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.