в работе парламента, которая характеризуется отказом от культуры дебатов и механическим (часто с нарушением правил процедуры) принятием законопроектов, предложенных канцелярией президента. В качестве одного из первых решений своей работы парламент принял изменения в конституцию страны, которые позволяют президенту назначать глав антикоррупционных учреждений - Государственного бюро расследований ДНР и Национального антикоррупционного бюро. Отсутствие баланса сил наглядно иллюстрируется тем фактом, что, несмотря на решение Конституционного суда о том, что это парламентское решение является неконституционным, В.Зеженский сменил главу ДНР в декабре 2019 года (правда, не утвердив его официально руководителем, а назначив исполняющим обязанности директора).
Новая политическая реальность Украины и политика кумовства В.Зеленского означают, что наиболее важные решения в стране принимаются в тесном кругу друзей В.Зеленского и должности, официально занимаемые различными должностными лицами, не отражают их реального влияния. Например, глава администрации президента Андрей Ермак, формально отвечающий только за обеспечение функционирования канцелярии В.Зеленского, на самом деле обладает, по крайней мере, теми же полномочиями, что и вице-президент, в котором он имеет большое влияние не только на кадровую политику и работу парламента, его можно назвать главным архитектором внешней политики Украины.
Несмотря на фактическую монополию власти В.Зеленского, как и во время его предшественников, в стране все еще сохраняется сильное влияние олигархов. Это обусловлено тем, что с предвыборного периода В.Зеленскому была важна информационная поддержка различных телеканалов, контролируемых олигархами (особенно Игорем Коломойской). Поэтому в обмен на лояльность олигархов В.Зеленский вынужден учитывать их интересы.
Following the change of power in Kiev in February 2014, Ukraine's foreign policy is concentrated
in the search for international support for the resolution of the conflict in the east of the country, where Ukraine operates within the so-called the Normandy format (Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France). The mentioned format has allowed concluding several additional agreements on the crisis management plan on February 12, 2015. Although the conclusion of the agreements did not help to end the armed conflict in Donbass and Russia was not explicitly named as a party involved in the conflict under the Minsk agreements (Ukraine and the Russian-controlled so-called Donetsk and Luhansk peoples’ republics), it has been forced to make certain commitments, which currently allows Western countries to put pressure on the Kremlin by linking the implementation of these agreements to the lifting of sanctions against Russia. Given the reluctance of the Kremlin (and its controlled Donbass fighters) to abide by the Minsk agreement, the Ukrainian authorities are looking for alternative models of conflict resolution, seeking to engage the United States in negotiations and periodically updating the deployment of international peacekeepers to Donbass.
However, since the change of power in Ukraine in 2019, there has been noticed a certain shift in Kiev's foreign policy emphasis in relation to Russia, characterized by conciliatory statements by Ukrainian officials and a readiness to abandon the sharp rhetoric of previous authorities directed against Russia.