Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe and the second largest country in Europe. After being controlled by communism for over 70 years, Ukraine declared its state of independence from Russia on December 1, 1991 and this was a major factor in the USSR's collapse later that month.

Ukraine's population has decreased from 52.2 million people to 46,299,862 (July 2007 est.) since 1992, according to a report published recently. Ukraine, like Russia and some other former Soviet republics, has seen life expectancies fall in recent years due to declining health care and economic turmoil that has left millions impoverished. The average life expectancy for men in this former Soviet republic is 62.16 years and for women 73.96 years.

The official language of the country is Ukrainian. Russian is widely used in the cities and especially in the Crimea. However, this is quickly changing as Ukrainian is taught, almost exclusively, in the schools.

Simferopol is located in southern Ukraine, and it is the capital of the Crimea. The modern city of Simferopol was founded in 1784. The estimated population is 450,000.

Simferopol is also home to the Crimean Tatar. The Tatars were forcibly deported by Stalin to Central Asia in 1944, and in 1991 there were allowed to resettle in Crimea. About 250,000 have returned.

Most of the people in Simferopol live in nine-story apartment complexes. Modern conveniences such as water and electricity are not always available (the city calls this economizing). Sometimes two or more families live together in these one and two bedroom apartments.

Most people use the public transportation system such as trolleys and buses. Many people walk.

During the communist days, the state imposed severe restrictions on religious activity, banned many churches, and persecuted religious leaders. Many believers were forced underground; however, through the persecution, their faith remained strong.

A majority of the population, 67%, adheres to Eastern Orthodoxy. They are very vocal in calling other churches cults (including Baptists). We do not know how long this door will remain open so we must "reach the lost at any cost."

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Sending Board:
P.O. Box 9215
Chattanooga, TN 37412

Bob & Judy Van Sant
14 L. Shevtsovoi
Simferopol, Ukraine 95023
Sending Church:
Bible Baptist Church
P.O. Box 266
Ft. Mill, SC 29716