Main articles: Foreign relations of Ukraine, International membership of Ukraine, and Ukraine and the European Union
President Yanukovych meets German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin
In 1999–2001, Ukraine served as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Historically, Soviet Ukraine joined the United Nations in 1945 as one of the original members following a Western compromise with the Soviet Union(SONY PCG-7111L battery), which had asked for seats for all 15 of its union republics. Ukraine has consistently supported peaceful, negotiated settlements to disputes. It has participated in the quadripartite talks on the conflict in Moldova and promoted a peaceful resolution to conflict in the post-Soviet state of Georgia. Ukraine also has made a substantial contribution to UN peacekeeping operations since 1992(SONY PCG-71511M battery).
Prime minister Mykola Azarov (right) meets with President of Poland Bronisław Komorowski for talks in Warsaw
Ukraine currently considers Euro-Atlantic integration its primary foreign policy objective, but in practice balances its relationship with the European Union and the United States with strong ties to Russia. The European Union's Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Ukraine went into force on March 1, 1998(SONY PCG-6W3L battery). The European Union (EU) has encouraged Ukraine to implement the PCA fully before discussions begin on an association agreement. The EU Common Strategy toward Ukraine, issued at the EU Summit in December 1999 in Helsinki, recognizes Ukraine's long-term aspirations but does not discuss association. On January 31, 1992, Ukraine joined the then-Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (now the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe—OSCE) (SONY PCG-7113L battery), and on March 10, 1992, it became a member of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. Ukraine also has a close relationship with NATO and had previously declared interest in eventual membership, this however was removed from the government's foreign policy agenda, upon election of Viktor Yanukovych to the presidency, in 2010. It is the most active member of the Partnership for Peace (PfP). All major political parties in Ukraine support full eventual integration into the European Union(SONY PCG-7133L battery). The Association Agreement with the EU was expected to be signed into effect by the end of 2011, but the process has been suspended as of 2012 due to recent political developments.
Ukraine maintains peaceful and constructive relations with all its neighbours; it has especially close ties with Russia and Poland, although relations with the former are complicated by energy dependence and payment arrears.
Main articles: Administrative divisions of Ukraine and Ukrainian historical regions
The system of Ukrainian subdivisions reflects the country's status as a unitary state (as stated in the country's constitution) with unified legal and administrative regimes for each unit(SONY PCG-7Z1L battery).
Ukraine is subdivided into twenty-four oblasts (provinces) and one autonomous republic (avtonomna respublika), Crimea. Additionally, the cities of Kiev, the capital, and Sevastopol, both have a special legal status. The 24 oblasts and Crimea are subdivided into 490 raions (districts), or second-level administrative units. The average area of a Ukrainian raion is 1,200 square kilometres (460 sq mi); the average population of a raion is 52,000 people(SONY PCG-7Z2L battery) .
Urban areas (cities) can either be subordinated to the state (as in the case of Kiev and Sevastopol), the oblast or raion administrations, depending on their population and socio-economic importance. Lower administrative units include urban-type settlements, which are similar to rural communities, but are more urbanized, including industrial enterprises, educational facilities, and transport connections, and villages(SONY PCG-8Y1L battery).
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine inherited a 780,000-man military force on its territory, equipped with the third-largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world. In May 1992, Ukraine signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in which the country agreed to give up all nuclear weapons to Russia for disposal and to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state. Ukraine ratified the treaty in 1994, and by 1996 the country became free of nuclear weapons. (SONY PCG-8Y2L battery)
Ukraine took consistent steps toward reduction of conventional weapons. It signed the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which called for reduction of tanks, artillery, and armoured vehicles (army forces were reduced to 300,000). The country plans to convert the current conscript-based military into a professional volunteer military not later than in 2011.
Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27(SONY PCG-8Z2L battery)
Ukraine has been playing an increasingly larger role in peacekeeping operations. Ukrainian troops are deployed in Kosovo as part of the Ukrainian-Polish Battalion. A Ukrainian unit was deployed in Lebanon, as part of UN Interim Force enforcing the mandated ceasefire agreement. There was also a maintenance and training battalion deployed in Sierra Leone. In 2003–05, a Ukrainian unit was deployed as part of the Multinational force in Iraq under Polish command(SONY PCG-8Z1L battery). The total Ukrainian military deployment around the world is 562 servicemen.
Military units of other states participate in multinational military exercises with Ukrainian forces in Ukraine regularly, including U.S. military forces.
Following independence, Ukraine declared itself a neutral state. The country has had a limited military partnership with Russia, other CIS countries and a partnership with NATO since 1994. In the 2000s, the government was leaning towards NATO, and a deeper cooperation with the alliance was set by the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan signed in 2002(SONY PCG-7112L battery). It was later agreed that the question of joining NATO should be answered by a national referendum at some point in the future. Current President Viktor Yanukovych considers the current level of co-operation between Ukraine and NATO sufficient. Yanukovich is against Ukraine joining NATO. During the 2008 Bucharest summit NATO declared that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, whenever it wants and when it would correspond to the criteria for the accession. (SONY PCG-6W2L battery)
In Soviet times, the economy of Ukraine was the second largest in the Soviet Union, being an important industrial and agricultural component of the country’s planned economy. With the dissolution of the Soviet system, the country moved from a planned economy to a market economy. The transition process was difficult for the majority of the population which plunged into poverty. (SONY PCG-5K1L battery) Ukraine’s economy contracted severely following the years after the Soviet dissolution. Day to day life for the average person living in Ukraine was a struggle. A significant number of citizens in rural Ukraine survived by growing their own food, often working two or more jobs and buying the basic necessities through the barter economy.
The Ukrainian-made Antonov An-225 is the largest aircraft ever built(SONY VGP-BPL8 battery)
In 1991, the government liberalised most prices to combat widespread product shortages, and was successful in overcoming the problem. At the same time, the government continued to subsidise state-run industries and agriculture by uncovered monetary emission. The loose monetary policies of the early 1990s pushed inflation to hyperinflationary levels. For the year 1993, Ukraine holds the world record for inflation in one calendar year. (SONY VGP-BPS9 battery) Those living on fixed incomes suffered the most. Prices stabilised only after the introduction of new currency, the hryvnia, in 1996.
