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For other uses, see Kiev (disambiguation).
A monument to St. Michael, the patron of Kiev, with Independence Square in the background.
A monument to St. Michael, the patron of Kiev, with Independence Square in the background.

Flag of Kiev Coat of Arms of Kiev
(Flag) (Coat of Arms)
Location of Kiev
Oblast Municipality
Municipal government City council (Київська Міська рада)
Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko
Area 800 km²
 - city
 - urban
 - density

City rights
around 5th century
50°27′ N 30°30′ E
Area code +380 44
Car plates AA (before 2004: КА,КВ,КЕ,КН,КІ)
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Municipal Website

Kiev (Ukrainian: , Kyiv; Russian: , Kiev; also spelled Kyiv (see also Cities' alternative names), is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper river. As of 2003, Kiev officially had 2,642,486 inhabitants, although the large number of unregistered migrants would probably raise this figure to about three million. Administratively, Kiev is a national-level subordinated municipality, independent from surrounding Kiev Oblast. Kiev is an important industrial, scientific, educational and cultural center of Eastern Europe. It is home to many high-tech industries, higher education institutions, world-famous museums and art institutions. The city has an extensive infrastructure and highly developed system of public transport, including a Kiev Metro system.

During its history Kiev, one of the oldest cities in the Eastern Europe, passed through several stages of great prominence and relative obscurity. Founded probably in the 5th century, a trading post in the land of Early East Slavs, the city gradually acquired eminence as the center of the East Slavic civilization, in the tenth to twelfth centuries a political and cultural capital of Kievan Rus'. Completely destroyed during the Mongol invasion in 1238, the city lost most of its influence for the centuries to come. It was a provincial capital of marginal importance in the outskirts of the territories controlled by its powerful neighbors: the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Muscovite Russia, later the Russian Empire. The city prospered again during the Russian industrial revolution in the late 19th century. After the turbulent period following the Russian Revolution of 1917, from 1921 Kiev was an important city of Soviet Ukraine, and, since 1934, its capital. During World War II, the city was destroyed again, almost completely, but quickly recovered in the post-war years becoming the third most important city of the USSR. It now remains the capital of Ukraine, independent since 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Geography and climate

Kiev is located on both sides of the Dnieper river, which flows south through the city towards the Black Sea. Its geographic co-ordinates are 50°27′ N 30°30′ E. Geographically, Kiev belongs to the Polissya natural zone (a part of the European mixed woods). However, the city's unique landscape distinguishes it from the surrounding region. The elder right-bank (western) part of Kiev is represented by numerous woody hills, ravines and small rivers (now mostly extinct). It is a part of the larger Prydniprovska (near-Dnieper) upland adjoining the western bank of the Dnieper. The left-bank (eastern) part of the city was built in the Dnieper valley. Significant areas of it were artificially sand-deposited and are protected by dams.

The river forms a branching system of tributaries, isles and harbors within city limits. The city is adjoined by the mouth of the Desna River and the Kyivs'ke reservoir in the north, and the Kanivs'ke reservoir in the south. Both the Dnieper and Desna rivers are navigable at Kiev, although regulated by the reservoir shipping locks and limited by winter freeze-over.

Kiev's climate is continental humid, although it has changed significantly during recent decades due to global climate changes.

Modern Kiev

Today, Kiev is a modern city with over 2.5 million inhabitants. Like many other large cities of the former Soviet Union, it is a mix of the old and the new, seen in everything from the buildings to the stores to the people themselves. Experiencing a fast growth rate during the 1970s, '80s and the early to mid-'90s, Kiev has continued its consistent growth after five years of restructuring. As a result, today, even Kiev's "downtown" is a dotted picture of new, modern buildings (known as novostroika) amongst the pale yellows, blues and grays of the older apartments. During the last growth period, urban sprawl has been gradually reduced while population densities of suburbs started increasing. Today, it is rather popular to own a novostroika in Kharkivskyi Raion, Troyeshchina, or Obolon along the Dnieper, around Khreschatyk, as well as in Pechersk or other better-established areas.

With Ukrainian independence on the turn of the millennium, new changes came. Western-style novostroikas, hip nightclubs, classy restaurants and prestigious hotels opened in the center. Music from Europe and North America started rising on Ukrainian music charts. And most importantly, with the changes in visa rules in 2005, Ukraine is positioning itself as a prime tourist attraction, with Kiev, among the other large cities, looking to profit from the new opportunities. The center of Kiev has been cleaned up and buildings have been restored and redecorated, especially Khreschatyk and Independence Square. Many historic squares of Kiev, such as Andryivskyi Uzviz, have become popular street vendor locations, where one can buy traditional Ukrainian art, religious items, books, game sets (most commonly chess) as well as jewellery.

With the partial collapse of the Kiev transit services, private investors have seen room for profit. While the publicly owned and operated Kiev Metro system remains the fastest, the most convenient and affordable network that covers most, but not all, of the city, the marshrutkas (private microbuses) have become the next most popular method of transportation, along with the public transit buses including electric trolley buses and trams.The trams are now being gradually phased out. Marshrutkas provide a good coverage of the smaller residential streets and have routes that are convenient for the residents—although on the busiest routes the buses get increasingly larger. Being more expensive, they are also faster, thus more available, although with an increased frequency of accidents because many drivers overload their buses. It is also quite common for any local with a car to act as a taxi driver now and then, although organized private taxi companies have increased competition dramatically. The Kiev Metro is also expanding to cover the growing demand.


For more details on this topic, see History of Kiev.

Historically, Kiev is one of the most ancient and important cities of the region, the center of the Rus' civilization, survivor of numerous wars, purges, and genocides. Many historical and architectural landmarks are preserved or reconstructed in the city, which is thought to have existed as early as the fifth century. With the exact time of city foundation being hard to determine, May 1982 was chosen to celebrate the city's 1,500th anniversary. During the eighth and ninth centuries Kiev was an outpost of the Khazar empire. Starting from some point during the late ninth or early tenth century, Kiev was ruled by the Varangian nobility and became the nucleus of the Rus' polity, which became known as Kievan Rus' during the Golden Age of Kiev. In 1238 Kiev was compeletely destroyed by the Mongol hordes of Batu Khan, an event that had a profound effect on the future of the city and the East Slavic civilization. From 1362, the area with what was left of the city, became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and from 1569 a part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569, as a capital of Kijów Voivodship).

In the 17th century it fell under the Muscovite Russia (later Russian Empire), where for some time it remained a provincial town of marginal importance. Kiev prospered again during the Russian industrial revolution in the late nineteenth century. In the turbulent period following the Russian Revolution Kiev was caught in the middle of several conflicts: the Second World War, the Russian Civil War, and the Polish-Soviet War. Amidst these chaotic years, Kiev became the capital of several short-lived Ukrainian states and from 1921 the city was part of the Soviet Union, since 1934 as a capital of Soviet Ukraine. In World War II, the city was destroyed again, almost completely, but quickly recovered in the post-war years becoming the third most important city of the Soviet Union, the capital of the second largest Soviet republic. It now remains the capital of Ukraine, independent since 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union.


It is said that one can walk from one end of Kiev to the other in the summertime without leaving the shade of its many trees. Most characteristic are the horse-chestnuts (Ukrainian: каштани, "kashtany").

Kiev is known as a green city, with two botanical gardens and numerous large and small parks. Notable among these are the World War Two Museum, which offers both indoor and outdoor displays of military history and equipment surrounded by verdant hills overlooking the Dnieper river; the Hidropark, located on an island in the river and accessible by metro or by car, in which an amusement park, swimming beaches, and boat rentals can be found; and Victory Park, a popular destination for strollers, joggers, and cyclists.

Boating, fishing, and water sports are popular pastimes. Since the lakes and rivers freeze over in the winter, ice fishermen are frequently seen, as are children with their ice skates. However, the peak of summer is when masses of people can be seen on the shores, swimming or sunbathing, with daytime high temperatures sometimes reaching 30 to 34 °C.

