Ukraine is the second largest country in Eastern Europe and is bordered by Russia to the east; Belarus to the north; Poland and Slovakia and Hungary to the west; Romania and Moldova to the southeast; and the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to the south. It is a member of the CIS.
Ukraine is a unitary state composed of 24 oblasts (provinces), one autonomous republic (Crimea), and two cities with special status Kiev, its capital and Sevastopol, home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet under a leasing agreement. It is a republic under parliamentary and presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
The domain religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which has also heavily influenced Ukrainian architecture, literature and music.
Ukraine gained independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. After a period of transition to a market economy, the economy experienced a high increase in GDP growth. As Ukraine got caught up in the economic crisis of 2008, GDP fell 15% from spring 2008 to spring 2009, and leveled off. In the first quarter of 2010, the economy has returned to growth, and estimates for the year end show a predicted GDP growth of 4-6%.