Ukraine has large areas of very fertile land, which give it the reputation as the 'bread basket' of the former Soviet Union. Grain, sugar beet and vegetables are the main crops and there is extensive livestock farming. The country also boasts large mineral resources, particularly coal in the huge Donbass fields, as well as iron ore, manganese and titanium.
There are a few reserves of gas and oil, but Ukraine has to import more than three-quarters of its requirements of these products from elsewhere, mainly from the Russian Federation. In recent years Ukraine has seen its gas and oil supply temporarily cut off by Russian energy giant Gazprom in protest at non-payment of bills.
Today, the Ukrainian economy is fairly robust: annual GDP growth is now 8% (2010), while inflation remains problematically high at 9.8% (2010). Officially, unemployment has risen to 8.4% of the workforce (2010), and a large 'grey' economy has evolved, which some estimates put at half the size of the legitimate economy.
Ukraine gained membership of the World Trade Organization in 2008. Several of Ukraine's neighbours are now EU members. Ukraine itself is far from a condition in which it might be accepted for EU membership, but this is bound to have a major impact on the country's economic policy-making.