Map Explainer: Key Facts About Ukraine
The modern state of Ukraine was formed nearly 30 years ago after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, the country has often made headlines due to political instability and the looming threat of a Russian invasion.
In the map graphic above, we examine Ukraine from a structural point of view. What’s the country’s population composition? What drives the country’s economy? And most importantly, why is the country important within a global context?
Where Do People Live in Ukraine?
With a population of nearly 44 million people, Ukraine is the eighth-most populous country in Europe. For perspective, that is slightly smaller than Spain, and four times larger than Greece.
As the cartogram below demonstrates, a large portion of the country’s population is located in and around the capital Kyiv, along with the Donetsk region—which is front and center in the current conflict with Russia.
Not surprisingly, many of the country’s Russian speaking citizens live on the eastern side of the country, near the Russian border.
Key Facts About Ukraine’s Demographics
Ukrainians make up almost 78% of the total population, while Russians represent around 17% of the population, making it the single-largest Russian diaspora in the world.
Other minorities include:
- Belarusians: 0.6%
- Bulgarians: 0.4%
- Hungarians: 0.3%
- Crimean Tatars: 0.5%
- Romanians: 0.3%
- Poles: 0.3%
- Jews: 0.2%
The country’s population has been declining since the 1990s because of a high emigration rate, and high death rates coupled with a low birth rate.
The majority of the population is Christian (80%), with 60% declaring adherence to one or another strand of the Orthodox Church.
Ukraine’s Economy: An Overview
When the Soviet Union collapsed, Ukraine turned over thousands of atomic weapons in exchange for security guarantees from Russia, the United States, and other countries. However, the defense industry continues to be a strategically important sector and a large employer in Ukraine. The country exports weapons to countries like India, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
Furthermore, Ukraine is rich in natural resources, particularly in mineral deposits. It possesses the world’s largest reserves of commercial-grade iron ore—30 billion tonnes of ore or around one-fifth of the global total. It’s also worth noting that Ukraine ranks second in terms of known natural gas reserves in Europe, which today remain largely untapped.
Ukraine’s mostly flat geography and high-quality soil composition make the country a big regional agricultural player. The country is the world’s fifth-largest exporter of wheat and the world’s largest exporter of seed oils like sunflower and rapeseed.
Coal mining, chemicals, mechanical products (aircraft, turbines, locomotives and tractors) and shipbuilding are also important sectors of the Ukrainian economy.
The Bear in the Room
Given the country’s location and history, it’s nearly impossible to talk about Ukraine without mentioning nearby Russia.
The country shares borders with Russia both to the east and northeast. For context, a car trip from Moscow to one of the Ukrainian border cities, Shostka, takes around 8 hours. To the Northwest, Ukraine also shares borders with Belarus—a country that is closely aligned with the Kremlin.
To the southeast is Crimea, a peninsula entirely surrounded by both the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov. In 2014, Russia annexed the peninsula and established two federal subjects, the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol. The annexation was widely condemned around the world, and the territories are recognized by most of the international community as being part of Ukraine.
The region was of particular interest to Russia since Moscow depends on the Black Sea for access to the Mediterranean. The Port of Sevastopol, on the southwest edge of Crimea, is one of the few ice-free deepwater ports available to Russia in the region.
Due to ongoing tensions between the two countries, Ukraine has been seeking to reduce Russia’s leverage over its economy. As a result, China and Poland have surpassed Russia as Ukraine’s largest country trading partners in recent years.
However, Ukraine still remains an important route for Russian gas that heats millions of homes, generates electricity, and powers factories in Europe. The continent gets nearly 40% of its natural gas and 25% of its oil from Russia.
Furthermore, Ukraine is connected to the same power grid as Russia, so it remains dependent on Moscow in the event of a shortfall. Even as conflict heats up, the two countries still share economic links, which will influence how the situation unfolds.
Conflict in the Donbas Region
Ukraine stands at the center of a geopolitical rivalry between western powers and Russia, and that rivalry is flaring up once again.
Two regions along the Russian border—Donetsk and Luhansk—have been a conflict zone since 2014, when pro-Russian separatists began clashing with government forces. The map below shows the relative contact zone between the two opposing forces.
Currently Russia has troops and military equipment amassed at various points along the border between the two countries, as well as in neighboring Belarus.
In recent days, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, recognizing them as independent states. This recognition serves as a definitive end point to the seven-year peace deal known as the Minsk agreement.
As this conflict heats up, it remains to be seen what will happen to the roughly 5 million people who live in the Donbas region.
