Ukraine Travel Fact Sheet
What the People are Called
Most ethnic Ukrainians live in Ukraine where they make up over three-quarters of the population. The largest population of ethnic Ukrainians outside of Ukraine live in Russia where about 1.9 million Russian citizens consider themselves ethnic Ukrainians, while millions of others (primarily in southern Russia and Siberia) have some Ukrainian ancestry. The inhabitants of the Kuban, for example, have vacillated among three identities, Ukrainian, Russian (an identity supported by the Soviet regime), and "Cossack". Approximately 800,000 people of Ukrainian ancestry live in the Russian Far East in an area known historically as "Green Ukraine".
According to some previous assumptions, there are also almost an estimated 2.1 million of people of Ukrainian origin in North America (1.2 million in Canada and 890,000 in the United States). Large numbers of Ukrainians live in Brazil (500,000),Moldova (375,000), Kazakhstan (about 333,000), Poland (estimates from 300,000 to 400,000), Argentina (300,000), Belarus (estimates from 250,000 to 300,000), Portugal (100,000), Romania (estimates from 60.000 to 90.000) and Slovakia (55,000). There are also Ukrainian diasporas in the UK, Australia, Germany, Latvia, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Ireland, Sweden and the former Yugoslavia.
In the last decades of the 19th century, many Ukrainians were forced to move to the Asian regions of Russia, while many of their counterpart Slavs under Austro-Hungarian rule emigrated to the New World seeking work and better economic opportunities. Today, a large ethnic Ukrainian minority reside in Russia, Canada, the United States, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Italy and Argentina. According to some sources, around 20 million people outside Ukraine identify as having Ukrainian ethnicity,however the official data of the respective countries calculated together doesn't show more than 10 million. Ukrainians have one of the largest diasporas in the world.
Among Ukrainians, there are several distinct subethnic groups, especially in western Ukraine: places like Zakarpattia and Halychyna. Among them the most known are Hutsuls, Volhynians, Boykos and Lemkos (otherwise known as Rusyns – a derivative of Ruthenians), each with peculiar area of settlement, dialect, dress, anthropological type and folk traditions. There are several theories about the origin of each of these groups. Ukrainian subethnic groups also include Polishchuks, Bodnars and Kuban Cossacks. Some of these subethnic groups were strongly influenced by the neighboring nations, but according to all relevant indicators they belong to the mainstream of Ukrainian people.
Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH)
Eastern European Time (UTC+2) Summer (DST) Eastern European Summer Time (UTC+3)
Major Languages Spoken
According to the constitution, the state language of Ukraine is Ukrainian. Russian is widely spoken, especially in eastern and southern Ukraine. According to the 2001 census, 67.5 percent of the population declared Ukrainian as their native language and 29.6 percent declared Russian. Most native Ukrainian speakers know Russian as a second language. Russian was the de facto official language of the Soviet Union but both Russian and Ukrainian were official languages in the Soviet Union and in the schools of the Ukrainian SSR learning Ukrainian was mandatory. Effective in August 2012, a new law on regional languages entitles any local language spoken by at least a 10% minority be declared official within that area. Russian was within weeks declared as a regional language in several southern and eastern oblasts (provinces) and cities. Russian can now be used in these cities'/oblasts' administrative office work and documents. On 23 February 2014, following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, the Ukrainian Parliament voted to repeal the law on regional languages, making Ukrainian the sole state language at all levels; however, this vote was vetoed by acting President Turchynov on March 2.
Ukrainian is mainly spoken in western and central Ukraine. In western Ukraine, Ukrainian is also the dominant language in cities (such as Lviv). In central Ukraine, Ukrainian and Russian are both equally used in cities, with Russian being more common in Kiev, while Ukrainian is the dominant language in rural communities. In eastern and southern Ukraine, Russian is primarily used in cities, and Ukrainian is used in rural areas. These details result in a significant difference across different survey results, as even a small restating of a question switches responses of a significant group of people.
For a large part of the Soviet era, the number of Ukrainian speakers declined from generation to generation, and by the mid-1980s, the usage of the Ukrainian language in public life had decreased significantly. Following independence, the government of Ukraine began restoring the image and usage of Ukrainian language through a policy of Ukrainisation. Today, all foreign films and TV programs, including Russian ones, are subtitled or dubbed in Ukrainian.
According to the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukrainian is the only state language of the republic. However, the republic's constitution specifically recognises Russian as the language of the majority of its population and guarantees its usage 'in all spheres of public life'. Similarly, the Crimean Tatar language (the language of 12 percent of population of Crimea) is guaranteed a special state protection as well as the 'languages of other ethnicities'. Russian speakers constitute an overwhelming majority of the Crimean population (77 percent), with Crimean Tatar speakers 11.4 percent and Ukrainian speakers comprising just 10.1 percent. But in everyday life the majority of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians in Crimea use Russian.
The Ukrainian alphabet is the set of letters used to write Ukrainian, the official language of Ukraine. It is one of the national variations of the Cyrillic script.
In Ukrainian it is called Украї́нська абе́тка [ukrɑˈjinʲsʲkɑ ɑˈbɛtkɑ], Ukrayins’ka abetka (from the initial letters a and be), алфаві́т, alfavit, or archaically азбу́ка, azbuka (from the acrophonic early Cyrillic letter names az and buki).
Ukrainian text is sometimes romanized: written in the Latin alphabet, for non-Cyrillic readers or transcription systems. See romanization of Ukrainian for details of specific romanization systems. There have also been several historical proposals for a native Latin alphabet for Ukrainian, but none have caught on.
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