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Country Information Ukraine


at a glance

destination Ukraine

civilization and culture





603 700 square kilometres


45,7 million (July 2009)

Capital city

Kiev (2.7 million, 2007)

Official language

Ukrainian (other languages: Russian 24 %, Roma, Polish and Hungarian)

Gross national product per capita

US$ 6 900 (2008) (PPP)

Population growth

-0.63% (2009)

Life expectancy

68,2 years (men: 62,3 years, women: 74,5 years) (2009)

Infant mortality

9 per 1000 live births (2009)

Rate of illiteracy

0.5% (2007)




According to UNWTO in the year 2005 approximately 2,5 billion Euro were paid by Tourists. The Crimean peninsula, West Ukraine, especially the Carpathian Mountains, are the most important tourist areas. Winter sports centres and new spas are being constructed. The traditional spas and sanatoria dating back to the 19th century are in urgent need of refurbishment to make them suitable for tourists.


Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism

The Ukraine is a source country for the organised trafficking of women, and increasingly also of children. At the same time it is a transit land for people being smuggled to western countries from Asia and Moldavia. It is not usual for tourists to travel to the Ukraine to carry out paedo-sexual offences. Nevertheless, street children are often victims of sexual exploitation. Often they are forced into this by pimps.

Non-governmental organisation have demanded that the Ukrainian government introduce legal reforms, launch awareness-raising campaigns, and train the police, along with other similar measures. 


Legal situation

Cases of child abuse in the Ukraine are not prosecuted adequately. However, in many cases foreign perpetrators find themselves liable to prosecution in their own country. The Ukraine ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in September 1991, and then in August 2003 the optional protocol on child trafficking, child prostitution, and child pornography.



According to estimates from UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, at the end of 2007 approximately 440.000 people in Ukraina were infected with HIV, including 190.000 women and 5.100 children. The numder of infected children quintupled between 2001 and 2007 . In the year 2007 approximately 19.000 Ukrainians died following infection with HIV. There are 1 per cent of the population (1,4 per cent of people aged 15 to 49 years) infected with HIV. That is the highest rate of here listed European countries. The number of new infections increased rapidly (from 2001 to 2007 approximately 230.000 more). With the spread of prostitution, there are also fears of an increase in the frequency of HIV and AIDS.


Local Contacts


International women's rights centre "La Strada-Ukraine"

PO Box 246

01030 Kyiv, Ukraine

Phone/Fax: +380 44 224-04-46




UNICEF - Ukraine

Klovsky Uziz 1

01021 Kiev, Ukraine

Phone: +380 44 230 25 14

Fax: +380 44 230 25 06






The national origins of the Ukraine can be traced back to the 6th - 7th centuries when the feudal Slav state of the Kiev Rus came into being. Christianity was introduced from Byzantium in the 10th century and the Kiev Rus flourished until the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. As the centre of the Rus shifted North, the Ukraine soon found itself on the borderlands (= ukraina). Ruled by Lithuania from the 14th century, in the 16th century it became caught up in the conflict between Poland and the Ottoman Empire. In the south, an independent Cossack state was formed which later became dependent on Russia, while the westernmost part (Galicia) was annexed by Austria.

A Soviet republic was proclaimed in 1917 and after a declaration of independence from Soviet Russia it was re-conquered in 1919 and became part of the Soviet Union. Following collectivisation under Stalin, the country suffered a severe famine 1932-33 in which some 5 million died. It was a theatre of conflict in the Second World War, but flourished again in the post-War period. In 1986 the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power station spread radioactive contamination over large parts of the Ukraine and over parts of Europe. The radioactive contamination still restricts the use of land for farming over large areas.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Ukraine gained its independence and has since attempted to find a balance between Russia and the West.


State and society

Under the constitution of 1996 the country has an elected president and a parliament (Supreme Council). At the end of 2004, Viktor Yushchenko became the new president after an assassination attempt and after a first election had been declared invalid. The country has  27 administrative regions; the Crimea, has a special status.


Famous for having  100 nationalities within its borders, the Ukrainians in fact account for 78% of the population, followed by Russians (17%), and Belarusians (0.6%). While half the population declares no religious affiliation, the Orthodox Church has a significant following, although there are currently disputes between the Russian Orthodox and the Ukrainian Orthodox churches. In addition there are smaller numbers of Ukrainian Catholics, Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Muslims.

There are divisions between the east and west of the country. West Ukraine, which had earlier been ruled by Austria-Hungary, is orienting itself more towards Europe, whereas the east of the country traditionally shows more affinity for Russia. This conflict became particularly evident in the controversial elections of November 2004.


The situation regarding human rights is still unsatisfactory. In particular the conditions in prisons are a cause for concern, as are those in children's homes and mental institutions.

A further problem has been the lack of press freedom.


Although the economic situation has improved in the Ukraine, there have been many losers in the transition process from a Soviet Republic to a modern state. More than a third of the population and more than 80 per cent of pensioners live in extreme poverty. Thousands of old people live in flats without electricity, gas and heating, because they cannot pay the bills. As living conditions become more difficult, alcoholism and domestic violence increase and families break up, with children the main victims. The official statistics report that 106 000 children, aged four to sixteen years, are living in orphans' homes or children's homes. A further 50 000 are homeless, and in addition 9 100 physically or mentally handicapped children are in 58 special institutions, often after being abandoned by their parents.

The social system in the Ukraine is not able to maintain the institutions. The available funds are barely enough to even feed and clothe the children.



After overcoming problems in the transition from a communist economy to a market economy, the Ukraine can now present positive performance statistics. Economic growth in 2004 was above 8%, although the inflation rate of  6% is also relatively high. Nevertheless, the increase in wages (2003 by 13%) have led to a noticeable improvement in living conditions for those in work.


As the former grain basket of the Soviet Union, the economy is still reliant to a considerable extent on the agricultural industry. However, the radioactive contamination of the north and the loss of soil fertility in some areas are leading to problems. Further important sectors of the economy are mining, mechanical engineering, and shipbuilding, as well as the manufacture of domestic electrical appliances.