country profile - UKRAINE
Background: Ukraine was the center of the first eastern Slavic state, Kyivan Rus, which during the 10th and 11th centuries was the largest and most powerful state in Europe. Weakened by internecine quarrels and Mongol invasions, Kyivan Rus was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and eventually into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The cultural and religious legacy of Kyivan Rus laid the foundation for Ukrainian nationalism through subsequent centuries. A new Ukrainian state, the Cossack Hetmanate, was established during the mid-17th century after an uprising against the Poles. Despite continuous Muscovite pressure, the Hetmanate managed to remain autonomous for well over 100 years. During the latter part of the 18th century, most Ukrainian ethnographic territory was absorbed by the Russian Empire. Following the collapse of czarist Russia in 1917, Ukraine achieved a short-lived period of independence (1917-20), but was reconquered and endured a brutal Soviet rule that engineered two forced famines (1921-22 and 1932-33) in which over 8 million died. In World War II, German and Soviet armies were responsible for 7 to 8 million more deaths. Although Ukraine achieved final independence in 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR, democracy and prosperity remained elusive as the legacy of state control and endemic corruption stalled efforts at economic reform, privatization, and civil liberties.
A peaceful mass protest referred to as the "Orange Revolution" in the closing months of 2004 forced the authorities to overturn a rigged presidential election and to allow a new internationally monitored vote that swept into power a reformist slate under Viktor YUSHCHENKO. Subsequent internal squabbles in the YUSHCHENKO camp allowed his rival Viktor YANUKOVYCH to stage a comeback in parliamentary (Rada) elections, become prime minister in August 2006, and be elected president in February 2010. In October 2012, Ukraine held Rada elections, widely criticized by Western observers as flawed due to use of government resources to favor ruling party candidates, interference with media access, and harassment of opposition candidates. President YANUKOVYCH's backtracking on a trade and cooperation agreement with the EU in November 2013 - in favor of closer economic ties with Russia - and subsequent use of force against civil society activists in favor of the agreement led to a three-month protest occupation of Kyiv's central square. The government's use of violence to break up the protest camp in February 2014 led to all out pitched battles, scores of deaths, international condemnation, and the president's abrupt departure to Russia. New elections in the spring allowed pro-West president Petro POROSHENKO to assume office on 7 June 2014.
Shortly after YANUKOVYCH's departure in March 2014, Russian President PUTIN ordered the invasion of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula claiming the action was to protect ethnic Russians living there. Two weeks later, a "referendum" was held regarding the integration of Crimea into the Russian Federation. The "referendum" was condemned as illegitimate by the Ukrainian Government, the EU, the US, and the UN General Assembly. Although Russia illegally annexed Crimea after the "referendum," the Ukrainian Government asserts that Crimea remains part of Ukraine. Russia also continues to supply separatists in two of Ukraine's eastern provinces with manpower, funding, and materiel resulting in an armed conflict with the Ukrainian Government.
geography  
Location: Eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Poland, Romania, and Moldova in the west and Russia in the east
Area: total: 603,550 sq km
land: 579,330 sq km
water: 24,220 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 5,618 km
border countries (7): Belarus 1,111 km, Hungary 128 km, Moldova 1,202 km, Poland 535 km, Romania 601 km, Russia 1,944 km, Slovakia 97 km
Coastline: 2,782 km
Climate: temperate continental; Mediterranean only on the southern Crimean coast; precipitation disproportionately distributed, highest in west and north, lesser in east and southeast; winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold farther inland; summers are warm across the greater part of the country, hot in the south
Natural resources: iron ore, coal, manganese, natural gas, oil, salt, sulfur, graphite, titanium, magnesium, kaolin, nickel, mercury, timber, arable land
people  
Population: 44,429,471 (July 2015 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 15.22% (male 3,480,870/female 3,281,363)
15-24 years: 10.85% (male 2,470,594/female 2,349,313)
25-54 years: 44.63% (male 9,703,407/female 10,126,348)
55-64 years: 13.5% (male 2,563,195/female 3,435,022)
65 years and over: 15.8% (male 2,343,097/female 4,676,262) (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 40.1 years
male: 37 years
female: 43.3 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.6% (2015 est.)
