15 Ukrainian Facts You Need To Know Before Visiting!
Ukraine is a big county found right in the east of Europe, and is becoming a more and more popular holiday destination thanks to its beaches, rich culture and great food. Find out some facts about this Slavic country right here!
1. Country Size
Ukraine is the second largest county in Europe after Russia, and is the largest one entirely found in the European continent. With an area of 600,000 sq. km, it is however only the 6th most populous country in the continent with a population of approximately 45million people.
2. 7 borders
Considering how large the country is, it should come as no surprise that it shares its borders with 7 countries in total. It is bordered by Russia in the east and northeast, Belarus in the northwest, Poland and Slovakia in the west, and Hungary, Romania and Moldova in the southwest, as well as having a coastline on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov.
Ukraine’s coastline is nearly 2800km, and as mentioned above comprises area on both the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. Part of its popularity for holiday makers is the plethora of fantastic beaches on offer with warm waters perfect for summer bathing.
The official language of Ukraine is Ukrainian which is an East Slavic language closely related to Russian; it is the dominant language of the country with over 30million native speakers. The remainder of the country by-and-large speaks Russian, which is so closely related that most of the country is bilingual in these and easily able to understand each other.
With over 34,000 churches and religious organisations throughout the country, Ukraine is a predominantly Orthodox Christian country, although many people are non-practising too. Although prohibited in Soviet times, none-the-less a quarter of the country is Orthodox Christians, and another portion practices other religions such as Catholicism and Islam.
Orthodox Christianity in particular boasts some of the most beautiful churches in Ukraine today, with many ornate and interesting ones found the length and breadth of the country. One of the most stunning of these has to be St Andrew’s Church which is located in the city of Kiev. Constructed by an Italian architect in the middle of the 18th Century, this hilltop church is an incredible site to behold.
7. The Capital, Kiev
Kiev, also referred to as Kyiv, is the capital city of Ukraine as well as the largest with a population of around 3million. Located on the banks of the Dnieper River in the north central part of the country, it is one of the oldest cities to be found in Eastern Europe. The cultural and historical centre of Ukraine, it is filled with beautiful buildings and incredible sites.
The Kiev metro was the third metro system to be built in the then Soviet metro after Moscow and Saint Petersburg and nowadays measures nearly 70km in total length with 52 stations. Of particular note is the station of Arsenalna which is the deepest metro station in the world at 105m below the surface.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine officially declared itself an independent country. Although the populace had been angling for independence since the previous year, it was on August 24 1991 that Ukrainians could finally boast their freedom. In Ukraine, August 24th is now one of their biggest national holidays when they celebrate this event.
10. Oleshky Sands
You might not think of sandy deserts to be part of lush and green Ukraine’s landscape, but it is there on the Black Sea coast that you can find the largest sand desert in Europe, Oleshky Sands. Covering an area of approximately 160sq. km, the area is known for its small sand storms that form when the wind picks up.
11. Tunnel of Love
Found near the area of Klevan in western Ukraine, you can visit the famous tourist attraction, the Tunnel of Love. This amusement railway line is 5km long with 3km of its length enclosed in green and leafy arches that form a natural, living tunnel. A popular spot for couples to take a romantic stroll (when the trains aren’t running of course!), it is a lovely place to visit.
The trembita is reputedly the longest musical instrument in the world measuring in at around 3m in length. This horn is made from wood and was used mainly by mountain dwellers in the Carpathian Mountains, some of which stretches through the northwest of Ukraine. Best described as an interesting sound, it was once used as a signalling tool.
13. Petro Poroshenko
Petro Poroshenko is the 5th and current Ukrainian president having been elected in 2014. Having worked his way through the ranks, Poroshenko is also a shrewd business, with his best known venture being Ukraine’s biggest confectionary company in the 1990s. He is currently Ukraine’s 6th richest man.
Ukraine has held onto wildlife than many other areas in Europe have lost, and as such is a wonderful place to spot birds and animals. Mammals native to the country include elk, wolves, mouflon (wild sheep), wild boar, and wildcats, not to mention the plethora of bird and sea-life too!
While it may their larger Russian cousin in the north that often takes the credit for this delicious soup, it is in fact originally from Ukraine and is the county’s national dish. With around 30 different varieties of this soup in the country, it is usually made from beetroot, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and dill (sometimes with meat and fish too), and is served with Smetana, a type of sour cream.