• Italy!

    Italy: Rome' historic buildings. Go Now!

    Italy
    Crumbling buildings in Rome (pictured) only add to the atmosphere in a country where old is redefined and western civilization begins. Explore Italy!

  • Ireland!

    Ireland: Cliffs of Moher! Go Now!

    Ireland
    The Emerald Isle is world famous for its landscapes, foods, beers, and culture. Explore Ireland!

  • Albania!

    Albania: Village of Theth! Go Now!

    Albania
    Albania is unique in Europe, starting with its Muslim heritage, but expanding to include food, culture, and even its natural beauty. Explore Albania!

  • Armenia!

    Armenia: Noravank Monastery. Go Now!

    Armenia
    With a unique language, foods, architecture, and identity, Armenia is a fascinating country and culture unlike no other in the world. Begin Your Journey!

  • Switzerland!

    Switzerland: The Matterhorn. Go Now!

    Switzerland
    This mountainous country unites ethnic Germans, French, and Italians; making it home to a number of diverse cultures. Go Now!

  • Latvia!

    Latvia: Art Nouveau in Riga. Go Now!

    Latvia
    Latvia is small, but has a diverse history, foods, and architecture (shown), which includes aspects from both Eastern and Western Europe. Begin Your Journey!

UkraineThe most prominent view on the origin of the name Ukraine comes from the Russian meaning "border region" or "near the border" (in reference to the land's position in comparison to Russia). However, others claim the name means "in land" or "home land."

Україна

WARNING: Ukraine is politically unstable, please read this travel warning before going!

Introduction:

Ukrainian culture is rooted in the towns and villages of the country's mountainous west. In these mountains, each village speaks a slightly different dialect as words from foreign languages are introduced sporadically. Foods, dress, and lifestyle also vary from village to village as each holds on to aspects of differing cultures, histories, and traditions, but all tend to share in their nearly isolated past, which has made each incredibly unique. However, under communism the culture rapidly changed in many ways and these changes are continuing today as urbanization is common, ethnic diversity is growing, and political movements, as well as varying opinions, are common.

The Slavic people that call the Carpathian Mountains home have shared similarities from modern day Poland and Czech Republic to Ukraine and Romania. Even today many similarities can be found across these regions as these people have shared a common lifestyle and foods. Lifestyle, language, ethnicity, and religion were what tied the Ukrainian people together in these mountains. However, others lived in the expansive plains to the east and these plain-dwelling Cossacks shared many cultural aspects to these mountain-dwellers, although their lifestyle vastly differed.

Due to the isolation of many of the Ukrainians in the mountains, the lands that today make up Ukraine became quite diverse as Tatars settled various areas, including the Crimean Peninsula, and the Russians began settling many parts of the country further east. Although many Ukrainians maintained their traditional lifestyle and culture, others adopted aspects of Russian, Tatar, and even Romanian, Hungarian, and Slovak culture.

Among the many outside influences, the Russian had the greatest impact; first in the growth of cities and urbanization, but later in the form of communism. Communism fought rural living (except on farms), fought independent thoughts, and destroyed numerous aspects of Ukrainian culture, including their traditional dress, culture, lifestyle, religion, and to a lesser degree even their language. People were forced to urbanize and take on industrial jobs as on a few occasions the people were starved due to a lack of food in the Soviet Union. While in many ways the Ukrainians fought these changes, the Soviets were quite successful at "Rusifying" many of the people as they had no choice but to submit.

With Ukraine's recent independence from the Soviet Union, local opinions are widely varied. Many people, including the ethnic Russians, seek the past lifestyle and social programs, while many others fight this culture, lifestyle, and mentality, which is sometimes viewed as Russian control over Ukraine. However, the Soviets encouraged Russian immigration to the country, making Ukraine a divided country today. This again leads to further division among the people in terms of both ethnicity as well as opinion.

Today some cultural aspects from the past have returned or survived, including many dialects and traditions found in the Carpathian Mountains. However, Russian culture is more common east of the Dnieper River as well as in some cities. There is also cultural division between generations as many older people prefer living under a more socialist system with social programs and security, while many young people seek greater economic and social freedoms as they look west towards Europe.

Ukraine's flag represents a field of golden grains or sunflowers under the blue sky.

Name: Ukraine
Independence: August 24, 1991
Capital: Kyiv
Currency: Hryvna
Population: 44,573,205 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Ukrainian & Russian
Language: Ukrainian
Religion: Ukrainian Orthodox

Information for Ukraine was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks