Kiev is the capital and largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. Kiev is an important industrial, scientific, educational, and cultural centre of Eastern Europe. It is home to many high-tech industries, higher education institutions and world-famous historical landmarks. The city has an extensive infrastructure and highly developed system of public transport, including the Kiev Metro.
The city's name is said to derive from the name of Kyi, one of its four legendary founders. During its history, Kiev, one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, passed through several stages of great prominence and relative obscurity. The city probably existed as a commercial centre as early as the 5th century. A Slavic settlement on the great trade route between Scandinavia and Constantinople, Kiev was a tributary of the Khazars, until seized by the Varangians (Vikings) in the mid-9th century. Under Varangian rule, the city became a capital of the Kievan Rus', the first East Slavic state. Completely destroyed during the Mongol invasion in 1240, the city lost most of its influence for the centuries to come. It was a provincial capital of marginal importance in the outskirts of the territories controlled by its powerful neighbours; first the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, followed by Poland and Russia.
The city prospered again during the Russian Empire's Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century. In 1917, after the Ukrainian National Republic declared independence from the Russian Empire, Kiev became its capital. From 1919 Kiev was an important center of the Armed Forces of South Russia and was controlled by the White Army. From 1921 onwards Kiev was a city of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which was proclaimed by the Red Army, and, from 1934, Kiev was its capital. During World War II, the city again suffered significant damage, but quickly recovered in the post-war years, remaining the third largest city of the Soviet Union.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukrainian independence in 1991, Kiev remained the capital of Ukraine and experienced a steady migration influx of ethnic Ukrainians from other regions of the country. During the country's transformation to a market economy and electoral democracy, Kiev has continued to be Ukraine's largest and richest city. Kiev's armament-dependent industrial output fell after the Soviet collapse, adversely affecting science and technology. But new sectors of the economy such as services and finance facilitated Kiev's growth in salaries and investment, as well as providing continuous funding for the development of housing and urban infrastructure. Kiev emerged as the most pro-Western region of Ukraine where parties advocating tighter integration with the European Union dominate during elections.
Kiev was the historic cultural centre of the East Slavic civilization and a major cradle for the Christianization of Kievan Rus'. Kiev retained through centuries its cultural importance and even at times of relative decay, it remained the centre of primary importance of Eastern Orthodox Christianity . Its sacred sites, which include the Kiev Pechersk Lavra (the Monastery of the Caves) and the Saint Sophia Cathedral are probably the most famous, attracted pilgrims for centuries and now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site remain the primary religious centres as well as the major tourist attraction. The above-mentioned sites are also part of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine collection.
Kiev's theatres include, the Kiev Opera House, Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theater, Lesya Ukrainka National Academic Theater of Russian Drama, the Kiev Puppet Theater, October Palace and National Philharmonic of Ukraine and others. In 1946 Kiev had four theatres, one opera house and one concert hall, but most tickets then were allocated to "privileged groups".
Other significant cultural centres include the Dovzhenko Film Studios, and the Kiev Circus. The most important of the city's many museums are the Kiev State Historical Museum, Museum of The History of Ukraine in World War II, the National Art Museum, the Museum of Western and Oriental Art, the Pinchuk Art Centre and the National Museum of Russian art.
Numerous songs and paintings were dedicated to the city. Some songs became part of Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish folklore, less known are German and Jewish. The most popular songs are "Without Podil, Kiev is impossible" and "How not to love you, Kiev of mine?". Renowned Ukrainian composer Oleksandr Bilash wrote an operetta called "Legend of Kiev".
Kiev is home to some 40 different museums. In 2009 they recorded a total of 4.3 million visits.
The Museum of The History of Ukraine in World War II is a memorial complex commemorating the Eastern Front of World War II located in the hills on the right-bank of the Dnieper River in Pechersk. Kiev fortress is the 19th-century fortification buildings situated in Ukrainian capital Kiev, that once belonged to western Russian fortresses. These structures (once a united complex) were built in the Pechersk and neighbourhoods by the Russian army. Now some of the buildings are restored and turned into a museum called the Kiev Fortress, while others are in use in various military and commercial installations. The National Art Museum of Ukraine is a museum dedicated to Ukrainian art. The Golden Gate is a historic gateway in the ancient city's walls. The name Zoloti Vorota is also used for a nearby theatre and a station of the Kiev Metro. The small Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum acts as both a memorial and historical center devoted to the events surrounding the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and its effect on the Ukrainian people, the environment, and subsequent attitudes toward the safety of nuclear power as a whole.