Birth rate: 10.72 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate: 14.46 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Net migration rate -2.25 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.75 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.5 male(s)/female
total population: 0.86 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Nationality: noun: Ukrainian(s)
adjective: Ukrainian
Ethnic groups: Ukrainian 77.8%, Russian 17.3%, Belarusian 0.6%, Moldovan 0.5%, Crimean Tatar 0.5%, Bulgarian 0.4%, Hungarian 0.3%, Romanian 0.3%, Polish 0.3%, Jewish 0.2%, other 1.8% (2001 est.)
Religions: Orthodox (includes Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox (UAOC), Ukrainian Orthodox - Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP), Ukrainian Orthodox - Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), Ukrainian Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish
note: Ukraine's population is overwhelmingly Christian; the vast majority - up to two-thirds - identify themselves as Orthodox, but many do not specify a particular branch; the UOC-KP and the UOC-MP each represent less than a quarter of the country's population, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church accounts for 8-10%, and the UAOC accounts for 1-2%; Muslim and Jewish adherents each compose less than 1% of the total population (2013 est.)
Languages: Ukrainian (official) 67.5%, Russian (regional language) 29.6%, other (includes small Crimean Tatar-, Moldavian-, and Hungarian-speaking minorities) 2.9% (2001 est.)
note: 2012 legislation enables a language spoken by at least 10% of an oblast's population to be given the status of "regional language," allowing for its use in courts, schools, and other government institutions; Ukrainian remains the country's only official nationwide language
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2015 est.)
government  
Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Ukraine
local long form: none
local short form: Ukrayina
former: Ukrainian National Republic, Ukrainian State, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Kyiv (Kiev)
geographic coordinates: 50 26 N, 30 31 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions: 24 provinces (oblasti, singular - oblast'), 1 autonomous republic* (avtonomna respublika), and 2 municipalities (mista, singular - misto) with oblast status**; Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Chernivtsi, Crimea or Avtonomna Respublika Krym* (Simferopol'), Dnipropetrovs'k, Donets'k, Ivano-Frankivs'k, Kharkiv, Kherson, Khmel'nyts'kyy, Kirovohrad, Kyiv**, Kyiv, Luhans'k, L'viv, Mykolayiv, Odesa, Poltava, Rivne, Sevastopol'**, Sumy, Ternopil', Vinnytsya, Volyn' (Luts'k), Zakarpattya (Uzhhorod), Zaporizhzhya, Zhytomyr
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)
Independence: 24 August 1991 (from the Soviet Union)
National holiday: Independence Day, 24 August (1991);
note - 22 January 1918, the day Ukraine first declared its independence (from Soviet Russia) and the day the short-lived Western and Greater (Eastern) Ukrainian republics united (1919), is now celebrated as Unity Day
Legal system: civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Petro POROSHENKO (since 7 June 2014)
head of government: Prime Minister Arseniy YATSENYUK (since 27 February 2014)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers nominated by the president, approved by the Verkhovna Rada
elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 25 May 2014 (next to be held in 2019); prime minister nominated by the president, confirmed by the Verkhovna Rada
election results: Petro POROSHENKO elected president; percent of vote - Petro POROSHENKO (independent) 54.5%, Yuliya TYMOSHENKO (Fatherland) 12.9%, Oleh LYASHKO (Radical Party) 8.4%, other 24.2%
note: there is also a National Security and Defense Council or NSDC originally created in 1992 as the National Security Council; the NSDC staff is tasked with developing national security policy on domestic and international matters and advising the president; a presidential administration helps draft presidential edicts and provides policy support to the president
Legislative branch: unicameral Supreme Council or Verkhovna Rada (450 seats; 225 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 225 directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms); note - because of the Russian annexation of Crimea and the partial occupation of two eastern provinces, 28 of the 450 seats remain unfilled
elections: last held on 26 October 2014 (next to be held fall of 2019)
