Ukraine (i; Ukrainian: Україна, tr. Ukraina [ukrɑˈjinɑ]) is a country in Eastern Europe,bordered by Russia to the east and northeast, Belarus to the northwest, Poland and Slovakia to the west, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova to the southwest, and the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to the south and southeast, respectively. It is currently in dispute with Russia over the Crimean peninsula which Russia annexed in 2014 but Ukraine and most of the international community still recognise as Ukrainian. Including Crimea, Ukraine has an area of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the largest country entirely within Europe and the 46th largest country in the world, and a population of about 44.5 million, making it the 32nd most populous country in the world.
The territory of modern Ukraine has been inhabited since 32,000 BC. During the Middle Ages, the area was a key centre of East Slavic culture, with the powerful state of Kievan Rus' forming the basis of Ukrainian identity. Following its fragmentation in the 13th century, the territory was contested, ruled and divided by a variety of powers, including Lithuania, Poland, the Ottoman Empire, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. A Cossack republic emerged and prospered during the 17th and 18th centuries, but its territory was eventually split between Poland and the Russian Empire, and later submerged fully into Russia. Two brief periods of independence occurred during the 20th century, once near the end of World War I and another during World War II, but both occasions would ultimately see Ukraine's territories conquered and consolidated into a Soviet republic, a situation that persisted until 1991, when Ukraine gained its independence from the Soviet Union in the aftermath of its dissolution at the end of the Cold War.