Languages of Ukraine

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Languages of Ukraine
Fluency in Ukrainian by region 1998–2001
Official languages
Significant unofficial languages
Indigenous languages
Regional languages
Minority languages  
Main foreign languages
  1. Russian
  2. English
  3. German
  4. French
  5. Spanish
  6. Chinese / Italian / Arabic
Sign languages Ukrainian Sign Language
Common keyboard layouts
Cyrillic layout in Windows Vista
Source Census-2001

The official language of Ukraine is Ukrainian, an East Slavic language which is the native language of 67.5% of Ukraine's population. Russian is the native language of 29.6% of Ukraine's population and the rest (2.9%) are native speakers of other languages.[1] Ethnologue lists 40 minority languages and dialects; nearly all are native to the former Soviet Union.

According to Article 10 of the Constitution of Ukraine the state has an obligation to ensure the comprehensive development and functioning of the Ukrainian language in all spheres of social life throughout Ukraine while guaranteeing the free development, use and protection of the Russian language and other languages of national minorities of Ukraine.

Language and daily life

An August 2011 poll by Razumkov Centre showed that 53.3% of the respondents use the Ukrainian language in everyday life, while 44.5% use Russian.[2]

In an October 2009 poll by FOM-Ukraine of 1,000 respondents, 52% stated they use Russian as their "Language of communication"; while 41% of the respondents state they use Ukrainian and 8% stated they use a mixture of both.[3]

A March 2010 poll[4] by Research & Branding Group showed that 65% considered Ukrainian as their native language and 33% Russian. This poll also showed the standard of knowledge of the Russian language (free conversational language, writing and reading) in current Ukraine is higher (76%) than the standard of knowledge of the Ukrainian language (69%). More respondents preferred to speak Ukrainian (46%) than Russian (38%) with 16% preferring to speak both in equal manner.

In a May 2012 poll by RATING 50% of respondents considered Ukrainian their native language, 29% Russian, 20% consider both Ukrainian and Russian their mother tongue and 1% considered a different language their native language.[5]

A poll held November 2009 revealed that 54.7% of the population of Ukraine believed the language issue in Ukraine is irrelevant, that each person can speak the language he or she prefers and that a lot more important problems exist in the country; 14.7% of those polled stated that the language issue was an urgent problem that cannot be postponed and that calls for immediate resolution; another 28.3% believed that, while the language issue needs to be resolved, this could be postponed.[6]

Current languages

The languages of Ukraine, according to Ethnologue, are as follows. (Not included are Vlax Romani, Jakati, and Slovak, for which no population data is available):[7]

Regional languages

As a result of legislation entitled the 'Bill on the principles of the state language policy", which was adopted by the Verkhovna Rada in August in 2012, languages spoken by at least 10% of an oblast's population were made possible to be elevated to the status of 'regional language'. Whilst Ukrainian remained the country's only 'official' language nationwide, other languages, dependent on their adoption by oblast authorities, became accepted mediums of communication in education, local government offices, courts and official correspondence.[8]

Region Regional languages Region Regional languages
Autonomous Republic of Crimea Autonomous Republic of Crimea Crimean Tatar  Luhansk Oblast Russian (Luhansk city and Krasny Luch only)
 Cherkasy Oblast  Lviv Oblast
 Chernihiv Oblast  Mykolaiv Oblast Russian[9]
 Chernivtsi Oblast Moldovan (Tarasivtsi village only)[10]  Odessa Oblast Russian
 Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Russian  Poltava Oblast
 Donetsk Oblast Russian  Rivne Oblast
 Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast Sevastopol Sevastopol City Russian
 Kharkiv Oblast Russian (Kharkiv city only)  Sumy Oblast
 Kherson Oblast Russian[11]  Ternopil Oblast
 Khmelnytskyi Oblast  Vinnytsia Oblast
 Kiev Oblast  Volyn Oblast
 Kirovohrad Oblast  Zakarpattia Oblast Hungarian (Berehove town only)[10]

Romanian (Bila Tserkva village only) [12]

Kiev Kyiv City  Zaporizhia Oblast Russian
 Zhytomyr Oblast

Historical facts

According to the Russian census 1897 on the territory of the nine Russian guberniyas in modern Ukraine yielded the following results:

Language composition
List of mentioned regions


See also