As the country’s capital and largest city, Kiev (since 1995 officially spelled Kyiv) is one of the most important cities in all of Eastern Europe. With a population of approximately 3.28 million in the metropolitan area, Kiev also is the Ukrainian hub in terms of economy, culture and education.
The name of the city has gradually evolved over time, as the Ukrainian capital is one of the oldest cities in Europe. It is derived from Kyi, the legendary founder of the city, but the romanized spelling in English used to be “Kiev” for a long time and is still used by many media outlets. As this version is derived from the Russian language writing however, after gaining independence, the Ukrainian government officially altered the spelling in Latin script to Kyiv.
Kyiv’s cityscape today shows many different faces. On the outskirts of town, well visible when arriving at the airport and going into the city, the picture is dominated by high-rise residential buildings seemingly demonstrating the massive urban sprawl the city has experienced in the 20th century. This is the left bank of the river Dniepr, while the right bank is the home of the historic center of Kyiv. There, an eclectic mixture of old and new can be seen, many state-of-the-art and often energy-efficient buildings are located next to renovated older structures, among them being quite a few historic buildings. The urban center is now located in the area of the by now internationally famous square Maidan Nezalezhnosti (photo) and Khreshchatyk street, the main street seamed by large administrative buildings as well as by upscale shopping centers and boutiques.