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Ukraine Background:
Ukraine was the center of the first Slavic state, Kievan Rus, which during the 10th and 11th centuries was the largest and most powerful state in Europe. Weakened by internecine quarrels and Mongol invasions, Kievan Rus was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and eventually into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The cultural and religious legacy of Kievan 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 was able to bring about a short-lived period of independence (1917-20), but was reconquered and forced to endure a brutal Soviet rule that engineered two artificial famines (1921-22 and 1932-33) in which over 8 million died. In World War II, German and Soviet armies were responsible for some 7 to 8 million more deaths. Although final independence for Ukraine was achieved in 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR, democracy remained elusive as the legacy of state control and endemic corruption stalled efforts at economic reform, privatization, and civil liberties. A peaceful mass protest "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. The new government presents its citizens with hope that the country may at last attain true freedom and prosperity.  

Location:
Eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Poland, Romania, and Moldova in the west and Russia in the east  

Land boundaries:  
total: 4,663 km
border countries: Belarus 891 km, Hungary 103 km, Moldova 939 km, Poland 526 km, Romania (south) 169 km, Romania (west) 362 km, Russia 1,576 km, Slovakia 97 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  

Geography - note:   
strategic position at the crossroads between Europe and Asia; second-largest country in Europe  

Population:  
47,425,336 (July 2005 est.)  

Age structure:  
0-14 years: 15.6% (male 3,783,725/female 3,619,754)
15-64 years: 68.8% (male 15,619,989/female 16,992,628)
65 years and over: 15.6% (male 2,497,851/female 4,911,389) (2005 est.)  

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 census)  

Religions:   
Ukrainian Orthodox - Kiev Patriarchate 19%, Orthodox (no particular jurisdiction) 16%, Ukrainian Orthodox - Moscow Patriarchate 9%, Ukrainian Greek Catholic 6%, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox 1.7%, Protestant, Jewish, none 38% (2004 est.)  

Languages:  
Ukrainian (official) 67%, Russian 24%; small Romanian-, Polish-, and Hungarian-speaking minorities  

People - note:  
the sex trafficking of Ukrainian women is a serious problem that has only recently been addressed  

Government Ukraine
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

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, Kiev (Kyyiv)**, Kyyiv, 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)  

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Viktor A. YUSHCHENKO (since 23 January 2005)
head of government: Prime Minister Yuliya TYMOSHENKO (since 4 February 2005); First Deputy Prime Minister - Anatoliy KINAKH (since 4 February 2005)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president and approved by the Supreme Council
note: there is also a National Security and Defense Council or NSDC originally created in 1992 as the National Security Council, but significantly revamped and strengthened under former-President KUCHMA; the NSDC staff is tasked with developing national security policy on domestic and international matters and advising the president; a Presidential Administration that helps draft presidential edicts and provides policy support to the president; and a Council of Regions that serves as an advisory body
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; note - a special repeat runoff presidential election between Viktor YUSHCHENKO and Viktor YANUKOVYCH took place on 26 December 2004 after the earlier 21 November 2004 contest - won by Mr. YANUKOVYCH - was invalidated by the Ukrainian Supreme Court because of widespread and significant violations; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president and approved by the Supreme Council
election results: Viktor YUSHCHENKO elected president; percent of vote - Viktor YUSHCHENKO 51.99%, Viktor YANUKOVYCH 44.2%  

Legislative branch:
unicameral Supreme Council or Verkhovna Rada (450 seats; under recent amendments to Ukraine's election law, the Rada's seats are allocated on a proportional basis to those parties that gain 3% or more of the national electoral vote; members serve five-year terms beginning with the next election in 2006)
elections: last held 31 March 2002 (next to be held March 2006)
election results: percent of vote by party/bloc - Our Ukraine 24%, CPU 20%, United Ukraine 12%, SPU 7%, Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc 7%, United Social Democratic Party 6%, other 24%; seats by party/bloc - Our Ukraine 101, Regions of Ukraine 61, CPU 59, Working Ukraine 14, United Social Democratic Party 33, Agrarian Party 22, SPU 20, Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc 19, United Ukraine 19, People's Democratic Party-Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs 16, Center Group 15, Democratic Initiatives 14, unaffiliated 57 (December 2004)
note: following the election, United Ukraine splintered into the Agrarian Party, European Choice, People's Choice, People's Democratic Party, Regions of Ukraine, and Working Ukraine-Industrialists and Entrepreneurs; these factions have since undergone a number of changes  

