Capital | Kyiv
Population | 45,415,596 (July 2010 est.)
Area | 603,700 SQ KM
Official Language | Ukrainian
Holidays | Independence Day, 24 August (1991); note - 22 January 1918, the day Ukraine first declared its independence (from Soviet Russia) and the day the short-lived Western and Greater (Eastern) Ukrainian republics united (1919), is now celebrated as Unity Day
Currency | hryvnia (UAH)
Time Zone | UTC+2
Best Time to Visit | April to June
Connecting with the Culture | Seeing mummified monks by candlelight in the underground passages of the Caves Monastery in Kyiv. Discovering Europe’s only virgin beech forest at the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve. Cutting a hole in the icy crust of the Black Sea in winter and catching your dinner. Enjoying a champagne picnic on Odesa beach.
Read | Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer which recounts this American authors journey to find his family in the Ukraine.
Listen | to the all-male Ukrainian Bandura Chorus
Eat | bowls of soul-warming borsch, or the addictive varenyky (boiled dumplings served with meat or cheese)
Drink | vodka
In a Word | Dobry den (hello, literally ‘good day’)
Characteristics | beautifully painted eggs; proud singers; lax anti-money laundering laws; ice fishing; pristine, isolated ski slopes; Soviet architecture; borsch; Orthodox churches; rugged mountains; traditional folk culture; big, furry hats.
Surprises | Nearly 3000 rivers flow through Ukraine; Chicken Kiev was invented in New York.
NEWS ABOUT UKRAINE
5 Nations Plus the EU Commission President Announce Snub to Ukraine's `Euro 2012' over Tymoshenko Case
(Video SBS News)
(HN, 4/30/12) - EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has declared he has no intention of visiting Ukraine for the upcoming `Euro 2012' football championship unless there is a swift improvement in the human rights situation there - including the release of the country's opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko a former leader of Ukraine's Orange Revolution & a former Prime Minister. She's currently in jail on a 7-year sentence for abuse of power over the signing of an allegedly unfavorable gas supply contract with Russia following the 2009 gas crisis. Today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel added her voice & said she too would boycott unless the situation is resolved; as has her sports minister Hans-Peter Friedrich. According to a report in Der Spiegel, Merkel will stay away from the Ukraine Euro 2012 games & is urging her ministers to do the same. Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Slovenia & Estonia have also told Ukraine they will boycott the May 11-12 Yalta meeting of Central & Eastern European presidents ahead of the Euro 2012 matches in June. Tymoshenko herself claims she is being targeted by her political opponent, Ukraine's current President Viktor Yanukovych & has gone on a 10-day (so far) hunger strike. Some of the Euro 2012 matches are scheduled to take place in Kharkiv where Tymoshenko is being held. (Read more at RIA NOVOSTI)