Ukraine is bordered by Russia to the east, Russia and Belarus to the north, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to the west, Romania and Moldova to the southwest and in the south by the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. It has an area of 233,088 sq. mi. (603,700 sq. km.) and a population of 50.8 million. Capital: Kyiv (Kiev). Coal, grain, vegetables and heavy industrial machinery are major exports. ,The territory of Ukraine has been inhabited for over 30,000 years. As the result of is location, Ukraine has served as the gateway to Europe for millennia and its early history has been recorded by early history has been recorded by Arabic, Greek, Roman, as well as Ukrainian historians.,, ,Ukraine, which was known as Rus? until the sixteenth century (and from which the name Russia was derived in the 17th century), became the major political and cultural center of Eastern Europe in the 9th century. The Rus? Kingdom, under a dynasty of Varangian origin, because of its position on the intersection of the north-south Scandinavia to Byzantium and to the east-west Orient to Europe trade routes, became a focal point of world trade. At its apex Rus? stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and from the upper Volga River in the east, almost to the Vistula River in the west. In 988 the Rus? adopted Christianity from Byzantium. The Mongol invasion in 1240 brought an end to the might of the Rus? Kingdom.,, ,In the seventeenth century, after almost four hundred years of Mongol, Lithuanian, Polish, and Turkish domination, the Cossack State regained Ukrainian independence. The Hetman State lasted until the mid-eighteenth century and was followed by a period of foreign rule: Eastern Ukraine was controlled by Russia; Western Ukraine came under relatively benign Austro-Hungarian rule.,, ,With the disintegration of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires in 1917 and 1918, Eastern Ukraine declared its full independence on January 22, 1918 and Western Ukraine followed suit on November 1 of that year. On January 22, 1919 both parts united into one state that had to defend itself on three fronts: form the ?Red? Bolsheviks and their puppet Ukrainian Soviet Republic formed in Kharkiv, from the ?White? czarist Russian forces, and from Poland. Ukraine lost the war. In 1920, Eastern Ukraine was occupied by the Bolsheviks and in 1922 was incorporated into the Soviet Union. There followed a brief resurgence of Ukrainian language and culture until it was suppressed in 1928. Western Ukraine was partitioned between Poland, Romania, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. ,, ,During the period of independence of 1917-1920, Ukraine issued its own currency in Karbovanets denominations under the Central Rada of social-democrats and in Hryvnia denominations during the monarchy of Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky. During WWII German occupation forces issued Karbowanez currency. ,On August 24, 1991 Ukraine once again declared its independence. On December 5, 1991 the Ukraine Parliament abrogated the 1922 treaty which incorporated Ukraine into the Soviet Union. ,Ukraine is a charter member of the United Nations. Rulers:, ,Polish, 1569-1654 ,Polish and Russian, 1654-1671 ,Polish, Ottoman and Russian, 1672-1684 ,Russian, 1685-1794 ,Austrian (Western Ukraine), 1774-1918 ,Russian, 1792-1917 Monetary System:,,, ,1 Karbovanmets (Karbovantsiv) = 2 Hryven ,, ,1917-1920 = 200 Shahiv,, ,1 Karvovanets (Karbovantsiv) = 1 Russian Ruble, 1991-96,, ,1 Hryvnia (Hryvni, Hryven) = 100,000 Karbovantsiv, 1996-,,