Geography of Ukraine
The geography of Ukraine varies greatly from one region of the country to another, with the majority of the country lying within the East European Plain. Ukraine is the second-largest country by area in Europe after the Russian Federation. Its various regions have diverse geographic features ranging from the highlands to the lowlands as well as climatic range and a wide variety in hydrography.
Ukraine has a strategic position in East Central Europe: lying on the northern shores of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, it borders a number of European countries - Poland, Slovakia and Hungary in the west, Belarus in the north, Moldova and Romania in the south-west and Russia in the east. The total geographic area of Ukraine is 603,550 square kilometers (233,030 sq mi). The land border of Ukraine totals 4,558 kilometers (2,832 mi). The border lengths with each country are: Belarus 891 kilometers (554 mi), Hungary 103 kilometers (64 mi), Moldova 939 kilometers (583 mi), Poland 428 kilometers (266 mi), Romania 169 kilometers (105 mi) on the south and 362 kilometers (225 mi) on the west, Russia 1,576 kilometers (979 mi), and Slovakia 90 kilometers (56 mi). Ukraine is also bordered by 3,783 kilometers (2,351 mi) of coastline.
The border with Russia is the country's longest border - it runs in part through the Sea of Azov.
Most of its territory lies within the Great European Plain, while parts of western regions and southern regions lay within the Alpine system. In general Ukraine comprises two different biomes: mixed forest towards the middle of continent and steppe towards the Black Sea littoral. Major provinces include, Polesian Lowland, Dnieper Lowland, Volhynia-Podolie Plateau, Black Sea-Azov Lowland, Donets-Azov Plateau, Central Russian Upland, Carpathians, Crimean Mountains, and Pannonian Basin.
The western regions feature alpine-like section of Carpathian Mountains, the Eastern Carpathians that stretches across Poland, Ukraine and Romania. The highest peak is Hoverla, which is 2,061 metres (6,762 ft) tall. Mountains are limited to the west, the southern tip of Ukraine on the Sea of Azov. The western region has the Carpathian Mountains, and some eroded mountains from the Donets Ridge are in the east near the Sea of Azov. The highest elevation in Ukraine is located at the peak of Mount Hoverla which is 2,061 meters (6,762 ft) above sea level.
Most of Ukraine's area is taken up by the steppe-like region just north of the Black Sea. Most of Ukraine consists of fertile plains (or steppes) and plateaus. In terms of land use, 58% of Ukraine is considered arable land; 2% is used for permanent crops, 13% for permanent pastures, 18% is forests and woodland, and 9% is other.
Physiographic division of Ukraine
Most of Ukraine consists of regular plains with the average height above sea level being 175 metres (574 ft). It is surrounded by mountains to its west and extreme south. Wide spaces of the country's plains are located in the south-western part of the East European Plain. The plains have numerous highlands and lowlands caused by the uneven crystallized base of the East European craton. The highlands are characterized by Precambrian basement rocks from the Ukrainian Shield.
Great European Plain (subregion East European Plain)
- Volhynia-Podillia Plateau
- Polesian Lowland
- Dnieper Upland
- Dnieper Lowland
- Central Russian Upland
- Donets-Azov Plateau
- Black Sea-Azov Lowland
- Transcarpathian Lowland (extension of Great Hungarian Plain, part of Eastern Pannonian Basin)
- Eastern Carpathians (part of Carpathian Mountains)
- Crimean Mountains
- Main Ridge
- Inner Ridge
- Outer Risge
- Southern Crimean coast
The territory of Ukraine is bordered by the waters of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. More than 95% of the rivers are part of those two seas' drainage basins. A few rivers are part of the Baltic Sea basin. There are seven major rivers in Ukraine: Desna, Dnipro, Dnister, Danube, Prypiat, Siverian Donets, and Southern Buh.
Ukraine has a temperate continental climate with cold winters and warm summers. Ukraine's climates are influenced by the humid air from the Atlantic Ocean. Precipitation in Ukraine is disproportionately distributed, with the most falling in the west and the north, and much less falling in the east and the southeast. June and July are usually the wettest months, while February is usually the driest. Winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold farther inland; summers are warm across the greater part of the country, and tend to be very hot in the south.
Significant natural resources in Ukraine include: iron ore, coal, manganese, natural gas, oil, salt, sulfur, graphite, titanium, magnesium, kaolin, nickel, mercury, timber, and arable land.
Ukraine does have many environmental concerns. Some regions lack adequate supplies of potable water. Air and water pollution affects the country, as well as deforestation, and radiation contamination in the northeast stemming from the 1986 accident at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
- CIA World Factbook, Entry for Ukraine updated May 15 2008.
- Ukraine. (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved August 23, 2010, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/612921/Ukraine
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- (English) (Latin) General Depiction of the Empty Plains (in Common Parlance, Ukraine) Together with its Neighboring Provinces by Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan, 1648
- Zastavnyi, F. D. Physical geography of Ukraine: lowlands and uplands of Ukraine. "Heohrafiya".