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about Kyiv

Kiev, officially Kyiv (Київ in Ukrainian, Киев in Russian, Kijów in Polish) is the capital and largest city of Ukraine, and has officially around 2.6 million inhabitants, although the large number of unregistered domestic immigrants would probably raise this figure to about 4 million.

Kiev is located in north central Ukraine, at 50° 25′ N, 133° 43′ E. The Dnipro (formerly Dnieper) river flows south through the city towards the Black Sea; in the west is the 'old city' of Pechersk, built on the hills overlooking the right bank, where the famous Lavra monastery is located. Also in the west are the city center, government buildings, embassies, theatres, and most local industrial complexes. On the east side of the river lie several residential areas, and the nearby Boryspil international airport.

The city has a three line metro system (total length 54.8 km), and extensive bus, tram, and trolleybus routes. On weekends, the streets of Khreschatyk (the center of the city) are closed to vehicular traffic, in favor of pedestrians. Visitors to Kiev in May can catch the springtime festival.

Kyiv history

Middle Ages through 17th century

Kiev was probably founded in the 5th century and functioned as a trading post between Constantinople and Scandinavia. The Gothic historian Jordanes recorded the trading town of Danapirstadir. As the region came under Slav rule the town became known as Kyiv. Legend speaks of a founder-family consisting of Kyi (Кий) the eldest, his brothers Schek and Khoriv, and also their sister Lybid'.

From 882 until 1169 Kiev was the capital of the principal Varangian/East-Slavic state, known as Kievan Rus' (or Kyivan Rus'). The church of Saint Sophia in Kiev, begun in 1037, was designed to emulate the splendor of Byzantine churches, reflecting the reception of Christianity from the Byzantine Empire. Though it is dedicated to "Holy Wisdom", as was the great cathedral of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, the building has a very different form—rather than a single hemispherical dome rising out of the block of the building, Hagia Sophia in Kiev has 13 onion-shaped domes carried on drums. The central dome is larger than the rest (and in the most recent renovations, gilded), but not significantly so.

Devastated by the invading Mongols in 1240, it subsequently passed under the rule of the state of Halych-Volynia [before 1264] and then Lithuania (1362), Poland (1569), a short-lived Ukrainian Cossack state (1648), which formed a protective treaty with Muscovy (1654) and slowly lost independence, then autonomy by 1775, as Muscovy renamed itself, "Russia" (1713), then the "Russian Empire" (1721), successively.

In 1497, the city was granted a "Magdeburg law", turning it into a self-governed entity independent from szlachta rule.

In 1632, the Kyiv Mohyla academy was established in the city aimed to preserve and develop Ukrainian culture and Orthodox faith despite Polish Catholic oppression. It was named after Petro Mohyla, a prominent Slavic cleric. Although ruled by the church, the academy provided students with educational standards close to universities of Western Europe (including multi-lingual training). Later it became one of the main educational centers of the Slavic world. Closed by the Tsarist government in the 19th century, the academy was reestablished in the 1990s as a secular non-governmental international university. It is still based in the same compound, containing some 17th century architecture.

19th century to 1917 Revolution

In 1834, St. Volodymyr University was established in Kiev (now Shevchenko University). The great Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko cooperated with its geography department as a field researcher and editor.

From late 18th century till late 19th century, city life was dominated by its role as a Russian military center and a church city. Orthodox Church institutions formed a significant part of Kiev's infrastructure and business activity of that time.

Following the gradual loss of Ukraine's autonomy, Kiev experienced growing Russification in the 19th century by means of Russian migration, administrative actions and social modernization. At the beginning of the 20th century, the city was dominated by Russian-speaking population, while lower classes retained Ukrainian folk culture to a significant extent. However, enthusiasts among ethnic Ukrainian nobles, military and merchants made recurring attempts to preserve native culture in Kiev (by clandestine book-printing, amateur theater, folk studies etc.)

During the Russian industrial revolution in the late 19th century, Kiev became an important trade and transportation center of the Russian Empire, specializing in sugar and grain imports by railroad and on the Dnieper river. As of 1900, the city also became a significant industrial center, having a population of 250,000. Landmarks of that period include railway infrastructure, the foundation of numerous educational and cultural facilities as well as notable architecture (mostly merchant-oriented). The first electric tram line of the Russian Empire was established in Kiev (arguably the first in the world).

At that time, a large Jewish community emerged in Kiev, developing its ethnic culture and business. This was stimulated by the fact that most Jews were prohibited from living in Russia's main cities — Moscow and Saint Petersburg — as well as further eastwards. In fact, the Pale of Settlement (Russian: черта оседлости) crossed through Kiev itself, fencing off some of the city's districts from the Jewish population.

The development of aviation (both military and amateur) became another notable sign of 1900s Kiev. Prominent aviation figures of that period include Kievites Pyotr Nesterov (well-known aerobatics pioneer) and Igor Sikorsky. The world's first helicopter was built and tested in Kiev by Sikorsky.

