In 2014, Ukraine had an estimated population of just over 44 million, with 77.8% of those having identified themselves as native Ukrainians in the 2001 census. Other groups include Russians at 17.3%, as well as Belarussians, Moldovans and Crimean Tatars. Although Ukraine has been suffering from a declining population, a recent increase in the birth rate has gone some way towards stabilizing this.
Ukraine is found in Eastern Europe to the west of Russia and borders the Black Sea at its south coast. Its total area is over 603,000 square kilometers, making it the largest country on the European continent.
The official language is Ukrainian, but Russian has a strong presence in the country. Almost 30% speak Russian as their first language according to the 2001 census, and it is widely spoken as a second language even among native Ukrainian speakers.
Ukraine has had a colorful history. In the middle ages some of the land occupied by Ukraine was known as the Kievan Rus’, a center of culture. In the following centuries it was ruled by the Ottoman Empire among others, became a Soviet Republic in the 20th century, and achieved independence in 1991.
Ukraine has a temperate, continental climate, meaning it is influenced by the air coming in from the Atlantic. Summers tend to be dry and pleasant, with temperatures hitting up to 25–30° or higher. Conditions by the Black Sea are very favorable, making this a hot spot for sunseekers. Summer thunderstorms can also occur, though.
Winters can get very cold, with the average temperature in the coldest month of January being 0°, but some areas can be much colder, dipping as low as -20°C. Watch out for the Bora, a cold northeasterly wind, and heavy snowfall.
The Ukraine Customs authorities handle all matters to do with importing goods and exporting them out of Ukraine. They will be able to offer advice if you are unsure, e.g. about moving to Ukraine with a pet.
In general, you cannot bring pornography, narcotics, counterfeit items or explosive materials into Ukraine. Restrictions are in place on such items as live animals (you need a health certificate and make sure it’s completely up to date with all its jabs). If you’re bringing weapons and ammunition, you need to have written authorization from the Ministry of Interior. Items of a high cultural import need to have relevant documentation confirming you are the owner.
The same materials mentioned at the start of the last paragraph are prohibited from being exported out of Ukraine. If you’re bringing in or taking out currency higher than 10,000 EUR, you need to have some sort of authorization declaring the money was withdrawn from legitimate sources. Even if this has been declared upon entering the country, you need to produce the same documentation when taking it out again.