Country Focus: Ukraine

by Mindy Dake
Share This:

Official name: Ukraine.
Capital: Kiev.
Population: 52 million, of which 67% is urban. About 19% of the labor force works in agriculture and forestry. Growth rate in 1992 was 0.2%.
Language: Ukrainian, Russian, Romanian, Polish.
Religion: Ukrainian Orthodox, Ukrainian Catholic, Protestant, Jewish.
Government: Republic. Head of state is President Leonid Kravchuk, head of government is Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma. Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union on Aug.24, 1991.
Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture and Food and State Committee for the Procurement of Grain and Distribution of Bread Products.
Land and climate: Area is 603,700 square km, mostly fertile plains and plateaus. About 56% of area is arable land. Main agricultural areas are in the south and west. Climate is mostly temperate, except for the southern Crimean coast, which is subtropical. Precipitation is irregularly distributed, and agricultural areas experience periodic droughts and hot, dry "sukhovey" winds.
Ukraine is bordered by Belarus, Russia, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and a 2,782-km southern coastline on the Black Sea.
Economy: In transition. Ukraine's centrally planned economy under the former Soviet Union has given way to a mixed situation that includes state, cooperative and some private enterprises. Economic reform to date has been uneven, hindered by a lack of consensus on the degree and pace of change.
G.N.P. per capita: $2,340 U.S. (1991).
Currency: Government-issued coupons, called karbonvantsi, which are the only legal tender.
Major crops: Grain accounts for the largest portion of Ukraine's total crop output, and wheat accounts for about 50% of total grain production. Barley makes up about 20%, and maize about 12%, with the remainder consisting of sunflowerseeds, rye, oats, millet and buckwheat. Small amounts of rice are grown in southern areas.
Another major crop is sugar beets. Beet production typically exceeds that of wheat, but is less than total grain output.
Grain: From 1986 to 1990, Ukraine's annual grain production averaged 47 million tonnes. But in the last two years, production has been as much as 23% below that average. Drought and a higher-than-normal amount of winterkill contributed to the production declines.
This year, Ukraine's total grain production is expected to increase to about 42 million tonnes, based on more favorable weather conditions and a 15% increase in planted area.
Livestock: Indications are 1993 inventories, production and consumption will decline for the third straight year. Unofficial estimates put 1993 beef and pork production down 22% and 23%, respectively, from 1990. Beef consumption in 1993 is forecast down 17% from 1990, and pork consumption will be 26% lower than in 1990.
Transportation: Excluding industrial rail lines, Ukraine has 22,800 km of railroads, all 1.5-meter gauge. There are 273,700 km of highways, with 236,400 paved and 37,300 earth. Maritime ports include Odessa, Sevastopol, Berdyansk, Il'ichevsk, Kerch', Mariupol'and Kherson.