Country Information

GEOGRAPHY

The second largest country in Europe, Ukraine is strategically located in the southeastern part of the continent, bordering on Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova to the west and southwest, Belarus and Russia to the north and east, and washed by the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov in the south. The country’s total area is 603,700 km2. Climate is temperate continental, except for the southern Crimean coast, which is located in the Mediterranean climate zone. Ukraine has about 20,000 deposits containing over 120 minerals with the total proven reserve value of over $11 trillion, according to government estimates. The country boasts deposits of iron ore (19% of the world’s total), manganese ore (26%), graphite (10%), decorative stones (45%), kaolin (18%), as well as significant reserves of uranium ore, coal, titanium ore, zircon, beryllium, mercury, etc.

Arable land covers 71% of Ukraine’s territory, while forests and woodland make up 18%. Ukraine is richly endowed with chernozem (also called “black earth”), one of the most fertile soils in the world. Ukraine’s accounts for about 25% of the global chernozem area.

Ukraine is divided into 27 administrative territories: 24 oblasts (regions), the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the capital Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million, and Sevastopol, with the latter two cities awarded a special administrative status. Other cities with at least 1 million population include Kharkiv (1.5 million), Dnipropetrovsk (1.1 million), Odesa (1.0 million) and Donetsk (1.0 million).

POPULATION

Ukraine’s population totaled 45.8 million as of end-2010, with the share of urban residents at 69% and population density of 76 inhabitants/km2. Life expectancy at birth in Ukraine is currently 69 years. In the ethnic make-up, Ukrainians account for 78%, Russians for 17%, the remaining 6% are represented by Jews, Tatars, Poles, Moldovans, Belarusians, Romanians and smaller ethnic minorities (over 100 in total).

Ukrainian is the native language for about 68% of the population, Russian – for some 30%. The dominant religion is Eastern Orthodox Christianity (represented by two churches: Ukrainian Orthodox-Kyiv Patriarchate and Ukrainian Orthodox-Moscow Patriarchate). Besides them, there are the Autocephalous Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches (the latter observes Orthodox ritual, but is allegiant to Vatican).

SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT

Ukraine has a semi-presidential system of government in which the president controls the cabinet but the latter is also responsible to parliament.

President:

  • Chosen by popular vote for five-year term; two-term limit
  • Appoints prime minister (subject to parliamentary approval) and cabinet ministers; can dismiss individual ministers and whole government
  • Power of veto over laws approved by parliament
  • Can dismiss parliament only in unlikely event of its failing to convene for scheduled session during 30 days

Government:

  • Consists of prime minister and 16 ministers
  • Accountable mostly to president in day-to-day affairs
  • Resigns when new president is elected

Parliament:

  • Unicameral body consisting of 450 members; elected for four years — half from first-past-the-post districts and half from party lists
  • Can dismiss government
  • Can override presidential veto by two-thirds majority