Ukrainians celebrating the Ukrainian Independence Day in Kiev
Total population
38.9 million-57.5 million
Regions with significant populations
Majority populations
Ukraine Ukraine 37,541,693
Minority populations
Russia Russia 1,927,988
Canada Canada 1,251,170
United States United States 939,759 [1]
Brazil Brazil 500,000 [2]
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan 313,698 [3]
Argentina Argentina 300,000

Ukrainian, Russian


Mostly irreligious
Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
Greek Catholic
Roman Catholic

Related ethnic groups

Russians, Belarusians, East Slavs, other Slavs

Ukrainians (Ukrainian: Українців, Russian: Украинцев) are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine. The Ukrainians are of the major ethnic groups to have descended from the Kievan Rus’, and are closely related to Russians and Belarussians.

It is in Ukraine that is the motherland and native home of East Slavic culture and history. At one point in its history, Kiev, Ukraine's capital was the cultural capital of the Russian Empire. As a result, the history, heritage and prestige of the Ukrainian people often intertwines and overlaps with that of Russia.

However, Ukrainian language and culture is more conservative to Old East Slavic roots, preserving many Old East Slavic spellings not found in Russian.

In addition, Ukrainian people and culture also has Polish influence, due historical interactions and geographic changes of Ukraine and Poland’s borders overtime.



The Ukrainian Insurgent Army, fought against all invaders, including Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and communist Poland

The term Ukraine and Ukrainians are said to have derived from the Slavic term u-kraine meaning home-land. Ukrainians were once referred to as "Russians" or Ruthenians since the Russian and Ukrainian languages hadn't evolved at the time.


Origins and AncestryEdit

Ukrainians share similar origins with Russians, they are an East Slavic ethnic group. Vikings, Varangians, Greeks, Turks and Mongols settled in what is now Ukraine and Russia.[4] Also, Ukraine and parts of southern Russia were settled by a Turkic Muslim group known as the Bulgars and later the Khazars, a Turkic Jewish group. This is known as Old Great Bulgaria, and Volga Bulgaria in case of Russia or the slang "Volgaria". 

Kievan Rus'Edit

The city of Kiev was established during the time when area around the mid- and low-Dnipro was the part of
350px-001 Kievan Rus' Kyivan Rus' Ukraine map 1220 1240

Historical map of Kievan Rus' and territory of Ukraine: last 20 years of the state (1220–1240).

the Khazar state. This  information came from local legends because no written chronicles from that period are left.

In 882, Kiev was conquered from the Khazars by the Varangian noble Oleg who started the long period of rule of the Rurikid princes. During this time, several ancient Slavic tribes were native to Ukraine, including the Polans, the Drevlyans, the Severians, the Ulichs, the Tiverians, the White Croats and the Dulebes. Situated on lucrative trade routes, Kiev among the Polanians quickly prospered as the center of the powerful Slavic state of Kievan Rus. In CE 941, the prince of Kiev invaded the Byzantine Empire but was defeated in the Rus'–Byzantine War (941). In the 11th century, Kievan Rus' was, geographically, the largest state in Europe, becoming known in the rest of Europe as Ruthenia (the Latin name for Rus'), especially for western principalities of Rus' after the Mongol invasion. The name "Ukraine", meaning "in-land" or "native-land",[18] usually interpreted as "border-land", first appears in historical documents of 12th century[19] and then on history maps of the 16th century period. The meaning of this term seems to have been synonymous with the land of Rus' propria—the principalities of Kiev, Chernihiv and Pereyaslav. The term, "Greater Rus'" was used to apply to all the lands ruled by Kiev, including those that were not just Slavic, but also Uralic in the north-east portions of the state. Local regional subdivisions of Rus' appeared in the Slavic heartland, including, "Belarus'" (White Ruthenia), "Chorna Rus'" (Black Ruthenia) and "Cherven' Rus'" (Red Ruthenia) in northwestern and western Ukraine.


Although Christianity had made headway into the territory of Ukraine before the first ecumenical council, the First Council of Nicaea|Council of Nicaea (325) (particularly along the Black Sea coast) and, in western Ukraine during the time of empire of Great Moravia, the formal governmental acceptance of Christianity in Rus' occurred at in 988. The major cause of the Christianization of Kievan Rus' was the Grand-Duke, Vladimir the Great (Volodymyr). His Christian interest was midwifed by his grandmother, Princess Olga. Later, an enduring part of the East-Slavic legal tradition was set down by the Kievan ruler, Yaroslav I the Wise, who promulgated the Russkaya Pravda (Truth of Rus') which endured through the Lithuanian period of Rus'.


A successor state to Kievan Rus' on part of the territory of today's Ukraine was the principality of Galicia-Volhynia. Previously, Vladimir the Great had established the cities of Halych and Ladomir (later Volodimer) as regional capitals for the western Ukrainian heartland. This new, more exclusively Ukrainian predecessor state was based upon the Dulebe, Tiverian and White Croat tribes.

