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Kharkiv (sometimes also spelled Kharkov) is Ukraine’s second-largest city by population and is located in the northeast of the country. As the center of the administrative district with the same name and as the hub of a densely populated metropolitan area, the city takes a leading role for an extended region in terms of economic, educational and cultural significance.

Kharkiv as well as the surrounding region is a major industrial center. Large factories in the aerospace, electronics and defense industries have their headquarters and production facilities in the city. The area is served by a small international airport as well as by several rail connections to other Ukrainian cities. Within the city, a metro system and a large number of bus services serve the needs for public transportation.

The Kharkiv cityscape is formed along the banks of three rivers that flow together and form the Seversky Donets watershed, which in turn feeds a reservoir not far from the city. The region of which Kharkiv is the center is often referred to as Sloboda Ukraine, actually a historic territory that was largely shaped by the Cossacks in the 17th and 18th century. Today, Kharkiv is the seat of the administration of an oblast (province) of the same name with a total population of a little more than 2.5 million and covering some 5% of the entire Ukrainian area. The oblast shares a border with Russia in the east. The Russian and Ukrainian languages are respectively spoken by about 50% of the region’s population.   


Quick facts Kharkiv


North-eastern Ukraine



1.431 million

Founding year


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 20s or even in the 30s.