Learning about Ukraine

There’s been a lot of news recently about conflict in Ukraine. But what exactly is going on? Who’s fighting, and what’s at stake here? Wikipedia has an expansive article on Ukraine, but we want something more authoritative that we know was written by someone who studies Ukraine extensively. Fortunately, the library has plenty of resources to help you learn about Ukraine, and Russia’s interest in the country.

An excellent place to start is the CIA World Factbook. If you are ever doing any kind of research on a country, the Factbook is an excellent resource to consult. This resource, compiled by the CIA, provides an overview of every country in the world. Although this is restricted mostly to hard facts (population, climate, literacy rates), and doesn’t provide a detailed overview of history and culture, we can use this as a good starting point.

So just where is Ukraine located? It’s a country located in eastern Europe with its southern border on the coast of the Black Sea. Bordering countries include Belarus to the north, Poland to the west, and Russia to the east.


What else can the World Factbook tell us about Ukraine? It has a temperate climate, although there are variations within the country. Its total population is about 44.5 million, with 77% of those being ethnically Ukrainian, and 13% being Russian, with several other groups making up the rest. Major exports include metals and oil, and their major exporting partner is Russia.

So now we know a bit more about Ukraine’s geography, politics, and economy. But what if we want some more information? Again, we want to avoid Wikipedia and find information written by a Ukraine scholar. So next let’s go to Credo.

Credo is one of our library databases, and its specialty is collecting encyclopedias and dictionaries and making them available electronically. We can research Ukraine through Credo to get some excellent information. In addition to some of the overview information we read through the World Factbook, Credo’s entries also give us some much more detailed information about its history and culture, particularly its time as part of the USSR and current events up through 2013. It will also link out to some major news sources so you can read about the unfolding conflict in the region.

And if that’s not enough, we also have a few books on the country. They don’t cover some of the most recent events, but they should get you caught up to speed on the history and culture of the country. Try out Anna Shevchenko’s Ukraine, Sharon Wolchik’s Ukraine: The Search for a National Identity, or Volodymyr Bassis’ Ukraine. The Rise and Fall of Communism might help you learn about the history of the USSR and Russia’s influence in Eastern Europe. The three volume Eastern Europe: An Introduction to the People, Lands, and Culture is also an excellent place to learn more about the larger Eastern European region and its history and society.

Or if you’re feeling hungry, why not try Culinaria Russia: Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan to become acquainted with the region’s food?

And now you should be well equipped to discuss Ukraine. Dazzle your peers by discussing its history and background, and back up your points with some accurate, reliable information from these resources. And remember the library next time you’re looking for reliable information about current events.

As a final note, you might be wondering, is it “Ukraine” or “the Ukraine?” Writing for the magazine Mental Floss, journalist (and etymologist) Matt Soniak recommends just “Ukraine.”


About Garrison L.

Public Services Librarian extraordinaire and mantis shrimp enthusiast. View all posts by Garrison L.

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