Ukraine is the continent’s largest county at 603,628 square kilometers. France is next at 551,695 square kilometers.
Within Ukraine there is the geographical center of Europe. Ok, a number of locations claim to the title and it depends on how you measure Europe, but the small town of Rakhiv in western Ukraine is one such place. The country has a second claimant in Transcarpathia, where an obelisk marks the spot.
The English-speaking world commonly referred to the country as The Ukraine. That is, until independence in 1991 when the West gradually dropped the definite article. In 1993 the Ukrainian government requested that the country be called just Ukraine. US ambassador William Taylor, who knew that addition of the “the” was considered insulting by some Ukrainians, said it implied a disregard for the country’s sovereignty.
Within its large borders, Ukraine has 7 World Heritage Sites, including but not limited by 11th century Saint-Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, the ancient city of Khersoneses in Crimea, and many others.
Ukraine has played the stage for much destruction during its history. But it was also the host of the Yalta Conference in 1945, where Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt met to discuss the organization of post-war Europe. Livadia Palace, which hosted the meeting, is open today as a museum. Today, Yalta is part of history once again as it lies on the disputed Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014. The Crimea is one of 3 regions advised against travel to (Donetsk and Lugansk are the others). The rest of the country is safe and highly recommended to visit!
Ukrainian cuisine is extremely yummy, and many of its regions compete to be its kitchen capitals. The city of Lviv is surely Ukraine’s cafe capital – it claims to have the most cafes in the world per capita. The other must visit places for those who are especially interested in tasty food and drinks are surely Kyiv and Odessa.
Recognize this? This is just one of the many examples of romantic places to be found in Ukraine. The Tunnel of Love is located in the forests near the town of Klevan. The rail road is for a private train that provides wood for a local factory. Do you want to find more places like this? Welcome to Ukraine!
Kyiv was the birthplace of the world’s largest plane, the Antonov An-225 Mriya. It has the longest wingspan of any aircraft, at 88.4 meters and weighs 640,000 kg. A brainwave of the Soviet Union, only one was ever made.
Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear power plant disaster, is situated in northern Ukraine. Within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, established by the USSR soon after the accident in 1986, there is a number of abandoned towns, most notably Pripyat, that draw interest from all over the world. Tours of the area, including the power plant, are available, at the risk of the traveler. The safer option is to explore Soviet relics still found in many towns of the country. The biggest one is very prominent in Kyiv: 62 meters tall Mother Motherland monuments standing high on the right coast of Dnipro river. While Communist symbols and street names were outlawed from Ukraine in 2015, Second World War monuments – like this titanium statue – were allowed to remain.
It’s no French Alps, but Ukraine has about ten ski resorts to shout about, including Bukovel in the Carpathian mountains, with 55 km of slopes and 15 lifts.