The state was ruled by the descendants of Yaroslav the Wise and Vladimir Monomakh. For a brief period, the country was ruled by a Hungarian nobleman. Battles with the neighboring states of Poland and Lithuania also occurred, as well as internecine warfare with the independent Ruthenian principality of Chernigov to the east. The nation reached its peak with the extension of rule to neighboring Wallachia/Bessarabia, all the way to the shores of the Black Sea.

During this period (around 1200–1400), each principality was independent of the other for a period of time. The state of Halych-Volynia eventually became a vassal to the Mongolian Empire, but efforts to gain European support for opposition to the Mongols continued. This period marked the first "King of Rus'"; previously, the rulers of Rus' were termed, "Grand Dukes" or "Princes."

Polish-Lithuanian CommonwealthEdit

After the Union of Lublin in 1569 and the formation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Ukraine fell under Polish administration, becoming part of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland. The period immediately following the creation of the Commonwealth saw a huge revitalisation in colonisation efforts. Many new cities and villages were founded.

New schools spread the ideas of the Renaissance; Polish peasants arrived in great numbers and quickly became mixed with the local population; during this time, most of Ukrainian nobles became polonised and converted to Catholicism, and while most Ruthenian-speaking peasants remained within the Eastern Orthodox Church, social tension rose.

Ruthenian peasants (Ukrainians and some from other nations) who fled efforts to force them into serfdom came to be known as Cossacks and earned a reputation for their fierce martial spirit. Some Cossacks were hired by the Commonwealth (became 'register Cossacks') as soldiers to protect the southeastern borders of Poland from Tatars or took part in campaigns abroad (like Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny in the battle of Khotyn 1621). Cossack units were also active in wars between the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Tsardom of Russia.

Cossack RevolutionEdit

The 1648 Ukrainian Cossack (Kozak) rebellion and war of independence (Khmelnytsky Uprising), which started an era known as the Ruin (in Polish history as The Deluge), undermined the foundations and stability
Cossach revolution

The Hetmanate in 1654 (against the backdrop of contemporary Ukraine)

of the Commonwealth. The nascent Cossack state, the Cossack Hetmanate,[5] usually viewed as precursor of Ukraine,[6][7] found itself in a three-sided military and diplomatic rivalry with the Ottoman Turks, who controlled the Tatars to the south, the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania, and the rising Russia to the East.

The reconstituted Ukrainian state, having recently fought a bitter war with Poland, sought a treaty of protection with Russia in 1654.[8] This agreement was known as the Treaty of Pereyaslav.[9] Commonwealth authorities then sought compromise with the Ukrainian Cossack state by signing the Treaty of Hadiach in 1658, but — after thirteen years of incessant warfare — the agreement was later superseded by 1667 Polish-Russian Treaty of Andrusovo, which divided Ukrainian territory between the Commonwealth and Russia. Under Russia, the Cossacks initially retained official autonomy in the Hetmanate.[10] For a time, they also maintained a semi-independent republic in Zaporozhia, and a colony on the Russian frontier in Sloboda Ukraine.

Russian Empire and Austria-HungaryEdit

Tsarist rule over central Ukraine gradually replaced 'protection' over the subsequent decades. After the
250px-Gubernias de Ucrania - ENG

Administrative divisions of Russian Empire superimposed on map of Ukraine

Partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793 and 1795, the extreme west of Ukraine fell under the control of the Austrians, with the rest as part of the Russian Empire. As a result of Russo-Turkish Wars the Ottoman Empire's control receded from south-central Ukraine, while the rule of Hungary over the Transcarpathian region continued. Ukrainian writers and intellectuals were inspired by the nationalistic spirit stirring other European peoples existing under other imperial governments and became determined to revive the Ukrainian linguistic and cultural traditions and re-establish a Ukrainian nation-state, a movement that became known as Ukrainophilism.

railway station of Fastiv before 1917, in Russian Empire.

Russia, fearing separatism, imposed strict limits on attempts to elevate the Ukrainian language and culture, even banning its use and study. This led to an exodus of a number of Ukrainian intellectuals into Western Ukraine. However, many Ukrainians accepted their fate in the Russian Empire and some were to achieve a great success there. Many Russian writers, composers, painters and architects of the 19th century were of Ukrainian descent. Probably the most notable were Nikolai Gogol, one of the greatest writers in the history of Russian literature, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, one of the greatest composers in the history of Russian music, whose father came of Ukrainian Cossack stock.

