One quarter of the workforce is employed in agriculture. Ukraine's steppe is one of the chief wheat-producing regions of Europe, and the area was long known as the "breadbasket of the Soviet Union." Other major crops include corn, rye, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, and flax.
Ukraine possesses numerous raw materials and power resources, and its central and E regions form one of the world's densest industrial concentrations. The heavy metallurgical, machine-building, and chemical industries are based on the iron mines of Kryvyy Rih, the manganese ores of Nikopol, and the coking coal and anthracite of the Donets Basin. The Dniprohes dam powers a hydroelectric station and has made the Dnieper navigable for nearly its entire length. The region also produces titanium, nickel, zinc, mercury, oil, natural gas, and bauxite.
Ukraine's main industrial centers are Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya, Makiyivka, Mariupol, and Luhansk. Odessa is the principal Ukrainian port on the Black Sea. Although mainly agricultural, W Ukraine has significant petroleum centers at Drohobych and Boryslav, natural gas at Dashava, coal industries at Novovolynsk, and rich salt deposits. Lviv is the cultural center and the main industrial city in W Ukraine. Zhytomyr and Vinnytsya are the main agricultural centers. The republic's leading industrial products include machinery and transportation equipment, ferrous and nonferrous metals, chemicals, building materials, fertilizers, and consumer goods. Food processing, notably the refining of sugar, is also a major industry. In spite of its many resources, Ukraine must import large quantities of natural gas and oil. Steel, petroleum products, machinery, and processed foods are exported. Russia is by far the largest trading partner; others include Germany, Turkmenistan, and Turkey.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: CIS and Baltic Political Geography