Kiev (Ukrainian: Київ, Russian: Киев), Europe's city of intrigue, is the capital of Ukraine and its largest and most vibrant city with 3 million inhabitants. It is in the north of central Ukraine on the Dnieper River (Ukrainian: Днiпро, Russian: Днепр).
The official name of the city has long been Kyiv, a transliteration from the Ukrainian Київ. The common English name of the city, Kiev, is a transliteration of the Russian Киев. Expect to see Kyiv used more often inside Ukraine, and Kiev to be used by most foreign media. The spelling of the city name in English-language guidebooks is debatable.
The Ukrainians are understandably very proud of their capital's role in establishing European civilisation in Eastern Europe. Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, dating back to the 5th century, although settlements at this location existed much earlier. By the late 9th century, Kiev was at the centre of an emerging Eastern Slavic state. Between the 10th and early 13th centuries, the city reached its golden age as the capital of the first Ukrainian state known today as Kievan Rus, (Kyivan Ruthenia, or Rus-Ukraine). It was this state that shaped the religious and cultural foundations of the modern Slavic eastern European states. In the middle of the 13th century, Kievan Rus was overrun by the Mongols. Later that century, Kiev became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1569 the city was absorbed into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1654 the Cossack, Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, "liberated" Kiev from that Commonwealth but then promptly folded it into Russian hegemony in an action that continues to be a sore point for Ukrainian nationalists. Read more