The building of the National Bank of Ukraine
The country was also slow in implementing structural reforms. Following independence, the government formed a legal framework for privatisation. However, widespread resistance to reforms within the government and from a significant part of the population soon stalled the reform efforts. A large number of state-owned enterprises were exempt from the privatisation process(SONY VGP-BPS9/S battery).
In the meantime, by 1999, the GDP had fallen to less than 40 percent of the 1991 level. It recovered considerably in the following years, but still doesn't reach historical maximum. In the early 2000s, the economy showed strong export-based growth of 5 to 10 percent, with industrial production growing more than 10 percent per year. Ukraine was hit by the economic crisis of 2008 and in November 2008, the IMF approved a stand-by loan of $16.5 billion for the country(SONY VGP-BPS9A battery).
Ukraine’s 2010 GDP (PPP), as calculated by the CIA, is ranked 38th in the world and estimated at $305.2 billion. Its GDP per capita in 2010 according to the CIA was $6,700 (in PPP terms), ranked 107th in the world. Nominal GDP (in U.S. dollars, calculated at market exchange rate) was $136 billion, ranked 53rd in the world. By July 2008 the average nominal salary in Ukraine reached 1,930 hryvnias per month. (SONY VGP-BPS9A/B battery) Despite remaining lower than in neighbouring central European countries, the salary income growth in 2008 stood at 36.8 percent According to the UNDP in 2003 4.9% of the Ukrainian population lived under 2 US dollar a day and 19.5% of the population lived below the national poverty line that same year.
Ukrainian administrative divisions by monthly salary(SONY VGP-BPS9/B battery)
Ukraine produces nearly all types of transportation vehicles and spacecraft. Antonov airplanes and KrAZ trucks are exported to many countries. The majority of Ukrainian exports are marketed to the European Union and CIS. Since independence, Ukraine has maintained its own space agency, the National Space Agency of Ukraine (NSAU). Ukraine became an active participant in scientific space exploration and remote sensing missions. Between 1991 and 2007(SONY VGP-BPS9A/S battery), Ukraine has launched six self made satellites and 101 launch vehicles, and continues to design spacecraft.
Dnipropetrovsk's central business district
The country imports most energy supplies, especially oil and natural gas, and to a large extent depends on Russia as its energy supplier. While 25 percent of the natural gas in Ukraine comes from internal sources, about 35 percent comes from Russia and the remaining 40 percent from Central Asia through transit routes that Russia controls. At the same time, 85 percent of the Russian gas is delivered to Western Europe through Ukraine. (SONY VGP-BPL9 battery)
The World Bank classifies Ukraine as a middle-income state. Significant issues include underdeveloped infrastructure and transportation, corruption and bureaucracy. In 2007 the Ukrainian stock market recorded the second highest growth in the world of 130 percent. According to the CIA, in 2006 the market capitalization of the Ukrainian stock market was $111.8 billion. Growing sectors of the Ukrainian economy include the information technology (IT) market(SONY VGP-BPS10 battery), which topped all other Central and Eastern European countries in 2007, growing some 40 percent.
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(SONY VGP-BPL10 battery).
Well known Ukrainian brands include, amongst others, Naftogaz Ukrainy, AvtoZAZ, PrivatBank, Roshen, Yuzhmash, Nemiroff, Motor Sich, Khortytsa, Kyivstar, and Aerosvit.
Ukraine is regarded as being a developing economy with high potential for future success, however such a development is thought to be likely only with new all-encompassing economic and legal reforms. Although Foreign Direct Investment in Ukraine has remained relatively strong ever since recession of the early 1990s(SONY VGP-BPS11 battery), the country has had trouble maintaining stable economic growth. Issues relating to current corporate governance in Ukraine are primarily linked to the large scale monopolisation of traditional heavy industries by wealthy individuals such as Rinat Akhmetov, the enduring failure to broaden the nation’s economic base and a lack of effective legal protection for investors and their products. Despite all this, Ukraine’s economy is still expected to grow by around 3.5% in 2010(SONY VGP-BPL11 battery).
This list includes the largest companies by turnover in 2008, but does not include major banks or insurance companies:
Most of the Ukrainian road system has not been upgraded since the Soviet era, and is now outdated. The Ukrainian government has pledged to build some 4,500 km (2,800 mi) of motorways by 2012. In total, Ukrainian paved roads stretch for 164,732 kilometres (102,360 mi). The network of major routes, marked with the letter ‘M’ for ‘International’ (SONY VGP-BPL12 battery) (Ukrainian: Міжнародний), extends nationwide and connects all the major cities of Ukraine as well as providing cross-border routes to the country’s neighbours. Currently there are only two true motorway standard highways in Ukraine; a 175 km stretch of motorway from Kharkiv to Dnipropetrovsk, and a section of the M03 which extends 18 km (11 mi) from Kiev to Boryspil, where the city’s international airport is located(SONY VGP-BPS12 battery).
Rail transport is heavily utilised in Ukraine
Rail transport in Ukraine plays the role of connecting all major urban areas, port facilities and industrial centres with neighbouring countries. The heaviest concentration of railroad track is located in the Donbas region of Ukraine. Although the amount of freight transported by rail fell by 7.4 percent in 1995 in comparison with 1994, Ukraine is still one of the world’s highest rail users. The total amount of railroad track in Ukraine extends for 22,473 kilometres (SONY VGP-BPS13 battery) (13,964 mi), of which 9,250 kilometres (5,750 mi) is electrified. Currently the state has a monopoly on the provision of passenger rail transport, and all trains, other than those with cooperation of other foreign companies on international routes, are operated by its company ‘Ukrzaliznytsia’.
The aviation section in Ukraine is developing very quickly, having recently established a visa-free program for EU nationals and citizens of a number of other Western nations, the nation’s aviation sector is handling a significantly increased number of travellers(SONY VGP-BPS13Q battery). Additionally, the granting of the Euro 2012 football tournament to Poland and Ukraine as joint hosts has prompted the government to invest huge amounts of money into transport infrastructure, and in particular airports.
