Kiev, Ukraine, the republic's capital and largest city. It is on the Dnieper River in northern Ukraine, about 460 miles (740 km) southwest of Moscow.
Kiev is one of Ukraine's leading industrial centers, producing a wide variety of goods. Textiles, aircraft, chemicals, and machinery are among the products. Kiev is also a major transportation center, with trunk railways and highways, port facilities, and an international airport. A subway serves the city.
Scientific and educational institutions include the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences and its affiliated research institutes, Kiev State University (1834), and a number of technical and engineering schools. Kiev's opera and ballet companies and music conservatory are among the finest in the nation. Numerous churches and monasteries reflect the city's former position as one of Eastern Europe's main centers of Christianity. St. Sophia Cathedral and Kiev-Pecherskaya Monastery are among the city's chief historical and architectural treasures. Both were founded in the 11th century. Kiev has museums devoted to art, architecture, history, and ethnology.
Kiev is the oldest city in Ukraine, probably existing as early as the 5th century A.D. It flourished from the 9th century through most of the 12th century as a vital link in a major trade route and as capital of Kievan Russia, the first great Russian state. In 1240 Kiev was virtually destroyed by Tatar invaders. During the next four centuries it came under the rule of Lithuania, Poland, and once again (1686) Russia.
Kiev was the capital of a short-lived Ukrainian republic after World War I. In 1934 the city replaced Kharkov as the capital of the Ukrainian S.S.R. During World War II Kiev suffered extensive damage and enormous loss of life. In 1986 a serious radiation leak at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant north of Kiev caused concern for the safety of the city's inhabitants.
In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kiev once again became the capital of an independent Ukraine.