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Information About The Ukrainian Republic
Declared Independence: August 24, 1991
Area: 2333,089 sq. Miles
Capital and Largest City: Kiev (pop. 2,616,000)
Main Industries: Agriculture ( grains, potatoes, beets, cooking oil, canned goods, dairy products)
and manufacturing ( electrical goods, agricultural machinery )
iron ore, coal, chemicals.
Ethnic Composition: Ukrainian 73%, Russia 22%, Jewish 1%, other 4%
Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe and is about the size of Texas or France. It lies east of Poland and north of the Black Sea and it has borders with Romania, Poland, Byelorussia and Russia. Ukraine accounts for nearly 3% of the Commonwealth’s land, has 19% of its population, and contributes about 20 percent of the gross national product. The Ukraine is a very ancient country and should never be confused with Russia or any other country. It has its own language and customs. The Ukrainian language and culture derive more from the country’s long connections with Eastern Europe than form it ties with Russia.
The people are artistic and love the countryside. Until this century the majority of Ukrainians were farmers by profession and the country was known as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union. It is fairly flat, making for easy travel. Its warm summer climate and fertile soil help produce high agricultural yields with the main rivers, running roughly from north to south.
Ukraine’s terrain is divided into three distinct areas: a marshy forest land bordering Belarus in the north; a region immediately south of that of wooded steppe with scattered forest of oak and beech; and lastly the treeless steppe zone of black earth, its agricultural heartland.
Near the border with Russia lies the Donetsk Basin, which contains huge reserves of coal and an extensive concentration of heavy industry. Ukraine has a third of the former Soviet Union’s heavy industry and two-thirds of its coal. That portion of the Soviet military-industrial complex that dealt with its most sensitive and sophisticated technology was headquartered in Ukraine and some 40% of the Soviets’ nuclear weapons were made there. Ukrainian leaders have now vowed to make their country a nuclear-free zone.
While embracing democratic principles, Ukrainians are concerned foremost with building their state and sorting our their economy. Many Ukrainians see the new commonwealth as only a temporary mechanism for the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union--not, as the Russians are apt to view it, as a permanent association. Many Ukrainians believe (and even hope) that the newly created commonwealth will eventually disappear.
The Ukrainians, with their ancient history and lovely land, combined with their contribution to the modern world of science and technology, have a tremendous amount to offer. Most of all they have their friendship; once Ukrainians are your friends they are always your friends. They will stand by you in times of trouble, cheer you with a joke or a song, and be ready to join wholeheartedly in your celebrations.