Country Profile - Ukraine
Capital/ largest cityKiev
Area603, 628 sq km
Population46,179,226 (2008. est)
Russian, the language of the Soviet Union is still widely spoken in Ukraine; however, Ukrainian is the official language. Most Ukrainian speakers speak Russian as a second language. During the Soviet era, speakers of Ukrainian were in a constant decline, however since independence from the Eastern bloc, the government implemented a policy of Ukrainisation, and the language experienced a resurgence.
The language is part of an East Slavic subgroup, and shares vocabulary with the languages of bordering countries, in particular Polish, Slovak and Russian. There are several existing modern dialects of Ukrainian, including Polissian, Steppe, Slobodan, Lemko and Hutsul, as well as the Rusyn language.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has gone from a planned to market economy, which caused a severe contraction and plummeted much of the population into poverty. However, in 1991 government reforms led to a solution to the problem through liberalisation, but at the same time subsidised government-owned industries - such conflict in economic policy led to hyperinflation, but prices stabilised after the introduction of the new currency, the hryvnia, in 1996. In the early 2000s the economy started to grow and show promise, with its 2007 GDP estimated at $359 billion. With a labour force divided roughly equally between service, industry and agriculture sectors, Ukraine specialises in the exportation of vehicles and spacecraft - since independence, the Ukraine has kept its own Space Agency (NSAU), and became a leading country in scientific space exploration, as well as missile technology.The World Bank refers to Ukraine as a middle income country, due in part to its underdeveloped infrastructure and transportation. However, growing sectors in the country include IT, which in 2007 grew by 40%.
Ukraine is, for the most part, reliant upon Russia for its energy sources, importing oil and natural gas, and as a country is one of the Europe's biggest energy consumers. The country receives a lot of nuclear fuel from Russia, and is, in general, heavily reliant on that source of energy. However, as yet, there has been little headway made in moving towards more renewable and greener sources of energy - for instance in 2005, energy sources were divided between nuclear (47%), thermal (45%) and hydro (8%).
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