POPULATION44,854,065 (July 2012 est.)
GDP PER CAPITA$7,300 (2011 est.)
RELIGIONSUkrainian Orthodox - Kyiv Patriarchate 50.4%, Ukrainian Orthodox - Moscow Patriarchate 26.1%, Ukrainian Greek Catholic 8%, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox 7.2%, Roman Catholic 2.2%, Protestant 2.2%, Jewish 0.6%, other 3.2% (2006 est.)
ALSO IN EUROPE AND RUSSIAAlbania
AT THE CENTER
The roots of contemporary Ukraine’s religious heritage can be traced to the introduction of Orthodox Christianity to the region from Byzantium in the 10th century. This remained the most popular religion even though Muslim and Catholic rulers governed the territory for much of the period from the 13th to 18th centuries. Most of Ukraine came under the control of the Russian Empire in the 1700s, reaffirming the Orthodox tradition. However, Ukraine also contained a multitude of religious and ethnic minorities, including Muslim Tatars, Polish Catholics, and Jews. The Second World War (1939-45) and Soviet rule (1945-91) irrevocably changed the Ukrainian religious landscape, leaving the country overwhelmingly Orthodox. The constitution guarantees religious freedom, though social tensions exist. Following independence in 1991, the Orthodox community experienced a schism between those who wished to establish an autonomous Kiev Patriarchate and those who remained loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate. This religious split has a secular equivalent in the current division between Europe- and Russia-leaning populations in Ukraine’s West and East.