Location: Eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Poland and Russia

Climate: temperate continental Mediterranean only on the southern
Crimean coast precipitation disproportionately distributed, highest in
west and north, lesser in east and southeast winters vary from cool
along the Black Sea to cold farther inland summers are warm across the
greater part of the country, hot in the south

Terrain: most of
Ukraine consists of fertile plains (steppes) and plateaus, mountains
being found only in the west (the Carpathians), and in the Crimean
Peninsula in the extreme south.


(also known as Kiev), a scenic city of close to 3 million people
situated on the Dnipro River, is the bustling capital of Ukraine.
Ancient Kievan Rus, which reached its greatest period of ascendancy
during the 11th and 12th centuries, was a center of trade routes
between the Baltic and the Mediterranean. The city of Kyiv and the
power of Kievan Rus were destroyed in 1240 by Mongol invaders and the
lands of Kievan Rus were divided into principalities located to the
west and north: Galicia, Volynia, Muscovy and later, Poland, Lithuania,
and Russia. Once a powerful force on the European scene, Ukraine's fate
in modern times has been decided in far-off capitals. As a result,
modern Ukrainian history, for the most part, has been defined by
foreign occupation.

art and architecture of Kyiv are world treasures. The Cathedral of St.
Sophia, where the princes of Kyiv were crowned in the years of Kyiv's
grandeur, has outstanding mosaics and frescoes dating back to the 11th
century. Overlooking the old section of Kyiv, Podol, stands the
Ukrainian Baroque church of St. Andrew, much beloved by Ukrainians. The
Percherska Lavra, the Monastery of the Caves, a short trolley ride from
the center of town, has two 11th-century cathedrals on its grounds, in
addition to its world-famous catacombs, bell tower, and museum
collections. Close to the center of town stands the Golden Gate, a
structure which dates back to 1037. This recently reconstructed remains
of the former fortified wall of the city defined the limits of the city
in centuries past. Several blocks away, stands the magnificent
19th-century Cathedral of St. Volodymyr.

buffs will find much to choose from here. Most performances are in
Ukrainian or Russian. The recently renovated Kyiv Opera House presents
very good opera as well as a broad repertoire of ballets. The Kyiv
Young Theater is very popular and stages innovative plays in Ukrainian
or Russian. The Ivan Franko Theater is the center of Ukrainian drama,
comedy, and musicals. This repertoire has just opened its 75th season
and includes brilliant versions of Aeneid and Teve Tevel, the original
version of Fiddler on the Roof.

modern center with surviving parts of the old city are on the hilly
west, or right bank, of the Dnipro River. The main street,
Khreshchatik, runs between two steep hills. Parallel about half a
kilometer west, is vulytsya Volodymyrska, the main street of the Old
Kyiv area (Staryj Kyiv). From the north end of Khreshchatik, vulytsya
Hrushevskoho rises southeast along a ridge to the Caves Monastery at
Perchersk. Woods and parks cover most of the steep right-bank slopes.
The capital's newer sections stretch out on the flat left bank. These
are characterized by large housing developments and industrialized