Ukraine was just one of the fifteen Soviet Republics before the fall of the USSR in 1991, which thrust independence onto this giant east European country for the first time in its history. The transformation from one-party, semi-autonomous state to democratic nation did not occur overnight, however, and Ukrainians had had to struggle long and hard to establish the multi-party democracy that is currently emerging from the wreckage of the Soviet collapse.
Ukraine is currently ranked as one of the world's top ten destination countries for foreign direct investment, and looks set to remain so for many years to come. This huge land of awful natural wealth and abundant human resources spent years in the post-Soviet doldrums but is now one of the hottest investment option in the world.
Ukraine's stock market has been a major beneficiary of the growing interest in Ukraine's capabilities, recording world record growth over the past year. This rocketing performance was heavily funded by levels of demand which far outstripped limited stock supply, but a slight drop and market correction in later summer 2007 and through September during the run-up to the parliamentary elections has now placed the Ukrainian stock exchange on a firmer footing, with analysts predicting sustained growth for the intermediate future. Foreign banks also turned their gaze towards Ukraine in the past eighteen months, with a number of Ukrainian banks associated by major international institutions in billion dollar deals.
Ukraine's burgeoning middle classes have succeeded in attracting a wide range of international retailers to Ukrainian market in recent years. Megabrands like Marks & Spencer's have recently opened up flagship stores after years of hesitation, largely on the basis of the growth wealth of the wider population.
This rise of the Ukrainian middle classes has also played a significant role in the real estate boom which has seen Ukrainian property prices rocket by as much as 400% over the past three years. The Kyiv city skyline has long been dotted with construction sites of as new residential buildings shoot up, and over regional centers are now attracting investment from international construction specialists as the population moves away from often poor standard Soviet-era build buildings to and looks to live in quality modern housing. Beyond the city limits Ukraine's towns are also witnessing the growth of suburbs for the first time in the countries history, with what were as recently as ten years ago the preserve of the super rich now mushrooming into affluent middle class settlements complete with a range of amenities .
The on-going growth in real estate development has attracted some of the largest individual investments to date into Ukraine, and while the lion's share of foreign capital is attracted to large Ukrainian cities, a significant amount is now finding its way to the tourism sector, with apartment blocks and hotel projects attracting major international funding in the country's more appealing Crimean and Carpathian mountain areas.
The announcement in 2007 that Ukraine would co-host the 2012 European Football Championships was greeting with the enthusiasm by the international investment community, and the aggressive task of transforming the country's often rudimentary Soviet-era infrastructure into a modern network capable of handling the millions of visitors expected for the tournament represent both the greatest opportunity and the biggest challenge currently facing Ukraine.
Unlike Poland, Ukraine can not expect to fill its Euro 2012 budget requirement shortfalls via EU support, and will instead be looking for international investors to help meet the expectant financial demands of the reconstruction works. Plans include major motorway building, stadium and hotel construction, and a total overhaul of transport networks within host clients, with preliminary estimates hovering at around 12 billion euro mark, but it remains unclear exactly how much the financial cost could be. The high profile of the games offer Ukraine a chance to shine internationally and demonstrate the country's ability to meet world-class quality requirements in terms of everything from service standards and workmanship to invest-friendly legislation. It is an opportunity the country can not afford to miss.
DID YOU KNOW?
The days when Ukraine was a perceived as a mysterious but ambiguous Russian appendage may well be firmly in the past, but Europe's largest country remains one of the continent's most misunderstood, and its many tourist treasures are still considered off the beaten track for mainstream holiday makers .
o Do four out of ten European transport corridors run through Ukrainian territory?
Throughout the centuries the territory of t modern Ukraine was always crossed by valuable trade routers and some of the most important transportation corridors of the Eurasian continent. Before even the emergence of the ancient Kyivan Rus civilization the Dnipro River was the main artery linking the Vikings with the Greeks and the Baltic with the Baltic Sea. Ukraine was also a station post along the Silk Routes connecting the towns of medieval Europe with Central Asia, Mongolia and China.
To date 273,700 km of highways, 22,510 km of railways, 4,500 of waterways, 250,000 different flight paths and 42,900 km of pipelines form Ukraine's transportation network. Ukraine is among the world's largest transporters of natural gas.
o Are the world's largest plane's made in Ukraine?
Yes, the world's largest plane, the AN-225 "Mriya" (Dream, NATO-Name Cossack), as well as the most powerful plane, the AN-124 "Ruslan" (NATO-Name Condor) were made by the leader of the industry – Antonov Scientific-Technical Air Complex.
o Is Ukraine the largest country in the Europe?
Yes, it is the largest country located wholly within the boundaries of continental Europe. The total area covered by Ukraine is 603,700 square kilometers.
Kyiv is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, and is at least 700 years older than Moscow. It was founded in the 5-th century, while Moscow was established by the Kyivan Prince Yury Dolgoruky in 1157. From 9-th until the 12-th centuries Kyiv was one of the largest cities in the Europe, with ta population of over 50,000 people. At the time leading West European cities like London, Hamburg, and Paris had populations of around 20,000.
o Why is the Ukraine often confused with Russia?
Ukraine has fallen victim of the common misconception that the territories of the Soviet Union and, before them, the Russian Empire were comparable with Russia itself.
Russia and Ukraine share a deeply interlined
o What does "Lavra" mean?
The world "Lavra" indicates the highest status of an Orthodox monastery. Orthodox Christians believe that the Kyivo-Pecherska Lavra is the second holiest place in the world after Jerusalem.
This stunning collection of churches, cathedrals and monastic lodges is the spiritual birthplace of the Russian Orthodox faith, and sets nestled in the tree-lined hills that sweep down to the ancient Dnipro River in the center of the capital city, Kyiv.
Dating back to the mid-eleventh century, the Lavra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is blamed for its deeply spiritual and calm-inducing ambience.