Map of Ukraine
Ukraine is situated in East-Central Europe. It is bordered by Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova to the West, by Belarus to the North and by the Russian Federation to the North-East and East. To the South lie the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The capital is Kiev.
The climate is moderately continental and comparatively dry with more than 290 sunny days in the year in the South Ukraine (Black Sea coast, Crimea).
Average winter temperature: from -8° to -15°C (between +17.6°F and +5°F) In Southern regions the winter temperature hovers around freezing. Falling snow and -10°C (+14°F) is a really rare occurrence, which is usually replaced by a thaw.
Average summer temperature: from +18° to +25°C (between +64,4° and +77°F), though in daytime can get up over +35°C (+95°F). For converting Fahrenheit into Celsius and back the following formula is used: F = (1,8 x C) + 32 C = 0,55 x (F — 32).
Area 603,700 square kilometers
Official Estimate 48,900,000 people.
2 hours later than Greenwich Mean.
The official state language is Ukrainian, an Eastern Slavonic language written in Cyrillic script. Russian, Romanian, Polish and Hungarian are also spoken. The majority of Ukrainians is bilingual for Russian which is used widely too. Few people know foreign languages, most popular is English.
The national flag (proportions 3 by 2) has two equal stripes, of blue over yellow.
Weights and Measures
The metric system is used.
The standard electric voltage in Ukraine is 220 volts. Make sure to take a plug adapter as well as a converter, if you bring electric appliances.
Money and Currency
Ukrainian national currency is Hryvna (UAH). One Hryvna = 100 kopecks. Yet convertible, Hryvna is extremely unstable currency. 1 US$ ~ 5,30 UAH for November, 2004. USD and EURO are most popular in exchange booths. Other currency is difficult to exchange, it has low rates because of minor circulation in Ukraine. VISA, MasterCard and Eurocard are accepted in major hotels, restaurants, casinos, stores, though credit cards are not in wide use in the cities of Ukraine. Owners of American Express, Diners may experience problems when using their cards even in regional centers. Travelers checks and credit cards can be cashed less out of a bank fee (which is 1–4% of the amount) at the majority of banks. Most popular Travelers checks in Ukraine are Thomas Cook and Visa.
New Year's Day — January 1–2
Christmas — January 7
Women's Day — March 8
Spring & Labor Day — May 1–2
Victory Day — May 9
Independence Day — August 24
State and public offices are opened from 9 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday, with a lunch hour from 1 pm as a rule.
The majority of stores are opened from 10 am to 8 pm, closed only on Sunday, and have a lunch hour, which is usually either from 1 to 2 pm or from 2 to 3 pm. As for food stores, many of them work 24 hours without lunch break, a few – from 8 am to 8pm.
Most cafes and restaurants – from 11–12 am until a last customer leaves.
Most banks are open to public from 9 am to 3 pm with a lunch hour from 1 to 2 pm, closed on Saturday, Sunday.
Ukraine is famous for its high-quality textile, as well as food products and drinks: delicatessen, caviar, confectionery, chocolate, juices, beer, vodka, Crimea wines and plenty of others. Shops and markets trade via Hryvna only. However, some of shops accept Visa, MasterCard/EuroCard. You can identify such places by credit cards signs on the entrance door.
You would be impressed with quantity and quality of restaurants here — national Ukrainian cuisine, European entrees, Italian Pizzerias or just fast food.
Ukrainian cuisine restaurants become more and more popular with traditional Borsch – red and green, several kinds of Ukrainian Vareniki (dumplings) stuffed with potatoes, mushrooms, all kinds of meat or cheese, Golubtsy (cabbage rolls) — cabbage leaves stuffed with rice, meat, carrot and fried onion, usually served with sour-cream, jellied meat with horse-radish, suckling pig, stuffed fish and plenty of other Ukrainian specialties. Ukrainian cuisine is rich of natural components grown in the fertile Ukrainian Tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet onion, lettuce, peaches, watermelons, apples, grapes — all vegetable and fruits produced in Ukraine taste marvelous.
As the Ukrainian border is crossed, obligatory Ukrainian Medical Insurance is required. Even if you have a health insurance, you will be asked to pay 3–7 US$ for the temporary policy (cost depends on the length of your stay).
You will be given a small sheet of paper with a seal after passport control — permission for temporary stay in Ukraine.
Also, you will have to fill in the Entrance Customs' Declaration Form in which is better to declare all valuable objects you bring into Ukraine: money, travelers checks, expensive equipment, jewelry, etc.
Make sure you kept these papers! You will need them when leaving the country.
Currency and jewelry export is limited in Ukraine, so be sure to quote all money and jewelry you bring into Ukraine and to keep your declaration till departure because you will be asked to present it on departure. If you are going to bring out more than 1000 US$ from Ukraine it is necessary to have the Entrance declaration stating you have brought it in.
For preventing any problems with artwork export when leaving, we advise you to obtain license for exporting your purchase (easy to get). As for national currency, its export is prohibited, so be sure to spend it, or exchange it for some other currency.
Public City Transport
Operates from 6 am to 1 am. Bus, trolley bus and tram system is rather slow, but is a cheap way to travel within cities. Prices range from 50 kopecks to 1 hryvna.
Taxi is comparatively cheap for Russian speaking passengers. Probably everywhere situation with taxi is like this – if one speaks a foreign language price for taxi goes up
immediately. There are numerous taxi services, orders are taken via phone. There can be hired a taxi right on the street simply by putting out your hand. Be wary of taking a car having more than one passenger. Price is to be agreed upon beforehand.
Extensive network of railroad connects Ukraine with many European and Asian countries. Trains are cheap though slow and not very comfortable. First class compartments are mostly air-conditioned (very important in summertime) and have 2 berths (some trains do not have 1st class option), second class has 4 berths. It is advisable to buy tickets for the whole compartment, especially when traveling alone. Prices for foreign citizens and Ukrainians are the same. Trains are the most popular and easy way to make intercity trips in Ukraine.
Most cities of Ukraine have air connection with Kiev, tickets for non-Ukrainians are more expensive than for Ukrainians for domestic flights. Best air connection with other countries goes via Kiev. Some domestic flights are not very reliable in terms of schedule — it is never too much to make sure that the flight you have chosen is made on a regular basis. Please, note most domestic train/air tickets can be obtained only in Ukraine.