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Kyiv / Kiev

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.

Kyiv Maydan

Quick facts Kyiv


North-central Ukraine



2.847 million

Founding year


As the city is located on both banks of the Dniepr, the river and its many tributaries are major elements in the cityscape. Additionally, there are other, smaller rivers and a number of lakes and ponds within city limits, giving Kyiv quite a number of outdoor opportunities at the edge of water. There are even some well-used beaches which are worth visiting in the summer months, when temperatures on average are around 25 C. On average, the city enjoys almost 2000 hours of sunshine per year, but it also sometimes experiences large amounts of snow, particularly in January and February.

In administrative terms, Kyiv has a unique position in Ukraine, as it does not belong to one of the “oblasts” (administrative regions) but instead forms one of its own. The city itself is officially subdivided into ten so-called “raions” (city districts with limited self-government), however Kievans usually make distinctions by informal neighborhood denominations. The most important distinction is the one between left and right river bank, other markers when indicating an address include the nearest metro station, although not the entire city is covered by the metro network. Nevertheless, the system carries about a third of Kyiv’s public transportation needs. Additionally, there are trams, a widespread bus system and a large number of taxis available for transfers in town.