Kiev Boryspil is the county's largest international airport; it has a total of three main passenger terminals and is the base for both of Ukraine's national airlines. Other large airports in the country include those in Kharkiv, Lviv and Donetsk - all of which have recently-constructed, modern terminals and aviation facilities(SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q battery), whilst those in Dnipropetrovsk and Odessa have plans for terminal upgrades in the near future. Ukraine has a number of airlines, the largest of which are the nation’s flag carriers, Aerosvit and UIA. Antonov Airlines, a subsidiary of the Antonov Aerospace Design Bureau is the only operator of the world’s largest fixed wing aircraft, the An-225(SONY VGP-BPS13B/Q battery).
Maritime transport is mainly riverine, with passenger services mainly provided on the Dnieper, Danube and Pripyat rivers, as well as a number of their tributaries. Most large cities have a river port and cater for the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers as well as the loading and unloading of freight and raw materials. International maritime travel is mainly provided through the Port of Odessa, from where ferries sail regularly to Istanbul, Varna and Haifa. The largest ferry company presently operating these routes is Ukrferry(SONY VGP-BPS13/B battery).
Ukraine is one of Europe’s largest energy consumers; it consumes almost double the energy of Germany, per unit of GDP. A great share of energy supply in Ukraine comes from nuclear power, with the country receiving most of its nuclear fuel from Russia. The remaining oil and gas, is also imported from the former Soviet Union. Ukraine is heavily dependent on its nuclear power. The largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, is located in Ukraine(SONY VGP-BPS13B/B battery).
In 2006, the government planned to build 11 new reactors by the year 2030, in effect, almost doubling the current amount of nuclear power capacity. Ukraine’s power sector is the twelfth-largest in the world in terms of installed capacity, with 54 gigawatts (GW). In 2007 47.4% of power came from coal and gas (approx 20% gas), 47.5% from nuclear (92.5 TWh) and 5% from hydro(SONY VGP-BPS13A/S battery).
Currently the country has four active nuclear power stations, located in Kuznetsovsk, Enerhodar, Yuzhnoukrainsk and Netishyn. In addition to these active plants, a fifth reactor complex had been planned for the Crimea, but construction was suspended indefinitely in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster, a major nuclear incident which took place at the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station, 110 km (68 mi) north of Kiev(SONY VGP-BPS21A/B battery).
All of Ukraine’s RBMK reactors (the type involved in the Chernobyl disaster), were located at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. All of the reactors there have been shut down leaving only VVER reactors operating in the country, which are much safer than RBMK units. Three of these new-type reactors were built since 1991 in the independent Ukraine (with the first one in 1995), whilst the other sixteen were inherited from the Soviet Union(SONY VGP-BPS21B battery). The share of renewables within the total energy mix is still very small, but is growing fast. Total installed capacity of renewable energy installations more than doubled in 2011 and now stands at 397 MW. Indeed, 2011 was a breakthrough year for renewable energy development in Ukraine, especially for solar energy. First, Okhotnykovo Solar Park, one of the world’s largest, was put into operation in July. Then, six months later, Europe’s largest solar park was completed in Perovo(SONY VGP-BPS21 battery), (Crimea). Ukrainian State Agency for Energy Efficiency and Conservation forecasts that combined installed capacity of wind and solar power plants in Ukraine could increase by another 600 MW in 2012. According to Macquarie Research, by 2016 Ukraine will construct and commission new PV facilities with a total capacity of 1.8 GW, which is almost equivalent to the capacity of two nuclear reactors. (SONY VGP-BPS21/S battery)
The Economic Bank for Reconstruction and Development estimates that Ukraine has great renewable energy potential: the technical potential for wind energy is estimated at 40 TWh/year, small hydro at 8.3 TWh/year, biomass at 120 TWh/year, and solar energy at 50 TWh/year.
In March 2011, Mykyta Konstantinov, director of the strategic policy, investment and nuclear energy complex department at the Ministry of Energy and Coal Mining Industry of Ukraine(SONY VGP-BPS13AS battery), said that the installed capacity of alternative and renewable energy sources will increase to 9% (about 6 GW) of the total electricity production in the country.
Main articles: Internet in Ukraine and Telecommunications in Ukraine
Ukraine has a large and steadily growing Internet sector, mostly uninfluenced by the global financial crisis; rapid growth is forecast for at least two more years. Ukraine is ranked 9th in the "Top 10 Internet countries in Europe" (as of 2011) with 33.9% Internet penetration and 15.3 million users. (SONY VGP-BPS13S battery)
The Swallow's Nest; the Crimea hosts many seaside resorts and historic sites
Main article: Tourism in Ukraine
Ukraine occupies 8th place in Europe by the number of tourists visiting, according to the World Tourism Organisation rankings.
Ukraine is a destination on the crossroads between central and eastern Europe, between north and south. It has mountain ranges – the Carpathian Mountains suitable for skiing, hiking, fishing and hunting. The coastline on the Black Sea is a popular summer destination for vacationers. Ukraine has vineyards where they produce native wines(SONY VGP-BPS13B/S battery), ruins of ancient castles, historical parks, Orthodox and Catholic churches as well as a few mosques and synagogues. Kiev, the country’s capital city has many unique structures such as Saint Sophia Cathedral and broad boulevards. There are other cities well-known to tourists such as the harbour town Odessa and the old city of Lviv in the west. The Crimea, a little “continent” of its own, is a popular vacation destination for tourists for swimming or sun tanning on the Black Sea with its warm climate, rugged mountains, plateaus and ancient ruins(SONY VGP-BPS13B/G battery). Cities there include: Sevastopol and Yalta – location of the peace conference at the end of World War II. Visitors can also take cruise tours by ship on Dnieper River from Kiev to the Black Sea coastline. Ukrainian cuisine has a long history and offers a wide variety of original dishes.
The Seven Wonders of Ukraine are the seven historical and cultural monuments of Ukraine; the sites were chosen by the general public through an internet-based vote.
According to the Ukrainian Census of 2001, ethnic Ukrainians make up 77.8% of the population. Other significant ethnic groups are the Russians (17.3%)(SONY VGP-BPS14 battery), Belarusians (0.6%), Moldovans (0.5%), Crimean Tatars (0.5%), Bulgarians (0.4%), Hungarians (0.3%), Romanians (0.3%), Poles (0.3%), Jews (0.2%), Armenians (0.2%), Greeks (0.2%) and Tatars (0.2%). The industrial regions in the east and southeast are the most heavily populated, and about 67.2 percent of the population lives in urban areas(SONY VGP-BPL14 battery).
