Ukrainians are very proud of their capital's role in establishing European civilisation in Eastern Europe.
Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, dating back to the 5th century, although settlements at this location existed much earlier. By the late 9th century, Kiev had become the de facto capital of an emerging Eastern Slavic state. Between the 10th and early 13th centuries, the city reached its golden age as the capital of the first Ukrainian state known today as Kievan Rus, Kyivan Ruthenia, or Rus-Ukraine. This state created the religious and cultural foundations for modern Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.
In the middle of the 13th century, Kievan Rus was overrun by the Mongols. Later that century, Kiev became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1569 the city was absorbed into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and in 1654 it was liberated from that Commonwealth by the Cossack, Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, who then promptly signed the city over to Russia. This action continues to be a sore point for Ukrainian nationalists.
In 1775, Kiev was annexed by the Russian Empire. The city remained under Russian rule, with brief but uncertain periods of independence between 1918 and 1920. Over these two centuries, Kiev experienced growing Russification and Russian immigration. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, it became the capital of independent Ukraine and is now discovering its place as a large European capital.
It is generally acknowledged that the population is over 3,000,000 2006 estimates. About 85% claim Ukrainian ethnicity and about 12% Russian. However, the census numbers are believed to be unreliable so these percentages must be taken with a pinch of salt. There are many minorities in the city, including Armenians, Azeris, Belarussians, Jewish, Georgians, Polish, Romanians and Tatars. Since 2001, not only has the population of Kiev increased, but also the percentage of people claiming Ukrainian ethnicity. This is probably a result of the strong nationalist movement centered in Kiev during the Orange Revolution October 2004 to January 2005.
In Kiev, Ukrainian is primarily spoken by immigrants from Western or Central Ukraine, while most Kievans usually speak Russian, sometimes with a few Ukrainian words called "Surzhik". Officially, all signs are in Ukrainian only. Since 2011, signs with Latin transliteration have been installed in the city centre.
According to the national census taken in 2001, about 93% of the population has a secondary education, and nearly 46% received higher education.
Average temperatures are maximum 26ÂºC 79 ÂºF / minimum 15ÂºC 59ÂºF in summer and maximum -2Â°C 28ÂºF / minimum -8ÂºC 17ÂºF in winter. Spring and autumn fall can be very brief. Heat waves featuring temperatures as high as 38ÂºC 100ÂºF are rare but not unheard of in the summer months and brief but potent cold spells with temperatures as low as -20ÂºC -4ÂºF are not uncommon in winter.
In general the people in Kiev are hospitable and will be eager to help you. However, if you don't have a knowledge of Ukrainian or Russian you may find service in restaurants and shops difficult, although this will change with time as more people begin to study English.