History of Ukraine
WARNING: Ukraine is politically unstable,
please read this travel warning before going!
Ukraine's settled history begins in the 7th century
BC when the Greeks established a couple settlements along
the Black Sea coast. Over a thousand years later the Slavs were forming a more and
more distinct ethnicity and in 879 AD the Rus unified in Kyiv and over the next
couple hundred years continued to grow until 989, when they adopted Eastern Orthodox
After the death of their ruler, Yaroslav, in 1054, the empire fell into small individual
states so when the Mongols arrived in 1240, they easily
took the entire region. Their rule continued until the 1400s when the Golden Horde
(the Mongols) collapsed.
During much of this same period, the Carpathian Mountains of present-day
Ukraine fell under Polish and western Slavic rule.
Being in the mountains, some of these regions even withstood Mongol
takeover. This rule by Poland created better communication with the west and a fairly
distinct culture from that in the east and south of modern-day Ukraine.
In the mid-1400s, the Golden Horde was collapsing and each individual region began
to rule itself, some by Slavs, some by the Mongol descendants,
the Tatars, and some by the Cossacks, who typically consisted of a mix of ethnicities
from the surrounding areas. Over time the Cossacks formed a more distinctly defined
identity, which differentiated them from the Turks and Poles through religion and from the western
Ukrainians by lifestyle. In 1654 the Cossacks tried to free themselves
from Polish rule, but their protests only resulted in placing themselves under Russian rule, which was a group that developed from the
original Kyivian Rus, but moved more northward under Mongol rule.