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Ukraine (population – 48 million) is an Eastern European country on the Black Sea. Located between the Capartian mountains and the southern steppes of Eurasia, Ukraine is naturally irrigated and has what is soft considered the most fertile soil in Europe. The blue and yellow striped flag, representing blue skies and endless wheat fields, as well as the country’s name, meaning ‘border’ or ‘edge’, show a lot about this former Socialist Republic of the USSR. Ukraine has the biggest land area of all European states. The history of this thousnd-year-old nation is not very well known among western Europeans, even though it is critical in the context European history.

The first identifiable groups to populate what is now Ukraine were Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, and Goths, among other nomadic peoples who arrived throughout the first millennium B.C. These peoples were well known to colonists and traders in the ancient world, including Greeks and Romans, who established trading outposts that eventually became city-states. Slavic tribes occupied central and eastern Ukraine in the sixth century A.D. and played an important role in the establishment of Kiev. Situated on lucrative trade routes, Kiev quickly prospered as the center of the powerful state of Kievan Rus. In the 11th century, Kievan Rus was, geographically, the largest state in Europe. Christian missionaries, Cyril and Methodius, propagated the Christian faith and the Cyrillic alphabet. Kievan Rus Prince Volodymyr converted the Kievan nobility and most of the population to Christianity in 988. Conflict among the feudal lords led to decline in the 12th century. Mongol raiders razed Kiev in the 13th century.
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