Below is a brief information on Ukraine, it is highly recommended to do your own research before travelling.
Ukraine was the center of the first eastern Slavic state known as the Kyivan Rus. In the 10th and 11th centuries it was the largest and most powerful state in Europe. however, it was weakened by deadly quarrels and Mongol invasions, Kyivan Rus was united into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Ukrainian nationalism has derived from the cultural and religious legacy of Kyivan Rus. In the mid-17th century a new Ukrainian state known as the Cossack Hetmanate was established after an uprising against the Poles. They managed to remain autonomous for over 100 years.
During the end of the 18th century, most Ukrainian territories were taken by the Russian Empire. After the collapse of czarist Russia in 1917, Ukraine accomplished her independence for 3 years, but was reconquered by the Soviets. The Ukrainians were faced with two forced famines from 1921 to 1933 in which over 8 million Ukrainians died. In addition to that, during World War II, German and Soviet armies were responsible for more than 7 million more deaths.
Finally, independence for Ukraine was once again accomplished in 1991 with the fall of the USSR. A peaceful mass protest known as the Orange Revolution in 2004 put pressure on the authorities to overturn the presidential election, in the end Mr. Viktor Yushchenko came into power. Following internal disagreements in his party, made room for his rival Mr. Viktor Yanukovych to become prime minister in 2006. An early legislative election, brought on by a political crisis in 2007, saw Yuliya Tymoshenko, as a new prime minister of Ukraine. Finally, Mr. Viktor Yanukovych was elected president in a 2010 election, and the following month Ukraine's parliament, approved a vote of no-confidence forcing Yuliya Tymoshenko to resign from her post as the prime minister of Ukraine.
People & Society
Ukrainian people are very friendly, hospitable and warm in nature. They love to go out and meet new people, specially from different cultures. Ukrainian girls are some of the most beautiful and feminine girls in the world. They are very family oriented and taking care of their husbands, most believe is a duty.
The population of Ukraine is 44,854,065. The ethnic groups in Ukraine are: Ukrainian 78%, Russian 17%, Belarusian 0.6%, Moldovan 0.5%, Crimean Tatar 0.5%, Bulgarian 0.4%, Hungarian 0.3%, Romanian 0.3%, Polish 0.3% and others 2%.
The languages spoken in Ukraine are: Ukrainian (official) 67%, Russian 24% and others 9%. Ukrainian is widely used all over the country but mostly in the west, and Russian is spoken in the east and south of the country.
The official religion is Ukrainian Orthodox - Kyiv Patriarchate 50.5%. The rest are: Ukrainian Orthodox - Moscow Patriarchate 26%, Ukrainian Greek Catholic 8%, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox 7.2%, Roman Catholic 2.2%, Protestant 2.2%, Jewish 0.6% and other 3.2%.
Ukraine is a temperate continental country. Mediterranean only on the southern Crimean coast. The precipitation randomly distributed, highest in west and north, lesser in east and southeast. The winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold more inland. Summers are warm across most parts of the country and hot in the south.
Winter: December-February ............ Spring: March-May ............ Summer: June-August ............ Autumn: September-November
It is highly recommended to travel to Ukraine from April to October, unless you are a big fan of cold weather and snow.
Ukraine is strategically positioned at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, it is the second largest country in Europe.
Ukraine is situated at Eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Poland, Romania, Moldova in the west and Russia in the east. Slightly smaller than Texas, with a land area of 579,330 sq km, making it world's 46th largest country in the world.
Most of Ukraine consists of fertile steppes and plateaus, mountains are found only in the west called the Carpathians, and in the Crimean Peninsula in the south.
Natural resources of Ukraine consists of: iron ore, coal, manganese, natural gas, oil, salt, sulfur, graphite, titanium, magnesium, kaolin, nickel, mercury, timber and arable land.
You can check the map of Ukraine on Google map: http://maps.google.com/
Ukraine's GDP (purchasing power parity) as of 2012 was $344.7 billion USD, with GDP - per capita (PPP) of $7,600 which has increased over the years. There are 8.5% unemployed officially registered, however, large number of unregistered or underemployed workers are present. Officially the population below poverty line is 35%, however, this figure could be higher.
Exchange rates (2013): Hryvnia (UAH) per US dollar is 8.11. A good site is http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/convert/?Amount=1&From=USD&To=UAH.
Travelling to Ukraine
Travelling to Ukraine is just like travelling to any other country in the world. In general it is a safe place to explore and using common sense can help a lot. As long as you respect the locals and blend in with the people, you will enjoy yourself.
Make sure you have a valid passport, at least 6 months to expiry date, and few blank pages for visa. To find out if you need a visa to Ukraine visit: http://www.visahq.com/. Book a suitable accomodation in advance. Inform your family members, friends and embassy of your whereabouts at all times. Ukraine is a very beautiful and scenic country, feel free to travel around the country with your date (as long as you know and trust each other).
Check with your doctor, just incase you might need a vaccination.
Depending on your budget, there are a lot of options to choose from. The hostels are cheap and great in Ukraine, the best site to book a room is: http://www.hostelbookers.com/.
If you looking for something more private and long term, you can also book an apartment, as long as it is near a bus/metro station and a shopping centre.
There is also a choice of variety of hotels, if you are staying for a short time. Although, some apartments in Ukraine are as great as hotels and you can hire a maid.
Getting around Ukraine is very easy and comfortable. There are metro stations all over the city and very cheap, you can pay 2 UAH for each ride. The buses in Ukraine are called "Marshrutka" they are yellow mini buses with routes that cover almost all of the city. There is also the usual taxis, you may call a cab company if you require one, but most do not speak English. If you need to travel from one city to another, it is recommended to use the train.
Ukraine has a variety of dishes, the national dish is Borscht (known as Borsh in Ukraine). It is almost always made with a pork broth and contains vegetables like potatoes, beetroots, carrots and peppers. It may be eaten as a meal in itself, but is usually eaten as an appetizer with bread in restaurants.