The State

Ukraine is located in Central – Eastern Europe. It occupies southwest part of Eastern European Plato and part of Carpathians and Crimean mountains. South borders of Ukraine are washed by Black and Azov seas.

The geopolitical location of Ukraine bordering west and east nations and cultures has significantly influenced the historical and present development of the state.


National Symbols of Ukraine:
State Flag and Emblem

The State Flag of Ukraine

Various types of flags were used in various periods of Ukrainian history. The earliest mention of the modern national colors of Ukraine dates back to the period of Hetman State and is found in the Lviv Chronicle of the 17th century. Supposedly, the coat of arms of the city of Lviv, in yellow and blue colors, was granted to the city by Prince Lev.

Yellow and blue also appeared in the coat of arms of the "Ruthenian Voyevodstvo (Province)" which was part of Poland in the 14th and 15th centuries. The description of some military flags from the times of the Hetman State (after the Periaslav Council of 1654) mention azure as the color of the flag cloth bearing different embroidered emblems and mottoes. Along with azure, often in combination with yellow, the favorite colors of the Kozak state were crimson and red.

The heraldic conception of national colors that had been passed down from ancient times had been lost. Instead, blue was justified as being the color of the sky and yellow as the color of the wheat fields. On March 22, 1918 the Ukrainian Central Rada simultaneously adopted the yellow-and-blue flag and the trident as the national coat of arms. On November 12, 1918, the government of the Western Ukrainian National Republic also adopted these colors for its state flag. In accordance with the resolution of the Ukrainian National Rada of June 27, 1949, the state flag of the Ukrainian National Republic consisted of two equal horizontal stripes: blue at the top and yellow at the bottom.

When Ukraine declared its independence in 1991, it adopted a new National Flag on January 28, 1992 – a horizontally 2-striped flag. The upper stripe, blue, signifying the open sky and the bottom yellow stripe, symbolizing the wheat fields of Ukraine.

The national emblem – the coat of arms, the flag, and the seal – alternated during the millennium of Ukrainian history owing to various political, social, cultural, and other factors – a phenomenon common to many European nations.

The contemporary national coat of arms of Ukraine, Azure or trident, is the most ancient as well as most dignified of all the Ukrainian insignia of nationwide significance. Its emblazonment represents a synthesis of a preheraldic device of the ruling dynasty in the tenth century and of the oldest Ukrainian national heraldic tinctures from the 13th century.

The problems associated with the origin and of the original meaning of the Ukrainian trident have still not been solved by scholars. The archaeological finds of tridents in Ukraine go back to the 1st century AD. Undoubtedly this emblem was a mark of authority and a mystic symbol of one or of several of the ethnic groups which inhabited ancient Ukrainian territory and which came to compose the Ukrainian nation.

The trident, left to Volodymyr the Great by his ancestors became a hereditary preheraldic badge of all his descendants and rulers of medieval Ukraine – the Grand Princes of Kyiv and the Princes of all other constituent principalities of the vast Kyivan Realm. Tridents and bidents are found on many objects of that period: coins, stones, and bricks of significant buildings (i.e., palaces, castles, cathedrals), armor, signets, seals, official jewelry, ceramics and manuscripts.

After the renascence of independent Ukraine on January 22, 1918, the trident was adopted, by a law of March 22, 1918, as the national device of the Ukrainian National Republic. It was adopted in the form of a Great and a Small Coat of Arms representing the classic trident of Volodymyr the Great in an ornamental wreath. The trident was emblazoned in official use (e.g., in uniforms of armed forces, and service flags).

The State Anthem of Ukraine
The Ukrainian State Anthem, Shche ne vmerla Ukraina ("Ukraine Has Not Yet Perished" – or "Ukraine Lives On") is of quite recent origin. Rev. Mykhailo Verbytskyi (1815-70), composer of many Ukrainian songs realized the need for an anthem at the first Ukrainian concert in Peremyshl, in Western Ukraine, to honor the poet Taras Shevchenko. In the same year a poem, "Shche ne vmerla Ukraina" appeared in the Lviv magazine Meta ("The Goal"), written by Pavlo Chubynsky (1839-84). However, the magazine mistakenly accredited the poem to Shevchenko. Rev. Verbytskyi was impressed by the poem’s simplicity yet strong patriotic appeal, and set it to music.

The popularity of the song rapidly spread throughout the country. In 1864 it was sung at the conclusion of a program in Permyshyl honoring Taras Shevchenko. Shche ne vmerla Ukraina was first published in 1885 in the Lviv music anthology "Kobzar". Finally, in 1917 it became the rallying song of the Ukrainian revolution and was officially adopted as the state anthem of the Ukrainian Republic.

According to Article 20 of the Constitution of Ukraine (adopted on June 28, 1996) the State Anthem of Ukraine is the national anthem with the music of M. Verbytskyi and words, confirmed by law and approved by a constitutional majority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

The Name of State

For ages Ukraine has assumed many names. Among these names are Oriana, Roxolania, Scythia, Sarmatia, and the State of Anths. In the 9th century AD, the name "Rus" first appeared in Kyiv chronicle where it referred to the King and his men. According to Arab and Byzantian written sources, in the 12th century AD Rus was on the Taman Peninsula (Tmutorokan). Thereafter, Chervona (Red) Rus (or Halychyna), Bila (White) Rus (the territory of present-day Bielorus), and Western Rus Lands (Volyn) were referred to as Rus Provinces. Generally, the name "Rus" had been applied to all the lands of Kyiv Rus since the 6th century AD.
In 1334, Mala (Small) Rus was the name first used in referring to the Halytsko-Volyn Principality as a successor of the Great Kyiv Rus, which survived after the Mongol-Tatar invasion. Later, the name spread to the entire Ukrainian territory.

At the same time, the name "Ukraina" (Ukraine) was used widely as an unofficial version of "Rus". This name was first come upon in the Kyiv Manuscript (Ipatiev’s version) where it was used to describe Pereyaslav, Kyiv and Chernihiv. Halych Ukraine is mentioned in the Halych-Volyn Manuscript in 1187 and 1213. In 1650, a French engineer and traveler, G.L. de Beauplan, published a book titled, "Description d’Ukraine" where he used the word "Ukraine" to describe Halychyna and Podilia (low lands). During Cossack times, since the 16th century, Cossack lands which included the lands along the Dnieper (Naddniprianshchyna) were called Ukraine. The Cossacks’ State headed by Bohdan Khmelnytski was also called Ukraine. This is corroborated in the documents of many hetmans (Cossack leaders, or headmen) – from Khmelnytski to Ivan Mazepa and P. Orlyk. Ukraine became popular in Western Europe after 1661 owing to publications by G.L. de Beauplan.

Beginning in the 19th century, the name Ukraine was used to denote the entire territory where Ukrainians lived. Thus, all other names irrespective of their origin and length of use were removed.
After the declaration of the Ukrainian National Republic (1917), the Ukrainian Hetman State (1918), the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic (1918), and Carpathian Ukraine (1939), "Ukraine" became the official name of the country. In 1919, Ukraine was called the Ukrainian Socialists Soviet Republic, and from 1937-1991 it was referred to as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Finally, the historical name "Ukraine" was given back to the country after it declared its independence in 1991. On June 28, 1996, this official name was corroborated into the Constitution of Ukraine.