declared sovereignty (July 16, 1990) and then outright independence (August 24, 1991), a move that was confirmed by popular approval in a plebiscite (December 1, 1991). In the far southeast, Ukraine is separated from Russia by the Kerch Strait, which connects the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea. Ukraine is bordered by Belarus to the north, Russia to the east, the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea to the south, Moldova and Romania to the southwest, and Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland to the west.The rolling plain of the Dnieper Upland, which lies between the middle reaches of the Dnieper (Dnipro) and Southern Buh (Pivdennyy Buh, or the Boh) rivers in west-central Ukraine, is the largest highland area; it is dissected by many river valleys, ravines, and gorges, some more than 1,000 feet (300 metres) deep.On the west the Dnieper Upland is abutted by the rugged Carpathian Mountains—one of the most picturesque areas in the country—extend for more than 150 miles (240 km).Among the country’s lowlands are the Dnieper Lowland, which is flat in the west and gently rolling in the east.To the south, another lowland extends along the shores of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov; its level surface, broken only by low rises and shallow depressions, slopes gradually toward the Black Sea.
Mountainous areas such as the Ukrainian Carpathians and Crimean Mountains occur only on the country’s borders and account for barely 5 percent of its area.
Of the total course of the Dnieper, 609 miles (980 km) are in Ukraine, making it by far the longest river in the country, of which it drains more than half.
Like the Dnieper, the Danube River flows along the southwestern frontier of Ukraine.
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Ukraine had experienced a brief period of independence in 1918–20, but portions of western Ukraine were ruled by Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia in the period between the two World Wars, and Ukraine thereafter became part of the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (S. The country consists almost entirely of level plains at an average elevation of 574 feet (175 metres) above sea level.