Ukrainian Society

Ukrainian Society

Ukrainians (Ukrainian: Українці, Ukrayintsi, ) are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens. According to some dictionary definitions, a descriptive name for the "inhabitants of Ukraine" is Ukrainian or Ukrainian people. Belarusians and Russians are considered the closest relatives of Ukrainians, while Rusyns are either considered another closely related group, or an ethnic subgroup of Ukrainians.

Ethnonym Ukrainians became widely accepted only in the 20th century, so modern Ukrainians identify their ancestry with differently named historical Slavic groups, who are often called Ukrainians too, in retrospect. The oldest recorded ethnonyms used for Ukrainian ancestors are Rusy, Rusyny, and Rusychi (from term Rus'). In the 10th to 12th centuries those names applied only to the Slavic inhabitants of what is today the national and ethnic territory of Ukraine, but later a similar designation was adopted by the proto-Russian inhabitants of the northeastern principalities of Kievan Rus.

Before the medieval period, Kievan Rus was preceded in the area by the ancient Celts, Greeks, Scythians, Sarmatians, Goths, and Norsemen. By 14th century, the Kievan Rus' disintegrated and the territory of modern Ukraine was split between several states. Until the 18th century, Ukrainians and Belarusians (from the early 13th century) were known as Ruthenians – a historic name for Ukrainians corresponding to the Ukrainian rusyny.

By the Early Modern Era and the age of Cossacks, the toponym Ukraine was accepted to denote the lands around Kiev and alongside the lower Dnieper River. The same region was also known as Little Russia (Malorussia), as the heartland of the Kievan Rus' had been designated by the Byzantine Greeks. The corresponding term Malorussians was widely accepted to identify the population of the area when it was a part of the Russian Empire. In the last few centuries, the population of Ukraine was subjected to periods of Polonization and Russification, but preserved common culture and a sense of common identity.

In the last decades of the 19th century, many Ukrainians moved to the Asian regions of Russia, while many of their counterpart Slavs under Austro-Hungarian rule emigrated to the New World seeking work and better economic opportunities. Today, a large ethnic Ukrainian minority reside in Russia, Canada, the United States, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Italy and Argentina. According to some sources, around 20 million people outside Ukraine identify as having Ukrainian ethnicity, however the official data of the respective countries calculated together doesn't show more than 10 million. Ukrainians have one of the largest diasporas in the world.

Read more about Ukrainian Society:  Geographic Distribution, History, Identity and National Oppression, Culture

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