- Is the second largest country in Europe? (If we don’t count Russia, which is located in Asia for the most part, anyways.) Even among my blog visitors, I have had people who refer to Ukraine as “a tiny country in Eastern Europe.” One look at the map, however, is enough to demonstrate that Ukraine’s territory is large and its population is 1,5 times larger than the population of Canada.
- Has the most fertile soils in Europe? Ukrainian soil is so fertile that people have been known to remove the top level of soil and sell it to other countries simply because everything grows and flourishes on it.
- Has a tradition of democracy that dates back to the XVI century? This makes Ukraine a country with the most longstanding tradition of democracy in modern Europe.
- Started a sexual revolution around 1910? While people in the US and Western Europe had to wait until the mid-sixties for their sexual revolution, a famous Ukrainian writer and the future prime-minister of the first independent Ukrainian Republic Volodimir Vinnychenko dedicated his career as a writer to promoting the ideas of sexual liberation, free love, and the rights of women. His books were hugely popular all over Europe in the first half of the XXth century.
- Has a strong anti-imperialist tradition? In spite of being surrounded by fiercely imperialist countries, Ukraine never followed their example and absorbed the imperialist way of thinking. Even when Ukrainian troops would repel the invaders and enter the territory of the invading country, they would turn back and leave without trying to retain foreign territories.
- Had slavery until 1861? Under the name “serfdom”, the tradition of slavery existed and was very wide-spread in Ukraine until 1861.
- Was the site of one of the greatest modern genocides? In 1932-3, over 10 million Ukrainians were exterminated by the Soviet government in an attempt to wipe out any resistance to the imperial subjection of Ukraine by the Soviet Union. Today, the government of Russia is engaged in endless propaganda that denies that Ukrainian Holocaust ever took place.
- Has recently elected a convicted criminal to be its president? Viktor Yanukovich, a recently elected president of Ukraine, was incarcerated for robbery and assault in 1967 and for assault in 1970. It is said that his second crime was a rape that was eventually pleaded down to assault.
- Does not require a definite article before its name? Many people still say “the Ukraine” instead of “Ukraine.” Not only is this grammatically incorrect, it is also kind of annoying.
- Has one of the most melodic languages in the world? According to a study by the French Academy of Fine Arts, Ukraine has the world’s second most melodic language after Italian. I’m not sure that I agree about the entire world, but it’s definitely one of the most beautiful sounding languages in Europe. Sadly, the language is disappearing because centuries of colonial domination and propaganda cause many Ukrainians to be deeply ashamed of their cultural and linguistic heritage.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Did You Know That Ukraine…
This post first appeared as a guest post at Ktravula – a travelogue.