The fate of the Ukrainians was far different under the Austrian Empire where they found themselves in the pawn position of the Russian-Austrian power struggle for the Central and Southern Europe. Unlike in Russia, most of the elite that ruled Galicia were of Austrian or Polish descent, with the Ruthenians being almost exclusively kept in peasantry. During the 19th century, Russophilia was a common occurrence among the Slavic population, but the mass exodus of Ukrainian intellectuals escaping from Russian repression in Eastern Ukraine, as well as the intervention of Austrian authorities, caused the movement to be replaced by Ukrainophilia, which would then cross-over into the Russian Empire. With the start of World War I, all those supporting Russia were rounded up by Austrian forces and held in a concentration camp at Talerhof where many died.

Anarchic Period and Divison of the Ukrainian PeopleEdit

When World War I and series of revolutions across the Europe including the October Revolution in Russia shattered many existing empires such as Austria and Russia, while people of Ukraine were caught in the middle. Between 1917 and 1919, several separate Ukrainian republics manifested independence, the anarchist Free Territory, the Ukrainian People's Republic, the West Ukrainian People's Republic, and numerous Bolshevik revkoms. As the area of Ukraine fell into warfare and anarchy, it was also fought over by German and Austrian forces, the Red Army of Bolshevik Russia, the White Forces of General Denikin, the Polish Army, anarchists led by Nestor Makhno. K iev itself was occupied by many different armies. The city was captured by the Bolsheviks on February 9, 1918, by the Germans on March 2, 1918, by the Bolsheviks a second time on February 5, 1919, by the White Army on August 31, 1919, by Bolsheviks for a third time on December 15, 1919, by the Polish Army on May 6, 1920, and finally by the Bolsheviks for the fourth time on June 12, 1920. The defeat in the Polish-Ukrainian War and then the failure of the Piłsudski's and Petliura's Warsaw agreement of 1920 to oust the Bolsheviks during the Kiev Operation led almost to the occupation of Poland itself. In course of the new Polish-Soviet War purpose of which changed from the 1920 led to the signing of the Peace of Riga in March 1921, and after which the part of Ukraine west of Zbruch had been incorporated into Poland, and the east became part of the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Ukrainian Soviet Socialist RepublicEdit

The Ukrainian national idea lived on during the inter-war years and was even spread to a large territory with traditionally mixed population in the east and south that became part of the Ukrainian


A 1934 photo of the DnieproGES hydropower plant, a heavyweight of Soviet industrialization in Ukraine.

Soviet republic. The Ukrainian culture even enjoyed a revival due to Bolshevik concessions in the early Soviet years (until early-1930s) known as the policy of Korenization ("indigenisation"). In these years, an impressive Ukrainization program was implemented throughout the republic. The rapidly developed Ukrainian language based education system dramatically raised the literacy of the Ukrainophone rural population. Simultaneously, the newly-literate ethnic Ukrainians migrated to the cities, which became rapidly largely Ukrainianised—in both population and in education. Similarly expansive was an increase in Ukrainian language publishing and overall eruption of Ukrainian cultural life. At the same time, the usage of Ukrainian was continuously encouraged in the workplace and in the government affairs as the recruitment of indigenous cadre was implemented as part of the korenisation policies. While initially, the party and government apparatus was mostly Russian-speaking, by the end of 1920s the ethnic Ukrainians composed over one half of the membership in the Ukrainian communist party, the number strengthened by accession of Borotbists, a formerly indigenously Ukrainian "independentist" and non-Bolshevik communist party. Despite the ongoing Soviet Union-wide antireligious campaign, the Ukrainian national Orthodox church was created called the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). The Bolshevik government initially saw the national church as a tool in their goal to suppress the Russian Orthodox Church always viewed with the great suspicion by the regime for its being the cornerstone of pre-revolutionary Russian Empire and the initially strong opposition it took towards the regime change. Therefore, the government tolerated the new Ukrainian national church for some time and the UAOC gained a wide following among the Ukrainian peasantry.

The Holodomor 1932-1933Edit

In 1932, the Ukrainians suffered one the worse atrocities under Soviet rule. Known the Holodomor, it was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR in 1932 and 1933.[11] During the famine, which is also known as the "Terror-Famine in Ukraine" and "Famine-Genocide in Ukraine",[12][13][14] millions of citizens of Ukrainian

Pedestrians walking past bodies of starved peasants on a street in Kharkiv, 1933

SSR, the majority of whom were Ukrainians, died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of Ukraine.[15] Since 2006, the Holodomor has been recognized by Ukraine and several other countries as a genocide of the Ukrainian people.[16]

Early estimates of the death toll by scholars and government officials varied greatly; anywhere from 1.8[17] to 12 million[18] ethnic Ukrainians were said to have perished as a result of the famine. Recent research has since narrowed the estimates to between 2.4[19] and 7.5[20] million. The exact number of deaths is hard to determine, due to a lack of records,[21][22] but the number increases significantly when the deaths inside heavily Ukrainian-populated Kuban are included.[23] Older estimates are still often cited in political commentary.[24] According to the decision of Kyiv Appellation Court, the demographic losses due to the famine amounted to 10 million, with 3.9 million famine deaths, and a 6.1 million birth deficit.[21]