Ukraine has been in a demographic crisis since the 1980s because of its high death rate and a low birth rate. The population is shrinking by over 150,000 a year. The birth rate has recovered in recent years from a catastrophically low level around 2000, and is now comparable to the European average, but would need to increase by another 50% or so to stabilize the population.
In 2007, the country's population was declining at the fourth fastest rate in the world. (SONY VGP-BPS14/B battery)
Life expectancy is falling. The nation suffers a high mortality rate from environmental pollution, poor diets, widespread smoking, extensive alcoholism, and deteriorating medical care.
In the years 2008 through 2010, more than 1.5 million children were born in Ukraine, compared to fewer than 1.2 million during 1999–2001 during the worst of the demographic crisis. Infant mortality rates have also dropped from 10.4 deaths to 8.9 per 1,000 children under one year of age. This is still high in comparison, however, to many other nations. (SONY VGP-BPS14/S battery)
According to the United Nations, poverty and poor health care are the two biggest problems Ukrainian children face. More than 26 percent of families with one child, 42 percent of families with two children and 77 percent of families with four and more children live in poverty, according to United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. In November 2009 Ukrainian human rights ombudsman Nina Karpacheva stated that the lives of many of Ukraine’s 8.2 million children remain tough. (SONY VGP-BPS14B battery)
Fertility and natalist policies
The current birth rate in Ukraine, as of 2010, is 10.8 births/1,000 population, and the death rate is 15.2 deaths/1,000 population (see demographic tables)
The phenomenon of lowest-low fertility, defined as total fertility below 1.3, is emerging throughout Europe and is attributed by many to postponement of the initiation of childbearing. Ukraine, where total fertility (a very low 1.1 in 2001), was one of the world's lowest, shows that there is more than one pathway to lowest-low fertility(SONY VGP-BPS22 battery). Although Ukraine has undergone immense political and economic transformations during 1991–2004, it has maintained a young age at first birth and nearly universal childbearing. Analysis of official national statistics and the Ukrainian Reproductive Health Survey show that fertility declined to very low levels without a transition to a later pattern of childbearing. Findings from focus group interviews suggest explanations of the early fertility pattern(SONY VGP-BPS22 battery). These findings include the persistence of traditional norms for childbearing and the roles of men and women, concerns about medical complications and infertility at a later age, and the link between early fertility and early marriage.
To help mitigate the declining population, the government continues to increase child support payments. Thus it provides one-time payments of 12,250 Hryvnias for the first child, 25,000 Hryvnias for the second and 50,000 Hryvnias for the third and fourth, along with monthly payments of 154 Hryvnias per child. (SONY VGP-BPS18 battery) The demographic trend is showing signs of improvement, as the birth rate has been steadily growing since 2001. Net population growth over the first nine months of 2007 was registered in five provinces of the country (out of 24), and population shrinkage was showing signs of stabilising nationwide. In 2007 the highest birth rates were in the Western Oblasts. In 2008, Ukraine emerged from lowest-low fertility, and the upward trend has continued since then, except for a slight dip in 2010 due to the economic crisis of 2009 (see demographic tables) (SONY VGP-BPS22/A battery).
In total, Ukraine has 457 cities, 176 of them are labeled oblast-class, 279 smaller raion-class cities, and two special legal status cities. These are followed by 886 urban-type settlements and 28,552 villages
According to the constitution, the state language of Ukraine is Ukrainian. Russian, which was the de facto official language of the Soviet Union, is widely spoken, especially in eastern and southern Ukraine(SONY VGP-BPS22A battery). According to the 2001 census, 67.5 percent of the population declared Ukrainian as their native language and 29.6 percent declared Russian. Most native Ukrainian speakers know Russian as a second language. On July 3, 2012, the Ukrainian Parliament approved a bill that Russian and other languages spoken by at least 10 percent of their residents as official languages, although Ukrainian language is still State Language for all(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11S battery).
These details result in a significant difference across different survey results, as even a small restating of a question switches responses of a significant group of people.[f] Ukrainian is mainly spoken in western and central Ukraine. In western Ukraine, Ukrainian is also the dominant language in cities (such as Lviv). In central Ukraine, Ukrainian and Russian are both equally used in cities, with Russian being more common in Kiev, (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15T battery) while Ukrainian is the dominant language in rural communities. In eastern and southern Ukraine, Russian is primarily used in cities, and Ukrainian is used in rural areas.
For a large part of the Soviet era, the number of Ukrainian speakers declined from generation to generation, and by the mid-1980s, the usage of the Ukrainian language in public life had decreased significantly. Following independence, the government of Ukraine began restoring the image and usage of Ukrainian language through a policy of Ukrainisation. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15G battery) Today, all foreign films and TV programs, including Russian ones, are subbed or dubbed in Ukrainian.
According to the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukrainian is the only state language of the republic. However, the republic's constitution specifically recognises Russian as the language of the majority of its population and guarantees its usage 'in all spheres of public life'. Similarly, the Crimean Tatar language (the language of 12 percent of population of Crimea) is guaranteed a special state protection as well as the 'languages of other ethnicities'(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ4000 battery). Russian speakers constitute an overwhelming majority of the Crimean population (77 percent), with Ukrainian speakers comprising just 10.1 percent, and Crimean Tatar speakers 11.4 percent. But in everyday life the majority of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians in Crimea use Russian.
The dominant religion in Ukraine is Orthodox Christianity, which is currently split between three Church bodies: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church autonomous church body under the Patriarch of Moscow, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate, and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ460E battery)
A distant second by the number of the followers is the Eastern Rite Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which practices a similar liturgical and spiritual tradition as Eastern Orthodoxy, but is in communion with the Holy See of the Roman Catholic Church and recognises the primacy of the Pope as head of the Church. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ440N battery)
Additionally, there are 863 Latin Rite Catholic communities, and 474 clergy members serving some one million Latin Rite Catholics in Ukraine. The group forms some 2.19 percent of the population and consists mainly of ethnic Poles and Hungarians, who live predominantly in the western regions of the country.
The Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Protestant Christians also form around 2.19 percent of the population. Protestant numbers have grown greatly since Ukrainian independence(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ430E battery). The Evangelical Baptist Union of Ukraine is the largest group, with more than 150,000 members and about 3000 clergy. The second largest Protestant church is the Ukrainian Church of Evangelical faith (Pentecostals) with 110000 members and over 1500 local churches and over 2000 clergy, but there also exist other Pentecostal groups and unions and together all Pentecostals are over 300,000, with over 3000 local churches. Also there are many Pentecostal high education schools such as the Lviv Theological Seminary and the Kiev Bible Institute(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ280E battery). Other groups include Calvinists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Lutherans, Methodists and Seventh-day Adventists. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) is also present.
There are an estimated 500,000 Muslims in Ukraine, and about 250,000 of them are Crimean Tatars. There are 487 registered Muslim communities, 368 of them on the Crimean peninsula. In addition, some 50,000 Muslims live in Kiev; mostly foreign-born. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ190 battery)
The Jewish population is a tiny fraction of what it was before World War II. (In Tsarist times, Ukraine had been part of the Pale of Settlement, to which Jews were largely restricted in the Russian Empire.) The largest Jewish communities in 1926 were in Odessa, 154,000 or 36.5% of the total population; and Kiev, 140,500 or 27.3%. The 2001 census indicated that there are 103,600 Jews in Ukraine, although community leaders claimed that the population could be as large as 300,000(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ150E battery). There are no statistics on what share of the Ukrainian Jews are observant, but Orthodox Judaism has the strongest presence in Ukraine. Smaller Reform and Conservative Jewish (Masorti) communities exist as well.
One 2006 survey put the number of non-religious in Ukraine at approximately 62.5% of the population.
Famines and migration
The famines of the 1930s, followed by the devastation of World War II, comprised a demographic disaster. Life expectancy at birth fell to a level as low as ten years for females and seven for males in 1933 and plateaued around 25 for females and 15 for males in the period 1941–44(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ160 battery). According to The Oxford companion to World War II, "Over 7 million inhabitants of Ukraine, more than one-sixth of the pre-war population, were killed during the Second World War."
Significant migration took place in the first years of Ukrainian independence. More than one million people moved into Ukraine in 1991–2, mostly from the other former Soviet republics. In total, between 1991 and 2004, 2.2 million immigrated to Ukraine (among them, 2 million came from the other former Soviet Union states), and 2.5 million emigrated from Ukraine (among them, 1.9 million moved to other former Soviet Union republics). (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ260E battery) Currently, immigrants constitute an estimated 14.7% of the total population, or 6.9 million people; this is the fourth largest figure in the world. In 2006, there were an estimated 1.2 million Canadians of Ukrainian ancestry, giving Canada the world's third-largest Ukrainian population behind Ukraine itself and Russia.
Building of the municipal children's hospital in Kremenchuk, Poltava Oblast
Ukraine's healthcare system is state subsidised and freely available to all Ukrainian citizens and registered residents. However, it is not compulsory to be treated in a state-run hospital as a number of private medical complexes do exist nationwide. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ140E battery) The public sector employs most healthcare professionals, with those working for private medical centres typically also retaining their state employment as they are mandated to provide care at public health facilities on a regular basis.
All the country's medical service providers and hospitals are subordinate to the Ministry of Health, which provides oversight and scrutiny of general medical practice as well as being responsible for the day to day administration of the healthcare system. Despite this standards of hygiene and patient-care have fallen. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11L battery)
Population pyramid of Ukraine in 2012 from International Futures
Hospitals in Ukraine are organised along the same lines as most European nations, according to the regional administrative structure; resultantly most towns have their own hospital (Міська Лікарня) and many also have district hospitals (Районна Лікарня). Larger and more specialised medical complexes tend only to be found in major cities, with some even more specialised units located only in the capital, Kiev(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11Z battery). However, all Oblasts have their own network of general hospitals which are able to deal with almost all medical problems and are typically equipped with major trauma centres; such hospitals are called 'regional hospitals' (Обласна Лікарня).
Ukraine currently faces a number of major public health issues, and is considered to be in a demographic crisis due to its high death rate and low birth rate (the current Ukrainian birth rate is 11 births/1,000 population, and the death rate is 16.3 deaths/1,000 population) (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11M battery). A factor contributing to the relatively high death is a high mortality rate among working-age males from preventable causes such as alcohol poisoning and smoking. In 2008, the country's population was one of the fastest declining in the world at −5% growth. The UN warned that Ukraine's population could fall by as much as 10 million by 2050 if trends did not improve. In addition to this obesity, systemic high blood pressure and the HIV endemic are all major challenges facing the contemporary Ukrainian healthcare system(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18M battery).
As of March 2009 the Ukrainian government to reforming the health care system, by the creation of a national network of family doctors and improvements in the medical emergency services. former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko put forward (in November 2009) an idea to start introducing a public healthcare system based on health insurance in the spring of 2010. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18 battery)
The University of Kiev is one of Ukraine's most important educational institutions
According to the Ukrainian constitution, access to free education is granted to all citizens. Complete general secondary education is compulsory in the state schools which constitute the overwhelming majority. Free higher education in state and communal educational establishments is provided on a competitive basis. There is also a small number of accredited private secondary and higher education institutions(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ210CE battery).
Because of the Soviet Union's emphasis on total access of education for all citizens, which continues today, the literacy rate is an estimated 99.4%. Since 2005, an eleven-year school program has been replaced with a twelve-year one: primary education takes four years to complete (starting at age six), middle education (secondary) takes five years to complete; upper secondary then takes three years. In the 12th grade(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31S battery), students take Government Tests, which are also referred to as school-leaving exams. These tests are later used for university admissions.
