Mother Nature has been generous to Ukraine; the country has many variations of climate and terrain taking place.
Ukraine consists largely of flat, fertile plains (steppes) and plateaus with intermittent woods. Mountainous areas are found only in the Carpathians in the southwest and the Crimean Chain in the Crimean Peninsula in extreme southern Ukraine.
The highest elevation in Ukraine is the Hoverla Mountain at 2,061 meters and located in the Eastern Beskides, part of the Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians, which is the longest mountain range in Ukraine and stretch across several other eastern European countries.
Ukraine was blessed with many species of flora and fauna, imposing rivers, picturesque lakes, colorful mountains and many natural resources including natural gas, salt, sulfur, titanium, magnesium, nickel, mercury, Chernozem and many more.
The country’s climate is moderately continental, which has proven to be favorable for agriculture. The southern Crimean coast has a Mediterranean climate (hot dry summers and mild winters). Winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold farther inland. Summers are warm across the greater part of the country, hot in the south.
Rivers play a vital role in Ukrainian life, they are essential for shipping, fishing and as a source of hydroelectric power. Over 70,000 rivers flow through Ukraine. The Dnieper is the major river in Ukraine and the third longest in Europe; it flows from Russia, through Belarus, northern Ukraine and empties into the Black Sea.
The Dniester is the second largest river in Ukraine, located in western Ukraine close to the border with Poland; it flows toward the Black Sea. Some other rivers include the Southern Bug, Seversky Donets, Prut, Desna, Dunay (Danube), Tisza and the Pripyat River. The southern border of Ukraine is washed by the Black Sea, bordering Ukraine and Russia is the Sea of Azov, the world's shallowest sea.
The diverse landscape of Ukraine provides excellent habitats for flora and fauna species. Ukraine has 11 National Nature Parks, 16 National Preserves, 4 Biosphere Preserves, and a lot of smaller areas all aimed at preserving its natural splendors. Some of the most important Parks and Preserves include Askania-Nova (Kherson Oblast); Shatskiy National Preserve Area (Volyn Oblast), Sofiyivsky Park (Cherkasy Oblast), Trostianetsky Hydropark (Chernihiv Oblast).
Ukraine is home to an exotic fauna living in natural conditions, some of the names that are to be found around are red deer, elk, roe deer, fox, marmot, wolf, bison, zebra, squirrel, wild boar, brown bear, lynx, the unique and rare Przevalski's horse; there is also a range of birds like crane, pheasant, peacock, cormorant, wild duck, sea gull, wood grouse, martin, swan, ostrich, black cock, pink pelican, starling and blue titmouse are also found.
Ukrainian flora zones
Ukraine can be divided into four flora zones:
- The Mediterranean, this extends along the Crimean southern shore and the Caucasian coast of the Black Sea. This zone is covered with deciduous trees as well as evergreen grasses and shrubs. The most common flora species found in this zone consist of Crimean pine, Stankevich pine, and pubescent oak. Though native flora is been displaced by vineyards, orchards, and decorative gardens.
- Steppe, located at southern and eastern Ukraine, the stepper occupies about 240,000 sq km (40 percent) of Ukraine. The area is rich in Chernozem and has a temperate, semiarid climate; the area is mostly devoted to agricultural species. The fauna of the steppe is dominated by rodents and by their predators, among the rodents are rabbits, marmots, hamsters, mice, and European mole rats, their predators are the polecat, the fox, and the wolf.
- Forest-steppe, this zone alternates forests with grassland and fauna, it was the earliest settled belt in Ukraine and is the most populated, nowadays, it is largely deforested and under cultivation, its climate is warm in summer and cold in winter. Covers about 30 percent of Ukraine’s territory.
- Forest, it extends through northern and western Ukraine. Here the forests contain a greater variety of trees, for example: beech, silver fir, oak, linden, elm, birch, sycamore maple, Norway maple, pine, and spruce trees are common here. Today, unfortunately, less 33 percent is forested.