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Ukraine (; , transliterated: , ) is a country in Eastern Europe. Ukraine borders Russia to the east and northeast, Belarus to the northwest, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to the west, Romania and Moldova to the southwest, and the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to the south and southeast, respectively. It has an area of , making it the largest country entirely within Europe.
The territory of Ukraine was first inhabited at least 44,000 years ago, with the country being a candidate site for both the domestication of the horse and for the origins of the Indo-European language family.
In the Middle Ages, the area became a key center of East Slavic culture, as epitomized by the powerful state of Kievan Rus'. Following its fragmentation in the 13th century, Ukraine was contested, ruled and divided by a variety of powers. A Cossack republic emerged and prospered during the 17th and 18th centuries, but Ukraine remained otherwise divided until its consolidation into a Soviet republic in the 20th century, becoming an independent nation-state only in 1991.
Ukraine has long been a global breadbasket due to its extensive, fertile farmlands. As of 2011, it was the world's third-largest grain exporter with that year's harvest being much larger than average. Ukraine is one of ten most attractive agricultural land acquisition regions. Additionally, the country has a well-developed manufacturing sector, particularly in the area of aerospace and industrial equipment.
Ukraine is a unitary state composed of 24 oblasts (provinces), one autonomous republic (Crimea) and two cities with special status: Kiev, its capital and largest city and Sevastopol, which houses the Russian Black Sea Fleet under a leasing agreement. Ukraine is a republic under a semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine continues to maintain the second-largest military in Europe, after that of Russia, when reserves and paramilitary personnel are taken into account.
The country is home to 44.6 million people, "The Ukraine" was once the usual form in English but since the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine, the English-speaking world has largely stopped using the definite article.
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