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Snow can start as early as October and not end until April.The mean temperature in summer is 87F (30C) and in winter 16F (-8C).Ukraine is a major player in the region's economy, though for every smoggy industrial city there are dozens of villages with picket fences, duck ponds, and overloaded horse carts, where time seems to have stood still.Ukraine has its share of the thoroughly modern, but even the capital, Kiev, is replete with Gothic, Byzantine, and Baroque architecture and artreminders of the many foreign overlords who have left their mark on the country.Ukrainian is an Eastern Slavic language, closely related to Russian and Belarusian. Much of the population in eastern Ukraine speaks Russian as a first language, but Ukrainian is the first language in western Ukraine.Official Government documents are always in Ukrainian, and official meetings are usually conducted in Ukrainian.Population Last Updated: 7/10/2003 AM The population of Ukraine is 50.5 million of which approximately 73% is ethnically Ukrainian and 22% ethnically Russian.The remaining population consists of many minorities, the largest of which is Jewish (1.35%) followed by Belarusian, Moldovan, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Armenian, Greek, Bulgarian, and others. Eastern Ukraine, with its heavily industrialized cities, is more urbanized than western Ukraine.

Ukrainian history began with the rumble of hooves Scythians dominated the steppes north of the Black Sea from the 7th to the 4th centuries B. E., initiating centuries of outside political and cultural domination.In a referendum held December 1, 1991, the people of Ukraine endorsed independence. Ukraine is a country in transition as it leaves behind its Communist past to build a new political and economic system and develops its links with Europe and the West.An assignment to Kiev is rewarding and challenging because of the country's rich heritage, economic and democratic potential, and its geopolitical setting.Nearly every city and town has its centuries-old cathedral, and many have open-air museums of folk architecture, caves stuffed with mummified monks, and exquisite mosaics wherever you look.For decades, the Western World perceived Ukraine as simply a part of Russia.

The political world and local media operate bilingually.

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