Scholars disagree on the relative importance of natural factors and bad economic policies as causes of the famine and the degree to which the destruction of the Ukrainian peasantry was premeditated on the part of Joseph Stalin.[15][25][26][27] Using Holodomor in reference to the famine emphasizes its man-made aspects, arguing that actions such as rejection of outside aid, confiscation of all household foodstuffs, and restriction of population movement confer intent, defining the famine as genocide; the loss of life has been compared to the Holocaust.[28] If Soviet policies and actions were conclusively documented as intending to eradicate the rise of Ukrainian nationalism, they would fall under the legal definition of genocide.[29][30][31][32][33] In the absence of absolute documentary proof of intent, scholars have also made the argument that the Holodomor was ultimately a consequence of the economic problems associated with radical economic changes implemented during the period of liquidation of private property and Soviet industrialization.

World War II 1941-1945Edit

In the stages leading to the Second World War, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union raced for Polish
250px-Ruined Kiev in WWII

Burned out buildings in Kiev during the Second World War

territory. Armies from both nations invaded Poland, dividing the territory amongst themselves. The two also signed the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, also known as the German-Soviet Nonagression Pact. This was a promise on paper that the Germans and Soviets would not intervene into one another's borders, especially in Poland. The Germans eventually abrigated the pact and invaded the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 and launched Operation Barbarossa. The Ukrainians at first welcomed the German invaders as liberators, due to their suffering under the brutal Stalinist regime. The Red Army was very unsuccessful in stopping the German juggernaut, and the Ukrainians suffered harsh and brutal military losses to the Germams as they penetrated deep into Soviet territory. The Red Army suffered one of its worst defeats on August 26, 1941. Part of a German encirclement that began on August 23, the entire Southwestern Front of the Red Army was surrounded in Kiev by German soldiers. Despite a fierce attempted resistance, the Soviets were crushed. While many Soviet soldiers escaped, about 616,000 were captured. After the Germans were defeated in Stalingrad, Leningrad and Moscow following a very stubborn resistance from the Soviets, they were continually pushed back by the Soviets. In 1943, the Germans attempted a counterattack in Kiev but were defeated by the Soviets, thus putting Kiev back into Soviet hands. 

Many civilians fell victim to atrocities, forced labor, and even massacres of whole villages in reprisal for attacks against German forces. Of the estimated eleven million Soviet troops who fell in battle against the Germans, about 16% (1.7 million) were ethnic Ukrainians.

During a period of March 1943 to the end of 1944 Ukrainian Insurgent Army committed several massacres on Polish civilian population in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia having every signs of genocide (Massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia). The death toll numbered up to 100 000, mostly children and women.

In 1944, the Ukrainians were involved in the Soviet offensive to liberate the Yugoslav city of Belgrade from German and Axis occupation. The 3rd Ukrainian Front, along with Bulgarian forces (a former Axis puppet, now defected to the Soviet sphere) were part of the coalition of other Allied armies that liberated Belgrade.

Cold War 1946-1992Edit

During the Cold War, Ukraine continued to exist as a Soviet republic and was a key state.  Over the next decades, the Ukrainian republic not only surpassed pre-war levels of industry and production but also was the spearhead of Soviet power. Ukraine became the centre of Soviet arms industry and high-tech research. The republic was also turned into a Soviet military outpost in the cold war, a territory crowded by military bases packed with the most up-to-date weapons systems. Such an important role resulted in a major influence of the local elite.  The products of the rapidly developed high-tech industry in Ukraine were largely directed for military consumption, similarly to much of the Soviet economy, and the supply and quality of consumer goods remained low compared even to the neighboring countries of the Eastern bloc. A state-regulated system of production and consumption lead to gradual decrease of quality of life and growing "shadowisation" of retail infrastructure as well as of corruption. 

Chernobyl Disaster - April 26, 1996Edit

On Saturday, 26 April 1986 at reactor number four of the Chernobyl plant, near the Ukrainian city of Pripyat,

The ghost city of Pripyat in Ukraine

there was a sudden and unexpected power surge, and when an emergency shutdown was attempted, an exponentially larger spike in power output occurred, which led to a reactor vessel rupture and a series of steam explosions. These events exposed the graphite moderator of the reactor to air, causing it to ignite. The resulting fire sent a plume of highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area, including Pripyat. The plume drifted over large parts of the western Soviet Union and Europe. From 1986 to 2000, 350,400 people were evacuated and resettled from the most severely contaminated areas of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.
Ferris ukraine

The iconic ferries wheel in Pripyat, popular in many video games

An explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, which spread over much of the western USSR and Europe.

