CAPITAL : Kiev (Kyyiv)
FLAG : Equal horizontal bands of azure blue (top) and yellow.
ANTHEM : The National Anthem of Ukraine.
MONETARY UNIT : The official currency, introduced in early 1993, is the hryvnia ( HRN ), which consists of 100 shahy. $1 = HRN 5.33; as of January 2003.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric system is used.
HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1–2 January; Christmas, 7 January; Women's Day, 8 March; Spring and Labor Day, 1–2 May; Victory Day, 9 May; Ukrainian Independence Day, 24 August.
TIME : 2 PM = noon GMT.
The land's soil, chernozyom (black soil), is very fertile. When the Ukraine was part of the former Soviet Union it was called the country's "bread basket." European bison, fox, and rabbits can be found living on the vast steppes of the country.
According to the latest estimates, 73% of the total population is Ukrainian. Russians form 22%, mainly in eastern Ukraine. The population of Crimea is about 70% Russian. Jews account for 1% of the populace, and various other ethnic groups comprise the remaining 4%.
Like Russian, Ukrainian is an eastern Slavic language. It has several distinctive vowel and consonant sounds, however. It is written in the Cyrillic alphabet but has three extra letters. Ukrainian began to emerge as a separate language from Russian in the late 12th century. In addition to Ukrainian and Russian, Romanian, Polish, and Hungarian are also spoken.
Leonid M. Kravchuk and Vitold P. Fokin were respectively the first president and prime minister of Ukraine. Leonid Brezhnev (Dneprodzershinsk, Ukraine, 1906–82) led the Soviet Union from 1966–82. Outstanding representatives of the culture and literature of Ukraine include poet Taras Shevchenko (1814–61) and the Jewish writer Sholom Aleichem (Solomon Rabinowitz, 1859–1916).
Ukraine has no territories or colonies.
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