The 2019 Ukrainian presidential election was held on 31 March and 21 April in a two-round system. There were a total of 39 candidates for the election on the ballot. The 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia and the occupation of parts of Donetsk Oblast and Luhansk Oblast prevented around 12% of eligible voters from participating in the election. As no candidate received an absolute majority of the vote, a second round was held between the top two candidates, Volodymyr Zelensky, who played the role of Ukraine’s president in a popular television comedy and the incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko, on 21 April 2019. According to the Central Election Commission, Zelensky won the second round with 73.22% of the votes.
Snap elections to the Ukrainian parliament were held on 21 July 2019. Originally scheduled to be held at the end of October, these elections were brought forward after newly inaugurated President Volodymyr Zelensky dissolved parliament on 21 May 2019, during his inauguration. The election result was the one-party majority, a novelty in Ukraine, for President Zelensky’s Servant of the People party with 254 seats. About 80 percent of the elected candidates were new to parliament; 83 deputies managed to get reelected from the previous parliament and 13 deputies from earlier convocations. All deputies from Servant of the People were political newcomers. 61 percent of the new MPs had never before been engaged in politics.
Ukraine is a large country in Eastern Europe, lying mostly in the East European Plain. It is the second-largest European country, after Russia. It covers an area of 603,628 square kilometers (233,062 sq mi) and with a coastline of 2,782 kilometers (1,729 mi).
The landscape of Ukraine consists mostly of fertile plains (or steppes) and plateaus, crossed by rivers such as the Dnieper (Dnipro), Seversky Donets, Dniester and the Southern Bug as they flow south into the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov. To the southwest, the delta of the Danube forms the border with Romania. Ukraine’s various regions have diverse geographic features ranging from the highlands to the lowlands. The country’s only mountains are the Carpathian Mountains in the west, of which the highest is the Hora Hoverla at 2,061 metres (6,762 ft), and the Crimean Mountains on Crimea, in the extreme south along the coast. However Ukraine also has a number of highland regions such as the Volyn-Podillia Upland (in the west) and the Near-Dnipro Upland (on the right bank of Dnieper); to the east there are the south-western spurs of the Central Russian Upland over which runs the border with the Russian Federation. Near the Sea of Azov can be found the Donets Ridge and the Near Azov Upland. The snow melt from the mountains feeds the rivers, and natural changes in altitude form sudden drops in elevation and give rise to waterfalls.
Significant natural resources in Ukraine include iron ore, coal, manganese, natural gas, oil, salt, sulphur, graphite, titanium, magnesium, kaolin, nickel, mercury, timber and an abundance of arable land. Despite this, the country faces a number of major environmental issues such as inadequate supplies of potable water; air- and water-pollution and deforestation, as well as radiation contamination in the north-east from the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Recycling toxic household waste is still in its infancy in Ukraine.
Ukraine has a lower-middle income economy, which is the 55th-largest in the world by nominal GDP, and the 40th-largest by PPP. It is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, and is sometimes called the “Breadbasket of Europe”. However, the country is the poorest in Europe alongside Moldova, and is also among the most severely corrupt in the continent. According to the IMF, Ukraine’s GDP per capita by PPP is $13,943. In 2019, the average nominal salary in Ukraine reached ₴10,000 hryvnias per month or around €300, while in 2018, Ukraine’s median wealth per adult was $40, one of the lowest in the world. Approximately 1.1% of Ukrainians lived below the national poverty line in 2019, and unemployment in the country was 4.5% in 2019, while some 5-15% of the Ukrainian population is categorized as middle class. As of September 2020, Ukraine’s government debt is roughly 52% of its nominal GDP.