Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine. It is in north-central Ukraine along the Dnieper river. Its population in July 2015 was 2,887,974 making Kiev the seventh-most populous city in Europe.
Kiev is an important industrial, scientific, educational and cultural center of Eastern Europe. It is home to many high-tech industries, higher education institutions, and historical landmarks. The city has an extensive system of public transport and infrastructure, including the Kiev Metro.
The city's name is said to derive from the name of Kyi, one of its four legendary founders. During its history, Kiev, one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, passed through several stages of prominence and obscurity. The city probably existed as a commercial center as early as the 5th century. A Slavic settlement on the great trade route between Scandinavia and Constantinople, Kiev was a tributary of the Khazars, until its capture by the Varangians (Vikings) in the mid-9th century. Under Varangian rule, the city became a capital of the Kievan Rus' state. Completely destroyed during the Mongol invasions in 1240, 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 neighbours, first Lithuania, then Poland and Russia.
The city prospered again during the Russian empire's industrialization in the late 19th century. In 1918, during the Russian Revolution, the Ukraine declared independence and Kiev became its capital. It was reconquered by the Red Army, and from 1921 onwards Kiev was a city of Soviet Ukraine, and, from 1934, Kiev was its capital. The city was almost completely ruined during World War II but quickly recovered in the postwar years, remaining the Soviet Union's third-largest city.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukrainian independence in 1991, Kiev remained Ukraine's capital and experienced a steady influx of ethnic Ukrainian migrants from other regions of the country. During the country's transformation to a market economy and electoral democracy, Kiev has continued to be Ukraine's largest and wealthiest city. Its armament-dependent industrial output fell after the Soviet collapse, adversely affecting science and technology, but new sectors of the economy such as services and finance facilitated Kiev's growth in salaries and investment, as well as providing continuous funding for the development of housing and urban infrastructure. Kiev emerged as the most pro-Western region of Ukraine; parties advocating tighter integration with the European Union dominate during elections.
Kiev, one of the oldest cities of Eastern Europe, played a pivotal role in the development of the medieval East Slavic civilization as well as in the modern Ukrainian nation.
The first known humans in the region of Kiev lived there in the late paleolithic period (Stone Age). The population around Kiev during the Bronze Age formed part of so-called Tripillian culture, as witnessed by objects found in the area. During the early Iron Age certain tribes settled around Kiev that practiced land cultivation, husbandry and trading with the Scythians, and with ancient states of the northern Black Sea coast. Findings of Roman coins of the 2nd to the 4th centuries suggest trade relations with the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. The carriers of Zarubintsy culture are considered the direct ancestors of the ancient Slavs who later established Kiev. Notable archaeologists of the area around Kiev include Vikentiy Khvoyka.
Scholars continue to debate about the period in which the city was founded: some date the founding to the late 9th century, other historians have preferred a date of 482 AD. In 1982, the city celebrated its 1,500th anniversary. According to archaeological data, the foundation of Kiev dates to the second half of the 5th century and the first half of the 6th century. There is also a claim to find reference to the city in Ptolemy's 2nd-century work as Metropolity.
Legendary accounts tell of the origin of the city; one legend features a founding family, members of a Slavic tribe (Polans): the leader Kyi, the eldest, his brothers Shchek and Khoryv, and also their sister Lybid, who allegedly founded the city (See the Primary Chronicle). According to the Chronicle, the name Kyiv/Kiev means "belonging to Kyi". Another legend states that Saint Andrew passed through the area (1st century), and where he erected a cross, a church was built. Since the Middle Ages an image of Saint Michael represented the city as well as the duchy.
There is little historical evidence pertaining to the period when the city was founded. Scattered Slavic settlements existed in the area from the 6th century, but it is unclear whether any of them later developed into the city. On the Ptolemy's map there are shown several settlements along the mid-stream of Borysthenes among of which is Azagarium. Some historians believe that it could be the old Kiev. However, according to the 1773 "Dictionary of Ancient Geography" of Alexander Macbean, the settlement corresponds to modern city of Chernobyl. Just south of Azagarium, there is another settlement of Amadoca, which supposedly was the capital of Amadoci people living in area between marshes of Amadoca in the west and Amadoca mountains in the east.
