Ukraine is located directly north of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. It is bordered on the east and north by Russia, on the norhtwest by Belarus, on the west by Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, and on the southwest by Romania and Moldova. (Click here to view a map).
Ukraine is a republic, with an elected president, and a 450-member unicameral legislature called the Supreme Soviet or Verkhovna Rada in Ukrainian. The current president, Leonid Kuchma, was re-elected on November 14, 1999 to a second 5 year term. The President nominates a candidate for Prime Minister who must be approved by the Rada. After he is approved, the Prime Minister subsequently chooses members of his cabinet, all of whom must be confirmed by the Rada. The curent Prime Minister, Anatolii Kinakh, was confirmed in 2001. The present Ukrainian Constitution was ratified in 1997.
The Ukrainian flag consists of two horizontal stripes, light blue on the top and yellow on the bottom. The light blue stripe symbolizes the sky, while the yellow symbolizes the rolling fields of wheat grown on the Ukrainian steppe.
The national anthem is called "Ukraine is Not Yet Dead." You can find the words on this page.
Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Under Soviet rule Ukraine accounted for over 25 percent of the industrial and agricultural output of the Soviet Union. In fact, Ukraine was often referred to as the breadbasket of the USSR. Major industries of Ukraine include: heavy metallurgy, mining of both coal and iron ore, aircraft manufacturing, as well as textiles. Major agricultural products include: wheat, rye, potatoes, and sunflowers which are used both for seeds and for oil.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian economy has shrunk by almost two-thirds. The government has been slow to privatize the economy, and therefore many people are still employed in inefficient Soviet era enterprises. From 1991 until the introduction of new currency, the Hryvnia, in 1997, Ukraine experienced hyperinflation. As an example in July 1994, one U.S. dollar equaled 46,000 Ukrainian coupons (the temporary currency). By February 1996, the exchange rate had risen to 225,000 to 1 U.S. dollar. This reduced the buying power of the average citizen, and, since salaries did not keep up with inflation, made it very difficult for Ukrainians to survive and to purchase the everyday things, such as food and clothing, which we take for granted.
Ukraine's location gives it all the necessary tools to become a prosperous and powerful country. The Dnepr river provides transportation, and links Ukraine to the rest of Europe through the Bosporus Strait, and from there to the rest of the world. Ukraine also has tremendous potential in agriculture. If inefficient collectivized farming were eliminated, and modern techniques introduced, Ukraine has the potential to export tremendous amounts of food, especially grain, to the rest of the world.
Below are links to other pages on our site. I have also included a section containing links to other resources on the Internet about Ukraine.