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Kyiv is thecapital of Ukraine and one of the largest and oldest cities in Europe, an important political, socio-economic, industrial, scientific, educational, and cultural centre of the country.


According to the legend in the Primary Chronicle ('The Tale of Bygone Years', 12th century), at the end of the 5th - the beginning of the 6th centuries three brothers, Kiy, Shchek and Khoriv, and their sister Lybed, founded a town and named it after their elder brother Kiy, as "Kyiv".
The evolution of Kyiv into a city is indivisible from the development of the old Kyivan-Rus feudal state. By the end of the 9th century Kyiv was the political center of the Eastern Slavs. Kyiv's development accelerated during the reign of Prince Volodymir the Great (980-1015), and during the reign of Yaroslav the Wise the golden age of Kyiv came. At this time the new main town gate was the Golden Gate and the main church – the St. Sophia's Cathedral. In the 15th century Kyiv was granted the Magdeburg Rights. In 1615, the Kiev Brotherhood School, the founder of the Kievo-Mogila Academy, began building schools throughout Ukraine. By the 18th century, Kyiv with its hundreds of churches, the world-renowned Pechersk Lavra Monastery, St. Sophia's Cathedral (which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage list) became a cultural, spiritual and educational center.

The city lost its power only in 1240, being destroyed by the Mongolo-Tatars. In 1362, Kyiv was included into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Rzecz Pospolita Commonwealth, and in 1654 became a part of the Russian state (from 1721 the Russian Empire). In 1934 it was chosen for the capital of the Ukrainian SSR. Since 1991 it has been the capital of independent Ukraine.


Within the city, there are 20 theaters and 9 concert halls, and more than 50 museums. Kiev has a population of more than 2.7 million people. The flag of the City of Kyiv is a blue flag with the images on it of the patron of Kyiv the Archangel Michael with the sword and shield in his hand. The flag has a yellow border.

"Ukraina" means "borderland," and indeed Ukraine has been a borderland tor much of this millennium. This contrasts with the early tenth through the mid-thirteenth century, when Ukraine comprised the heartland of one of medieval Europe's largest states. Kievan Rus'. Kiev, the capital, was a major center of trade, Orthodox Christianity, and old Slavic culture, and thus was a formidable political rival of Constantinople. The preeminent ruler of Kievan Rus' Yaroslav the Wise (1036-1054), codified its laws, established a stable administration, and thereby created the conditions for a golden age of culture. At a time when Moscow was an insignificant settlement and St. Petersburg did not yet exist, Yaroslav cemented his state's international ties by marrying his daughters to the kings of France. Hungary, and Norway. Since 1991, Ukraine has been an independent state. For several hundred years, however, most of Ukraine was an integral part of first, tsarist Russia and then the Soviet Union. Now a colony became one of Europe's largest states. Although both the Russian and the Soviet empires left indelible marks on Ukraine and Ukrainians, the Soviet imprint was deeper, because it was more recent and because the USSR represented a historically unique political system—a totalitarian empire.

The fall of the Soviet Union has thus bequeathed two legacies to Ukraine and the other successor states: imperial collapse and totalitarian ruin. The legacy of empire encourages the forceful promotion of rapid and fundamental change; the legacy of totalitarianism negates the very possibility of that change. Coping with these contradictory legacies, overcoming their baneful effects, and producing modem, democratic, market-oriented states is the complex challenge facing Ukraine and its neighbors. Unlike most of the other Soviet successor states, Ukraine matters. It is important for a variety of reasons that ensure it a central role in the future of Europe and thus in the foreign policy of the United States. First on the list are Ukraine's impressive physical size, economic potential, and resource endowment. Second is Ukraine's propinquity to—indeed, some might argue that Ukraine is part of—Central Europe in general and to Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary in particular. Third is Ukraine's defining impact on Russia. Fourth is Ukraine's resultant importance to the stabiity and security of Europe as a whole. Size and resources make Ukraine the largest and most powerful country between Germany and Russia. Although Berlin and Moscow have historically tended to view East-Central Europe as lying within their respective spheres of influence, the collapse of communism and the emergence of independent successor states will probably transform this former hinterland into a coherent political-economic space with an authentic identity of its own. For all of Ukraine's actual and potential importance, the country remains virtually unknown throughout most of the world.

One reason is that, as a Soviet republic, Ukraine was presumed, not altogether incorrectly, to be the equivalent of a Canadian province, American state, or German Land, meriting relatively little foreign policy attention. No less important was the extreme difficulty Western journalists had in acquiring accurate information about Ukraine. Kiev, the capital, is its largest city (population 2.6 million); four other cities have a population of over one million; forty-six have a population of over 100,000. Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaponzhrhia, and Kryvy Rih, all in the east, are the major industrial centers; Mykolaiv, Kherson, and Odessa are port cities with shipbuilding facilities; Sevastopol is the home of the Black Sea Fleet; in the west, formerly Hapsburg Lviv is Ukraine's most European city. Most of Ukraine consists of fertile steppelands and forest-steppes. The predominantly low-lying territory stands in sharp contrast to the Carpathian Mountains in the west and the Crimean Mountains in the south. The Dnieper (Dnipro) River, dividing Ukraine into a Left Bank in the east and a Right Bank in the west, is the country's major artery as well as a source of poetic imagery and popular myth. An abundance of black earth soils make most of Ukraine ideally suited to agriculture; natural resources are concentrated in the Donets Basin or Donbas, the Dnieper-Kryvy Rih Basin, and in the Carpathian foothills.