Thursday, March 5, 2009
Ukrainians are understandably very proud of their capital's role in establishing European civilisation in Eastern Europe.
Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, its official history dating back to the 5th century, although settlement on this location was present since much earlier. By late 9th century Kiev became the chef-lieu of the emerging state of the Eastern Slavic tribes, and between the 10th and early 13th century, it reached its golden age as the capital of the first Ukrainian state known today as Kievan Rus, (Kyivan Ruthenia, or Rus-Ukraine), which predated modern Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.
In the middle of the 13th century Kievan Rus was overrun by the Mongols, and later this century Kiev became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and later the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1654 Kiev was liberated from the commonwealth by Cossack Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, who then promptly signed the city over to become a protectorate of Russia.
In 1775 it was completely annexed by the Russian Empire. The city remained under Russian rule, with brief, but uncertain, periods of independence in between 1918 and 1920. During these two centuries, Kiev experienced growing Russification and Russian immigration. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kiev became the capital of independent Ukraine and is now quickly learning the role of a large European capital.
According to the last census (2001) Kiev has a population of 2,600,000, although it's generally acknowledged that, in 2006, that the population is over 3 million. About 85% declare themselves as Ukrainians, 12% as Russians, there are also Armenian, Azeri, Belarusian, Jewish, Georgian, Polish, Romanian and Tatar minorities. Today, not only has the population of Kiev likely increased, but also percentage of Ukrainians declaring Ukrainian nationality, as a result of the strong nationalist movement after the October 2004 Orange Revolution. Nevertheless, even most ethnic Ukrainians in Kiev tend to use Russian more frequently than Ukrainian both in business and in everyday conversation.
About 40% of the population has secondary education.
The average summer temperature is 24°C, and in winter is -4°C.
Russian is widely spoken in Kiev, particularly in business, including shops and restaurants. The common English name for the city, "Kiev," is a transliteration from the Russian language. The transliteration of the city's name from Ukrainian is "Kyiv", and this variation is used in many English language materials in Ukraine.
Many people in Kyiv are hospitable and will be eager to help you. However, if you're from Western Europe or North America, you may find service in restaurants and shops less attentive than you're accustomed to.