Ukrainians may come from an agricultural village or an industrial city. Throughout most of its history, Ukraine was chiefly known as an agricultural area. During the 20th century, however, Ukraine became an industrial centre. The country is rich in natural resources such as iron and other metals, coal, oil and gas, salt and clay, which is used to make bricks and ceramics. Its factories produce machinery, cars and trucks, tractors, aircraft, radio electronics and ships.

Today, two-thirds of Ukrainians live and work in cities. Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, has a population of 2.6 million people. Its factories produce cameras, precision tools, watches, aircraft and chemicals. Other industrial centres are Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine and Lviv in the west. Odessa on the Black Sea is an important port and Mykolaiv has a large shipbuilding industry.

The Ukrainian economy is in a period of transition. Formerly government-owned companies are being sold off. The huge collective farms are being broken up. Ukraine is beginning to trade with foreign countries.

It will take many years until the new economy is fully established. Under the Soviets, the government decided the quantities and types of goods that could be produced. No region could be self-sufficient. Industries in one area relied on raw materials from another area. Factories assembled machine parts that had been made in a different region. This has made it difficult to create an independent economy in Ukraine.

During the transition period, jobs are hard to find. Some people try to create their own work, but it is difficult to make a steady income this way. At the same time, Ukrainians must now pay for many benefits that used to be provided by the state, such as housing and vacations.

Did you know?

Ukraine has an important aerospace industry. The largest airplane in the world was built in Ukraine, and a Ukrainian factory built rockets for the Soviet space program. Ukraine launched its first satellite in 1995.