Country Facts

Languages and foreigners

Ukrainian is the most commonly spoken language. Russian is also widely used and many Ukrainians are equally good at both, switching between the two as the situation requires. It is a mistake to identify a Russian-speaking Ukrainian as a “Russian”. In Ukraine’s big cites you can expect good English in middle management or higher. For other languages it is wise to arrange an interpreter in advance.

Historical figures

Roxelana, 16th Century politician, influential in the politics of the Ottoman Empire. Bohdan Khmelnytsky, Cossack leader. Ivan Mazepa, Cossack leader. Mykola Leontovych, composer. Taras Shevchenko, author, poet and artist. Mikhail Bulgakov, novelist, writer. Sergei Prokofiev, composer. Kazimir Malevich, painter.

Ukrainian celebrities you should know

Andriy Shevchenko, footballer. Klitschko brothers, boxers. Sergey Bubka, athlete (pole vaulter). Maria Pryimachenko, Ukrainian village folk art painter. Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal. Sergiy Grygorovych, founder of GSC Game World, Kyiv-based game development studio (famous for games like Cossacks, American Conquest, S.T.A.L.K.E.R). David Copperfield, magician (his grandparents were immigrants from Odessa), Milla Jovovich, actress, supermodel. Snejana Onopka, supermodel.Olga Kurylenko, actress and model. Mila Kunis, actress. Sylvester Stallone, actor (his great grandmother Rosa Labovich was from Odessa). Steven Spielberg, film director (his grandparents came from Ukraine). Robert Hossein, actor (his mother is from Kiev). Yulia Tymoshenko, politician.

Landmarks and places of cultural significance

Rakhiv village in Western Ukraine claims to be the true geographical centre of Europe.

Biggest holidays

7th of January is Christmas Day. 8th of March, Women’s day, an official day off work. June, the 23rd (Old style), 7th of July (New Style) Ivana Kupala Day is one of Ukraine’s traditional celebrations. Boys and girls join hands in pairs and jump over a fire in a purification ritual. 24th of August is Independence day.

Food favourites

Borsh and varenyky are some of the most popular traditional Ukrainian dishes. Another authentic Ukrainian dish is salo, which is pig fat.