Republic. Gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Head of state:
President Petro Poroshenko 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: 22 November 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:
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:
British nationals in Crimea should leave now. The FCO is not able to provide consular services to anyone choosing to remain in Crimea.
Russian forces and pro-Russian groups have established full operational control in Crimea. Following an illegal referendum on 16 March, Russia illegally annexed Crimea on 21 March and tensions remain high.
Ukrainian International Airlines have cancelled all flights to and from Simferopol.
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.
Since 15 July the Crimean sea ports of Kerch, Sevastopol, Feodosia, Yalta and Yevpatoria have been designated by the Ukrainian authorities as closed to international shipping.
Eastern and Southern Ukraine
Since March 2014 there has been instability in the east of Ukraine as a result of clashes between Ukrainian armed forces and armed separatists. This has resulted in over 2,900 deaths and the displacement of over 250,000 people. Although a ceasefire was agreed on 5 September between Ukraine, Russia and the separatists, sporadic fighting continues throughout the region. There have also been kidnappings, seizures of buildings and other violent incidents in Donetsk and Luhansk oblast in the first half of 2014.
On 17 July Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in the area around Torez in Donetsk oblast, an area under separatist control.
There has been no recent recurrence of unrest and violence in the cities of Odesa, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Mykolayiv, where the situation remains calm. But you should take great care and remain vigilant throughout eastern and southern Ukraine, and avoid all demonstrations and public gatherings.
While these cities remain calm, isolated incidents do occur. There was an explosion in a bar in Kharkiv city on 9 November in which 11 people were injured. Be alert to any security risks when in public areas. There are no scheduled flights into or out of Donetsk and Lugansk airports.
Other parts of Ukraine, including Kyiv
The situation in Kyiv and western cities has calmed considerably following months of violent protest during which nearly 100 people were killed, although occasional non-violent public demonstrations continue in and around the Verkhovna Rada (parliament building) and elsewhere in the city. Be vigilant and monitor the media for information about possible safety or security risks.
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 email@example.com
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.
There is a general threat from terrorism.
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.