The Chernobyl disaster is widely considered to have been the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, and is one of only two classified as a level 7 event (the maximum classification) on the International Nuclear Event Scale (the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011).[34] The battle to contain the contamination and avert a greater catastrophe ultimately involved over 500,000 workers and cost an estimated 18 billion rubles.[35] 31 people died during the accident itself, and long-term effects such as cancers and deformities are still being accounted for.[36]

Independance from the Soviet Union - 1990Edit

On 16 July 1990, the new parliament adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine.[37] The declaration established the principles of the self-determination of the Ukrainian nation, its democracy, political and economic independence, and the priority of Ukrainian law on the Ukrainian territory over Soviet law. In August 1991, a conservative faction among the Communist leaders of the Soviet Union attempted a coup to remove Mikhail Gorbachev and to restore the Communist party's power. After the attempt failed, on 24 August 1991 the Ukrainian parliament adopted the Act of Independence in which the parliament declared Ukraine as an independent democratic state.[38]

The Ukrainian people experienced deeper economic slowdown than some of the other former Soviet Republics. During the recession, Ukraine lost 60% of its GDP from 1991 to 1999,[39][40] and suffered five-digit inflation rates.[41] Dissatisfied with the economic conditions, as well as the amounts of crime and corruption in Ukraine, Ukrainians protested and organized strikes.

The Ukrainian economy stabilized by the end of the 1990s. A new currency, the hryvnia, was introduced in 1996. Since 2000, the country has enjoyed steady real economic growth averaging about seven percent annually.[42][43] A new Constitution of Ukraine was adopted under second President Leonid Kuchma in 1996, which turned Ukraine into a semi-presidential republic and established a stable political system. Kuchma was, however, criticised by opponents for corruption, electoral fraud, discouraging free speech and concentrating too much power in his office.[44] He also repeatedly transferred public property into the hands of loyal oligarchs.

2004 RevolutionEdit

In 2004, Viktor Yanukovych, then Prime Minister, was declared the winner of the presidential elections, which had been largely rigged, as the Supreme Court of Ukraine later ruled.[45] The results caused a public outcry in support of the opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, who challenged the outcome of the elections. This resulted in the peaceful "Orange Revolution", bringing Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko to power, while casting Viktor Yanukovych in opposition.[46]

Yanukovych returned to a position of power in 2006, when he became Prime Minister in the Alliance of National Unity,[47] until snap elections in September 2007 made Tymoshenko Prime Minister again.[48]

Disputes with Russia over debts for natural gas briefly stopped all gas supplies to Ukraine in 2006 and again in 2009, leading to gas shortages in several other European countries.[49][50]

Viktor Yanukovych was elected President in 2010 with 48% of votes.[51]

2014 RevolutionEdit

The Euromaidan protests started in November 2013, when Ukrainian citizens demanded stronger integration with the European Union.[52][53] The demonstrations were prompted by the refusal to sign an association agreement with the EU, which Yanukovych described as being disadvantageous to Ukraine. Over time, Euromaidan has come to describe a wave of ongoing demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, the scope of which has evolved to include calls for the resignation of President Yanukovych and his government.[54] Violence escalated after 16 January 2014 when the government accepted Bondarenko-Oliynyk laws, also known as Anti-Protest Laws. Anti-government demonstrators occupied buildings in the centre of Kiev, including the Justice Ministry building and riots left 98 dead and thousands injured on Feb 18–20.[55] Due to violent protests on 22 February 2014, Members of Parliament found the president unable to fulfill his duties and exercised 'constitutional powers' to set an election for 25 May to select his replacement.

On March 1st, Russia's parliament approved a request from President Vladimir Putin permitting the deployment Russian troops in Ukraine. [56]


The Ukrainian language belongs to the East Slavic subfamily of the Slavic languages. It is a rather well-known language. Closely related to Russian, the Ukrainian language is well-known for its well preservation of Old East Slavic. For example, the Slavic name Vladimir is rooted from volod and mir. The name is preserved in Ukrainian and spelled as Volodymyr as opposed to the Russian spelling Vladimir . There are a total of 45,000,000 speakers of the Ukrainian language.

Many Ukrainians can still speak Russian, via the centuries-long ties with its northern Russian and Belarusian neighbors, as well as Ukraine's existance as a Soviet state during the Cold War. More-often most of the fluent Russian-speakers are the ethnic Ukrainians that live in Russia, as well as Ukrainians with former ties to the Soviet Union. Most of the Russian-speakers of in the Republic of Ukraine on the other hand are the ethnic Russians who live in Crimea. Kiev, Ukraine's capital is Russophone with many fluent Russian-speakers. About 70% of Ukrainians believe that Russian should be taught as a second language in schools, along with Ukrainian.[57]


Ukrainians are for the most-part irreligious, as people who claim to be part of no religion or profess no belief in a God constitute the majority of Ukraine.

