Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the geographical centre of Europe and bordered by Moldova and Romania to the south west, Hungary and Slovakia to the west, Poland to the north west, Belarus to the north and Russia to the north and east. It also has a coastline to the south along both the Black Sea and Sea of Azov.
Many people know Ukraine for just one horrific event – Chernobyl. But there are so many interesting things you can learn about the country. Let’s go.
Interesting facts about Ukraine
1. Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe after Russia. And because Russia lies in both Europe and Asia, Ukraine is the largest one entirely within the continent.
2. Ukraine has a “Tunnel Of Love”. It is an enchanting natural train tunnel surrounded by green arches formed by trees on both sides of the single track railway line. According to local legends, couples who visit the place will have their wishes granted, and hence it got the name.
3. Lviv in Ukraine has the highest cafes per capita. The city is home to 1500 cafes and you will find a beautiful cozy place in every corner to sit and enjoy a cuppa.
4. Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine is a hero. In 1941, the Germans surrounded the city in what became known as the Battle of Kiev. The city did not give up and even though they lost, their fierce resistance to the Nazis got them the “hero status” from the Soviet Union.
5. Apparently the Hero City loves the burgers. The McDonald’s fast food restaurant in Kyiv is amongst one of the busiest in the world and serves over 2 million customers each year.
6. The largest and heaviest aircraft was made in Ukraine. The Antonov An-225 Mriya was built in Kiev. It has the largest wingspan of any aircraft, at 88.4 metres and weighs 640,000kg.
7. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 shook the entire world. An explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, which spread over much of the west USSR and Europe. The amount of radiation released in the Chernobyl explosion was 400 times higher than that created by the bomb dropped on Hiroshima during WWII, and radioactive rain reached as far away as Ireland. The United Nations called the disaster the “greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of humanity.” It has been 34 years since the disaster but the area around the plant is still contaminated.
8. The location in northern Ukraine is now the centre of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. There are a number of abandoned towns located here which are now known as the ghost towns. One such town is Pripyat which gets the most attention from the tourists.
9. Life expectancy rates between Ukrainian men and women have a ten-year difference. The expectancy rate for men is only 66 years, partially due to the high rates of alcoholism among Ukrainian men. This makes Ukraine one of the countries with more women population than that of men. There are only 86.3 men for every 100 women in Ukraine.
10. Ukraine is known as the “Bread Basket of Europe”. Due to the fertile black soil, it is an ideal place for growing wheat and other food crops. Today, Ukraine continues to be one of the largest producers of wheat in the world.
11. The first gas lamp was invented in Lviv, Ukraine.
12. They say you might have to walk through fire and for true love. Ukrainians take it literarily and have created a festival around it. Kupala Night is a holiday when young couples jump over a fire while holding hands. Legend says that if the boy and girl can maintain their hand-hold, their love will last forever. All the Roses out there: “Don’t let go of your Jack”!
13. Ukraine was the world’s first country to give up its nuclear arsenal. After declaring its independence from the USSR, it was the third largest nuclear potential after Russia and America. But it chose to handover the warheads and missiles to Russia. In return, Ukraine was compensated financially and was guaranteed security from other nuclear powers.
14. Located at 105 metres below the ground, Arsenalnaya Metro Station in Kiev is the deepest metro station in the world.
15. The country has many gypsum caves. Optymistychna Cave is the longest cave in Eurasia and the fifth-longest cave in the world. The cave is approximately 257 km. Phew, mapping it will take a long time.
Trip leader Sakshi’s Recommendations if you are visiting Ukraine:
Tunnel of Love: This green tunnel in the tiny village of Klevan is considered to be the most romantic place in Ukraine. The Tunnel of Love is a two-mile stretch of private railway that gives the illusion of a never-ending tunnel. You might have seen the photographs from here on social media. Well, it’s time for you to create one.
Chernobyl: Many people came to know about the place after watching the famous show by the same name. The explosion, which took place in 1986, is located in the town of Pripyat in the Northern Ukraine. The site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster can be visited only by booking a tour through an authorized travel agency.
Lviv: Known as “Paris of Ukraine”, Lviv is a unique confluence of artistic traditions of Ukraine and architecture of central Europe. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage. You will find cobbled streets, magnificent churches, fascinating museums and charming little cafes. You can also visit Gasova Lampa, a restaurant which boasts of the first gas lamp created in the world.
Carpathian Mountains: For the people who love outdoors and nature, Carpathian Mountains is a must visit. Its flora and fauna are identical in nature to the Alps. You can enjoy cycling, riding or trekking in the area. Once here, you should also visit Synevyr Lake, one of the major attractions of the National Park.
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