Kiev has always been an important city in Eastern Europe. It was the cultural center of the historic East Slavic civilization, played a key role in the Christianization of Kievan Rus, and was of strategic importance to the Soviet Union. Due to its interesting history, Kiev has a number of fascinating historical sites, including the Saint Sophia Cathedral, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Kiev Pechersk Lavra (the Monastery of the Caves).
Many of Ukraine's museums and galleries are located in Kiev, and in 2009 they drew 4.3 million visitors to the city. The most famous are the National Art Museum of Ukraine and the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. Kiev is also home to famous farmer's markets, most notably the Besarabsky Market, which is located in the city center. The city is famous for its green spaces, and is home to many botanical gardens and public parks. The city center, which is full of restaurants, bars, and clubs, attracts many young visitors during the summer months.
Expatriates living in Kiev are entitled to use the free Ukrainian healthcare system. However, although the standard of care is higher in Kiev than many other places in the country, Ukraine's state healthcare system is not of the same quality as many other Western countries. Additionally, many of the staff and doctors do not speak English or any other foreign language, so communication can be an issue.
As such, many expatriates working and living in Kiev tend to take out private health insurance, as the private system has a higher standard of care and better facilities. The best private hospitals include the American Medical Center, Medikom, and the Oxford Medical Clinic. The majority of private doctors should be able to speak English or another foreign language. Some expatriates even leave Kiev for major operations and instead seek treatment in nearby Western European countries, or in their country of origin.
Ukraine has a free public education system, which is compulsory up until the age of 16. Although the public school system compares favorably with that of surrounding nations, many expatriates living in Kiev choose to send their children to an international school, mainly due to the fact that they can be taught in English or another language there. The main international schools in Kiev are Kyiv International School, the Pechersk School International, and the British International School.
Like the public school system, higher education is also free in Ukraine, and is provided to citizens on a competitive basis. The main universities in Kiev are the Kiev National Taras Shevchenko University, the National Technical University (also known as Kiev Polytechnic Institute), and the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Higher education is usually taught in Russian or Ukrainian, but some universities may offer courses in English. However, it is always best to check with the university before applying.