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The country of Ukraine, sometimes called "the Ukraine" is a sovereign state in eastern Europe. Its eastern and northeastern borders are shared by Russia with Belarus on its northwest border, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia on its western border, and Romania and Moldova on the southwest bore. The Black Sea to the south, and the Sea of Azov to the south and southeast. It is a unitary republic under a semi-presidential system with legislative, Judicial, and executive branches.

The official language is Ukrainian, but there are eleven recognized regional languages, including Belarusian, Bulgarian, Crimean Tatar, Gagauz, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Slovak, and Yiddish.

Ukraine has a long and turbulent history. The Ukrainian steppe was invaded by the Goths, the Avars, the Bulgars, and the Huns during the early Christian era.

The establishment of the East Slavic state of Kiev by a viking dynasty led by a man named Rurik, was taken on by Prince Oleg of Novgorod, a viking king who led and united the Rus' people during the early 10th century. After the death of Rurik, Oleg moved the capital of the settlement to Kiev and founded Kievan Rus', a loose federation of East Slavic European tribes which lasted until the Mongol invasion in 1240.

Prior to the Rus', the East Slavs were divided between the Varangians, or Vikings, and the Khazars, but the Kievan Rus' served to help unite the majority of the East Slavic tribes.

Today's people of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine consider the Kievan Rus' to be their cultural ancestors. It is where the Russians and Belarusians get their names.

The southern expansion of the Rus' spurred on a lot of conflict in this volatile situation with the Khazars. Over the years, they dominated the market place and traded often and reliably with the Byzantine Empire as well as becoming their allies against the Arabs as well as the Persians, but by the time the 10th century was underway, the Khazars were unable to command tribute from the Bulgars and others, and their relationship with the Byzantines collapsed.

Oleg died in 913 and was succeeded by Prince Igor. For the next 20 years, peace prevailed in the Rus'. And then in 941, Igor led an attack on Constantinople over the issue of trading rights. They sailed right in and began to burn the churches, monasteries, and towns as well as butchering people as they looted the region in typical Viking manner. The Byzantine military used incendiary weapons such as Greek fire throwers to repel the Rus'. This worked, though the Rus' returned soon enough.

In 945, Prince Igor died, and his son, Sviatoslav, took his place, though Igor's widow Olga ruled as his regent until 963, when he reached the age of majority.

At its peak in the middle of the 11th century, the territory conceded the Ru' went from the headwaters of the Vistula River in the west to the Taman Peninsula in the east and from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south.

But regional clans weakened the Kievan Rus' and in 1132, a recession fell upon the state. A series of bad strategy caused internal conflict, the sacking of the city, and eventually, the collapse of Kiev. By the beginning of the 13th century, the Kievan state was fragmented beyond repair, and it had been divided into twelve separate principalities.

In 1240, the Mongols invaded, and by the end of the 15th century, the Muscovites sacked Kiev and claimed various territories for themselves, collapsing the Kievan Ru' entirely.

In the 15th century, the Cossacks, an up-and-coming martial society wherein the members banded together or mutual protection took care of Ukraine, defending the people from the Turks, the Tatars, and the Muscovites when needed, and they were active in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Tsardom of Russia. Over time, however, they became dangerous, and they were uncontrollable or to limit the number of members. Beginning in 1591, the Cossacks revolted repeatedly.

In 1648, after the King absolutely refused to let the Cossacks expand their numbers, a huge uprising of the Ukrainian Cossacks began. That, coupled with numerous incursions into the south by the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sweden in the north weakened the Stardom of Muscovy greatly.

In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, more than 300,000 Ukrainians formed a "human chain for Ukranian independence. The "chain" stretched from Kiev to Lviv. Ukraine made an official declaration of its independence, and a referendum was scheduled at the end of 1991, and the voters voted overwhelmingly for independence. More than 90% of the citizens voted in favor of independence with a majority in every region. On December 26, the USSR was dissolved by its founders, represented by the presidents of Russia and Belarus.



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