Ukraine is a country in the East of Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km2, making it the largest contiguous country on the European continent. Ukraine borders the Russian Federation to the east and northeast, Belarus to the northwest, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to the west, Romania and Moldova to the southwest, and the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to the south and southeast, respectively. It was formerly known as the Ukraine. Ukraine's history began with the Kievan Rus', the precursor to the East Slavs. From the 9th century the Kievan Rus' became a large and powerful nation but disintegrated in the 12th century.

Ukraine was the center of the medieval living area of the East Slavs. After the Great Northern War (1700-1721) Ukraine was divided between a number of regional powers and, by the 19th century, the largest part of Ukraine was integrated into the Russian Empire with the rest under Austro-Hungarian control. After a chaotic period of incessant warfare and several attempts at independence (1917-21) following World War I and the Russian Civil War, it emerged on December 30, 1922 as one of the founding republics of the Soviet Union.


The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic's territory was enlarged westward shortly before and after World War II, and southwards in 1954 with the Crimea transfer. In 1945, the Ukrainian SSR became one of the founding members of the United Nations. Ukraine became independent again after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The territory of present-day Ukraine was a key centre of East Slavic culture in the Middle Ages before being divided between a variety of powers, notably Russia, Poland, Lithuania and the Ottoman Empire. A brief period of independence following the Russian Revolution was ended by Ukraine's absorption into the Soviet Union, and the republic's present borders were only established in 1954. The Ukraine became independent once more following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.