Ukraine produces the fourth largest number of post-secondary graduates in Europe, while being ranked seventh in population
The first higher education institutions (HEIs) emerged in Ukraine during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The first Ukrainian higher education institution was the Ostrozka School, or Ostrozkiy Greek-Slavic-Latin Collegium, similar to Western European higher education institutions of the time. Established in 1576 in the town of Ostrog(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31Z battery), the Collegium was the first higher education institution in the Eastern Slavic territories. The oldest university was the Kyiv Mohyla Academy, first established in 1632 and in 1694 officially recognized by the government of Imperial Russia as a higher education institution. Among the oldest is also the Lviv University, founded in 1661. More higher education institutions were set up in the 19th century, beginning with universities in Kharkiv (1805), Kiev (1834), Odessa (1865), and Chernivtsi (1875) and a number of professional higher education institutions, (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31E battery) e.g.: Nizhyn Historical and Philological Institute (originally established as the Gymnasium of Higher Sciences in 1805), a Veterinary Institute (1873) and a Technological Institute (1885) in Kharkiv, a Polytechnic Institute in Kiev (1898) and a Higher Mining School (1899) in Katerynoslav. Rapid growth followed in the Soviet period. By 1988 a number of higher education institutions increased to 146 with over 850,000 students. Most HEIs established after 1990 are those owned by private organizations(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31J battery).
The National Mining University in Dnipropetrovsk, one of Ukraine's oldest professional technical universities
The Ukrainian higher education system comprises higher educational establishments, scientific and methodological facilities under federal, municipal and self-governing bodies in charge of education. The organisation of higher education in Ukraine is built up in accordance with the structure of education of the world's higher developed countries, as is defined by UNESCO and the UN(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31M battery).
Nowadays higher education is either state funded or private. Students that study at state expense receive a standard scholarship if their average marks at the end-of-term exams and differentiated test is at least 4 (see the 5-point grade system below); this rule may be different in some universities. In the case of all grades being the highest (5), the scholarship is increased by 25%. For most students the level of government subsidy is not sufficient to cover their basic living expenses. Most universities provide subsidized housing for out-of-city students(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31B battery). Also, it is common for libraries to supply required books for all registered students. There are two degrees conferred by Ukrainian universities: the Bachelor's Degree (4 years) and the Master's Degree (5–6th year). These degrees are introduced in accordance with Bologna process, in which Ukraine is taking part. Historically, Specialist's Degree (usually 5 years) is still also granted; it was the only degree awarded by universities in the Soviet times(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ32 battery).
St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral in Kiev, an example of Ukrainian architecture
Ukrainian customs are heavily influenced by Christianity, which is the dominant religion in the country. Gender roles also tend to be more traditional, and grandparents play a greater role in raising children than in the West. The culture of Ukraine has been also influenced by its eastern and western neighbours, which is reflected in its architecture, music and art.
A collection of traditional pysanky from Volyn(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ410 battery)
The Communist era had quite a strong effect on the art and writing of Ukraine. In 1932, Stalin made socialist realism state policy in the Soviet Union when he promulgated the decree "On the Reconstruction of Literary and Art Organisations". This greatly stifled creativity. During the 1980s glasnost (openness) was introduced and Soviet artists and writers again became free to express themselves as they wanted. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21 battery)
The tradition of the Easter egg, known as pysanky, has long roots in Ukraine. These eggs were drawn on with wax to create a pattern; then, the dye was applied to give the eggs their pleasant colours, the dye did not affect the previously wax-coated parts of the egg. After the entire egg was dyed, the wax was removed leaving only the colourful pattern. This tradition is thousands of years old, and precedes the arrival of Christianity to Ukraine.[ (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21S battery) In the city of Kolomya near the foothills of the Carpathian mountains in 2000 was built the museum of Pysanka which won a nomination as the monument of modern Ukraine in 2007, part of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine action.
The history of Ukrainian literature dates back to the 11th century, following the Christianisation of the Kievan Rus’. The writings of the time were mainly liturgical and were written in Old Church Slavonic. Historical accounts of the time were referred to as chronicles, the most significant of which was the Primary Chronicle(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21M battery). Literary activity faced a sudden decline during the Mongol invasion of Rus'.
Ukrainian literature again began to develop in the 14th century, and was advanced significantly in the 16th century with the introduction of print and with the beginning of the Cossack era, under both Russian and Polish dominance. The Cossacks established an independent society and popularized a new kind of epic poems, which marked a high point of Ukrainian oral literature. These advances were then set back in the 17th and early 18th centuries(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ38M battery), when publishing in the Ukrainian language was outlawed and prohibited. Nonetheless, by the late 18th century modern literary Ukrainian finally emerged.
The 19th century initiated a vernacular period in Ukraine, led by Ivan Kotliarevsky’s work Eneyida, the first publication written in modern Ukrainian. By the 1830s, Ukrainian romanticism began to develop, and the nation’s most renowned cultural figure, romanticist poet-painter Taras Shevchenko emerged. Where Ivan Kotliarevsky is considered to be the father of literature in the Ukrainian vernacular; Shevchenko is the father of a national revival(Sony VGN-NR11S/S Battery).
Then, in 1863, use of the Ukrainian language in print was effectively prohibited by the Russian Empire. This severely curtained literary activity in the area, and Ukrainian writers were forced to either publish their works in Russian or release them in Austrian controlled Galicia. The ban was never officially lifted, but it became obsolete after the revolution and the Bolsheviks’ coming to power. (Sony VGN-NR11M/S Battery)
Ukrainian literature continued to flourish in the early Soviet years, when nearly all literary trends were approved. These policies faced a steep decline in the 1930s, when Stalin implemented his policy of socialist realism. The doctrine did not necessarily repress the Ukrainian language, but it required writers to follow a certain style in their works. Literary activities continued to be somewhat limited under the communist party, and it was not until Ukraine gained its independence in 1991 when writers were free to express themselves as they wished(Sony VGN-NR260E/S Battery).
The various structures of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra date to different time periods, and through their styles offer an insight into the History of Ukraine and the rich craftsmanship that was developed in its long period
Ukrainian architecture is a term that describes the motifs and styles that are found in structures built in modern Ukraine, and by Ukrainians worldwide. These include initial roots which were established in the Eastern Slavic state of Kievan Rus'(Sony VGN-NR260E/T Battery). After the 12th century, the distinct architectural history continued in the principalities of Galicia-Volhynia. During the epoch of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, a new style unique to Ukraine was developed under the western influences of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. After the union with the Tsardom of Russia, architecture in Ukraine began to develop in different directions, with many structures in the larger eastern, Russian-ruled area built in the styles of Russian architecture of that period(Sony VGN-NR260E/W Battery), whilst the western Galicia was developed under Austro-Hungarian architectural influences, in both cases producing fine examples. Ukrainian national motifs would finally be used during the period of the Soviet Union and in modern independent Ukraine.
