Kyiv or Kiev, a historical and scenic city of around 3 million people, located on the Dnipro River, is Ukraine’s booming capital. The Kievan Rus, which became very powerful from the 11th to 12th centuries, was the center of trade between the Mediterranean and the Baltic.
In 1240, Kievan Rus fell under the Mongol invaders. Its lands were divided into principalities, which were located to the north and west: Muscovy, Volynia, Galicia, and later, Russia, Lithuania, and Poland. Kiev used to be one of the most powerful forces in Europe, and its fate in the modern period has been decided in far-off capitals. Because of this, the history of Kiev has been defined by external occupation.
The city severely suffered during the Second World War, and much unique art and architectural treasures were destroyed. In the 1930s the Soviet authorities methodically destroyed many churches. But thanks to extensive restoration, much of the historic city has been revived.
In 1986, Kiev hit the headlines when the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl exploded. Scientists today agree that the Ukrainian capital is now safe from any radiation effect.
In spite of suffering, repressions, ecological disasters, and political turmoil, Kiev’s national identity, and spirit have never died. In August 1991, following the aborted coup in Moscow, the country achieved its independence. Since then, the country has diplomatic ties with more than 130 countries and around 60 diplomatic missions.
Students, business people, news correspondents, and many people from different corners of the world live in Kiev. The flow of official delegations and overseas tourists is heavy all year round.
The people of Kiev cherish and are proud of the rich history and interesting in their city. The Ukrainian capital is home to the most brilliant architectures in all of Europe yet it preserves innocence and naivety that is so alluring. Kiev is a city of great culture and outstanding people, a city of lively events and beautiful sights.
Kiev is not only the capital city of Ukraine but also the mother city of all Eastern Slavic people. Kiev population is close to 3 million people. Recent statistics show that 53.3% of the city population are women.
The census data also show that more than 130 ethnic groups and nationalities live within Kiev territory. Ukrainians comprise the largest ethnic group in the city (82.2% of the total population). There are 13.1% Russians, 0.7% Jews, 0.6% Belarusians, 0.3% Poles, 0.2% Armenians, 0.1% Azerbaijanis, 0.1% Tatars, 0.1% Georgians, and 0.1% Moldovans.
The official language in the city is Ukrainian, although many people often speak Russian as well. In fact, while Ukrainian is claimed as the native language by almost thrice as many residents as those who claim Russian, people in the city center use Russian more.
Kiev is home to very educated people – more than one million people in the city have higher or completed secondary education. This is a significant increase of 21.7% since 1989.
Today, Kiev is again struggling to find its identity in this ever-changing political climate. The people of the city are proud and feel strongly about their heritage, and you feel very lucky if you visit this gorgeous city and experience what its hospitable people offer.
Kiev was traditionally inhabited by pagan tribes. By the turn of the 1000 A.D., Byzantine-rite Christianity reached the city. Many believe that Apostle Andrew came up to the very place where Kiev was founded in his lifetime.
But it was only in the 900 A.D that the Byzantine Empire came to influence the emerging state of the Kievan Rus. The first recorded conversion was by Saint Olga. After several years, the duchess’ grandson, Knyaz Vladimir baptized his own people in the Dnieper River. This started a long history of Eastern Orthodoxy dominance in Ruthenia that later influenced Ukraine and Russia.
Judaism had been on the lands of Kiev for about 2000 years when the Jewish traders came in contact with Greek colonies. The neighboring Khazar Kaganate, at the same time, was influenced by Judaism. The Jewish presence in the city had increased significantly beginning in the 13th century. Later on, new teaching of Judaism was established in Kiev – Hasidism.
Islam also plays an important part in the history of Ukraine. The religion was brought to the city by a long history of controversy with the Ottoman Empire and Golden Horde. Crimean Tatars accepted the Muslim religion by taking part in the Golden Horde and then becoming the vassals of the Ottoman Empire.
Religion in Kiev underwent a series of phases, notably during the times of the Soviet Union. In these times, the city fell under the oppressive atheist regime; many Christians were persecuted and very few people were churchgoers.
Ukraine is a republic, which is under a mixed semi-presidential semi-parliamentary system with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches. People of the country elect the President by popular vote for a 5-year term. The President is the formal head of state.
The country’s legislative branch includes the Verkhovna Rada (450-seat unicameral parliament), which is primarily responsible for forming the Cabinet of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister and the executive branch.
The Constitutional Court may abrogate laws, presidential decrees, acts of the cabinet and the parliament, as well as the Crimean parliament if they are found to infringe the Constitution of Ukraine. Some normative acts are bound by judicial review.
In Ukraine, the Supreme Court is the primary body in the general jurisdiction system’s courts. Officially, local self-government is guaranteed. City mayors and local councils are popularly elected and have control over local budgets. On the other hand, the president appoints the heads of district and regional administrations.
The country has many political parties, most of which have little memberships and are largely unfamiliar to the general public. In some cases, small parties join in electoral blocs (multi-party coalitions) to participate in parliamentary elections.
Kiev’s municipality has a special legal status within the country, unlike other administrative districts in Ukraine. One significant difference is that the capital is directly under the national-level branches of the Ukrainian government, skipping Kiev Oblast’s regional level authorities.
In addition, municipal institutions, the Mayor of Kiev, and the Head of City Administration (a directly elected person holds the leading executive position and also the Head of City Council) have a higher level of self-governance than elsewhere in the country.
Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, offers a lot of opportunities for learning and profit for students and businessmen, respectively. It is thus not a wonder why more and more people do come to the city and decide to become expatriates. However, becoming an expatriate should not be an easy decision. Sure, Kiev is a wonderful, beautiful, and promising city, but it will still be considered a ‘strange’ place – unless of course if you’ve already spent a long time in the Ukrainian capital for vacation prior to deciding to be an expatriate.
When becoming a Kiev expatriate, one should seriously research and consider what it is living as an ex-pat in the city. Whether you came to the city to study or to work, one should learn about how it is to be in the city for a long time. And if you are someone who will still be looking for employment in the city or have already found one but the earning is not too much, it will be wise to also learn to live in Kiev frugally. Anything that will add to your savings or cut your expenses will prove to be a huge help throughout your stay in the city.
While the city offers a lot of business and employment opportunities, it also is a good place to get your education. Studying in Kiev will give you more flexibility and options as compared to when studying in the U.S. because you are given more freedom to decide where to study. Additionally, there is quite a number of international schools in the city that is perfect for can-afford students.
Living in Kiev as an ex-pat may be a life-changing experience, so be sure to have planned it carefully.