Traditionally seen as the cradle of Ukrainian, Russian and Belorussian cultures, Ukraine currently sits uncomfortably between East and West, Russia and the EU/NATO.
Fields of plenty
It has been criss-crossed by invaders for most of its history, whether Poland, Lithuania, Germany or Russia (or the Ottomans, Mongols or Huns for that matter). Consequently, the country has great cultural diversity, particularly on an East-West axis.
It’s popularity with invaders has partly been due to its temperate climate and the fertile soils of the Ukrainian Steppe, which make it an excellent place for agriculture. It remains one of the Europe’s largest producers of grain and potatoes and is world-beating in sugar beet.
A modern economy
Despite ongoing tensions with Russia, its eastern neighbour remains Ukraine’s largest trading partner, though China and Germany are also major sources of imports.
One of the top steel producers in the world and a big coal exporter, Ukraine nevertheless relies on imported natural gas, and is home to the pipeline that transports the stuff from Russia to Europe. Ukraine has substantial heavy industries including all things food processing, chemicals, transport machinery and electricity generation. It’s enough to whet the appetite of any budding industrialist.
However, Ukraine is far from just a country of heavy industries – services account for more than half its GDP, including transportation, communications and services industries. Its taxation system was simplified in 2010, though at 64th in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, it is still behind its neighbours, including Russia (though it is comfortably ahead of Greece).
Making the most of the opportunity
As the second largest country in Europe after Russia, there is plenty of opportunity in its diverse economy as much as its varied landscapes, coastlines and cultural variety. Off the usual tourist trail, Ukraine is a great place for travelling businesspeople and digital nomads who can get on with their work in beautiful surroundings, without drowning in sightseers.
Ukraine struggles with internal issues of political corruption, the fallout of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and more recent invasions by Russia, including the loss of Crimea.
It is largely Ukrainian speaking which might prove a challenge for foreigners unused to the Cyrillic alphabet, especially as only 18% of the population speaks English.
Ukraine is a land of huge opportunity – evidenced by the backhanded compliment of near continuous invasion – but it requires local assistance to make the most of it. That’s where our Ukrainian advisers come in.