The city itself is officially divided into nine city raions (districts). Its center is the Freedom Square, one of the largest city squares in Europe with a length of some 700 meters. The square was constructed in 1931 and is, together with the surrounding buildings, an example of Stalinist Classicism architecture. As the city was in large parts destroyed or in disrepair after the Second World War, this building style can be widely found in the city. Kharkiv was the capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic from 1919 to 1934.
Apart from its significance as an industrial town, Kharkiv is also a major education center, having no less than 13 national universities and a large number of further institutes of higher education, accounting for roughly 150,000 students making their home in the city. The universities also feed many science and research institutions, while the comparatively young population forms the backbone of an extensive cultural scene in the city, boasting many theatres and art galleries as well a number of music festivals taking place throughout the year.
The climate in the Kharkiv region is described as being humid continental, usually featuring much snow in the winter, especially in January and February, a rainy season in the early summer and temperatures in July and August often in the high 20°s or even in the 30°s.