Ukraine is an independent, democratic country in Eastern Europe, formed in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Based on area, it is the largest country located entirely within Europe, sharing borders with Russia to the east and northeast, Belarus to the northwest, Poland and Slovakia to the west, and Hungary, Romania, and Moldova to the southwest. Due to the richness of its soil, the advantageous climate, and its strategic location near to the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, Ukraine has been a much-desired territory for Russia, and was one of the most important regions for agriculture and industry in Russia’s imperial and Soviet eras. Ukraine's population has been steadily decreasing since its independence, due to widespread economic migration and a low birth rate. In 2022, the total population in Ukraine was estimated to amount to around 41 million inhabitants, however, this estimate does not account for the emigration and displacement caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Ukraine's largest city, Kyiv, is also its capital, and is home to almost three million people.
In 1991, the Ukrainian government declared its independence from the Soviet Union, and over 92 percent of the Ukrainian public voted in favor of this. The 1990s then marked a period of economic decline and inflation, before its economy stabilized and began growing again in the 2000s. Following Soviet dissolution, Ukraine inherited the third largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world; the process of nuclear disarmament was then pivotal in improving Ukraine’s international relations, however, Ukraine and Russia have had a complicated relationship since this time. Both countries have strong cultural ties and Russia has been Ukraine's largest export partner over the past three decades, however, Ukrainian integration into Europe has slowly grown, and Ukraine has actively pursued accession to the European Union and NATO, strengthening it's relations with the west. In late 2013, the pro-Russian government backtracked on further integration with the European Union, and this led to the Euromaidan period; anti-government protests then turned violent, resulting in almost 100 deaths and thousands of casualties, before the president was ousted. This was followed by the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, as well as its backing separatist paramilitaries in the eastern Oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk (Donbass); in terms of ethnic composition, these three regions have the highest share of ethnic Russians in Ukraine. Within a month of annexation, a referendum was held in Crimea and roughly 96 percent of the public voted in favor of joining Russia. The results and validity of the referendum, however, have not received international recognition, and international sanctions sent the Russian economy into recession, but Russia has held de facto control of Crimea since 2014.
Ukraine after 2014
Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroschenko, was elected in 2014, and oversaw a period of further decommunization, European integration, and anti-corruption policies, as well as numerous ceasefires in the Donbass region (although none lasted more than six weeks). Poroschenko was defeated in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election, with commentators citing a variety of reasons, such as his own scandals, failure to engage with the Russian community, persistent corruption, and the popularity of his opponent. He was succeeded by a political outsider, the former comedian, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who ran on a populist and reformist platform. Zelenskyy also sought to rekindle relations with Russia, but this proved unsuccessful. In late 2021, Russia began amassing troops along its border with the Donbass region, and in February 2022 it invaded Ukraine: more information about the Russia-Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 34 most important statistics relating to "Ukraine".