Another name related Kiev mentioned in history, origin of which is not completely clear, is Sambat and has something to do with the Khazar Empire. As previously stated the Primary Chronicle mentions that residents of Kiev told Askold that "there were three brothers Kii, Shchek and Khoriv. They founded this town and died, and now we are staying and paying taxes to their relatives the Khazars". In his book De Administrando Imperio Constantine Porphyrogenitus, mentioning the caravan of small-cargo boats assembled annually before the capital city on the Dnieper, writes, "They come down the river Dnieper and assemble at the strong-point of Kiev (Kioava), also called Sambatas". In addition to that at least three Arabic speaking 10th century geographers who traveled the area mention the city of Zānbat as the chief city of the Russes, among which are Ahmad ibn Rustah, Abu Sa'id Gardezi, and an author of the Hudud al-'Alam. The texts of those authors were discovered by Russian orientalist Alexander Tumansky. The etymology of Sambat has been argued by many historians including Grigoriy Ilyinsky, Nikolay Karamzin, Jan Potocki, Nikolay Lambin, Joachim Lelewel, Guðbrandur Vigfússon and many others. The historian Julius Brutzkus in his work "The Khazar Origin of Ancient Kiev" hypothesizes that both Sambat and Kiev are of Khazar origin meaning "hill fortress" and "lower settlement" respectively. Brutzkus claims that Sambat is not Kiev, but rather Vyshhorod (High City) which is located nearby.
The Primary Chronicles states that at some point during the late 9th or early 10th century in Kiev ruled Askold and Dir who may have been of Viking or Varangian descent and later were murdered by Oleg of Novgorod. The Primary Chronicle dates the Oleg's conquest of the town in 882, but some historians, such as Omeljan Pritsak and Constantine Zuckerman, dispute that arguing that Khazar rule continued as late as the 920s (among notable historical documents are Kievian Letter and Schechter Letter). Other historians suggest that Magyar tribes ruled the city between 840 and 878, before migrating with some Khazar tribes to the Carpathian Basin. The Primary Chronicles also mention movement of Hungarians pass Kiev. To this day in Kiev exists a place known as "Uhorske urochyshche" (Hungarian place), which is better known as Askold's Grave. According to the aforementioned scholars the building of the fortress of Kiev was finished in 840 under the leadership of Keő (Keve), Csák and Geréb, the three brothers, possibly members of the Tarján tribe. The three names appear in the Kiev Chronicle Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv may be not of Slavic origin as Russian historians have always struggled to account for their meanings and origins. According to Hungarian historian Viktor Padányi, their names were put into the Kiev Chronicle in the 12th century and they were identified as old-Russian mythological heroes.
The city of Kiev stood conveniently on the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks. In 968 the nomadic Pechenegs attacked and then besieged the city. In 1000 AD the city had a population of 45,000.
In March 1169 Grand Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky of Vladimir-Suzdal sacked Kiev, leaving the old town and the prince's hall in ruins. He took many pieces of religious artwork - including the Theotokos of Vladimir icon - from nearby Vyshhorod. In 1203 Prince Rurik Rostislavich and his Kipchak allies captured and burned Kiev. In the 1230s the city was besieged and ravaged by different Rus' princes several times. The town had not recovered from Bogolyubsky's sack and the subsequent destruction, when in 1240 the Mongol invasion of Rus', led by Batu Khan, completed the destruction of Kiev. These events had a profound effect on the future of the city and on the East Slavic civilization. Before Bogolyubsky's pillaging, Kiev had had a reputation as one of the largest cities in the world, with a population exceeding 100,000 in the beginning of the 12th century.
