Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. Ukraine borders the Russian Federation 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. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after the Russian Federation.
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. 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. Ukraine emerged from its own civil war, and on December 30, 1922 Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic became one of the founding republics of the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian SSR's territory was enlarged westward during the civil war shortly before, and after World War II, and further south in 1954 with the Crimea transfer. In 1945, the Ukrainian SSR became one of the founding members of the United Nations.
Ukraine is a republic under a mixed semi-parliamentary semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
With the proclamation of its independence on August 24, 1991, and adoption of a constitution on June 28, 1996, Ukraine became a semi-presidential republic. However, in 2004, deputies introduced changes to the Constitution, which tipped the balance of power in favour parliament. From 2004 to 2010, the legitimacy of the 2004 Constitutional amendments had official sanction, both with the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, and most major political parties. Despite this, on September 30, 2010 the Constitutional Court ruled that the amendments were null and void, forcing a return to the terms of the 1996 Constitution and again making Ukraine's political system more presidential in character.
The ruling on the 2004 Constitutional amendments has become a major topic of political discourse. Much of the concern has been due to the fact that neither the Constitution of 1996 nor the Constitution of 2004 provides the ability to "undo the Constitution", as the decision of the Constitutional Court would have it, even though the 2004 constitution arguably has an exhaustive list of possible procedures for constitutional amendments (articles 154–159). In any case, the current Constitution can arguably be modified only by a vote in Parliament.
The President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and is the formal head of state. Ukraine's legislative branch includes the 450-seat unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. The parliament is primarily responsible for the formation of the executive branch and the Cabinet of Ministers, which is headed by the Prime Minister. However, the President still retains the authority to nominate the Ministers of the Foreign Affairs and of Defence for parliamentary approval, as well as the power to appoint the Prosecutor General and the head of the Security Service.
Ukraine has a very large heavy-industry base and is one of the largest refiners of metallurgical products in Eastern Europe. However, the country is also well known for its production of high-technological goods and transport products, such as Antonov aircraft and various private and commercial vehicles. The country’s largest and most competitive firms are components of the PFTS index which is traded on the PFTS Ukraine Stock Exchange.
Well known Ukrainian brands include, amongst others, Naftogaz Ukrainy, AvtoZAZ, PrivatBank, Roshen, Yuzhmash, Nemiroff, Motor Sich, Khortytsa, Kyivstar, and Aerosvit.
|Currency||Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2), in summer EEST (UTC+3)|