Most of Ukraine's Christians belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church with large numbers of Catholics. The people of modern Ukraine are those who were Christianized under the rule of St. Vladimir the Great.

Historically, the territories of the present-day Ukraine were inhabited by pagan tribes, but Byzantine rite Christianity was introduced by the turn of the first millennium. It was imagined by later writers who sought to put Kyivan Christianity on the same level of primacy as Byzantine Christianity that Apostle Andrew himself had visited the site where the city of Kyiv would be later built. However it was only by the 10th century that the emerging state, the Kyivan Rus' became influenced by the Byzantine Empire, the first known conversion was by the Princess Saint Olga who came to Constantinople in 945 or 957. Several years later, her grandson, Knyaz Vladimir baptised his people in the Dnieper River. This began a long history of the dominance of the Eastern Orthodoxy in Ruthenia that later was to influence Russia and Ukraine.

Judaism was present on Ukrainian lands for approximately 2000 years when Jewish traders appeared in Greek colonies. At the same time the neighbouring Khazar Khaganate was influenced by Judaism. Since the 13th century the Jewish presence in Ukraine increased significantly. Later on in Ukraine was established new teaching of Judaism - Hasidism.

Islam was brought to Ukraine with the Golden Horde and the Ottoman Empire. Crimean Tatars accepted Islam by being a part of the Golden Horde and later the vassals of Ottoman Empire. More recently, during the time of the Soviet Union, atheism was officially promoted by the government and taught in schools, while religious believers were persecuted. As a result, only a small fraction of people remained official church goers in that period, and the number of non-believers increased.


Every aspect of ordinary life is transformed into an art form on special occasions in Ukraine. Pysanka, rushnyk, korovai, vyshyvanka, and ochipok are examples that illustrate extensive decorative finishes used throughout.

For men, traditional dress includes Kozhukh, Kontusz, Żupan and Sharovary. For women, traditional dress includes Vyshyvanka, Kozhushanka, Ochipok for married women, and Ukrainian wreath for unmarried girls.

Artisan textile arts play an important role in Ukrainian culture,[58] 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,[59] and the designs have a long history of motifs, compositions, choice of colors, and types of stitches.[60] Use of color is very important and has roots in Ukrainian folklore. 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 practiced 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[61] and Uliana Petrivna[62] with international recognition. In order to preserve this traditional knowledge, the village is planning to open a local weaving center, museum, and weaving school.


800px-Ukraine Kiev StMichael

St. Michael Cathedral in Kiev

Since Ukrainians are of the East Slavic family of ethnicities, most Ukrainians follow the Eastern Orthodox section of Christianity. The Ukranians follow the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. This church has partial control from Moscow and Kiev. Other people such as the Crimean Tatars follow Islam and other Ukrainians are members of the Greek Catholic Church. Ukrainians are also one of the Slavic peoples to have a Jewish population. Ukrainian architecture is of Orthodox-Slavic influence. Ukrainian architecture highly reflects Byanztine, Greek and Russian architecture. Cities across Ukraine are filled with beautiful towering Orthodox cathedrals.

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, 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. Several examples of these churches survive to this day, however in the course of the 16th-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 1113–1125, and the 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, 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 dismissed by some art and architecture historians as a revivalist fantasy.

Little secular or vernacular architecture of Kievan Rus' has survived.


Chicken kiev

Chicken Kiev

Food is an important part to the Ukrainian culture. Special foods are used at Easter, as well as Christmas. During Christmas, for example, people prepare kutia, which is a mixture of cooked wheat groats, poppy seeds, honey, and special sweet breads. An average Ukrainian diet consists of fish, cheese, and a variety of sausages. Head cheese is also quite popular in Ukraine, as well as Kolbasa, a type of sausage. Typically bread is a core part of every meal, and must be included for the meal to be "complete." During Christmas, for example, it is the tradition to have a twelve-course meal. Included at Easter are the famous pysanky, which are colored and patterned eggs. Making these eggs is a long process, and they used for display at the center of the table rather than consumed.


Ukrainians often toast to good health, linger over their meal, and engage in lively conversation with family and friends. Often they will drink tea (chai), wine, or coffee afterwards with a simple dessert, such as a fruit pastry.

Popular foods in Ukraine include salo, borscht (national soup), sarmale, chicken kiev, pierogi, pilaf, vareniki, pączki, and crêpe.

Pilaf is a rice dish originated from Turkey, that can come in any variety of flavors and toppings. 


