Modern Ukraine is a large country, located in Eastern Europe and it borders such countries as Russia, Poland, Belarus, and Romania. Its population is over 40 million people. Ukrainian is an official language of the country, but Russian is still widely spoken.
Slavic tribes occupied modern central and eastern Ukraine in the sixth century and played a key role in the establishment of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. Founding of Kiev is considered to be the beginning of Ukrainian history. Kiev quickly prospered as the center of the powerful state of Kievan Rus.
Kyi was the legendary prince of Slavic tribes, the founder of Kiev. Brothers Kyi, Schek, Horiv and their sister Lybed lived on three mountains, two of which were named after the two younger brothers. The river next to it was named after their sister Lybed.
Kievan Rus was a major power in Eastern Europe in the 9th century. Kievan Prince Volodymyr converted most of the population into Christianity in 988. Feudal conflicts led to decline of the state in the 12th century. Later it was conquered by the Mongol raiders in the 13th century.
Until the 17th century Ukraine was an important border territory for Poland, Western Europe and Russia. Ukrainians who did not want to be forced into servitude by Poland were known as Cossacks. In 1667, Ukraine was divided between Poland and Russia. Later much of modern Ukraine was integrated into the Russian Empire.
In the 19th century Ukraine was under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the west and the Russian Empire in the east. Ukrainian writers and poets were determined to revive Ukrainian traditions and reform an independent Ukrainian state. After World War I Ukrainians declared the independent state. In 1918, after Russian revolution, the Ukrainian National Republic elected the first president.
In 1920s Ukraine became one of 16 republics of the former Soviet Union. Stalin ruled and controlled Ukrainian political, social, economic and cultural life through terror. His regime exiled millions of Ukrainians to Siberia.
The Germans killed a great number of Ukrainians in World War II. In September 1941, Nazi troops entered Kiev. During this period, around 250,000 people were killed and 150,000 were taken to Germany for forced labor. Kiev was freed in November 1943. The Yalta Conference was held in Ukraine in 1945. World leaders were deciding the future of Germany and reorganizing Europe. In post war years Ukraine was restoring the damages caused by war.
The Chernobyl Nuclear Accident on April 26th, 1986, brings back terrible memories for all Ukrainians. This disaster caused thousands of deaths and problems with health for millions of Ukrainians in the future. It was a huge ecological and economic damage.
Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. But the government faced many difficulties in uniting the country and rebuilding the economy. The Orange Revolution in 2004 brought many Ukrainian people on the streets of Kiev to protest over the results of political elections.