Young Pioneer Tours

Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown

by Andy Khong

Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe, known for its rich history, diverse culture, and significant contributions to the world. Let’s delve into various aspects of Ukraine, including its history, geography, economy, industries, future prospects, and tourist attractions.

History and Founding

Ukraine has a long and complex history that dates back thousands of years. It was home to several ancient cultures, including the Scythians and the Rus. In the 9th century, the Kievan Rus, a powerful East Slavic state, emerged in the region. The name “Ukraine” first appeared in historical records in the 12th century, referring to a borderland region.

Over the centuries, Ukraine was frequently ruled by various external powers, including the Mongols, Lithuanians, Poles, and Russians. In the 17th century, the Cossacks played a pivotal role in the region’s history, establishing a semi-autonomous state known as the Cossack Hetmanate.

The late 18th century saw Ukraine divided between the Russian and Austrian Empires, and this division persisted for over a century. Ukraine’s struggle for independence continued into the 20th century. It briefly achieved independence following World War I but was eventually incorporated into the Soviet Union. Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, becoming an independent nation.

Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
Independence Square, Kyiv.


Ukraine is the largest country entirely in Europe, covering an area of approximately 603,500 square kilometres (60,350,000 hectares). It is bordered by seven countries: Belarus to the north, Russia to the east, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary to the west, and Romania and Moldova to the south. The country’s diverse geography includes the Carpathian Mountains in the west, vast plains in the central and eastern regions, and a coastline along the Black Sea in the south.

Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
Princess Olha Monument, Kyiv.

Economy and Industries

Ukraine has a mixed economy with a strong agricultural base and a growing industrial sector. Historically, it was known as the “breadbasket of Europe” due to its fertile farmland. Major industries and sectors in Ukraine include:

  1. Agriculture: Ukraine is one of the world’s largest producers of grains, including wheat, corn, and barley. It also produces a variety of other agricultural products, including sunflower oil and sugar.
  2. Heavy Industry: Ukraine has a significant industrial base, including steel production, heavy machinery, and aerospace manufacturing.
  3. Energy: Ukraine has substantial energy resources, including coal, natural gas, and nuclear power. The country has been working to diversify its energy sources and reduce its dependence on Russian gas.
  4. Technology and IT: The IT sector has been growing rapidly in Ukraine, with a skilled workforce contributing to software development, outsourcing, and IT services.
Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
Park of Eternal Glory, Kyiv.

Future Prospects

Ukraine has faced various challenges, including political instability, corruption, and conflicts in recent years. However, it has the potential for a bright future. Prospects include:

  1. European Integration: Ukraine signed an association agreement with the European Union, indicating its desire to move closer to European values and economic ties.
  2. Reform Efforts: Ongoing efforts to combat corruption and improve governance are essential for Ukraine’s future stability and prosperity.
  3. Economic Diversification: The country is working to diversify its economy, boost investment, and create a more business-friendly environment.
  4. Tourism: Ukraine has untapped tourism potential, with historic cities, picturesque landscapes, and a rich cultural heritage that can attract visitors from around the world.
Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
Tunnel of Love, Klevan.

Tourist Attractions

Ukraine offers a wide range of tourist attractions:

  1. Kyiv: The capital city is known for its stunning architecture, including the golden-domed St. Sophia’s Cathedral, and the Lavra Monastery.
Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
St Sophia’s Cathedral.
Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
Lavra Monastery.

2. Lviv: This city in western Ukraine is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its charming Old Town, historic churches, and vibrant cultural scene.

Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
Lviv Old Town.
Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
Lviv Opera House.

3. Odessa: Located on the Black Sea, Odessa boasts beautiful beaches, a lively atmosphere, and historic sites like the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
Catherine the Great statue, Ekaterininskaya Square, Odessa.
Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
Opera House, Odessa.

4. Carpathian Mountains: A popular destination for hiking and skiing, the Carpathians offer stunning natural beauty and a chance to experience rural Ukrainian life.

Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
Carpathian Mountains.

5. Chernobyl Exclusion Zone: This unique and sombre attraction offers a tour of the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, including the ghost town of Pripyat.

Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
Abandoned Amusement Park, Pripyat.

6. Crimean Peninsula: Although the status of Crimea is a subject of political dispute, the region offers beautiful landscapes, historic sites, and resorts along the Black Sea.

Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
Coastline of Sevastopol.

7. Historic Castles: Ukraine has numerous historic castles, such as Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle and Olesko Castle, which offer a glimpse into the country’s medieval past.

Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
Olesko Castle.
Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle.

These are just a few of the many attractions and aspects of Ukraine. The country’s history, diverse culture, and natural beauty make it a fascinating destination for travellers and a nation with great potential for the future.

Ukraine: Embrace the Unknown
Ukrainian Motherland Monument – 62 metre (200 feet) steel statue of female warrior built in 1981. The shield above bears the Soviet Union’s coat of arms, a crossed hammer and sickle surrounded by ears of wheat. The coat of arms was replaced with Ukraine’s National Trident in August 2023 as a cultural shift to shed memories of the former Soviet Union and to a stronger Ukrainian self-identity.

Ukraine is currently facing a complex situation in its on-going conflict against Russia. The conflict began in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea, leading to unrest and fighting in eastern Ukraine. Western Ukraine, including cities like Kyiv, Lviv, and Odessa, may be generally considered safe and some tourists have recently visited these areas without incident. It strongly recommend checking the latest travel advisories, and consulting with your country’s embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date information on the safety and security situation in Ukraine before planning any travel. Be particularly cautious when considering travel to regions that may still be affected by the conflict.

The following articles may help you decide whether to visit Ukraine:

Can you visit Lviv in 2024 and if so what should you do?
How to get from Lviv to Kyiv in 2024?
Visiting the War Sites of Kyiv in 2024
What is it like to Visit Kyiv in 2024?
 7 Unusual Yet Beautiful Things to Observe in Ukraine to Make Your Trip Memorable
War Tourism, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in 2024

You might be interested in reading:
Tatarstan – autonomous region in Russia
Republic of Užupis – autonomous district
Yanar Dag – burning mountain
Transnistria – unrecognised state

Former countries of the USSR:

Stay tuned for YPT’s Soviet Europe Tours.

Checkout YPT’s Independent and Group Tours to Ukraine 2024 & 2025 Packages

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