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Kiev

Kiev (kēˈĕf) [key], Ukrainian Kyyiv, Rus. Kiyev, city (1990 est. pop. 2,600,000) and municipality with the status of a region (oblast), capital of Ukraine and of Kiev region, a port on the Dnieper River. The largest city of Ukraine, Kiev is a leading industrial, commercial, and cultural center. Food processing (notably the processing of beet sugar), metallurgy, and the manufacture of machinery, machine tools, rolling stock, chemicals, building materials, and textiles are the major industries. Known to Russians as the "mother of cities," Kiev is one of the oldest towns in N Europe. It probably existed as a commercial center as early as the 5th cent. A Slavic settlement on the great trade route between Scandinavia and Constantinople, Kiev was tributary to the Khazars when the Varangians under Oleg established themselves there in 882. Under Oleg's successors it became the capital of medieval Kievan Rus (the first Russian state) and was a leading European cultural and commercial center. It was also an early seat of Russian Christianity. The city reached its apogee in the 11th cent., but by the late 12th cent. it had begun to decline. From 1240, when it was devastated by the Mongols, until the 14th cent., the city paid tribute to the Golden Horde. Kiev then passed under the control of Lithuania, which in 1569 was united with Poland. With the establishment of the Kievan Academy in 1632, the city became a center of Ukrainian learning and scholarship. In 1648, when the Ukrainian Cossacks under Bohdan Chmielnicki rose against Poland, Kiev became for a brief period the center of a Ukrainian state. After Ukraine's union with Russia in 1654, however, the city was acquired (1686) by Moscow. In Jan., 1918, Kiev became the capital of the newly proclaimed Ukrainian republic; but in the ensuing civil war (1918–20), it was occupied in succession by German, White Russian, Polish, and Soviet troops. In 1934 the capital of the Ukrainian SSR was transferred from Kharkiv to Kiev. German forces held the city during World War II and massacred thousands of its inhabitants, including 50,000 Jews. Postwar reconstruction of the heavily damaged city was not completed until c.1960. Lying amid hills along the Dnieper and filled with gardens and parks, Kiev is one of Europe's most beautiful cities, as well as a treasury of medieval art and architecture. Its most outstanding buildings include the Tithes Church, the ruins of the Golden Gate (11th cent.), and the 11th-century Cathedral of St. Sophia, which was modeled on Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and contains splendid mosaics, frescoes, and icons. The Uspensky Cathedral, virtually destroyed during World War II, has been fully restored. The celebrated Lavra cave monastery (11th cent.) is now a museum and a sacred place of pilgrimage. The St. Vladimir Cathedral (9th cent.) is famed for its murals. Among the city's educational and cultural institutions are the Univ. of Kiev (1833) and the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (1918).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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