- Yelena McCafferty
Focus on Ukraine
As the country hosting Euro-2012 Football Championship along with Poland, Ukraine has naturally enjoyed a certain interest over the past few months and this curiosity will only grow as we head towards the opening ceremony.
To an inexperienced traveller, Ukraine is probably just a former republic of the Soviet Union, often confused with being part of Russia. Russian is indeed very widely spoken in Ukraine, however, the official language is Ukrainian. Both Russian and Ukrainian belong to the same subgroup of East Slavic languages.
Ukraine gained independence when the USSR collapsed in 1991. Since then it has kept its reputation as a breadbasket of Europe, thanks to its fertile soil; sugar production has always been big too. The country still needs help in developing larger scale farming which is a great opportunity for British businesses to share their expertise to their commercial advantage.
Major British retailers, such as Marks and Spencer, Next, Mothercare have a presence in Ukraine as well and are said to be doing well.
Ukraine’s population is 46 million with a high percentage of highly educated people, the country has a strong tradition in science and technology. A growing number of Ukrainian students have been coming to the UK to take courses too. Learning English has been popular, although the number of people who speak English fluently, especially in the provinces, is still low.
Ukrainians are renowned for their good sense of humour. And although for a non-Ukrainian/Russian speaker an interpreter may be required, any cultural issues are easily overcome at a friendly dinner hosted by this extremely hospitable nation. And Euro-2012 should demonstrate just that.
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