Ukrainian Revolution and Independence

In 1917 Tsentral'na Rada, the Ukrainian self-government body, was established in the city. Later that year, Ukrainian autonomy was declared. On November 7, 1917 it was transformed into an independent Ukrainian People's Republic with the capital in Kiev. During this short period of independence, Kiev experienced rapid growth of its cultural and political status. Academy of Sciences and professional Ukrainian-language theaters and libraries were established by the new government.

Later Kiev became a war zone in the lasting and bloody struggle between Ukrainian governments and Russian Bolsheviks.

Early Soviet Rule and World War II

The Bolsheviks took control of Kiev in 1920. After the Ukrainian SSR was formed under Moscow rule, Kharkiv was declared its capital due to it being more dominated by the working class. In 1934, the capital was moved back to Kiev, starting a new period of growth and the reestablishment of a Ukrainian spirit (mostly by migrants).

In the 1930s, Kiev suffered the results of the controversial Soviet policy of that time. While encouraging lower-class Ukrainians to pursue careers and develop their culture, the Communist regime soon began harsh oppression of political freedom, Ukraine's autonomy and Orthodox religion. Recurring political trials were organized in the city to purge "Ukrainian nationalists", "Western spies" and opponents of Joseph Stalin inside the Bolshevik party. Numerous historic churches were destroyed or vandalized and the clergy repressed.

In the late 1930s, clandestine mass executions began in Kiev. Thousands of Kievites (mostly intellectuals and party activists) were arrested in the night, hurriedly court-martialed, shot and buried in mass graves. The main execution sites were Babi Yar and the Bykivnya forest. Tens of thousands were sentenced to GULAG camps. However, the city's economy continued to grow, following Stalin's industrialization policy.

During World War II, Nazi Germany occupied Kiev on 19 September 1941 as part of Operation Barbarossa, destroying a huge Red Army division in the area and taking more than 650,000 prisoners. On September 29 and 30 at Babi Yar, SS Einsatzgruppen carried out the mass murder of 33,771 Jews. The city remained in German hands until it was retaken by the Soviet Red Army on 6 November 1943. Both Communists and Ukrainian nationalists established underground resistance activities (known as Підпілля, pidpillia; подполье, podpoliye in Russian) in Kiev during the occupation. Kiev was heavily bombarded during the war, so many architectural landmarks (including most of the main Khreschatyk Street) were destroyed. For its suffering during the War, the city was later awarded the title Hero City.

As of the 1950s, Kiev's pre-war population of 1930s had mostly perished due to purges, war losses and forced migration to other regions of the USSR.

Post-WWII Soviet Rule

Post-wartime in Kiev was a period of rapid socio-economic growth and political pacification. The arms race of the Cold War caused the establishment of a powerful technological complex in the city (both R&D and production), specializing in aerospace, microelectronics and precision optics. Dozens of industrial companies were created employing highly skilled personnel. Exact sciences and technology became the main issues of Kiev's intellectual life. Dozens of research institutes in various fields formed the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR. Kiev also became an important military center of the Soviet Union. More than dozen military schools and academies were established here, also specializing in high-tech warfare.

This created a labor force demand which fed migration from rural areas of both Ukraine and Russia. Large suburbs and an extensive transportation infrastructure were built to accommodate the growing population. However, many rural-type buildings and groves have survived on the city's hills, creating Kiev's image as one of the world's greenest cities. The city grew tremendously in the 1950s through '80s. Some significant urban achievements of this period include establishment of the Metro, building new river bridges (connecting the old city with Left Bank suburbs), and Boryspil airport (the city's second, and later international).

Meanwhile, city life was declining in the political, cultural, and ethnic realms, especially after the end of Khruschev's era. Systematic oppression of pro-Ukrainian intellectuals became a major object of Russification in the 1970s, when universities and research facilities were gradually and secretly prohibited from using Ukrainian. Strong Russian migration into the city was an official excuse for switching most schools to Russian and later not allowing children to learn Ukrainian at all.

Every attempt to dispute Soviet rule was harshly oppressed, especially concerning democracy, Ukrainian SSR's self-government, and ethnic-religious problems. Campaigns against "Ukrainian bourgeois nationalism" and "Western influence" in Kiev's educational and scientific institutions were mounted repeatedly. Due to tight political control and lack of career prospects in Kiev, Moscow became a preferable life destination for many Kievites (and Ukrainians as a whole), especially for artists and other creative intellectuals. Dozens of show-business celebrities in modern Russia were born in Kiev.

In the 1970s and later 1980s–'90s, given special permission from Soviet government, a significant part of the city's Jews migrated to Israel and the West.

The Chornobyl accident of 1986 affected city life tremendously, both environmentally and socio-politically. Some areas of the city have been polluted by radioactive dust. However, Kievites were neither informed about the actual threat of the accident, nor recognized as its victims. Moreover, on May 1, 1986 (a few days after the accident), local CPSU leaders ordered Kievites (including hundreds of children) to take part in a mass civil parade in the city's center—"to prevent panic". Later, thousands of refugees from accident zone were resettled in Kiev.

After 57 years as the capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union, Kiev in 1991 became the capital of independent Ukraine.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Kyiv".

This city is also known as: Kyiv (Київ), Kiev.

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