The great churches of the Rus', built after the adoption of Christianity in 988, were the first examples of monumental architecture in the East Slavic lands. The architectural style of the Kievan state(Sony VGN-NR11Z/S Battery), which quickly established itself, was strongly influenced by the Byzantine. Early Eastern Orthodox churches were mainly made of wood, with the simplest form of church becoming known as a cell church. Major cathedrals often featured scores of small domes, which led some art historians to take this as an indication of the appearance of pre-Christian pagan Slavic temples.
The Lviv Opera and Ballet Theatre; the architecture of Western Ukraine has been greatly influenced by its long history as part of Austria-Hungary and Poland(Sony VGN-NR11Z/T Battery)
Several examples of these churches survive to this day; however, during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, many were externally rebuilt in the Ukrainian Baroque style (see below). Examples include the grand St. Sophia of Kiev – the year 1017 is the earliest record of foundation laid, Church of the Saviour at Berestove – built from 1113 to 1125, and St. Cyril's Church, circa 12th century. All can still be found in the Ukrainian capital. Several buildings were reconstructed during the late-19th century(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21E battery), including the Assumption Cathedral in Volodymyr-Volynskyi, built in 1160 and reconstructed in 1896–1900, the Paraskevi church in Chernihiv, built in 1201 with reconstruction done in the late 1940s, and the Golden gates in Kiev, built in 1037 and reconstructed in 1982. The latter's reconstruction was criticized by some art and architecture historians[who?] as a revivalist fantasy. Unfortunately little secular or vernacular architecture of Kievan Rus' has survived(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21Z battery).
The Vorontsov Palace, nestled at the foot of the Crimean Mountains, is an example of gothic revival architecture in Ukraine
As Ukraine became increasingly integrated into the Russian Empire, Russian architects had the opportunity to realize their projects in the picturesque landscape that many Ukrainian cities and regions offered. St. Andrew's Church of Kiev (1747–1754), built by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, is a notable example of Baroque architecture, and its location on top of the Kievan mountain made it a recognizable monument of the city(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21J battery). An equally notable contribution of Rasetrelli was the Mariyinsky Palace, which was built to be a summer residence to Russian Empress Elizabeth. During the reign of the last Hetman of Ukraine, Kirill Razumovsky, many of the Cossack Hetmanate's towns such as Hlukhiv, Baturyn and Koselets had grandiose projects built by the appointed architect of Little Russia, Andrey Kvasov. Russia, winning successive wars over the Ottoman Empire and its vassal Crimean Khanate, eventually annexed the whole south of Ukraine and Crimea(Sony VAIO VGN-FW11 battery). Renamed New Russia, these lands were to be colonized, and new cities such as the Nikolayev, Odessa, Kherson and Sevastopol were founded. These would contain notable examples of Imperial Russian architecture.
In 1934, the capital of Soviet Ukraine moved from Kharkiv to Kiev. During the preceding years, the city was seen as only a regional centre, and hence received little attention. All of that was to change, but at a great price. By this point(Sony VAIO VGN-FW11M battery), the first examples of Stalinist architecture were already showing, and, in light of the official policy, a new city was to be built on top of the old one. This meant that much-admired examples such as the St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery were destroyed. Even the St. Sophia Cathedral was under threat. Also, the Second World War contributed to the wreckage. After the war, a new project for the reconstruction of central Kiev was unveiled(Sony VAIO VGN-FW11S battery). This transformed the Khreshchatyk avenue into one of the most notable examples of Stalinism in Architecture. However, by 1955, the new politics of architecture once again promptly stopped the project from fully being realised.
Europe mall in Dnipropetrovsk, an example of modern architecture in Ukraine
The task for modern Ukrainian architecture is diverse application of modern aesthetics, the search for an architect's own artistic style and inclusion of the existing historico-cultural environment. An example of modern Ukrainian architecture is the reconstruction and renewal of the Maidan Nezalezhnosti in central Kiev(.co.uk/sony-vaio-vgn-fw21e-battery.html">Sony VAIO VGN-FW21E battery), despite the limit set by narrow space within the plaza, the engineers were able to blend together the uneven landscape and also use underground space to set a new shopping centre.
A major project, which may take up most of the 21st century, is the construction of the Kiev City-Centre on the Rybalskyi Peninsula, which, when finished, will include a dense skyscraper park amid the picturesque landscape of the Dnieper.
Mykola Lysenko is widely believed to be the father of Ukrainian classical music(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21J battery)
Music is a major part of Ukrainian culture, with a long history and many influences. From traditional folk music, to classical and modern rock, Ukraine has produced a long list of internationally recognized musical talent including Tchaikovsky, Okean Elzy and Ruslana. Elements from traditional Ukrainian folk music made their way into Western music and even into modern jazz(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21L battery).
Ukraine found itself at the crossroads of Asia and Europe and this is reflected within the music in a perplexing mix of exotic melismatic singing with chordal harmony which does not always easily fit the rules of traditional Western European harmony. The most striking general characteristic of authentic ethnic Ukrainian folk music is the wide use of minor modes or keys which incorporate augmented 2nd intervals(Sony VAIO VGN-FW41M battery). This is an indication that the major-minor system developed in Western European music did not become as entrenched or as sophisticated in Ukraine. However, during the Baroque period, music was an important discipline for those that had received a higher education in Ukraine. It had a place of considerable importance in the curriculum of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Much of the nobility was well versed in music with many Ukrainian Cossack leaders such as (Sony VAIO VGN-FW41M/H battery) (Mazepa, Paliy, Holovatyj, Sirko) being accomplished players of the kobza, bandura or torban.
In the course of the 18th century in the Russian Empire court musicians were typically trained at the music academy in Hlukhiv, and largely came from Ukraine. Notable performers of the era include Tymofiy Bilohradsky who later studied lute under Sylvius Leopold Weiss in Dresden, his daughter Yelyzaveta who was a famous operatic soprano(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21M battery), and Oleksiy Rozumovsky, a court bandurist and the morganatic husband of Empress Elizabeth. The first dedicated musical academy was set up in Hlukhiv, Ukraine in 1738 and students were taught to sing, play violin and bandura from manuscripts. As a result many of the earliest composers and performers within the Russian empire were ethnically Ukrainian, having been born or educated in Hlukhiv, or had been closely associated with this music school. See: Dmytro Bortniansky, Maksym Berezovsky, Artemiy Vedel(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21Z battery).
