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Jaroslav divided his kingdom among his sons with the idea that the eldest hold a position of seniority in maintaining unity, but Kiev declined as the political and economic center of Ukraine as each principality lived almost autonomously.

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The direct ancestors of Ukraine's population today were the Slavs.

The Slavs made their way into the Balkans in the early seventh century A. By the middle of the ninth century, however, what was to become known as Kievan Rus was still relatively underdeveloped.

In 1569 the regions of Kiev, Volhynia, and Bratslav (Podillia) were annexed to the Kingdom of Poland.

Another part of this development included a new society which grew out of the plains of the Dnieper River—the Cossacks.

Olha had converted from paganism to Christianity in 955 and, with Volodymyr, is credited with bringing Christianity to a pagan land in 988.

The reign of Jaroslav the Wise (1036-1054) is often seen as the pinnacle in the history of Kievan Rus.These men were free, as opposed to the serfs of the sixteenth century, and organized to fend off marauding Tatars.They ruled for decades, freeing Ukraine from Polish rule and helping to defend the country from Turkish, Tatar, and other invaders.Ukraine is officially named Ukrayina, which means "borderland." After Russia, it is the second-largest country in Europe in area.It is comparable, both in population (about 52 million) and size (233,089 square miles) to France.In 1708-1709 Hetman Ivan Mazepa led the Cossacks to fight alongside Sweden's King Charles XII in the Swedish king's war with Russia's Peter I.

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