election results: percent of vote by party - NF 22.1%, BPP 21.8%, Samopomich 11.0%, OB 9.4%, Radical 7.4%, Batkivshchyna 5.7%, Svoboda 4.7%, CPU 3.9%, other 13.9%; seats by party - BPP 132, NF 82, Samopomich 33, OB 29, Radical 22, Batkivshchyna 19, Svoboda 6, other 4, independent 96, vacant 27; note - voting not held in Crimea and parts of two Russian-occupied eastern oblasts leaving 27 seats vacant; seats as of 1 July 2015 - BPP 144, NF 81, OB 43, Samopomich 31, ER 22, Radical 21, Batkivshchyna 19, VN 19, independent 42, vacant 28
Judicial branch: highest court(s): Supreme Court of Ukraine or SCU (consists of 95 judges organized into civil, criminal, commercial, and administrative chambers, and a military panel); Constitutional Court (consists of 18 justices)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges proposed by the Supreme Council of Justice or SCJ (a 20-member independent body of judicial officials and other appointees) and appointed by presidential decree; judges initially appointed for 5 years and, if approved by the SCJ, serve until mandatory retirement at age 65; Constitutional Court justices appointed - 6 each by the president, by the SCU, and by the Verkhovna Rada; justices appointed for 9-year non-renewable terms
subordinate courts: specialized high courts; Courts of Cassation; Courts of Appeal; regional, district, city, and town courts
Political parties and leaders: Batkivshchyna ("Fatherland") [Yuliya TYMOSHENKO]
Communist Party of Ukraine or CPU [Petro SYMONENKO]
Opposition Bloc or OB [Yuriy BOIKO]
People's Front or NF [Arseniy YATSENIUK]
People's Will or VN (parliamentary group)
Petro Poroshenko Bloc or BPP [Vitali KLITSCHKO] (formed from the merger of Solidarity and UDAR)
Radical Party [Oleh LYASHKO]
Revival or ER [Vitaliy KHOMUTYNNIK] (parliamentary group)
Samopomich ("Self Reliance") [Andriy SADOVYI]
Svoboda ("Freedom") [Oleh TYAHNYBOK]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Committee of Voters of Ukraine [Oleksandr CHERNENKO]
OPORA [Olha AIVAZOVSKA]
International organization participation: Australia Group, BSEC, CBSS (observer), CD, CE, CEI, CICA (observer), CIS (participating member, has not signed the 1993 CIS charter), EAEC (observer), EAPC, EBRD, FAO, GCTU, GUAM, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAIA (observer), MIGA, MONUSCO, NAM (observer), NSG, OAS (observer), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, SELEC (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNIDO, UNISFA, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of azure (top) and golden yellow represent grain fields under a blue sky
communications  
Telephones - fixed lines: total subscriptions: 10.46 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 23 (2014 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular: total: 61.2 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 136 (2014 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: Ukraine's telecommunication development plan emphasizes improving domestic trunk lines, international connections, and the mobile-cellular system
domestic: at independence in December 1991, Ukraine inherited a telephone system that was antiquated, inefficient, and in disrepair; more than 3.5 million applications for telephones could not be satisfied; telephone density is rising and the domestic trunk system is being improved; about one-third of Ukraine's networks are digital, and a majority of regional centers now have digital switching stations; improvements in local networks and local exchanges continue to lag; the mobile-cellular telephone system's expansion has slowed, largely due to saturation of the market which has reached 125 mobile phones per 100 people
international: country code - 380; 2 new domestic trunk lines are a part of the fiber-optic Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) system and 3 Ukrainian links have been installed in the fiber-optic Trans-European Lines (TEL) project that connects 18 countries; additional international service is provided by the Italy-Turkey-Ukraine-Russia (ITUR) fiber-optic submarine cable and by an unknown number of earth stations in the Intelsat, Inmarsat, and Intersputnik satellite systems (2010)
Broadcast media: state-controlled nationwide TV broadcast channel (UT1) and a number of privately owned TV networks provide basic TV coverage; multi-channel cable and satellite TV services are available; Russian television broadcasts have a small audience nationwide, but larger audiences in the eastern and southern regions; the radio broadcast market, a mix of independent and state-owned networks, is comprised of some 300 stations (2007)
Radio broadcast stations: 524 (station frequency types NA) (2006)
Television broadcast stations: 647 (2006)
Internet country code: .ua
Internet hosts: 706,485 (2009)
Internet users: total: 16.8 million
percent of population: 37.5% (2014 est.)
