Ukraine is officially named Ukrayina, which means "borderland." After Russia, it is the second-largest country in Europe in area.
It is comparable, both in population (about 52 million) and size (233,089 square miles) to France.
The country's official language, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, is Ukrainian.
In 1569 the regions of Kiev, Volhynia, and Bratslav (Podillia) were annexed to the Kingdom of Poland.
Another part of this development included a new society which grew out of the plains of the Dnieper River—the Cossacks.
From the latter half of the thirteenth century until the sixteenth century, Ukraine fell under the rule of first Lithuania (Grand Prince Algirdas moved in to occupy Kiev in 1362) and then Poland, led by Casimir the Great (1310-1370).
Ukrainians, or Ruthenians (from Rus', as they called themselves during this period), preferred to be ruled by the Lithuanians, who treated them as equals.
The earliest evidence of human settlement in Ukraine dates back 150,000 years.