Political parties and leaders:  
Agrarian Party [Volodymyr LYTVYN]; Communist Party of Ukraine or CPU [Petro SYMONENKO]; Democratic Initiatives [Stepan HAVRYSH]; Industrialists and Entrepreneurs [Anatoliy KINAKH]; Our Ukraine bloc (comprised of several parties the most prominent of which are Rukh, the Ukrainian People's Party, Reforms and Order, and Solidarity) [Viktor YUSHCHENKO]; People's Democratic Party or PDP [Valeriy PUSTOVOYTENKO]; Regions of Ukraine [Viktor YANUKOVYCH]; Socialist Party of Ukraine or SPU [Oleksandr MOROZ, chairman]; United Social Democratic Party [Viktor MEDVEDCHUK]; Working Ukraine [Serhiy TYHYPKO]; Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc [Yuliya TYMOSHENKO]
note: as well as numerous smaller parties; United Ukraine and Center Group are not actual political parties, but rather deputy groups (factions not based on a party)  

Flag description:  
two equal horizontal bands of azure (top) and golden yellow represent grainfields under a blue sky  

Economy - overview:  
After Russia, the Ukrainian republic was far and away the most important economic component of the former Soviet Union, producing about four times the output of the next-ranking republic. Its fertile black soil generated more than one-fourth of Soviet agricultural output, and its farms provided substantial quantities of meat, milk, grain, and vegetables to other republics. Likewise, its diversified heavy industry supplied the unique equipment (for example, large diameter pipes) and raw materials to industrial and mining sites (vertical drilling apparatus) in other regions of the former USSR. Ukraine depends on imports of energy, especially natural gas, to meet some 85% of its annual energy requirements. Shortly after independence in December 1991, the Ukrainian Government liberalized most prices and erected a legal framework for privatization, but widespread resistance to reform within the government and the legislature soon stalled reform efforts and led to some backtracking. Output by 1999 had fallen to less than 40% of the 1991 level. Loose monetary policies pushed inflation to hyperinflationary levels in late 1993. Ukraine's dependence on Russia for energy supplies and the lack of significant structural reform have made the Ukrainian economy vulnerable to external shocks. Ukrainian government officials have taken some steps to reform the country's Byzantine tax code, such as the implementation of lower tax rates aimed at bringing more economic activity out of Ukraine's large shadow economy, but more improvements are needed, including closing tax loopholes and eliminating tax privileges and exemptions. Reforms in the more politically sensitive areas of structural reform and land privatization are still lagging. Outside institutions - particularly the IMF - have encouraged Ukraine to quicken the pace and scope of reforms. GDP in 2000 showed strong export-based growth of 6% - the first growth since independence - and industrial production grew 12.9%. The economy continued to expand in 2001 as real GDP rose 9% and industrial output grew by over 14%. Growth of 4.6% in 2002 was more moderate, in part a reflection of faltering growth in the developed world. In general, growth has been undergirded by strong domestic demand, low inflation, and solid consumer and investor confidence. Growth was a sturdy 9.3% in 2003 and a remarkable 12% in 2004, despite a loss of momentum in needed economic reforms.  

Telephone system:  
general assessment: Ukraine's telecommunication development plan, running through 2005, 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 now rising slowly and the domestic trunk system is being improved; the mobile cellular telephone system is expanding at a high rate
international: country code - 380; two new domestic trunk lines are a part of the fiber-optic Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) system and three 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 earth stations in the Intelsat, Inmarsat, and Intersputnik satellite systems




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