Ukrainian classical music falls into three distinct categories defined by whether the composer was of Ukrainian ethnicity living in Ukraine, a composer of non-Ukrainian ethnicity who was born or at some time was a citizen of Ukraine, or an ethnic Ukrainian living outside of Ukraine within the Ukrainian diaspora. The music of these three groups differs considerably, as do the audiences for whom they cater(Sony VAIO VGN-FW32J battery).
The first category is closely tied with the Ukrainian national school of music spearheaded by Mykola Lysenko. It includes such composers as Kyrylo Stetsenko, Mykola Leontovych, Levko Revutsky, Borys Lyatoshynsky, Mykola Vilinsky. Most of their music contains Ukrainian folk figures and are composed to Ukrainian texts. On the other hand, the second category is of particular importance and international visibility, because of the large percentage of ethnic minorities in urban Ukraine(Sony VAIO VGN-FW17W battery). This category includes such composers as Franz Xavier Mozart, Isaak Dunayevsky, Rheinhold Gliere, Yuliy Meitus and Sergei Prokofiev, performers Volodymyr Horovyts, David Oistrakh, Sviatoslav Richter and Isaac Stern. The music of these composers rarely contains Ukrainian folk motives and more often is written to the texts of Russian or Polish poets. Whilst the third category includes a number of prominent individuals who are often not part of the mainstream(Sony VAIO VGN-FW31E battery) Ukrainian culture but who have made a significant impact on music in Ukraine, while living outside of its borders. These include historic individuals such as: Bortniansky, Berezovsky, Vedel, Tuptalo and Titov. It also contains "Soviet" composers such as Mykola Roslavets, Isaak Dunayevsky who were born in Ukraine but who moved to other cultural centres within the Soviet Union. In North America we have Mykola Fomenko, Yuriy Oliynyk, Zinoviy Lavryshyn and Wasyl Sydorenko(Sony VAIO VGN-FW139E battery).
Since the mid 1960s, Western-influenced pop music, in its various forms, that has been growing in popularity in Ukraine. One of the most important and truly original musicians to come out of Ukraine in recent years is the ultra avant-garde folk singer and harmonium player Mariana Sadovska. Ukrainian pop and folk music arose with the international popularity of groups like Vopli Vidoplyasova, Viy, and Okean Elzy(Sony VAIO VGN-FW139E/H battery).
Artisan textile arts play an important role in Ukrainian culture, especially in Ukrainian wedding traditions. Ukrainian embroidery, weaving and lace-making are used in traditional folk dress and in traditional celebrations. Ukrainian embroidery varies depending on the region of origin and the designs have a long history of motifs, compositions, choice of colors and types of stitches. Use of color is very important and has roots in Ukrainian folklore(Sony VAIO VGN-FW465J battery). Embroidery motifs found in different parts of Ukraine are preserved in the Rushnyk Museum in Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi.
National dress is woven and highly decorated. Weaving with handmade looms is still practised in the village of Krupove, situated in Rivne Oblast. The village is the birthplace of two famous personalities in the scene of national crafts fabrication. Nina Myhailivna and Uliana Petrivna with international recognition. In order to preserve this traditional knowledge the village is planning to open a local weaving center, a museum and weaving school(Sony VAIO VGN-FW31M battery).
Ukrainian footballer Andriy Shevchenko celebrates a goal against Sweden at Euro 2012
Ukraine greatly benefited from the Soviet emphasis on physical education. Such policies left Ukraine with hundreds of stadia, swimming pools, gymnasia, and many other athletic facilities. The most popular sport is football. The top professional league is the Vyscha Liha ("premier league"). The two most successful teams in the Vyscha Liha are rivals FC Dynamo Kyiv and FC Shakhtar Donetsk(Sony VAIO VGN-FW31J battery). Although Shakhtar is the reigning champion of the Vyscha Liha, Dynamo Kyiv has been much more successful historically, winning two UEFA Cup Winners' Cups, one UEFA Super Cup, a record 13 USSR Championships and a record 12 Ukrainian Championships; while Shakhtar only won six Ukrainian championships and one and last UEFA Cup. Ukraine co-hosted UEFA Euro 2012 alongside Poland.
Sergey Bubka holds the record in the Pole vault; with a great strength, speed and gymnastic abilities, he is repeatedly voted the world's best athlete(Sony VAIO VGN-FW31Z battery).
Many Ukrainians also played for the Soviet national football team, most notably Ihor Belanov and Oleh Blokhin, winners of the prestigious Golden Ball Award for the best football player of the year. This award was only presented to one Ukrainian after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Andriy Shevchenko, the current captain of the Ukrainian national football team. The national team made its debut in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and reached the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champions, Italy. Ukrainians also fared well in boxing(Sony VGN-NR11Z Battery), where the brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko have held world heavyweight championships.
Ukraine made its Olympic debut at the 1994 Winter Olympics. So far, Ukraine has been much more successful in Summer Olympics (96 medals in four appearances) than in the Winter Olympics (five medals in four appearances). Ukraine is currently ranked 35th by number of gold medals won in the All-time Olympic Games medal count, with every country above it, except for Russia, having more appearances(Sony VGN-NR11S Battery).
Main article: Ukrainian cuisine
The traditional Ukrainian diet includes chicken, pork, beef, fish and mushrooms. Ukrainians also tend to eat a lot of potatoes, grains, fresh and pickled vegetables. Popular traditional dishes include varenyky (boiled dumplings with mushrooms, potatoes, sauerkraut, cottage cheese or cherries), borscht (soup made of beets, cabbage and mushrooms or meat) and holubtsy (stuffed cabbage rolls filled with rice, carrots and meat) (Sony VGN-CR11Z Battery). Ukrainian specialties also include Chicken Kiev and Kiev Cake. Ukrainians drink stewed fruit, juices, milk, buttermilk (they make cottage cheese from this), mineral water, tea and coffee, beer, wine and horilka.