Ukraine is located in the eastern part of Europe. The second largest country, in order of geographical area, in Europe borders with Russia to the east, Belarus to the north, Poland and Slovakia to the west and Hungary, Romania and Moldova to the south. Ukraine, situated in the north‑western part of Eastern European lowlands and in the small part of the Carpathian and the Crimean Mountains, is also surrounded by the Black and Azov Sea in the south.


Capital: Kiev (sometimes found as Kyiv)

Area: 603 628 km2

Population: 44.03 million (2017); density is 77 pers./1 km2

Official Language: Ukrainian

Currency: Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH)

Land Use: 58 % arable land, 13 % pasture, 18 % forest, 11 % other

Life Expectancy: males 60.62 yrs.; females 71.96 yrs.

Nationalities: Ukrainians 73.5 %, Russians 21 %, Belarusians 0.8 %, Jews 0.7 %, others 4 %

Life in Ukraine

A large number of displaced persons poses a serious problem for Ukraine. These people have been forced to leave their homes in the eastern part of the country because of the conflict with Russia and consequential fighting. By October 10, 2016, the Ukrainian Ministry of Social Affairs recorded 1.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). People throughout Ukraine know about the problem of migration and IDPs, some of IDPs are also helped by other Ukrainians and they meet with each other often.

A number of Ukrainian citizens want to leave the country due to instability, poor economic future and the armed conflict.


Corruption is one of the most serious problems in education in Ukraine. A large number of teachers demand money from students to pass exams successfully. Usually it is obvious and known in the beginning of every academic year which teacher will take money for exams so students tend to not study knowingly because money is the key to pass exams, not knowledge. In some cases, a teacher does not even come to class to teach. There are also cases when students have a full-time job, only pay for their essays and thesis to be accepted and after that successfully graduate. Then those so-called ‘graduates’ work in power plants, hospitals etc.

Corruption in higher education is one of the main reasons why Ukrainian students prefer to study abroad.

Health Care

Almost four million people living in the east of Ukraine lack access to health services. Hospitals and other health centers are many times being bombarded. Also, there is a lack of proper medicaments and machines in hundreds of health centers. Health care workers are often worried about their safety and so many of them leave the country. Directors of hospitals report catastrophic shortages of medicine.

Corruption is a huge problem also in medical universities, those are the most corrupted from all. Students of the prestigious Kyiv National Medical University admit that bribes are a common practice (in addition, teachers know this fact, but do not fight against it). It is estimated that the purchase of one exam period costs from four to six thousand hryvnia. The price for foreign students is much higher. Activists point out that corruption is quite common after the events on Maidan Square because officials are no longer afraid of anything. On the other hand, this does not mean that there are no young quality doctors in Ukraine.

In Ukraine, doctors and nurses have very low salaries. Sometimes cleaning ladies earn much more. This is why Ukrainian doctors want to work abroad where they are sure of social recognition and sufficient finances.


As much as two-thirds of the country’s surface land consists of the so-called ‘black earth’ (chernozem) which makes 30 % of the world’s reserves. 57 % of the land is cultivated. Currently, Ukraine holds the world’s leading position in export of sunflower oil and barley.


In Ukraine, the Orthodox religion prevails, in the Western regions Catholic, specifically Greek Catholic and Roman Catholic.

Economic and social situation

The long-standing economic problems culminated in 2014 in connection with Maidan events. This, of course, did not remain without consequences for social situation of the population. The causes of the crisis include the international political position of the country which ended up in conflict with Russia, its former ally and its trading partner. The instability subsequently caused an outflow of foreign investment. Ukraine’s economy and the standard of living of ordinary Ukrainians were also affected by reforms carried out on the basis of requirements of international financial institutions.

According to the Ukrainian Statistical Office, the average wage in Ukraine during 2016 was around 5,000 UAH (slightly less than 5,000 CZK; almost 168 EUR) and was very low even in comparison with other post-Soviet countries. The poverty rate in Ukraine increased from 15.2% in 2014 to 22.2% in 2015.

War Conflict

At the end of November 2013, the Ukrainian government has decided to pause process of signing the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union – in turn, several cities, mostly on west and in central regions, were struck by protests. However, demonstrations were not participated en masse, with several hundred to a thousand people, mostly students, taking part. By the end of the month, the protests had practically disappeared although on several squares in the largest cities of Ukraine, people had been staying overnight. At about four o’clock on 30th of November in main city square of Kiev (Maidan Nezalezhnosti), the special units “Berkut” hit a hundred peacefully protesting students. Majority of the activists hid in a nearby monastery.

Mass protests broke out in Kiev over the next few days – according to police estimate, around 600 000 protesters gathered in the center of the Ukrainian capital. Their main requirement was to punish the perpetrators of the night intervention against the students. A crowd of people invaded the Maidan Square, where they built barricades and tents.

The situation intensified in mid-January 2014. On 16th of January, the Ukrainian Parliament carried the “dictatorial laws” which were signed the next day by the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. In fact, this legislative initiative meant that any protest happening from that day on would be illegal in the country.

Clashes between police and protesters followed the signing. Skirmishes culminated on 18th -20th of February, 2014. The government announced an anti-terrorist operation and armed forces attacked the protesters. In addition to “Berkut”, the participation of snipers has been proven. The death toll exceeded one hundred.

Shortly thereafter, President Yanukovych fled to Rostov on Don in the Russian Federation. The Parliament voted by a constitutional majority to dismiss Viktor Yanukovych as President, while the opposition politician Oleksandr Turchyn became the provisional head of state.

Maidan events have triggered a political crisis in the country. In spring 2014, Russia used the period of turbulence to occupy the Crimea peninsula and to launch a war in Donbas in the east of Ukraine. The separatists of Russia are fighting in the region against the Kiev government. The fighting has already claimed 10,000 casualties.

The war in the east of Ukraine continues, the Minsk protocols have been signed to resolve the difficult geopolitical situation, but so far the situation remained the same. The intensity of the fighting has decreased, but is still a common part of the lives of many Ukrainians.