In the early 1320s a Lithuanian army led by Grand Duke Gediminas defeated a Slavic army led by Stanislav of Kiev at the Battle on the Irpen' River and conquered the city. The Tatars, who also claimed Kiev, retaliated in 1324–1325, so while Kiev was ruled by a Lithuanian prince, it had to pay tribute to the Golden Horde. Finally, as a result of the Battle of Blue Waters in 1362, Algirdas, Grand Duke of Lithuania, incorporated Kiev and surrounding areas into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1482 Crimean Tatars sacked and burned much of Kiev. With the 1569 (Union of Lublin), when the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was established, the Lithuanian-controlled lands of the Kiev region (Podolia, Volhynia, and Podlachia) were transferred from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, and Kiev became the capital of Kiev Voivodeship. The 1658 Treaty of Hadiach envisaged Kiev becoming the capital of the Grand Duchy of Rus' within the Polish–Lithuanian–Ruthenian Commonwealth, but this provision of the treaty never went into operation. Occupied by the Russian troops since the 1654 (Treaty of Pereyaslav), Kiev became a part of the Tsardom of Russia from 1667 on (Truce of Andrusovo) and enjoyed a degree of autonomy. None of the Polish-Russian treaties concerning Kiev have ever been ratified. In the Russian Empire Kiev was a primary Christian centre, attracting pilgrims, and the cradle of many of the empire's most important religious figures, but until the 19th century the city's commercial importance remained marginal.
In 1834 the Russian government established Saint Vladimir University, now called the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev after the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko (1814–1861). (Shevchenko worked as a field researcher and editor for the geography department). The medical faculty of the Saint Vladimir University, separated into an independent institution in 1919–1921 during the Soviet period, became the Bogomolets National Medical University in 1995.
During the 18th and 19th centuries the Russian military and ecclesiastical authorities dominated city life; the Russian Orthodox Church had involvement in a significant part of Kiev's infrastructure and commercial activity. In the late 1840s the historian, Mykola Kostomarov, founded a secret political society, the Brotherhood of Saint Cyril and Methodius, whose members put forward the idea of a federation of free Slavic peoples with Ukrainians as a distinct and separate group rather than a subordinate part of the Russian nation; the Russian authorities quickly suppressed the society.
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 Russian-speaking part of the population dominated the city centre, while the lower classes living on the outskirts retained Ukrainian folk culture to a significant extent. However, enthusiasts among ethnic Ukrainian nobles, military and merchants made recurrent attempts to preserve native culture in Kiev (by clandestine book-printing, amateur theatre, folk studies etc.)
During the Russian industrial revolution in the late 19th century, Kiev became an important trade and transportation centre of the Russian Empire, specialising in sugar and grain export by railway and on the Dnieper river. By 1900 the city had also become a significant industrial centre, having a population of 250,000. Landmarks of that period include the railway infrastructure, the foundation of numerous educational and cultural facilities as well as notable architectural monuments (mostly merchant-oriented). In 1892 the first electric tram line of the Russian Empire started running in Kiev (the 3rd in the world).
Kiev prospered during the late 19th century Industrial Revolution in the Russian Empire, when it became the third most important city of the Empire and the major centre of commerce of its southwest. In the turbulent period following the 1917 Russian Revolution, Kiev became the capital of several successive Ukrainian states and was caught in the middle of several conflicts: World War I, during which German soldiers occupied it from 2 March 1918 to November 1918, the Russian Civil War of 1917 to 1922, and the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1921. During the last three months of 1919, Kiev was intermittently controlled by the White Army. Kiev changed hands sixteen times from the end of 1918 to August 1920.
From 1921 to 1991 the city formed part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which became a founding republic of the Soviet Union in 1922. The major events that took place in Soviet Ukraine during the interwar period all affected Kiev: the 1920s Ukrainization as well as the migration of the rural Ukrainophone population made the Russophone city Ukrainian-speaking and bolstered the development of Ukrainian cultural life in the city; the Soviet Industrialization that started in the late 1920s turned the city, a former centre of commerce and religion, into a major industrial, technological and scientific centre; the 1932–1933 Great Famine devastated the part of the migrant population not registered for ration cards; and Joseph Stalin's Great Purge of 1937–1938 almost eliminated the city's intelligentsia
In 1934 Kiev became the capital of Soviet Ukraine. The city boomed again during the years of Soviet industrialization as its population grew rapidly and many industrial giants were established, some of which exist today.
