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The coastal resorts of the Crimea were once a favourite destination for Kremlin leaders; Yalta, the ’Pearl of the Crimea’, attracts the bulk of summer visitors, while the nearby vineyards provide plenty of wine-tasting opportunities. Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, is the origin of the Kyiv Rus State, founded in the eighth and ninth centuries and the third-largest city in the CIS. Striking examples of baroque and Renaissance architecture can be found in Lviv, one of Europe’s oldest cities, while Odessa is probably best known for the Potemkin Stairway, but is also home to one of the world’s largest opera houses.

Practical Information

Area: 603 700 km² (233 090 miles²)

Capital: Kyiv. Population: 2.67 million

Population: 47.8 million

Currency: Hryvnya (UAH) = 100 kopiyok (singular: kopiyka)

Government: Republic. Gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Tipping: Tips are appreciated. Service is sometimes included in first-class restaurants and hotel bills.

Time zone: GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)

Languages: Ukrainian

Additional descriptions

Ukraine: Social customs

Ukrainian people are warm and particularly friendly to visitors. It is not at all uncommon for Ukrainians to invite strangers into their own homes. People on the street are friendly despite the rigoursRead more of post-Soviet life. Formal attire is rarely required, though people dress smartly for the theatre. Visitors should avoid ostentatious displays of wealth in public places.

Ukraine: Food and local specialties

Visitors now have a wide choice of cuisines (including French, Indian, Italian, Japanese or Thai), particularly in Kyiv. The national specialties are: Borshch (beetroot soup). Varenniki (dough containingRead more cheese, meat or fruit). Holubtsi (cabbage rolls). Chicken Kiev exists but is better known in the West. Crimean wines are excellent, especially dessert wines such as Krasny Kamen (‘Red Stone’). Abrau and Miskhako are excellent brands of cabernet. Artyomov champagne (bottled in eastern Ukraine). Fortified wines from Massandra, particularly one named ‘Black Doctor’.

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