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This led to a new ruling state with the hetman as leader and a tumultuous relationship with Russia in order to fight Poland.

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The late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries were periods of recolonization in Ukraine, particularly in the provinces of Kiev and Bratslav.The earliest evidence of human settlement in Ukraine dates back 150,000 years.Early inhabitants of the territory included the Balkans, the Cimmerians (the first nomadic horsemen to appear in Ukraine in about 1500 to 1000 ).In 1708-1709 Hetman Ivan Mazepa led the Cossacks to fight alongside Sweden's King Charles XII in the Swedish king's war with Russia's Peter I.But the Swedes and Cossacks lost, and Peter destroyed the hetman's capital and the hetmanate itself.It is bordered by the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, Moldova, and Romania to the south; Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland to the west; Belarus to the north; and Russia to the north and northeast.

Of its population, 73 percent are of Ukrainian ethnic origin.

The country's official language, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, is Ukrainian.

The capital city is Kiev, and the national flag has two broad horizontal bands of blue and yellow, the blue on top representing the sky and the yellow representing fields of wheat.

In 1385, to consolidate power against a growing Muscovy, an alliance between Lithuania and Poland was struck.

Thus, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were years of struggle to keep Ukrainian lands from Poland, Hungary, and Lithuania, as well as free of the boyars or noblemen who tried to take control.

Although most of western Ukraine is agricultural—it is a country that has served as the "bread-basket of Europe"—there are large petroleum and natural gas fields as well.