Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, is a port city located on Dniper river. It is a city of parks, has large railroad junction, and an ancient and proud history.
Understanding a bit about Ukrainian history and culture may help you to understand the country and its people a little better. Learning Russian or Ukrainian takes more commitment, as both are fairly complex languages, Ukrainian is the national language but many expats choose Russian, as it is widely spoken in Ukraine and more useful if travelling around CIS countries.
Ukraine has been continuously occupied since at least 5000 BC. From about 4500 BC to 3000 BC a late Neolithic Trypillian culture flourished, succeeded in the early Bronze Age by the Yamna “Kurgan” culture of the steppes, and by the Catacomb culture in the 3rd millennium BC. Who were in turn, followed by the Dacians, Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmartians, during the Iron Age.
In the 3rd century AD, the Goths arrived and stayed until the Huns overran them in around 370 AD. As a result of the subsequent power vacuum created with the end of Hunnic and Gothic rule, Slavic tribes in 5th century began to expand over much of what is now recognized as Ukraine. According to legend, Kyiv was founded at the end of the 5th century AD by a Slavic family of three brothers and a sister. The brothers Kyi, Khoriv and Schek, together with their sister Lybid, decided to name this new land ‘Kyiv’ after their older brother, Kyiv is translated as “belonging to Kyi”.
In late 9th century, under the reign of the Rurik dynasty, Varangian prince Rurik founded a Kievan Rus, a federation of East Slavic and Finno-Ugric peoples in Eastern and Northern Europe. The modern nations of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine all claim Kievan Rus’ as their cultural ancestors, with Belarus and Russia deriving their names from it. It was around this time that the name “Ukraine”, meaning “borderland”, first appeared. Kyiv was the centre of Kyivan Rus.
Although Christianity had made inroads into territory of Ukraine from as early as the 3rd century, it wasn’t until 988 when Kyiv’s Grand-Duke, Vladimir the Great (Volodymyr), proclaimed Christianity the official religion, baptizing citizens in masse in the Dnipro River.
After the fall of Kievan Rus in 12th century, Ukraine was invaded by Mongols. Later in 15th century, it became a part of Poland. In mid-16th century, a famous Hetman, Bohdan Khmelnytsky formed a Cossack (Kozak) state with three-sided military that controlled the Ottoman Turks to the south, the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania to the West, and Russia to the East. From 18th to 19th century, Ukraine’s semi-independence was slowly replaced by the direct rule of the Tsarist Russian Empire. By the beginning of 20th century, Kyiv was completely dominated by a Russian-speaking population.
After taken over by Soviet Union, there was ban on Ukrainian language. Millions of people died in famine created by Joseph Stalin. In World War II, Kyiv was completely destructed and approximately 1 million Ukrainian Jewish people got killed. After getting severely damaged in World War II, it was restored in mid 1950s. In 1986, when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, the Soviet Union refused international help. Finally, after collapse of Soviet Union, Ukraine became independent in 1991 and Kyiv emerged as a major European capital.
Ukraine has a temperate continental climate with cold, snowy winters and warm summers. Spring and autumn are very short, winter begins as early as November and continues through to March/ April (although Kyiv is usually frozen only from December to February). In winter, the daytime temperature goes down to about –10°C, although there are usually few extreme days.
Ukraine’s current population is 41.3 million (estimate Jul 2021), which has dropped from over 50 million in 1990. Ukrainians account for 82.2% of the population, Russians comprise (13.1%), Jews (0.7%), Belarusians (0.6%), Poles (0.3%), Armenians (0.2%), Azerbaijanis (0.1%), Tatars (0.1%), Georgians (0.1%), Moldovans (0.1%). The total land area is 579,320 Km2 (223,677 sq. miles). 69.4 % of the population is urban (30,334,632 people in 2020).
Modern Kyiv is a mix of the old (Kyiv preserved about 70 percent of more than 1,000 buildings built during 1907–1914) and the new buildings. Kyiv is known as a green city with two botanical gardens and numerous large and small parks. It has many attractions like museums, cathedrals, churches, islands and nightclubs. The Khreschatyk Street becomes a large outdoor party place on weekends during summer where you may enjoy live performances and relax at nearby restaurants, clubs and outdoor cafes. Andriyivskyy Descent is a major tourist attraction.
Kyiv also has many farmer markets from where you can buy variety of farm produces. Almost every street has small/big supermarket, pharmacies, and some small playgrounds for kids. You may also find small/big fitness centre in almost every area of city.
Kyiv is a fairly safe city, but you need to take the same precautions as you would in any big city. Beware of pick- pockets in crowded places, watch your handbags at all times, and don’t leave anything of value in your car. Keep emergency con- tact numbers on you at all times, in case a need arises (this includes a number for medical emergencies, police contact info and the emergency number for your embassy.) When walking around at night, keep to well-lit streets. Men drinking in night- clubs should be wary of drinking with unknown women, as there have been reports of drink spiking, and subsequent robbery.
If you are new to Kyiv and want to know and understand more about Kyiv, we have a detailed guide available to our members. Please click here to join us. We are International Women’s Club of Kyiv (IWCK). However, we welcome people of any gender to join us.
IWCK was founded in 1992 by a group of expatriate women living in Kyiv with the aim of bringing together women of all nationalities to take part in charitable, cultural, and social activities. Over the past 20 years, the club has grown in size, experience, and reputation. Today, the club is seen as a well-respected driving force in the community. IWCK is a registered charity that now raises over a million Hryvnia a year to benefit Kyiv-based, Ukrainian charities. Also, IWCK volunteers run a wide variety of Interest Groups like language exchange, art and craft, cooking, yoga, walking groups, kids club, evening groups, morning coffee, and some events for families. We also organize many fundraising events and all proceeds goes directly to IWCK’s charity programs.
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