Fast Facts About Ukraine

By | February 27, 2022

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St. Andrews Church and Andriyivskyy Descent, in winter, Kyiv, Ukraine. (Kirill Rudenko/Getty Images)

What's In A Name?

There's a lot of history behind the name of Ukraine, as it's believed to be an old Slavic term for "borderland." It does indeed have many borders, sharing them with Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Belarus, and of course, Russia. Only the southern border of Ukraine, which is open to the Black Sea, is not shared with another country. During its time in the Soviet Union, the country was often referred to as "the Ukraine" because it was viewed by Russia as one part of a greater whole, but since 1991, such usage has sometimes been considered insulting.

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First raising of the Ukrainian flag outside Kiev's city hall, July 24, 1990. (National Historical Museum of Ukraine/Wikimedia Commons)

Big Country

Covering 233,031 square miles, Ukraine is the largest country on the European continent (Russia doesn't count because it's in both Europe and Asia) and the eighth-most populous, with over 43 million inhabitants. Unsurprisingly, a nation so large with so many borders has had issues with independence; prior to the fall of the Soviet Union, it got only a taste of freedom between 1918 and 1920. In the intervening years, it was partially ruled by Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania.

Bread What Now?

Ukraine is sometimes referred to as the "breadbasket of Europe," as its rich soil and plentiful, fertile fields are ideal for crop farming. It is estimated to be able to feed 600 million people and was responsible for 25% of food manufacturing during its time in the U.S.S.R. In fact, Ukraine is set to become even more powerful when it comes to agriculture, as the government recently allowed for privatized buying and selling of farmland, the "first step toward bigger, more efficient farming."