General Information about Ukraine

Ukraine is located in the central Europe at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Ukraine borders on Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Belarus and Russia. Having the total area of 603,700, Ukraine is one of the biggest countries of Europe.  The country is subdivided into 24 regions (oblasts) and the Crimea - autonomous republic.  The capital is Kyiv (Kiev in Russian transliterations). Time
GMT + 2 hours

48 760 000 people (July 2001 est.)

State symbolic
Flag National Emblem

The Ukrainian national emblem is a golden Trident (tryzoob), which dates back to Rjurik Dynasty, the governors of Kievan Rus.


The climate is moderately continental and comparatively dry with more than 290 sunny days in the year in the South Ukraine (Black Sea coast, Crimea). 

Average winter temperature:
from -8° to -15° C (between +17.6° F and +5° F)
In Southern regions the winter temperature hovers around freezing. 
Falling snow and -10° C (+14° F) is a really rare occurrence, which is usually replaced by a thaw.

Average summer temperature:
from +18° to +25° C (between +64,4° and +77° F), though in daytime can get up over +35° C (+95° F). 

For converting Fahrenheit into Celsius and back the following formula is used:
F = (1,8 x C) + 32 C = 0,55 x (F - 32)

Temperature calculator: °F:  = °C:  
Enter the value in appropriate field and press <TAB> button to calculate. Geography
Ukraine is located in East-Europe plain. The most part of the country is in low-lying lands, fertile plains (steppes) with two highland areas: in the South -Crimean Mountains (the highest point: mt. Ramantkosh, 1,545 meters) and in the West - Carpathian Mountains (the highest point: mt. Hoverla, 2,061 meters).

Southern coast of Ukraine is washed by the Black and Azov Sea, coast line is 2,782 km. The majority of Ukrainian rivers flow into the Black Sea, among the biggest are Dnipro, Dnister, Danube, Desna, Pivdenyj (Southern) Booh. 

Natural resources: iron ore, coal, manganese, natural gas, oil, salt, sulfur, graphite, titanium, magnesium, kaolin, nickel, mercury, timber and arable land. 

State language is Ukrainian. The majority of Ukrainians are bilingual and speak Russian as well. Russian is used widely in the Crimea, Odessa, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk. Among foreign languages the most popular is English.

You would be impressed with quantity and quality of restaurants here - national Ukrainian cuisine, European entrees, Italian Pizzerias or just fast food. Most restaurants have affordable prices even for a traveler of modest means.

Ukrainian cuisine restaurants become more and more popular with traditional Borsch – red and green, several kinds of Ukrainian Vareniki (dumplings) stuffed with potatoes, mushrooms, all kinds of meat or cheese, Golubtsy (cabbage rolls) - cabbage leaves stuffed with rice, meat, carrot and fried onion, usually served with sour-cream, jellied meat with horse-radish, suckling pig, stuffed fish and plenty of other Ukrainian specialties. Ukrainian cuisine is rich of natural components grown in the fertile Ukrainian soil. Tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet onion, lettuce, peaches, watermelons, apples, grapes - all vegetable and fruits produced in Ukraine taste marvelous.

Speaking about drinking water, the majority of food stores and supermarkets in Ukraine have a big choice of bottled water: carbonated and non-carbonated, mineral or simple potable water.

Do not drink the tap water. Use bottled water only, even to brush your teeth. The water purification system in Ukraine needs serious upgrade, and till it is not made avoid using tap water for drinking.

The standard electric supply in Ukraine is 220V/ 50 Hz. Ukrainian plugs are of the same kind as in the most European countries – two round pins. If electric appliances you bring have different specs make sure to take a converter and/or plug adapter. To save electric power, in the last week of March all watches in Ukraine are set an hour forward and one hour backward in the last week of October.

Public Transportation
Most Ukrainian cities have extensive public transport system which operates from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Buses, trams and trolleys are rather slow, but it is a cheap way to travel within cities. Prices range from 30 kopecks to 2 hryvnas.

Taxi is comparatively cheap for Ukrainian/Russian speaking passengers. Probably everywhere situation with taxi is like this – if one speaks a foreign language price for a taxi goes up. There are numerous taxi services, orders are taken via phone. A taxi or a gypsy cab can be hired right on the street simply by putting out your hand. Services of gypsy cabs are less expensive but are not recommended from the safety point of view. However, if you wish to use a gypsy cab make sure there is nobody else inside but the driver and negotiate the price before you get in the car.

Ukraine is famous for its high-quality textile, as well as food products and drinks: delicatessen, caviar, confectionery, chocolate, juices, beer, vodka, Crimea wines and plenty of others. Shops and markets trade via Hryvna only. However, some of shops accept Visa, MasterCard/EuroCard. You can identify such places by credit cards signs on the entrance door.

Buying a souvenir, a painting, a sculpture or other handcrafts it is a good idea to get a certificate identifying historical value (its absence) of the purchased good. This document might be useful when going through the customs upon departure from Ukraine. 

Working hours
State and public offices are opened from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, with a lunch hour from 1p.m. as a rule. 

The majority of stores are opened from 10a.m. to 7p.m. and closed only on Sunday. A lunch hour is usually either from 1 to 2p.m. or from 2 to 3p.m.

As for food stores, many of them work 24 hours 7 days a week, a few – from 8a.m. to 8p.m.Usual work time for cafes and restaurants is from 10-12 a.m. until a last customer leaves.

Most banks are open to public from 9a.m. to 3p.m with a lunch hour from 1 to 2 p.m. and are closed on Saturday, Sunday. 

Ukrainian Holidays

Governmental system
Ukraine is a republic with a constitutional democracy form of government, headed by the President. The power is divided among executive, legislative and judicial branches.

President of Ukraine: Victor Yuschenko ( elected by popular vote for a five-year terms in 2004). The President designates a Prime Minister and regional governors, the Parliament can veto his decisions.

Executive branch: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the President and approved by the Parliament. Prime Minister: Yulia Timoshenko (since Feb 2005)  

Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament of 450 seats. Under Ukraine’s election law, half of the Parliament seats are allocated on a proportional basis to those parties that gain 4% or more of the national electoral vote; the other 225 members are elected by popular vote in single-mandate constituencies. All serve four-year terms. Next elections are in 2006, on proportional basis solely.