transportation  
Airports: 187 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 108
over 3,047 m: 13
2,438 to 3,047 m: 42
1,524 to 2,437 m: 22
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 28 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 79
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 69 (2013)
Heliports: 9 (2013)
Pipelines: gas 36,720 km; oil 4,514 km; refined products 4,363 km (2013)
Railways: total: 21,733 km
broad gauge: 21,684 km 1.524-m gauge (9,250 km electrified)
standard gauge: 49 km 1.435-m gauge (49 km electrified) (2014)
Roadways: total: 169,694 km
paved: 166,095 km (includes 17 km of expressways)
unpaved: 3,599 km (2012)
Waterways: 1,672 km (most on Dnieper River) (2012)
Merchant marine: total: 134
by type: bulk carrier 3, cargo 98, chemical tanker 1, passenger 6, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 8, refrigerated cargo 11, specialized tanker 2
registered in other countries: 172 (Belize 6, Cambodia 35, Comoros 10, Cyprus 3, Dominica 1, Georgia 10, Liberia 10, Malta 29, Marshall Islands 1, Moldova 14, Mongolia 1, Panama 8, Russia 12, Saint Kitts and Nevis 8, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 12, Sierra Leone 5, Slovakia 2, unknown 5) (2010)
Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Feodosiya (Theodosia), Illichivsk, Mariupol', Mykolayiv, Odesa, Yuzhnyy
transnational issues  
Disputes - international: 1997 boundary delimitation treaty with Belarus remains unratified due to unresolved financial claims, stalling demarcation and reducing border security; delimitation of land boundary with Russia is complete and demarcation began in 2012; the dispute over the boundary between Russia and Ukraine through the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov is suspended due to the occupation of Crimea by Russia; Ukraine and Moldova signed an agreement officially delimiting their border in 1999, but the border has not been demarcated due to Moldova's difficulties with the break-away region of Transnistria; Moldova and Ukraine operate joint customs posts to monitor transit of people and commodities through Moldova's Transnistria Region, which remains under the auspices of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe-mandated peacekeeping mission comprised of Moldovan, Transnistrian, Russian, and Ukrainian troops; the ICJ ruled largely in favor of Romania in its dispute submitted in 2004 over Ukrainian-administered Zmiyinyy/Serpilor (Snake) Island and Black Sea maritime boundary delimitation; Romania opposes Ukraine's reopening of a navigation canal from the Danube border through Ukraine to the Black Sea
Refugees and internally displaced persons: IDPs: 1,505,600 (Russian-sponsored separatist violence in Crimea and eastern Ukraine) (2015)
stateless persons: 35,335 (2014); note - citizens of the former USSR who were permanently resident in Ukraine were granted citizenship upon Ukraine's independence in 1991, but some missed this window of opportunity; people arriving after 1991, Crimean Tatars, ethnic Koreans, people with expired Soviet passports, and people with no documents have difficulty acquiring Ukrainian citizenship; following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, thousands of Crimean Tatars and their descendants deported from Ukraine under the STALIN regime returned to their homeland, some being stateless and others holding the citizenship of Uzbekistan or other former Soviet republics; a 1998 bilateral agreement between Ukraine and Uzbekistan simplified the process of renouncing Uzbek citizenship and obtaining Ukrainian citizenship
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Ukraine is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Ukrainian victims are sex trafficked within Ukraine as well as in Russia, Poland, Iraq, Spain, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Seychelles, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Israel, Italy, South Korea, Moldova, China, the United Arab Emirates, Montenegro, UK, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, and other countries; small numbers of foreigners from Moldova, Russia, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Cameroon, and Azerbaijan were victims of labor trafficking in Ukraine; Ukrainian recruiters most often target Ukrainians from rural areas with limited job prospects using fraud, coercion, and debt bondage
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Ukraine does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; the former Yanukovych government adopted standards of social services for victims, re-established its anti-trafficking unit, and increased the unit’s number of officers; the number of human trafficking cases investigated and prosecuted continued to decline in 2013, but significantly fewer victims were identified and referred to care; the government continued to rely on international donors to fund protective services and to provide inadequate funding to NGOs for assisting trafficking victims (2014)
Illicit drugs: limited cultivation of cannabis and opium poppy, mostly for CIS consumption; some synthetic drug production for export to the West; limited government eradication program; used as transshipment point for opiates and other illicit drugs from Africa, Latin America, and Turkey to Europe and Russia; Ukraine has improved anti-money-laundering controls, resulting in its removal from the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF's) Noncooperative Countries and Territories List in February 2004; Ukraine's anti-money-laundering regime continues to be monitored by FATF
Update: This page was last updated on 10 November 2015
Sources: CIA, The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html