Republic. Gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Head of state:
Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov since 2014.
Head of government:
Acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk since 2014.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. European plugs with two round pins are used.
Vast and vaguely mysterious, Ukraine is barely known to outsiders despite being one of the largest countries in Europe. Long associated with its colossal neighbour Russia, it’s a country of varied landscapes and surprising cultural diversity. The Carpathian Mountains that spill over the border with Poland, Hungary and Romania dominate the west of the country while flat plains carpeted with sunflowers and cereals make up much of the central and eastern region. To the south are the almost Mediterranean-like Black Sea coast and the Crimean Peninsula, which remains a huge draw for holidaymakers every summer.
Ukraine's capital, Kiev, founded in the eighth century, displays a heady mix of architecture befitting of a city that was once capital of Kievan Rus, the precursor of the modern Russian state. A wealth of baroque and Renaissance architecture can also be found in Lviv, one of Europe's oldest cities, while Odessa is probably best known for the Potemkin Stairway that featured in Sergei Eisenstein’s epic film The Battleship Potemkin.
Last updated: 19 April 2014
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Crimea and all but essential travel to the eastern regions (oblasts) of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Lugansk due to increased tensions in the region.
British nationals in Crimea should leave now. The FCO is not able to provide consular services to anyone choosing to remain in Crimea. Events in Ukraine are fast moving. You should monitor this travel advice regularly, subscribe to email alerts and read our advice on how to deal with a crisis overseas
Russian forces and pro-Russian groups have established full operational control in Crimea. An illegal referendum was held on 16 March and tensions remain high.
Flights in and out of Simferopol airport are subject to disruption. Ukrainian International Airlines have cancelled all flights to and from Simferopol until 29 April. If you’re using this route, you should stay in touch with your airline.
Train and bus routes out of the peninsula are still operating, though subject to unscheduled disruptions. There are reports of road blocks, with passengers being searched but traffic is able to get through. If you’re currently visiting or living in Crimea, you should leave now. If you choose to remain, you should keep a low profile, avoid areas of protest or stand-off and stay indoors where possible.
You should take great care and remain vigilant throughout Ukraine. Those choosing to travel to Kharkiv, Donetsk, Lugansk, Sloviansk and Mariupol should be aware that there have recently been violent clashes in these areas, including some fatalities. Other clashes have occurred in Dnipropetrovsk, Odesa and Mykolaiyv. Such incidents could occur again at short notice. You should avoid all demonstrations and public gatherings.
The situation in Kyiv and other Western cities has calmed considerably following months of violent protest during which nearly 100 people were killed, though public protests continue in and around Independence Square and St Michael’s Squares. There has been some increase in street crime, including muggings, in Central Kyiv, especially after nightfall.
The British Embassy in Kyiv is open to the public by appointment only. If you need to contact the British Embassy, please call +380 44 490 3660, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Around 82,600 British nationals visited Ukraine in 2013. Most visits are trouble-free.
Take care on the roads. There are a high number of traffic accidents, including fatalities.
Beware of petty crime, especially in crowded areas and tourist spots or when using public transport.