Ukraine has always had a turbulent history. A region of the former Russian Empire, it gained its independence in 1991 after a long and bloody struggle. Ukraine became a democratic republic, but faced severe challenges in its early years. Economic sanctions from Russia as well as civil war in the east continued to challenge the country's stability.nIn 2004, Viktor Yanukovych was elected president with strong backing from Russia. This triggered protests in the west and eventually led to his ousting in 2014 amid ongoing protests and unrest. Ukraine now seeks to establish itself as a full-fledged member of the European Union while also seeking stronger ties with NATO.nUkraine has a population of about 45 million people, divided among about 38 million Ukrainians and 4 million Russians who live within its borders. The official language is Ukrainian, although Russian is widely spoken throughout the eastern parts of the country.