Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe, bordered by Russia to the east and north, Belarus to the northwest, Poland and Slovakia to the west, Hungary, Romania and Moldova to the southwest.
This nation has a total population of 45 million citizens, and its capital city is Kiev (Kieve). The Ukrainian language was first introduced to the country in 988 A.D., when it became an independent state.
What is Ukraine known for? Ukraine is known for its rich history and culture. From the capital, Kiev, to Crimea in the south, Ukraine has a lot of beauty all around it. It’s also known for being one of Europe’s largest countries. Ukraine was once part of the Soviet Union but became an independent nation after 1991 when communism collapsed in Eastern Europe.
If you’re planning on traveling to Ukraine, here are 15 things that you should know about this unique destination.
- 1. Kiev
- 2. Ukrainian Cuisine
- 3. Ukrainian Languages
- 4. Second-largest Country in Europe
- 5. Vodka
- 6. Soviet Union
- 7. Chernobyl Disaster
- 8. City of Lviv
- 9. Borscht
- 10. Carpathian Mountains
- 11. Sunflower Field
- 12. Ukrainian Culture
- 13. Sunflower Oil Exporter
- 14. The Crimean Peninsula
- 15. St. Sophia’s Cathedral
- Final Words
Kyiv or Kiev, is the capital city of Ukraine. It’s also known as Kieve, and it houses more than 2 million people in it. Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, with an estimated population that dates back to 2,700 years ago during the Iron Age! Today, there are more than 1 million homes in this city.
If you want to visit the capital of Ukraine, Kiev is a city that shouldn’t be missed. You can expect to find delicious Ukrainian cuisine along with beautiful architecture and historic landmarks.
2. Ukrainian Cuisine
When in Ukraine, it’s a must to taste some of their local dishes. But don’t expect the same food you find in American restaurants for this is authentic Ukrainian cuisine!
It’s known for its meat dumplings, cabbage leaves or salo wraps, fruit blintzes and stuffed potatoes. When tasting Ukrainian cuisine, make sure not to leave without trying varenyky (dumplings filled with cheese or potato), borscht (beet soup) and holubtsi (cabbage rolls). Enjoy them with a delicious glass of vodka!
3. Ukrainian Languages
The official language in Ukraine is Ukrainian, but Russian and other languages are also spoken there. In fact, more than half of Ukrainians speak Russian as a second language after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Around 1/5th to 1/4th of Ukrainians speak Polish, while English and Romanian are also common too. It’s interesting that Ukrainian was first written with the Glagolitic alphabet (a Slavic writing system) during the 10th century! Today, it’s written in Cyrillic characters like other Slavic languages.
4. Second-largest Country in Europe
Ukraine is the second-largest country in Europe when it’s compared to other countries in terms of land. Only Russia is larger than Ukraine, which makes up about 603,700 square miles in land area.
As a comparison, Poland comes in third at 312,685 square miles while Germany ranks fourth at 137,847 square miles!
Did you know that more vodka is made and consumed in Ukraine than anywhere else? It’s no surprise that this country has such an affinity for spirits because its national drink is actually vodka! Around 86% of all alcohol consumed in the country is vodka and Ukrainian citizens consume an average of 13 gallons per capita annually!
While it might not be your first choice to drink during a work trip, keep in mind that vodka is a strong part of Ukrainian culture. It can be fun to try some during your time there!
6. Soviet Union
Ukraine was once a member of the Soviet Union as part of Russia. In fact, Ukraine was officially known as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic from 1917 until 1991 when it became an independent nation again. The republic even had its own space program and military!
7. Chernobyl Disaster
In 1986, the Chernobyl disaster occurred in Ukraine after a nuclear power plant exploded due to faulty equipment and human errors.
This disaster is considered the worst nuclear accident in history and it caused a number of deaths from radiation poisoning. The accident also displaced many people from their homes, which were deemed unsuitable for living due to high levels of radiation.
8. City of Lviv
Lviv is a city in western Ukraine that’s known as an important political, economic and cultural center. This city has been ruled by many different countries over the years, including Poland, Hungary and Austria!
Lviv was also home to one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe before World War II began. Keep all these facts about Lviv in mind if you want to travel there during your time abroad.
Borscht is a popular soup in Ukraine that’s made with beets and other vegetables. Hearty soups like borscht are common fare during the winter months in Ukraine, and different variations of it can be found all over the country!
If you want to try some while traveling there, keep an eye out for bars and restaurants dishing up varenyky (a Ukrainian dumpling).
10. Carpathian Mountains
Carpathian Mountains are a range that stretches from Poland, Slovakia and Hungary into Ukraine and Romania. These mountains actually form the natural border between Slovakia and Poland!
If you’re planning to travel in this region during your time in Ukraine, it’s important to know about these beautiful mountains because they’ll be part of your view for days while driving.
11. Sunflower Field
Ukraine is also known for its sunflower fields. The country actually produces the most sunflowers in the world! Sunflowers are important to Ukrainian culture because they were once used as a way to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.
They’re still considered symbols of happiness in Ukraine, which makes them perfect decorations for your home while studying abroad!
12. Ukrainian Culture
Ukraine has a unique culture that can’t really be compared to any other nation. In fact, its culture is often debated on whether or not it’s more Eastern European or Slavic.
The main religion in Ukraine is Christianity, however there are also sizable minorities who follow Islam, Judaism and other religions.
13. Sunflower Oil Exporter
Not only does Ukraine grow and export many different types of crops like wheat, corn, barley and rye, but it also exports sunflower oil. This oil is used in the production of soaps, paints and varnishes in addition to being consumed by humans!
14. The Crimean Peninsula
If you’re planning on visiting Crimea during your time in Ukraine, make sure you know about this peninsula’s contentious history with Russia! Crimea was actually part of Russia for a while before Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev decided to give it to Ukraine because he was from there.
Ever since then Russia has tried to reclaim this territory that houses its Black Sea naval fleet . Be careful when discussing this issue with Ukrainians because their feelings toward the Russian government are strong.
15. St. Sophia’s Cathedral
St. Sophia’s Cathedral is a really important landmark in Ukraine because it was built during the 11th century and has been destroyed and restored a number of times since then!
It actually houses a museum that’s dedicated to studying Byzantine art, however if you’re going to visit please remember that photography isn’t allowed inside.
Ukraine is a country with many great things to see and do during your time abroad. Ukraine may be known as the “bread basket of Europe,” but it’s also got a lot to offer its visitors and people who are interested in studying abroad there. Keep these facts about Ukraine in mind if you want to get more out of your visit or your time spent studying abroad!
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