Note: As of February 23rd, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale military operation into Ukraine. The situation is still evolving rapidly.
Mapped: Which Countries Recognize Israel or Palestine, or Both?
In this visualization, we look at how international recognition of Israel and Palestine breaks down among the 193 UN member states.
Which Countries Recognize Israel or Palestine, or Both?
The modern-day conflict between Israel and Palestine emerged from the British Mandate for Palestine, which administered the former Ottoman Empire territory after World War I. But even after 75 years—and declarations of independence from each side—universal recognition eludes them.
In this visualization, we look at how Israel and Palestine recognition breaks down among the 193 UN member states as of November 14, 2023, using Wikpedia data for each state.
A Declaration of Independence
The Jewish People’s Council declared the foundation of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 (the same day that the last British forces left Haifa) on the basis of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which divided the Mandate territories between Jewish and Arab populations.
U.S. President Truman granted de-facto recognition 11 minutes after the Israeli declaration. Not to be outdone by their Cold War adversary, the U.S.S.R. followed suit three days later with de-jure recognition and was joined by Warsaw Pact allies Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Poland.
By the end of 1948, 21 countries recognized Israel.
A Second Declaration of Independence
A declaration of independence for the State of Palestine, comprising the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, didn’t happen until 40 years later.
In the midst of the First Intifada, a five-year-long Palestinian uprising that began in 1987, the Palestine Liberation Organization proclaimed the new state in the city of Algiers on November 15, 1988.
A dozen countries, including 10 members of the Arab League along with Malaysia and Yemen, immediately recognized the new state. The Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc, and most of the Muslim world also joined in recognizing the State of Palestine.
Recognition of Israel and Palestine by Country
As of November 2023, 163 UN member states have recognized Israel, while 138 have recognized Palestine.
|UN Member State||Recognize Israel 🇮🇱||Recognize Palestine 🇵🇸|
|🇦🇬||Antigua and Barbuda||Yes||Yes|
|🇧🇦||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Yes||Yes|
|🇨🇫||Central African Republic||Yes||Yes|
|🇨🇩||Democratic Republic of the Congo||Yes||Yes|
|🇫🇲||Federated States of Micronesia||Yes||No|
|🇵🇬||Papua New Guinea||Yes||Yes|
|🇨🇬||Republic of the Congo||Yes||Yes|
|🇰🇳||Saint Kitts and Nevis||Yes||Yes|
|🇻🇨||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Yes||Yes|
|🇸🇹||São Tomé and Príncipe||Yes||Yes|
|🇹🇹||Trinidad and Tobago||Yes||No|
|🇦🇪||United Arab Emirates||Yes||Yes|
Most of the countries that do not currently recognize Israel are Muslim-majority countries. However, some Muslim-majority countries have recognized Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, who specifically agreed to do so under peace treaties signed in 1979 and 1994 respectively.
Several conflicts have also resulted in some countries suspending relations with Israel. The 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli Wars (also called the Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War, respectively) all saw countries suspend diplomatic relations, including Mali and the Maldives. In the case of Eastern Bloc countries that did so in 1967 and 1973, many resumed relations after the fall of the Soviet Union.
On the other side, despite more countries recognizing the State of Palestine over time, none of the G7 and only nine of the G20 have recognized the state. Similarly, only a minority of the EU has endorsed the declaration.
Israel and Palestine continue to vie for recognition in the international arena, with the former gaining recognition from a few countries including Bhutan and the UAE in 2020, and the latter from Colombia in 2018 and Saint Kitts and Nevis in 2019.
But universal recognition continues to elude both sides, with many countries awaiting a formal resolution to the conflict from the two sides.
It’s worth noting that both Israel and Palestine took steps towards recognition under the Oslo Accords, signed on September 13, 1993. The agreement saw Palestine recognize the State of Israel, put an end to the First Intifada, and allowed for limited self-government under a new Palestinian National Authority in Gaza and the West Bank. It promised to lay the groundwork for a two-state solution; a promise of peace that has yet to be realized.
Economy5 days ago
Ranked: Share of Global Arms Imports in 2022
Automotive2 weeks ago
Visualized: EV Market Share in the U.S.
Maps1 week ago
Interactive Map: The World as 1,000 People
Retail1 week ago
Ranked: Average Black Friday Discounts for Major Retailers
Brands1 week ago
Ranked: Fast Food Brands with the Most U.S. Locations
Economy1 week ago
Visualizing 30 Years of Imports from U.S. Trading Partners
Markets1 week ago
Ranked: The Biggest Retailers in the U.S. by Revenue
Globalization1 week ago
The Top 50 Largest Importers in the World