Kiev's noteworthy architecture includes government buildings such as the Mariyinsky Palace (designed and constructed from 1745 to 1752, then reconstructed in 1870) and the sweeping Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, several Orthodox churches and church complexes such as the Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Monastery of the Caves), St. Sophia Cathedral, St. Andrew's, and St. Vladimir's, the historic Zoloti Vorota fortress, and others such as a nineteenth-century Lutheran church.

The cylindrical Salut hotel, located across from Glory Square and an eternal flame at the WWII Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, is one of Kiev's most recognized landmarks. Its windows command views in all directions from one of the highest points in the city.

Among Kiev's best-known public monuments are the statue of Bohdan Khmel'nyts'kyi astride his horse up the hill from Independence Square and the venerated Volodymyr the Great, baptizer of Rus, overlooking the river above Podil.

Kiev is home to several institutions of higher learning, including the Taras Shevchenko State University of Kiev, the Polytechnic Institute, the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, the Agricultural University, and numerous scientific and technical institutes.

Each residential region has its market, or rynok. Here one will find table after table of individuals hawking everything imaginable: vegetables, fresh and smoked meats, fish, cheese, honey, dairy products such as milk and home-made smetana (sour cream), caviar, cut flowers, housewares, tools and hardware, and clothing. Each of the markets has its own unique mix of products. There is a popular book market by the Petrivka metro station.

City districts

In the 1930s, Kiev was subdivided into several districts, the number finally growing to fourteen in the early 1940s. Several years ago, this number was reduced to ten. Besides these, Kiev is also informally divided into large neighborhoods, each housing as many as 50,000 to 100,000 people. See Administrative districts of Kiev for their list.

Kiev or Kyiv?

English traveller Joseph Marshall called city Kiovia in his book Travels published in London in 1772. The city has been called Kiev in English since at least the 19th century. The earliest quotation in the Oxford English Dictionary containing "Kiev" is dated 1883, while the name was used in print as early as 1823 in the English traveller Mary Holderness' travelogue New Russia. Journey from Riga to the Crimea by way of Kiev.

In 1995, the Ukrainian government made a declaration concerning English-language usage of the name of the city, favoring the use of Kyiv over Kiev. This act has legal jurisdiction only over Ukrainian government spelling of the city's name. It says in part:

  1. To acknowledge that the Roman spelling of Kiev does not recreate the phonetic and scriptural features of the Ukrainian language geographical name.
  2. To confirm that the spelling of Kyiv as standardized Roman-letter correspondence to the Ukrainian language geographical name of Київ.
  3. On the basis of point 7 of the Provision on the Ukrainian Commission for Legal Terminology, determine as mandatory the standardized Roman-letter spelling of Kyiv for use in legislative and official acts.

Many people have followed suit and use the spelling Kyiv in all Latin alphabet publications. The new spelling Kyiv is increasingly being used by the United Nations and most English-speaking diplomatic missions, and by some English-language publications.

Some find the spelling Kiev inappropriate, because it reflects Russian instead of Ukrainian pronunciation. Some even consider it offensive, a remnant of Russification under Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union. However, the Kiev spelling was used in English before reforms of Ukrainian orthography and vocabulary, and also reflects the Old East Slavic (the language of the ancestors of modern Ukrainians and Russians) spelling of the name (Къɪѥвъ). The name is pronounced by Ukrainians and many Russians as one would in English say "Keev."

Some writers of English do not accept the authority of the Ukrainian government over English spelling. They point out that the spelling Kiev remains the most widespread spelling in English by a substantial margin and that many cities have different names in English than in their native language, such as Moscow and Warsaw.

See also

External links

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Subdivisions of Ukraine Flag of Ukraine
oblasts: Cherkasy | Chernihiv | Chernivtsi | Dnipropetrovsk | Donetsk | Ivano-Frankivsk | Kharkiv | Kherson | Khmelnytskyi | Kirovohrad | Kiev | Luhansk | Lviv | Mykolaiv | Odessa | Poltava | Rivne | Sumy | Ternopil | Vinnytsia | Volyn | Zakarpattia | Zaporizhia | Zhytomyr
autonomous republic: Crimea
cities with special status: Kiev | Sevastopol
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