Ukraine is the second largest state in Europe. The country became independent in 1991, following the fall of the Soviet Union. A revolution in 2014 led Ukraine on a collision course with Russia, which annexed the Crimean Peninsula and supported an armed uprising in the east of the country.
Key figures and facts
- Capital: Kiev
- Ethnic groups: Ukrainians 77.8%, Russians 17.3%, Belarusians 0.6%, Moldovans 0.5%, Crimean Tatars 0.5%, Bulgarians 0.4%, Hungarians 0.3%, Romanians 0.3%, Poles 0.3%, Jews 0.2%, others 1.8% (2001)
- Language: Ukrainian (official) 67%, Russian 24%, other 9%
- Religion: Ukrainian Orthodox (Kiev Patriarchate) 50.4%, Ukrainian Orthodox (Moscow Patriarchate) 26.1%, Ukrainian Greek Catholic 8%, Ukrainian Autocephaly Orthodox 7.2%, Roman Catholic 2.2%, Protestants 2.2%, Jews 0.6%, others 3.2 % (2006 estimate)
- Population: 44 009 214
- Control Form: Republic
- Area: 603 550 km2
- Currency: Ukrainian hryvnia
- GNP per capita: 8 270 PPP $
- National Day: August 24th
Population of Ukraine
Ukraine’s population is estimated at 45,490,000 (World Bank 2013). Life expectancy at birth is 76.0 years for women and 66.1 years for men.
The pace of population growth varied greatly in the 20th century. In the latter part of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, population growth was among the highest in Europe. In the 1930s, it is estimated that 3–6 million died as a result of the 1932–33 famine and the many political clean-ups and deportations that took place during this period. In addition to this, the population loss due to the Second World War is estimated at 5.3 million. Ukraine therefore lost over a period of 15 years approximately 25% of the population. After World War II, the population rose steadily, but leveled towards the end of the Soviet period. In 2008, the population was estimated at close to 46 million.
The majority of the population are Ukrainians (78%). The proportion of Russians is 17.3%. In Crimea, the Russians make up the majority of the population (about 70%). Large parts of the Ukrainian population have been linguistically “Russianized”, and estimates of the proportion of the total population who use Russian in everyday speech vary somewhat, but most are just over 50%. In Crimea there is also a considerable Tatar population. Crimean Tatars were expelled from Crimea during World War II, but were allowed to return to their homeland in 1988.
About 67% of the population live in cities (2008). Next to the capital Kiev are the main cities of Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Donets. Population density is clearly greatest in the eastern parts of the country.
The official language is Ukrainian, which is the mother tongue for approximately 75% of the population. The largest language minority are the Russian speakers, who make up approximately 20%. However, many more use Russian in everyday speech. Other minority languages are Belarusian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Hungarian and Polish.