Ukraine is a relatively large country in Eastern Europe, bordered on the east and north by its giant neighbour Russia, on the north also by Belarus, and on the west by Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova. Until 1991, it formed one of the constituent SSRs of the Soviet Union. As of January 2022, its population was approximately 41 million.
Large cities in Ukraine include Kyiv (the capital), Kharkiv, Odessa, Dnipro and Lviv.
Linguistically, roughly even numbers of Ukrainians speak Ukrainian or Russian as their primary language (and there are a number of minority languages spoken in various regions of Ukraine as well, of course). Most Ukrainians, especially in cities, are fully bilingual between Ukrainian and Russian, and can switch as the situation calls for it. There is also a mixed form of the language, Surzhyk, which is considerably more stigmatised and spoken more in rural areas by people without so much formal education.
Ukraine has struggled heavily economically since the collapse of the USSR. Its GDP, for example, had dropped to 60% of its 1989 value by 1999, and had only nearly reached its 1989 level by 2022. Life expectancy took a massive hit, and as of 2016 a Ukrainian could only expect to live a year or so longer than a Ukrainian in 1989. One of the reason for Ukraine’s economic malaise has been ruthless privatisation and “shock therapy”, enforced by Western countries and institutions like the IMF as a condition of financial aid. This has caused extensive deindustrialisation and deteriorating standards of living. By 2024, Ukraine is supposed to quintuple the cost of the gas there, to make it cost the same as it does in Germany, even though Ukrainian salaries are much, much lower. 80% of Ukrainians lived on less than USD$5 per day in 2015.
In 2014, a separatist conflict broke out in far eastern Ukraine and the peninsula of Crimea was invaded and annexed by Russia. Eight years later, this unresolved conflict escalated when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.