Ukraine History and Culture

Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe with (2018) around 45 million residents; The capital is Kiev.


There is a nine-year compulsory schooling from the age of 6/7 years. According to topschoolsintheusa, the school system is divided into the four-year primary level, the five-year lower secondary level (transition to vocational schools) and the two- or three-year upper secondary level (qualification: university entrance qualification). The higher education system comprises numerous universities, academies and institutes. The oldest universities are the universities of Lviv (founded in 1661), Kharkiv (1805) and Kiev (1834).


Part of today’s Ukraine belonged in the 9th century to the Kiev Empire, which arose on the central Dnieper and was won from Byzantium for the Orthodox Church. Disintegrated into several principalities in the 12th century and conquered by the Mongols in 1239/40, the greater part came under the rule of Poland-Lithuania from the 14th century. Zaporozhian Cossacks on the lower Dnieper founded an independent state in Ukraine in 1648, which, however, soon came under the influence of the Russian Empire. The west (Galicia) came under Austrian rule in the 18th century. Your state independence after the First World War could not save Ukraine. In 1922 it became part of the communist Soviet Union. Forced collectivization and Stalinist terror left great human losses. The Second World War brought widespread destruction. Only after the collapse of the USSR in 1991 did Ukraine become a sovereign state. However, the transformation led to economic upheaval and political conflicts, including between the Ukrainian and Russian-speaking parts of the country. Mass protests led in 2004 in the “Orange Revolution” and in 2013 in the “Maidan Revolution” to democratization and a stronger turn to the West. In 2014 Russia annexed Crimea and supported separatists in the east. This resulted in a military conflict in which more than 12,000 people lost their lives and 1.5 million were displaced.

Detailed information: Ukrainian history


Cultural evidence in the area of ​​today’s Ukraine goes back to the Stone and Bronze Ages (Eastern Europe). In ancient times, the north coast of the Black Sea belonged to the Greek cultural area, which met the Scythian and Thracian settlements there. In the steppe areas between the Dniester and Donets, the influences of sedentary cultures crossed with those of equestrian peoples from the Eurasian region (steppe art), such as Pechenegs and Tatars (Crimean Tatars) until modern times. A line of tradition, particularly in the folklore of Ukraine, was Cossackism, which also became the subject of literature in the 19th century. The Eastern Slavs, which have spread since late antiquity, were won over to Christian Orthodox Christianity in the Kiev Empire (Ukrainian churches). Evidence of this are the church and monastery buildings (Byzantine art), especially the St. Sophia Cathedral and the Pechersk Lavra in Kiev and the icon painting.

The Ukrainian art, the Ukrainian literature and the music followed essentially the development in Russia; Russian influence increased with the political annexation of Ukraine in the 17th century. Thus, the representatives of classical literature (M. Bulgakow , N. Gogol , T. Shevchenko ) and art (K. Malewitsch ) attributed to the Russian “high culture”. Nevertheless, Schwewchenko is revered as a Ukrainian “national poet”; The most important cultural award in Ukraine is named after him. In contrast to the Russian-influenced high culture or the socialist ideology in the Soviet Union, a folk culture and identity-creating customs developed. Evidence of this are wooden churches and traditional wooden houses (today, among others, in the Museum of Folk Architecture and Customs in Pyrohiw), Petrykivka painting, painted Easter eggs (»Pysanka«) and embroidery. There is also a large pool of folk songs and instrumental music (»troista muzyka«).

In terms of architecture, the Ukrainian Baroque developed particularly, but not exclusively, in western Ukraine, including in Lviv, which, like Kiev and the Russian-influenced Odessa, were centers of Jewish culture in Eastern Europe until the 20th century. The Ukrainian language, written in Cyrillic, was created in the 19th century, starting from Galicia on written and literary language. However, it had a difficult position compared to Russian until the state independence in 1991. The Ukrainian and Ukrainian-language contemporary literature has developed dynamically since then and is also attracting attention abroad. She is often devoted to controversial topics from recent Ukrainian history. At the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 Jamala won with a song about the deportation of the Crimean Tatars (»1944«). Since the Maidan Revolution in 2014, a diverse youth and subculture has developed in the big cities. International music festivals take place in Kiev, Lviv and Odessa. Popular sports are soccer (Shakhtar Donetsk, European Championship 2012) and boxing (Klitschko brothers).

World Heritage Sites (K) and World Natural Heritage Sites (N) in Ukraine

  • St. Sophia Cathedral and Pechersk Lavra in Kiev (K; 1990)
  • Historic center of Lviv (Lwow / Lwiw) (K; 1998)
  • Measuring points of the Struve arch (K; 2005)
  • Beech forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe (N; 2007)
  • Residence of the Metropolitans in Chernivtsi (K; 2011)
  • Wooden churches in the Carpathian Mountains (K; 2013)
  • Ancient city of Tauride Chersonese (K; 2013)
  • Beech forests of the Carpathian Mountains and other regions of Europe (N; 2017)

Ukraine History and Culture

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