Ukraine is the most important and populous, after the Russian Federation, of the new states that have achieved independence following the collapse of the USSR. in 1991. It is a state that, even without a tradition of independence, was born with a great baggage of history and culture. Its territory, which occupies a large portion of Eastern Europe, mostly flat and crossed by imposing rivers, has rich agricultural and mineral resources, a mighty industrial apparatus, many large cities. Its population, especially urban, has a high average level of education and professional qualification; the state has solid and branched administrative structures, with powerful armed forces. Despite all this, however, the country in 2005 was fragile and impoverished, with a strong dependence on foreign countries and continuous, serious internal political tensions, as well as with the bad reputation of one of the states in the world most polluted by corruption. Like most of the other states that became independent with the end of the USSR, Ukraine also had to face enormous problems of reconversion of the economy and social structures to adapt both to the new condition of an independent country inserted without defenses in the world market; and in the same way it has had to deal with radical differences, not so much ethnic as historical and cultural, within its population. Difficult conditions, which have ended up slowing down both economic development and democratic growth; all the more so as they have been systematically exacerbated by the recurring conflict between Russia and the West for the influence on this rich land “on the borders” (this is the meaning of ” U Kraijne ”in Russian and, with few variations, in Slavic languages in general).
The Ukrainian republic, born on 24 August 1991 from what was a federated republic of the USSR, is governed by a Constitution adopted in June 1996 and amended in December 2004. Wide powers are attributed to the head of state, elected by universal suffrage for 5 years; the 2004 amendments, however, transferred the power to appoint the prime minister to the Parliament (Verkhovna Rada), a unicameral legislative body of 450 members elected every 5 years on a proportional basis. The Constitution attributes a wide autonomy to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, populated mostly by Russians and Tatars; within it an even more autonomous status is attributed to the city of Sevastopol ‘(Sevastopol), whose port in 1997 was leased for 20 years to the Russian Federation which hosts its own war fleet. The judiciary is based on the European system and is headed by a Constitutional Court; the death penalty was definitively abolished in March 2000. According to andyeducation, the school system is modeled on the Soviet one: the compulsory age ranges from seven to sixteen.
TERRITORY: PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY
Ukraine includes a vast strip of the Sarmatic Lowland, moved to the SE by the Donec Heights and to the W by the Podolic Shelf; only on the outskirts do mountains rise: to the W those of the Carpathian arc, which include the highest peak in the country, the Hoverla (2061 meters above sea level), and to the S the mountains of Crimea. The climate is continental, with cold winters and hot summers; on the other hand, it is almost Mediterranean in the coastal strip of Crimea. Precipitation (as well as winter temperatures) decrease proceeding from W to E. The country is crossed by important waterways, almost always navigable for most of their course (except in winter, when they freeze) which therefore have always constituted of the fundamental ways of communication; the most notable are the Danube (which for a short distance marks the border with Romania with its low course), the Dnestr, the Southern Bug, the Dnepr (which is the most important river for Ukraine, in whose territory it travels more than 1120 km, out of a total of 2200) and the Donec (tributary of the Don), whose basin (Donbass) is famous for its very rich coal deposits. The rivers of Ukraine pay tribute to the Black Sea or the Azov Sea and are widely used for navigation, irrigation and electricity generation.