Ukrainians (Ukrainian: Українці) are an East Slavic ethnic group, primarily living in Eastern Europe.



Ukrainians are the descendants of several peoples who inhabited the vast area extending from north of the Black Sea to the borders of Russia, Poland, Moldova, Belarus and Slovakia. These people included numerous nomadic tribes such as Persian-speaking Scythians and Sarmatians; Germanic-speaking Goths and Varangians as well as Turkic-speaking Khazars, Pechenegs and Cumans. However, Ukrainian origins are overwhelmingly Slavic and non-Slavic nomads mostly lived in the steppes of southern Ukraine and had little influence on the ancestors of modern Ukrainians. The Ukrainian language is an East Slavic language. Early East Slavs inhabited modern-day lands of Ukraine since the ancient times and by the 6th century A.D. became dominant there and founded the city of Kiev - later capital of a powerful state known as Kievan Rus'. Kniaz Volodymyr of Kievan Rus accepted Christianity in 988.


Ukraine had a very turbulent history, a fact explained by its geographical position. Ukrainian national identity developed in opposition to foreign rule in the 19th century. In Imperial Russia the Ukrainian language was persecuted at different times in history (see Russification); however, as most people were illiterate, persecutions had little effect. The policy of persecution towards Ukrainians was also common in Poland (see Polonization) and Austria-Hungary. During the Soviet era, the Ukrainian language was at times encouraged and at others repressed. It has been partly supplanted, especially in urban centers, by Russian, the language of "international communication" in the Soviet Union.

Ukraine originally formed part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth , later of the Russian, Ottoman and Austo-Hungarian empires, Poland and the Soviet Union, finally gaining its independence on August 24 1991.


Ukrainians are one of the largest European ethnic groups with a population of more than 45 million people worldwide. Most ethnic Ukrainians, about 38 million in total, live in Ukraine where they make up over three-quaters of the population. Largest Ukrainian community outside of Ukraine is in Russia, about 5 million Russian citizens consider themselves ethnic Ukrainians, while millions of others (primarily in southern Russia and Siberia) have some Ukrainian ancestry. There are also almost 3 million Ukrainians in North America (1.5 million in USA and 1.3 million in Canada). Large numbers of Ukrainians live in Kazakhstan (about 500,000), Moldova (450,000), Poland (300,000), Slovakia (200,000) and Argentina (200,000). There are also Ukrainian diasporas in Brazil, Belarus, Romania, Germany and former Yugoslavia.


Ukrainians are predominantly of the Orthodox Christian faith, in eastern and southern Ukraine most common is Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC-MP) under the Patriarch of Moscow of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). Some Ukrainians especially in the Western region of Galicia belong to Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church more specifically to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Various Protestant churches as well as nationalist un-canonical UOC-KP church headed by Patriarch Filaret (Mykhailo Denysenko) have a growing presence among Ukrainians. (See History of Christianity in Ukraine).

See also

External links

fi:Ukrainalaiset ka:უკრაინელები ko:우크라이나인 pl:Ukraińcy ru:Украинцы uk:Українці


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