Ukraine, which translates as "borderland" or "at the border" is centrally located in Eastern Europe. It is bordered on the north by Belarus, on the south by the Black Sea, on the east by Russia, and on the west by Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova. Being slightly smaller in size than the state of Texas, the country is rich in natural resources including iron ore, manganese, titanium, and natrual gas to mention a few. A little over three fourths of the population is made up of ethnic Ukrainians, approximately 17% Russians, and the remainder consists of Polish, Belarusian, Moldovan, and Hungarian minorities. In 2007, the population was estimated at 46,299,862.
Terrain-wise, Ukraine is mainly fertile plains and plateaus with the Carpathian mountains being found in the west. The country acquired the nickname the Breadbasket of Europe because of the enormous amount of grain it produces. In addition to wheat, corn, and other grains, it produces large crops of sugar beets and sunflowers seeds, as well as beef and dairy cattle and other livestock ("Ukraine").
Among the major rivers in Ukraine are the Dnieper and the Dniester. Being the third largest river in Europe, the Dnieper plays a critical role in linking various parts of central Ukraine. In addition, it provides a major source of hydroelectric power to parts of the country. Kiev, Ukraine's capital and largest city, its situated on the banks of the Dnieper. The city has more than 2.6 million people and is the core of Ukrainian culture ("Ukraine").
The country is well known for its rich tradition in music, literature, and art, along with the folk arts including Pysanky, the beautifully decorated Easter eggs and embroidery in rich colors and patterns. Ukrainian customs are strongly influenced by Christianity, the dominant religion in the country. Most of Ukraine's population is Eastern Orthodox and a smaller number are Ukrainian Greek Catholic. Christianity was first introduced in Ukraine in the year 988 AD when Prince Volodymyr the Great of Kiev accepted Christianity and brought the entire country under the influence of the Byzantine Empire. Prior to that, Ukraine was a pagan nation, as were most European countries. The period was defined by mass baptisms as many converted to Christianity. The new religion was made more accessible to the people with the translation of the scripture into Slavonic, an act credited to Saints Cyril and Methodius ("Ukraine.com").
"Geography of Ukraine." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 20 Jan 2008, 13:18 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 24 Feb 2008 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Geography_of_Ukraine&oldid=185636377.
"History of Christianity in Ukraine." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 3 Mar 2008, 18:42 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 15 Mar 2008 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=History_of_Christianity_in_Ukraine&oldid=195604945.
"Ukraine." The New Book of Knowledge. Volume 19. 2006.
"Ukraine Religions." www.ukraine.com. 15 February 2008. http://www.ukraine.com/religion