Ukraine Geography and Population

Ukraine (Geography)

The current borders belong to the post-war period. At the time of the peace agreement, the then Ukrainian Soviet Republic was expanded to former Polish, Czechoslovak and Romanian territories, and then in 1954 the Crimean peninsula was transferred from the Russian Soviet Republic. Ukraine is predominantly plains. To the west, however, lie the Volyn-Podolian Highlands and the Carpathians, to the south the mountains of southern Crimea and to the SE Donetsk Plateau. The country is crossed by south-going rivers (Dnestr, Bug, Dnieper, Donets), which flow into the Black Sea and the Sea of ‚Äč‚ÄčAzov. Typical natural vegetation in the lowlands is grassland. The climate is temperate mainland climate, almost subtropical on the south coast of Crimea.


Ukraine’s bloody history in the 1900’s is reflected, probably without European counterpart, in the development of the population, whose number in 1913-60 only grew from 35 million to 42 million. The human losses due to World War I, civil war and subsequent famine were millions, the collectivization of agriculture and the associated famine in 1932-33 cost 5-7 million people their lives, and finally World War II in Ukrainian territory entailed losses that lay of 15-20% of the population, including almost all the Jews of present-day western Ukraine. The population development stabilized after World War II, but the number is now declining, in the context of the deep crisis after independence; the decline in 1999 was estimated at 0.6% per year. In total, the population has fallen by more than DKK 4 million. from independence until 2005.Ukrainian-speaking; it is a difference that in all elections in independent Ukraine has proved to have political significance.

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Due to its location and natural resources, Ukraine has been a key area in the economic development of both Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union. Ukraine played a crucial role in Russian grain production and exports before World War I, and Ukrainian agriculture was a major target of collectivization in the 1930’s. A significant part of the Ukrainian lowlands consists of the fertile black soil, chernozem, and important crops are wheat and corn in addition to potatoes, sugar beets, vegetables and wine. Ukraine also played a major role in the incipient industrialization that took place in Tsarist Russia, and not least during the 1930’s five-year plans, where several large and prestigious projects were located in Ukraine, including investments in hydropower at the Dnieper. The iron ore in Krivoj Rogin central Ukraine and the coals of the Donets formed the basis of the construction of Ukrainian heavy industry and a significant machinery industry. Other important minerals are manganese, phosphates and titanium, as well as oil and natural gas. Electricity production (1998) is based on fossil fuels (45%), hydropower (10%) and nuclear power (45%). Several oil and gas pipelines from the fields in Russia have been routed through Ukraine. The main port on the Black Sea is Odessa.

The economic development since independence has been marked by crisis due to administrative chaos and the sudden collapse of most of the economic networks that existed before 1991, including trade relations with other parts of the Soviet economy. According to official figures (1999), national income has halved since 1991. Despite the decline, unemployment has been modest, but it is rising as a result of reform policies and the liquidation of the public sector. In 2005, official unemployment was below 3%, while real unemployment was estimated to be much higher. The decline in industry is general, but has hit relatively hardest in the machinery industry, while energy-intensive (metallurgical) and partly labor-intensive productions have experienced relatively smaller declines. The development has contributed to a significant import of energy, which not only weighs on the trade balance but also leads to dependence on the energy exporter Russia. Energy dependence also means that Ukraine, despite international pressure, has been reluctant to close nuclear power plants; the work in Chernobyl, which experienced a catastrophe in 1986, was closed permanently in Dec. 2000.

Many large companies in the traditional industrial sectors are still state-owned, while the approximately 11,000 collective farms were privatized in the period 1999-2001, which led to an increase in agriculture. Reform legislation in other areas (corporate law, regulation of financial institutions, tax law, etc.) is slowly and often arbitrarily evolving, contributing to a widespread black economy and the crime and corruption that are pervading the entire Ukrainian society. A particular obstacle to the development of economic reform is the weak political and administrative system, whose reliability and ability to implement decisions are considered to be at the lowest level in Eastern Europe. In 2000, however, significant economic growth began, which lasted until 2005, when a sharp decline was noted. For culture and traditions of Ukraine, please check aparentingblog.


The environmental problems are very big in the form of pollution of the air and water in rivers and on the Black Sea coast, and there is a shortage of drinking water and forest death. There have been no means to reduce the environmental impact of heavy industries and other companies, and the use of coal of ever lower quality increases air pollution, just as the lack of maintenance of hydropower plants and not least nuclear power plants poses safety risks to the population. The environmental problems are sought to be remedied with assistance from abroad, e.g. EU, but aid is insufficient and its effect is hampered by problems in the political-administrative system.