In World War II, the city again suffered significant damage, and Nazi Germany occupied it from 19 September 1941 to 6 November 1943. Axis forces killed or captured more than 600,000 Soviet soldiers in the great encirclement Battle of Kiev in 1941. Most of those captured never returned alive. Shortly after the Wehrmacht occupied the city, a team of NKVD officers who had remained hidden dynamited most of the buildings on the Khreshchatyk, the main street of the city, where German military and civil authorities had occupied most of the buildings; the buildings burned for days and 25,000 people were left homeless.
Allegedly in response to the actions of the NKVD, the Germans rounded up all the local Jews they could find, nearly 34,000, and massacred them at Babi Yar in Kiev on 29 and 30 September 1941. In the months that followed, thousands more were taken to Babi Yar where they were shot. It is estimated[by whom?] that the Germans murdered more than 100,000 people of various ethnic groups, mostly civilians, at Babi Yar during World War II.
Kiev recovered economically in the post-war years, becoming once again the third-most important city of the Soviet Union. The catastrophic accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986 occurred only 100 km (62 mi) north of the city. However, the prevailing northward winds blew most of the radioactive debris away from Kiev.
In the course of the collapse of the Soviet Union the Ukrainian parliament proclaimed the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine in the city on 24 August 1991. In 2004–2005, the city played host to the largest post-Soviet public demonstrations up to that time, in support of the Orange Revolution. From November 2013 until February 2014, central Kiev became the primary location of Euromaidan.
Geographically, Kiev is located on the border of the Polesia woodland ecological zone, a part of the European mixed woods area, and the East European forest steppe biome. However, the city's unique landscape distinguishes it from the surrounding region. Kiev is completely surrounded by Kiev Oblast.
Originally on the west bank, today Kiev is located on both sides of the Dnieper, which flows southwards through the city towards the Black Sea. The older and higher western part of the city sits on numerous wooded hills (Kiev Hills), with ravines and small rivers. Kiev's geographical relief contributed to its toponyms, such as Podil (means lower), Pechersk (caves), and uzviz (a steep street, "descent"). Kiev is a part of the larger Dnieper Upland adjoining the western bank of the Dnieper in its mid-flow, and which contributes to the city's elevation change. The northern outskirts of the city border the Polesian Lowland. Kiev expanded into the Dnieper Lowland on the left bank (to the east) as late as the 20th century. The whole portion of Kiev on the left bank of the Dnieper is generally referred to as Left bank (Livyi bereh). Significant areas of the left bank Dnieper valley were artificially sand-deposited, and are protected by dams.
Within the city the Dnieper River forms a branching system of tributaries, isles, and harbors within the city limits. The city is close to the mouth of the Desna River and the Kiev Reservoir in the north, and the Kaniv 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.
In total, there are 448 bodies of open water within the boundaries of Kiev, which include the Dnieper itself, its reservoirs, and several small rivers, dozens of lakes and artificially created ponds. They occupy 7949 hectares. Additionally, the city has 16 developed beaches (totalling 140 hectares) and 35 near-water recreational areas (covering more than 1,000 hectares). Many are used for pleasure and recreation, although some of the bodies of water are not suitable for swimming.
Kiev has a warm-summer humid continental climate. The warmest months are June, July, and August, with mean temperatures of 13.8 to 24.8 °C (56.8 to 76.6 °F). The coldest are December, January, and February, with mean temperatures of −4.6 to −1.1 °C (23.7 to 30.0 °F). The highest ever temperature recorded in the city was 39.4 °C (102.9 °F) on 30 July 1936. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the city was −32.9 °C (−27.2 °F) on 11 January 1951. Snow cover usually lies from mid-November to the end of March, with the frost-free period lasting 180 days on average, but surpassing 200 days in some years.
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