Borcsht soup

, is a very popular soup made with beetroot as the main ingredient. In some countries, tomato is used as the main ingredient, while beetroot acts as a secondary ingredient. Other, non-beet varieties also exist, such as the tomato paste-based orange borscht and green borscht (sorrel soup). Potatoes and cabbage are also standard; some regions have green borscht where cabbage is substituted with green spinach. It is considered a national dish in Ukraine.

Salo is food made with cured slaps of fat back, also popular in Russia and Belarus.

Chicken Kiev is a popular breaded cutlet dish of boneless chicken breast pounded and rolled around cold garlic butter with herbs, then breaded and either fried or baked.

Wine and alcoholic drinks are also essential to Ukrainian cuisine, particularly wine.

Notable Ukrainians or People of Ukrainian OriginEdit

Saint Vladimir

St. Vladimir
A prince of Novgorod, grand prince of Kiev, and ruler of Kievan Rus' from 980 to 1015. who brought Christianity to the East Slavic people, he himself was a convert to Christianity and was originally Pagan
Daniel of Galicia
Данило Галицький
Daniel of Galicia

A King of Ruthenia, Prince of Galicia (Halych) (1205–1255), Peremyshl (1211), and Volodymyr (1212–1231). He was crowned by a papal archbishop in Dorohochyn 1253 as the first King of Rus' (1253–1264).


Known commonly by other names such as "Haseki Hürrem Sultan" (literally means "The Ruthenian", the legal wife and haseki sultan of Suleiman the Magnificent and the mother of several Ottoman sultans and figures, she was one of the most powerful women in Ottoman history and a prominent figure during the era known as the Sultanate of Women. She achieved power and influenced the politics of the Ottoman Empire through her husband and played an active role in state affairs of the Empire, she was an ethnic Ukrainian

Bohdan Khmelnytsky
Богдан Хмельницький

The Hetman (head of state) of the Zaporozhian Host of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (now part of Ukraine). He led an uprising against the Commonwealth and its magnates (1648–1654) which resulted in the creation of a Cossack state. In 1654, he concluded the Treaty of Pereyaslav with the Tsardom of Russia.

Ivan Mazepa
Іван Мазепа
Ivan Mazepa

Cossack Hetman of the Hetmanate in Left-bank Ukraine, from 1687–1708, the Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. He was famous as a patron of the arts, and also played an important role in the Battle of Poltava where after learning of Peter I's intent to relieve him as acting Hetman of Ukraine and replace him with Alexander Menshikov, he deserted his army and sided with Charles of Sweden. The politicization of this desertion has held a lasting legacy in both Russian and Ukrainian national history.

Theopan Prokopovich
Феофан Прокопович

An archbishop and statesman in the Russian Empire, of Ukrainian descent. He elaborated and implemented Peter the Great's reform of the Russian Orthodox Church. One of the founding fathers of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Prokopovich wrote much religious verse and some of the most enduring sermons in the Russian language.

Ivan Paskevich
Иван Паскевич
Ivan Paskevich

An imperial Russian military leader. For his victories, he was made Count of Erivan in 1828 and Namestnik of the Kingdom of Poland in 1831. He attained the rank of field marshal in the Russian army, and later in the Prussian and Austrian armies, he was born into a Ukrainian cossack family

Hryhorii Skovoroda
Григорій Сковорода

A Ukrainian philosopher, poet, teacher and composer who lived in the Russian Empire and who made important contributions to Russian philosophy and culture. He lived and worked in Ukraine and passionately and consciously identified with its people, differentiating them from those of Russia and condemning Russia's interference in his homeland, he also contributed to Russian philosophy and is known as "Russian Socrates"

Dmitry Bortniansky
Дмитрий Бортнянский
Dmitry Bortniansky

A Russian composer and conductor of Ukrainian origin. Bortniansky is best known today for his liturgical works and his prolific contributions to the genre of choral concertos. He was one of the "Golden Three" of his era, along with Artemy Vedel and Maksym Berezovsky.

Ivan Kotliarevsky
Іван Котляревський

A Ukrainian writer, poet and playwright, social activist, regarded as the pioneer of modern Ukrainian literature. Kotlyarevsky was a veteran of the Russo-Turkish War.

Nikolai Gogol
Мико́ла Го́голь

A Ukrainian-born Russian dramatist, novelist and short story writer. Considered by his contemporaries one of the preeminent figures of the natural school of Russian literary realism, later critics have found in Gogol's work a fundamentally romantic sensibility, with strains of Surrealism and the grotesque. He is of Polish and Ukrainian Cosasck descent.

Taras Shavchenko
Тара́с Шевче́нко

A Ukrainian poet, writer, artist, public and political figure, as well as folklorist and ethnographer. He is also known under the book name Kobzar. That was his most famous literary work, a collection of poems entitled Kobzar. His literary heritage is regarded to be the foundation of modern Ukrainian literature and, to a large extent, the modern Ukrainian language.

Leysa Ukrainka
Леся Українка

A Ukrainian poet, one of Ukraine's best-known poets and writers and the foremost woman writer in Ukrainian literature. She also was a political, civil, and female activist.

Ivan Franko
Іван Франко
Ivan Franko

A Ukrainian poet, writer, social and literary critic, journalist, interpreter, economist, political activist, doctor of philosophy, ethnographer, the author of the first detective novels and modern poetry in the Ukrainian language.

Symon Petliura
Си́мон Петлю́ра
Simon Petljura

A Ukrainian nationalist, military leader, publicist, writer, journalist, politician who was the statesman of the Ukrainian People's Republic, and national leader who led Ukraine's struggle for independence following the Russian Revolution of 1917 (1918-1921).

Sergei Korolev
Сергі́й Корольо́в

A Soviet engineer who was the lead rocket engineer and spacecraft designer in the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the 1950s and 1960s. He is considered by many as the father of practical astronautics. He was born to a Ukrainian mother and a Russian father in the Ukrainian SSR.

Stephen Timoshenko
Степан Тимошенко

A Ukrainian engineer from the Russian Empire and later the US reputed to be the father of modern engineering mechanics. A founding member of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Tymoshenko wrote seminal works in the areas of engineering mechanics, elasticity and strength of materials, many of which are still widely used today.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko
Людмила Павліченко

A Soviet sniper during World War II. Credited with 309 kills, she is regarded as the most successful female sniper in history, she is a native from Ukraine in Kiev

Leonid Brezhnev
Леони́д Бре́жнев

Leonid Brezhnev
Soviet military general who became the premier of the Soviet Union in 1964, during his rule, the global influence of the Soviet Union grew dramatically, in part because of the expansion of the Soviet military during this time. He was born in the Ukrainian SSR, and some documents have identified his ethnicity as Ukrainian, but he considered himself Russian.
Vitali Klitschko
Віта́лій Кличко́

A Ukrainian politician and former professional boxer. He is the leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform and a Member of the Ukrainian Parliament. He is the former WBC, WBO and The Ring magazine heavyweight champion and has been conferred as Champion Emeritus by the WBC. Klitschko was known for his powerful punches and durable chin. With an 87.23% knockout percentage rate, he holds the second best knockout-to-fight ratio of any champion in heavyweight boxing history, after Rocky Marciano's 87.76% and is the 8th longest reigning heavyweight champion of all time. He has never been knocked down in any professional boxing bout.

Wladimir Klitschko
Володи́мир Кличко́

A Ukrainian heavyweight professional boxer. Klitschko is the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, IBO and The Ring (see List of heavyweight boxing champions.) Klitschko is the longest reigning IBF, WBO & IBO heavyweight champion in history with the most title defenses for those organizations. Overall, he is the second longest reigning Heavyweight Champion of all time with the third most successful title defenses at 15. He is Vitali's younger brother.

Vladimir Kozlov
Владимир Козлов

Real name is "Oleg Prudius", a Ukrainian American professional wrestler currently signed to Inoki Genome Federation, a Wrestling Promotion in Japan. He was also known by his ring name Vladimir Kozlov. When competing for WWE, he won the Tag Team Championship once with Santino Marella.

Andriy Shavchenko
Андрі́й Шевче́нко
A. Shavchenko

A former Ukrainian footballer and politician. He is the third-highest goalscorer in Champions League history with 59 goals as of 10 March 2011, behind Filippo Inzaghi (70) and Raúl (77). Shevchenko is ranked as the third top goalscorer in all European competitions with 67 goals.

Yulia Tymoshenko
Ю́лія Тимоше́нко

A Ukrainian politician and businesswoman. She co-led the Orange Revolution and was the first female Prime Minister of Ukraine, serving from 24 January to 8 September 2005and again from 18 December 2007 to 11 March 2010. She is the leader of the All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland" political party, which received the second most votes in the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election, winning 101 of parliament's 450 seats]

Daria Werbowy
Дарія Вербова

A Ukrainian Canadian model. She is perhaps best known as a spokesperson for the French beauty brand Lancôme. She was born in Poland to ethnic Ukrainian parents, and holds dual Ukrainian and Canadian citizenship. She ranked No. 6 on Forbes "The World's Top-Earning Models" list, with estimated earnings of $4.5 million between May 2010 and May 2011.

Karina Smirnoff
Карiна Смiрнова

A Ukrainian-American professional ballroom dancer. She is best known to the general public as a professional dancer on Dancing with the Stars, she is a five-time U.S. National Champion, World Trophy Champion, and Asian Open Champion. Smirnoff has won the title at the UK Open, is a three-time champion at the US Open, two-time champion at the Asian Open, five-time champion at the Dutch Open, and five-time US National Professional Champion.


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